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Planning an International Tour? New Passport Guidelines!

It looks like there's been a change recently to the travel and passport recommendation by the U.S. State Department. They are now recommending your passports be valid for at least six months prior to departing from the U.S. You might be denied entrance into the country you are traveling to, or be denied boarding in the U.S. even if your passport is valid. This particular rule primarily applies to the Schengen group of countries (26 Scandinavian and European Countries...basically all the European countries you were planning on going to this year). You might even be prevented from boarding a plane when traveling through one of these countries if you have to make a transfer and they have to recheck your passport.
So this totally changes how we account for the passports of those traveling with us. Before it was "do you have a valid passport that doesn't expire before we leave." Now we need to double check exaclty when the expiration date is, and we need be sure that everyone's passport is valid for a least six months prior to arrival in one of these countries. How awful would it be for one of your singers to be turned away at the gate, even though they had a passport that expired in two months.
Granted, the official rules for the Schengen Area is that you need three months left on your passport, but the U.S. State Department is taking a "better safe than sorry" approach. I think that is wise, and I will be adopting this rule for my choir. I think there is a chance that many of your tour companies are not aware of this change, so be sure to ask them about it.
on August 20, 2014 8:19am
For general information, I checked the governement link and I believe it is saying you need a vaild passport for a minimum of three months AFTER departure not prior.
on August 20, 2014 8:41am
I tour with groups regularly to International destinations with my company, Sechrist Travel.  These guidelines have been in place for quite some time, at least 3 years, as we have been recommending this ploicy to our groups prior to all International Travel.  It is true that you might be denied entrance into the country you are traveling to, or be denied boarding in the U.S. even if your passport is valid.  This happened to a student traveling with us in July 2014.  He was able to get through security at his "home" airport and was then detained for a day in Philadelphia while getting his passport renewed.
It must be vaild for 6 months FOLLOWING your return date.
Thanks for the reminder!
Sean Berg, President

on August 20, 2014 6:07pm
Thanks for these clarifications. It's an issue I was not aware of, and I have taken a few international trips in the past few years. I hope this blog post will prevent more incidences like the one you described!