European countries tightening enforcement on expiring passports

18 Sep 14



What is the change? A number of European nations in the 26-country Schengen Area are growing increasingly strict about a requirement that foreign passports be valid at least 90 days past a traveler’s intended date of departure.

What does the change mean? Tourists and business travelers with less than six months remaining on their passports beyond intended travel dates should consider renewing their passports as soon as possible.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Passports.
  • Who is affected: United States and other non-European nationals.
  • Impact on processing times: Seasonal demandfor new passports during peak holiday times could cause delays.
  • Business impact: Visa-free business travelers should make sure they have at least six months on their passports upon their date of arrival in Schengen Area countries.
  • Next steps:The U.S. State Department recommends that travelers in need of new passports renew them immediately in order to avoid delays associated with increased demand around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Background: Non-European nationals (third-country nationals) are permitted to visit Schengen Area countries for 90 days within a 180-day period. Because of a rule requiring that passports be valid at least 90 days past a traveler’s intended date of departure, travelers must have at least six months of validity remaining on their passports on their date of arrival. The U.S. State Department reported Sept. 5 that the requirement “has been more strictly enforced” recently, sometimes resulting in travelers being denied airline boarding or entry upon arrival.

BAL Analysis: The tighter enforcement is not the result of any new rule or regulation, and enforcement levels vary from country to country within the Schengen Area. Non-European nationals planning visa-free travel for either tourist or business purposes within the Schengen Area should make sure they will have at least six months remaining on their passport upon arrival. Some Schengen countries also apply the rule to travelers transiting through an airport for several hours to a non-Schengen destination. Travelers who require a new passport should apply immediately to avoid delays.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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