It’s Sunday evening, 15-hours before our Monday departure to Thailand, and my wife and I discover that my passport expires exactly 10 days short of 6-months from our date of departure. Huston, we have a problem. After discovering this, I was quickly reminded (rather informed) that most countries require a minimum validity of 6-months on a passport before they will give you the stamp you need to set foot on their soil. Panic. Seriously panic. Time to obtain a new passport? 24-hours—won’t cut it. Cost to re-book flights? Over $3,000—not happening. We’re screwed. Or are we? After almost a dozen hours of online research, it turns out I know more than the Canadian, USA, or UK Government and Embassy websites do.
If you review almost every site on the Internet you’ll find a consistent theme: “your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand”. I scoured forums, embassy sites, government travel sites, airline sites, called multiple airlines, tried calling the Canadian Embassy in Thailand (they were closed of course as was the Thai Embassy in Canada) and almost every single place I looked, it was clear that I wasn’t going to get into Thailand. Everywhere except a few vague references to some recent change in entrance requirements (who knows what that means or how valid it is).
I reviewed the following sites with the following results:
The Vancouver Royal Thai Consulate General
Quote: “Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months”.
Royal Thai Embassy – Ottawa
Quote: “Passport, travel document or certificate of identity with validity not less than 6 months”.
US Government Travel Site
Reference Link: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1040.html
Quote: “…but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand.”
Royal Thai Embassy in London
Reference Link: http://www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk/?q=node/188
Quote: “Passport or travel document must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of first entry”.
Sample Reference Link: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/439848-passport-less-than-6-months-left/page-2
Sample Quote: “Thailand requires 6 months validity for entry. Other countries have their own requirements. but most common is 6 months.”
After almost 6-hours of intense online research I stumbled across two sites:
The Star Alliance Visa And Health Requirements Page: http://www.staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/
IATA Thailand Passport Visa, Health, and Travel Documents Page: http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/TH-Thailand-passport-visa-health-travel-document-requirements.htm
Both sites indicated that I was fine and that the requirements indeed were that the passport must be valid for the intended duration of stay. That’s it! So if you’re reading this, thinking about going to Thailand, already have tickets booked, or just curious what the requirements are, every site is wrong except for this one and the two above.
[UPDATE: I didn’t make it clear in the article, nor did I provide an update after the trip, so for those wondering, we made it in just fine!]
Have you had similar travel scares with Passport requirements? I’d love to hear about your story below in the comments.