The Passport Gods Giveth … and the Passport Gods Can Taketh Away
Part I: Wherein The Passport Gods Giveth
When I suggested that we go to Italy early next month, Mom jumped at the idea. Then she groaned in misery. Her passport had expired and we would be leaving in just over 3 weeks. She didn’t think there would be time to get a new passport.
Of course, there was plenty of time. The U.S. State Department’s Passport Office operates a very efficient system. It’s easy to download an application from the website, and the passport office offers a couple of levels of expediting the new passport. While Mom walked to drugstore in Bothell to get the required photo taken, I sat at my computer in Cincinnati, filled out her application, and emailed it to her. She got back, wrote the check (it cost an additional $60 for the expedited service), signed the application, and packaged it up with her expired passport. The little package was in the mail the next morning.
Her new passport arrived about 2 weeks later.
Part II: Wherein the Passport Gods Taketh Away
Ever hear of the Schengen requirements? If you’re traveling to the Schengen area, which includes Italy, you need to know about them. This is from the State Department’s website:
Entry into any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen area … requires that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. You could also be denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area.
This is serious stuff. The passport gods can taketh away your vacation.
The State Department website continues:
For this reason, we recommend that your passport have at least six months’ validity remaining whenever you travel abroad.
Six months’ validity! This doesn’t fall into the “common knowledge” category.
Keep the passport gods on your side. Renew early and often.