Passport Expiry – Quick & Easy Guide to See if Your Passport is Valid

Do you know the rules and regulations about passport expiry and validity? I learned the hard way about passport validity but you don’t have to!

I’ve done all the research for you to ensure that your passport will be valid for your next travel adventure.

Let’s start!

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Are you a passport holder? Canadian or American, there is more to your passport than a great photo! Do you know the important rules to ensure your travel plans go smoothly?

The Cautionary Tale

(if you want to skip the back story and go straight to all the important stuff, scroll down the page to Passport Expiry Rules)

I was flying to Copenhagen in July 2016. The flight was in the evening from Vancouver International Airport and I had the whole day to finish packing. I had time for last-minute household chores, and I was looking forward to a leisurely trip to the airport. I was really looking forward to seeing Denmark again and reuniting with relatives.


When I tried to check in for my flight that morning,  the website wouldn’t complete the check-in.  I noticed the expiry date on my passport when I was entering the passport number. But, it expired one week after I got back so I wasn’t initially worried.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Hadn’t I read something about passport validity and passport expiry dates?  OMG.  I’m leaving today!  I don’t have time to mess around with my passport!

Google soon confirmed my worst fears.  Denmark (and all the Schengen area countries) require that a passport be valid for at least 3 months beyond your departure date!

Passport Expiry Panic

After a moment of sheer panic, I called Passport Canada to see if it was even possible to renew a passport in a day.  I had very low expectations and was already formulating Plan B.  Plan B involved expensive last-minute ticket changes and familial humiliation.  However, the very kind passport agent assured me it was possible to renew a passport in a day!

Light at the end of the tunnel?

There were many conditions for “urgent” passport renewal.  The conditions were: a passport office that wasn’t too busy that day, new passport photos, an extra fee of $110 (on top of the regular passport renewal fee of $160), and proof of travel.

Passport Expiry photo of passport

I sped out to get new passport photos and then headed directly to the passport office.  I thanked my lucky stars it wasn’t too busy!  The passport agent reassured me that my passport could be renewed that day as long as my references were immediately available to confirm my identity.  I waited an hour for the agent to make the necessary phone calls.  My relief was palpable when the agent instructed me to go to the downtown passport office after 4pm to pick up my new passport!

I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I was that:

  1. my flight was in the evening
  2. I had noticed the expiration date of passport that morning, and
  3. the passport office wasn’t too busy that day.  It could have been so much worse!

Whenever I tell this story to friends, they can’t believe this happened to me!  I’m normally a very organized person.  It just goes to show that passport expiry rules aren’t well known by the average person like me!

Passport Expiry Rules

  1. Always check your passport expiry date before you book your travel
  2. Check this post to see the specific rules for the countries you are visiting.
  3. Check passport validity for all countries you’re visiting or transiting through

Don’t forget to keep your passport safe while traveling!  Canadian and American passports are among the most powerful in the world and are hot commodities on the black market.

Passport Expiry and Validity by Country

Check to make sure your passport validity meets or exceeds the following requirements:

Passport expiry beyond date of departure from country

ArgentinaBarbadosDomincan Republic
Ireland*United KingdomJamaica
United States*JapanAustralia

*For Ireland, 6 months is recommended, but 1 is usually sufficient.
*United States – beyond date of departure for most countries.  Check the requirements for your country of origin individually

Passport expiry more than 1 month beyond date of departure from country

Costa RicaCubaHong Kong
MacauVietnamSouth Africa*
*South Africa – there are some reports of individual officials requiring 6 months validity.  Use caution

Passport Expiry more than 3 months beyond date of departure from country


Schengen Countries – Passport expiry 3 months beyond date of departure from area

AustriaBelgiumCzech Republic
Important note:  As long as you meet Schengen area entry requirements, foreigners can travel freely between Schengen area countries without having to go through border controls.  A visa is not required in Schengen area countries if your stay does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.   If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, contact the high commission or embassy of the country you wish to stay and obtain the appropriate visa.

Need to know where to stay when you’re visiting Stockholm?  Check out this great post on Stockholm hotels!

Passport expiry 6 months beyond date of entry into country


Passport expiry 6 months beyond date of departure from country

Antigua & BarbudaBelizeBhutan
BrazilBritish Virgin IslandsChina
Sri LankaThailandTurkey (from date of visa issuance)
UkraineUnited Arab EmiratesGuatemala
*For British & US Nationals to enter Peru, a passport valid for the duration of the stay is required. Canadian and Australian authorities recommend passport validity of 6 months from date of departure from Peru.

If you don’t find a country in these lists, assume a requirement of 6 months passport validity beyond date of departure from country

urgent passport validity issue

Urgent Passport Renewal in Canada

Passport Canada states that it can provide an even more expedited service than I experienced.  According to their website if you need a passport over the weekend or on a statutory holiday, you can call 1-800-567-6868.  This is only for emergencies and only if you have to travel over that weekend or holiday.

Passport Canada charges a hefty fee for urgent passport renewal – $335 in addition to the regular passport service fee of $160 for a ten year passport.

If you are a Canadian abroad and need passport services, you should go to the nearest Canadian Consular office, and the consular officer will decide if you qualify for urgent service.

Urgent Passport Renewal in the USA

The US Department of State will expedite passport applications in “life-or-death” emergencies.  Life-or-death is defined as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in your immediate family that require travel outside the US within 3 business days.  You must provide the usual application documentation as well as proof of the life-or-death emergency.  Call 1-877-487-2778 during business hours or 202-647-4000 after business hours to make an appointment.

If you need a passport renewal in less than 2-3 weeks and have urgent international travel plans, the US Department of State provides expedited service.  You need to make an appointment at a passport agency or center , and bring proof of travel.

If you’re an American abroad and need passport services, contact a United States consulate abroad.

As a general rule, I recommend renewing your passport when it will expire in 9 months or less.

Travel Visas for Canadians & Americans

travel visa example

Canadian and American passports are among the most powerful passports in the world.  For the most part, Canadians and Americans can travel anywhere in the world without worrying about visa restrictions. ranks passports by country by their total visa-free zone.  Canada has a passport power rank of 4, enabling visits to 114 countries visa-free.  An American passport has a power rank of 3, with the ability to visit 116 countries visa-free.  Henley & Partners also ranks passports by country in a similar manner.

However, a number of countries do require travel visas from Canadians and Americans when entering or transiting through.

BurundiCameroonCentral African Republic*
ChadChinaRepublic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the CongoCuba (tourism card)Equatorial Guinea*
North Korea*LiberiaLibya
Saudi ArabiaSierra LeoneSouth Sudan

*Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea do not require travel visas from Americans
*Gambia and Venezuela do not require travel visas from Canadians
*North Korean travel is restricted for American travelers, who must obtain a special passport validation from the US federal government before travel.

There are also a number of countries that require an eVisa (a visa application that can be completed in advance online). Other countries require a visa on arrival.  I recommend carrying sufficient local currency to pay any fees required for arrival visa fees. Some countries do not accept credit cards.  There may be length of stay restrictions or entry requirements on your travel as well.  Requirements and conditions change regularly; please confirm all conditions when planning your trip.

This guide is accurate as of the date of publication.  I’ll update this guide every 6 months.  As a cautious traveler, I strongly urge you to ensure that your passport meets or exceeds all entry requirements.   Personally, I always ensure my passport is valid for at least 6 months from my departure from any country.    I learned my lesson!

If you need ways to pay for all the travel you’ll be doing with your passport that won’t expire, check out Mitch’s huge list of ways to make money traveling here!

Don’t forget to get your travel medical insurance before your trip!

Do you have any questions about passport validity?  Do you have an embarrassing passport expiry story to share?  Tell me all about it below!

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Are you a passport holder? Canadian or American, there is more to your passport than a great photo! Do you know the important rules to ensure your travel plans go smoothly?

Are you a passport holder? Canadian or American, there is more to your passport than a great photo! Do you know the important rules to ensure your travel plans go smoothly?

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