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A valid passport may not be as valid as you think

Tuesday - 8/19/2014, 10:19am  ET

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It's important to check your travel documents, such as a passport, well before your departure date. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON -- If you're traveling abroad, it's important to check your travel documents well before your departure date. Having a valid U.S. passport may not be enough to enter some countries.

The State Department recommends passports be valid for at least six months beyond your travel date, even if you don't plan to be away that long.

Lifehacker.com reports that some countries that have required at least three months of validity on passports are doubling the requirement to six.

Besides being denied entry, a passport near expiration could create delays causing some travelers to miss connecting flights.

A passport application can take four to six weeks. It can be sped up to as little as two weeks with a $60 fee. A faster application can be completed at a State Department Passport Agency.

Travelers would be wise to review all travel documents, ensuring, for example, that information on driver's licenses doesn't conflict with other documents.

Once travelers could enter Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean islands with just a birth certificate. They can no longer do that. Passports are needed for travel throughout the western hemisphere and elsewhere.

The State Department offers suggestions for travelers:

  • Check the passport requirements of your destination. On Travel.state.gov, enter the country in the box under under "Learn about your destination."
  • Check out the fact sheet about passport requirements for European countries.

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