How do you know when it’s time to renew your passport? This may sound like a trick question. After all, isn’t the expiration date written right there next to your picture? Not so fast…just because your passport hasn’t expired yet,  that doesn’t mean that you can actually use it to travel. Many countries require that your passport be valid for a certain amount of time after you enter the country-usually 3 or 6 months. If you try to leave for your trip with a passport that’s valid now but doesn’t have enough time left before the expiration date, you won’t be allowed to leave the country until you renew your passport.

How do you know how much time you need to have left on your passport? The US Department of State maintains a website of country-specific information. Visit the site, look up the country you are visiting, and find that country’s entry and exit requirements. This will tell you what travel documents are required and how long your passport needs to be valid after the date of your departure.

If you need to renew your passport, you have two options: going directly through the US government, or using a private passport expediting company like If you need your new passport quickly, a private expediting company can provide a high level of personalized customer service to make sure your plane doesn’t leave without you! For more information on the passport renewal process, check out our step-by-step guide to passport renewal.