Check passport validity before making travel plans

Courtesy of 786th Force Support Squadron Passport Office

Recently, a U.S. citizen assigned to Ramstein traveled to the U.K. (a non-Schengen country. See below for a list of Schengen countries) and was denied re-entry to Germany because his U.S. passport expired in less than three months.

Take note of the following travel requirements.

Entry into any of the European countries in the Schengen area for short-term tourism, business trips or in transit to a non-Schengen destination requires a passport be valid for at least three months beyond the intended date of departure. For example, if a person will be staying in any of the Schengen countries for one month, their passport must be valid for four months from the date of arrival.

The Schengen area comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border controls at their common borders, which means the area serves as a single country for international travel purposes with a common visa policy. If a person is a qualified visitor for tourism or business with a valid U.S. passport, they can enter the Schengen area without a visa for a period of three months within each six-month period.

Countries in the Schengen area are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Although not a part of the Schengen area, the countries of Cyprus and Croatia also require a passport validity of three months beyond the planned date of departure.

The European Union is not alone in implementing such a requirement. Since there are other countries that require passports to be valid for some period after the intended date of return, the best bet is to check passport and visa requirements prior to making travel plans and make sure the passport is renewed well in advance of its expiration date (at least six months prior).

Regular processing times to apply for or renew a tourist passport are four to six weeks. Expedited services are not available in the overseas area unless there is an emergency.

Contact a servicing passport office for more information on applying for a new or renewal passport. For more information on traveling in the Schengen area, visit the following websites:



If the passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, boarding may be refused by the airline at the point of origin or while transferring planes. Entry may also be denied upon arriving in the Schengen area.

Some airlines require passports to be valid for six months before boarding. For this reason, it is recommended a passport have at least six months validity remaining when traveling through Europe.