Most people in North America are familiar with the fact that for Trans-border and International travel, you will be required to present a valid passport to gain entry into another country. Every country has its own requirements for entry and the country you may be going to, might have different rules than the one you just left. Most countries require a certain amount of unused time on an individuals passport.
The sole responsibility for understanding the rules for entry into another country, is the person seeking entry. Navigating various Government web sites to ensure your pre-travel knowledge of Passport requirements, Health regulations and Visitors Visa’s, can be both daunting and time consuming.
The cost of a Canadian Passport is more than reasonable and with upwards of 70% of Canadians holding valid passports, it means that a high number of Canadians are travelling outside of the country for vacations and for work purposes. Roughly 33% of all Americans now hold valid passports as well.
Statistics show people are applying for and using their passports to travel, so it means there are a lot of new Travelers, who may not completely understand that they are responsible for knowing the entry requirements into other countries, especially if they have booked online and did not have the assistance of a Travel Professional to help guide them, through the experience. This is compounded by the problem of people not reading the fine print, where the majority of the important information is located.
The biggest misunderstanding people seem to have with their passports validity period, is that while a passport may be valid for a period of 5 or 10 years, depending on the option you chose to get, you may not be able to use that passport to travel with into another country; if the passport expires in less than a year from your expected date of travel, then you must check the rules of the country you want to visit, to see if you can use your existing Passport.
This upsets some people, as it seems that if you’re paying for a 5 or 10 year period of time, the reality of the document might be that it is only really be valid for 4.5 or 9.5yrs. This is a general misconception, because the validity may vary depending on the destination and not the actual passport. Do not make travel plans or purchase travel until you check and understand the rules of the destination you are going to. Some countries even require you to have a blank page on a passport or they refuse entry.
Travel requirements for a Canadian citizen, holding a Canadian Passport are subject to change and the below list is a general idea of what the rules are ‘now’ and may not be valid when you travel, which is why it is imperative to check before you purchase any tickets. If you attempt to travel using a valid Canadian Passport, that does not meet the requirements of the country you are going to, then you can be denied entry, even if you actually were able to board a plane and travel to the destination.
Being stranded at immigration in a foreign country, being denied entry, means that you would have to pay for a change fee to alter your ticket, as you would be required to immediately leave the country on the next flight back to your country of origin. This expense is NOT something that would be covered by insurance. This is the reason why most passengers who make this booking mistake are stopped from boarding by an alert attendant at the point of departure. Ignorance of the rules do not absolve you of fault or financial liability for your error.
Canadians can travel on their existing passports as long as the expiry date on the Canadian Passport is valid up until the date of departure from that country which they list, as permissible. Just be aware that various Airlines and Tour Operators have rules which require your passport to be valid longer than what is required by the country you are visiting, which means you must check with their terms and conditions as well as the countries requirements. This is no different than what Americans can expect when travelling.
As an example, a Canadian Passport holder can travel using their valid passport with the expiry date as shown on their passport to: United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Bermuda and Turks and Caicos. A new passport would be required for travel to the following countries:
1 month from date of expiry: Cuba
3 months from date of expiry: Sint Maartin, Bahamas, Greece, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy, Germany
6 months from date of expiry: Honduras, Israel, India, China, Russia, Ivory Coast, UK
For American travelers, it is exactly the same concept as in Canada and it’s vital that they also check which countries require a 6 month validity on an American Passports. Unless you have the time available to research the rules and regulations as well as the terms and conditions surrounding your travel plans, then perhaps you should consider using a Travel Professional who books thousands of vacations and work related trips annually and who can provide you with guidance on how to navigate your trip successfully and with as little stress as possible.
Online is great for looking, but a Travel agent is the best for booking; it’s the extra things that they take care of, like researching the Passport and Visa requirements of various countries for you, which you may not even be aware of, which ensure things go as smoothly as possible. The best part, is the cost is the same whether you book alone or with professional guidance. By not using a Travel Professional, you’re really giving away some wonderful, valuable services.