For some, traveling internationally comes as naturally as boarding an inter-municipal train. Experienced travelers often know all the airport hacks, such as bringing carry-on only, are knowledgable about flying etiquette, and usually breeze through borders hassle-free.
Whether you’re leaving the country for the first time or you’re a regular traveler, however, you should know you’re not exempt from committing some huge mistakes every now and then that could cost you your entire vacation, especially if you’ve held the same passport for a number of years.
In this article, we bring you 4 lesser-known passport rules that may lead border officers in a new destination to refuse you entry and how you can easily avoid them:
Watch For Tears On Your Data Page
Believe it or not, even a tiny rip on the identification page of your travel document can render you ineligible for travel to certain destinations.
Recently, a British family was forced to cancel their dream Thailand holiday over a small, seemingly insignificant rip on the passport picture of a member. Though they weren’t able to spot it themselves, check-in staff promptly identified the minor rip and refused the ID-bearer boarding.
As a result, the family decided to stay behind while forking out an extra $6,364 (roughly), on the spot, for an alternative Turkish vacation, as passport rules in Turkiye as not as strict, and some Europeans are even allowed to enter with a valid national ID only.
Though they could claim their losses back through insurance, their Thailand getaway would have cost them over $8,000 altogether.
Before booking flights to any destination, particularly in Southeast Asia where passport rules are more strictly observed, you should ensure your data page is in perfect condition and that there are no visible tears or signs of deterioration that impede identification.
Avoid Traveling With Weathered Passport Booklets
Traveling constantly can cause irreparable damage to a passport since it may be exposed to drastic changes in weather, more humidity than had it been safely stored at home, and/or mishandled by check-in staff or border authorities, who are not always careful while the document is in their grip.
Travelers who have held the same passport for a good number of years, and it shows signs of obvious ‘overuse’, such as visa pages in poor condition or a disfigured appearance, which may include an unrecognizable cover, may put you in trouble with border officers.
They are mainly concerned with the chip inside your passport, however, as every modern passport carries one that allows foreign entities to identify a traveler and verify they are the travel document’s rightful bearer.
Passports that have been through the wars and display visible damages on the outside, or internal wear and tear, have a greater risk of damaged chips and are often not accepted as valid travel documents across most of the globe, irrespective of remaining validity.
Make Sure It Has Enough Months Left
On the topic of validity, ensuring your passport complies with validity requirements is also important.
In the European Union, for instance, which includes hugely popular destinations such as Spain, France, and Italy, Americans are routinely denied entry when they don’t carry a passport with at least six months of validity left.
Some travelers often get confused about this rule, as they usually travel for a week or two, and they are not permitted to remain in EU territory for longer than three months out of any six-month period, anyway, as per Schengen Area rules.
So, they still try and fly to Europe for a couple of weeks as their ID will only expire in a month or three from then.
This is a gross mistake, as the EU member states and many other countries around the world specify that passports should be valid for at least six months from the date an applicant seeks entry into their territory, irrespective of the intended time of stay (even if it’s much shorter).
Ensure You Have Sufficient Sufficient Visa Pages Left
Finally, yet another unspoken passport rule that can render one ineligible for travel is not having enough blank pages left. Usually, two perfectly-clear pages with no stamps or stickers are required when seeking entry into a foreign country.
This is an issue facing regular travelers specifically, as they are the ones collecting the most entry stamps and visa stickers.
As anyone who travels frequently will know, those pages can fill up quite quickly if you’re crossing borders every month, and as there are only 28 pages on an ordinary U.S. passport, 17 of which are ‘stampable’ pages, Americans, in particular, should be careful when traveling abroad with fewer pages left.
Before traveling abroad, make sure you check passport requirements for your destination, as there may be more specific rules, and ensure your travel document complies with all entry regulations enforced by border authorities, and if not, allow yourself enough time to get a replacement.
Other than verifying the conditions to be fulfilled with your passport, Americans must ensure they comply with visa requirements set out by their country of arrival, as they may not be visa-exempt, and simply carrying a valid passport is not always enough.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com