True or False: Once issued, your passport is valid for travel until the day it expires.

The answer is…FALSE, at least in some cases! Read on to see why you might not be able to use your valid passport for travel.

1. Your Passport Expires Too Soon

If your passport expires in the next six months, you may need to renew it before you can travel. Some countries have laws that prevent you from entering if your passport expires within three to six months of either the date you enter or the date you leave.

Show up at the airport with a passport that expires too soon, and you’ll be shown the door.  If it expires in the next nine months, the State Department recommends you renew it now.

If you have questions about a specific country’s entry requirements, look it up on the Department of State’s website, or contact the country’s embassy or consulate.

2. You Don’t Have the Right Foreign Visas

With your US passport, you can visit 172 countries without needing to apply for a visa ahead of time.  However, there are 196 countries in the world at the moment, give or take a few.  You can get to a lot of different places with just a US passport, but you can’t get everywhere.  You’ll need a visa to get into popular destinations like China, India, Brazil and Russia.

Visa regulations vary depending on which country you’re traveling to, and they can be quite complex. Contact an embassy or consulate for your destination country, or use a private visa expediting service.

3.  You’re All Out of Blank Pages

The back of your passport hides another potential trouble spot. If you don’t have enough blank pages to get your passport stamped, you can’t travel with it. Some countries have visa stamps that take up an entire page or even two pages, so if you’re running low, go ahead and get more.

How to Get New Pages For Your Passport

How to Get Extra Passport Pages for Free

4. Your Passport is Damaged

Finally, if your passport is damaged, it must be replaced before travel, even if the damage seems minor and all the information on the passport is legible.

For more information, see “What is a Damaged Passport?” and “Passport Replacement Services

If you need to renew or replace your passport, allow at least six weeks for regular service and three weeks for expedited service if you’re using the post office. For faster service, make an appointment at one of the State Department’s 26 regional passport agencies, or use a private expediting company to get your application processed in as little as 24 hours with no need to make an appointment or travel to a passport agency.

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