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Passports-Six Month Rule

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There is a myth that passports with less than 6 months validity are invalid for travel. This is only true in certain cases.

Returning to the Country of which you are a Citizen or Permanent Resident

  • No developed country will refuse to admit one of its own citizens with a valid passport.
  • In some cases, countries have invalidated en masse passports issued before a certain date. This does not affect British passports, but does affect, for example, Greek passports issued before 2006.
  • If you are a permanent resident of the country concerned, and have valid permanent resident documentation (visa with re-entry facility for Australia, Green Card for the United States, PR Card for Canada) then passport needs only to be valid at time of entry.

Visiting as a Tourist

  • Australia and Canada do not have a "6 month rule", however if your passport is valid for less than this time, it may limit the period of time for which you are admitted to the country.
  • The United States does have such a rule, but has an agreement with certain countries (including the United Kingdom) to "extend" the validity of passports for 6 months. Hence, U.S. policy is similar to that of Canada and Australia.
  • Certain countries do have a "6 month rule" - notably, Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Letting your passport expire while overseas, even if your visit has been unavoidably extended, is a bad idea. It will be more expensive, slower and more complex to replace your British passport overseas and you may find yourself able to get nothing more than an emergency passport to get home, if you are not settled in the country in which the relevant consulate is located.

Stopovers

  • Even if you do not need 6 months validity for your final destination, you may need it if you intend to stop over in another country.
  • If you are only going to transit airside and not pass through Immigration, check with your airline to ensure there will be no problem. Bear in mind that should your connection time be extended, it may greatly increase your inconvenience if you are unable to pass beyond immigration control.

Prospective Migrants

  • Australian immigration forms suggest that you need 2 years validity on your passport. This is untrue, but a valid passport is normally needed at time visa is granted.
  • If passport only has a short period of time remaining, the time required to make "first entry" to Australia may be similarly restricted.
  • Canada has a similar policy.
  • As a general rule, if you are planning to emigrate to another country you should renew your passport if it has less than few years on it, and get the visa stamped in the new passport instead. This is because it is often a lot more hassle to renew your passport at an Embassy.

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