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New Passport Requirements for travel to EU

If you’re headed to Europe sometime soon, an immediate change in passport entry requirements may have you scrambling.
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Monica Bugajski, July 29, 2013 4:46:31 PM

Planning a trip to Europe this summer or fall? Better make sure your passport is valid for at least three months after your departure date. If it isn’t, you could get turned away.

A regulation that went into affect July 19th requires non-EU nationals to present travel documents that are valid for at least three months after the departure date from the European country. That means that if you’re planning to return from your Spanish getaway on September 1st, your passport needs to be valid until at least December 1st.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about this policy, you’re not alone. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), no official EU statements have been released to airlines notifying them of the changes and there’s been no word to passengers via diplomatic or official national websites.

However this lack of communication is bound to impact people’s travel plans. Even though airlines may let certain passengers onto flights, immigration will still consider them inadmissible if their documents don’t meet the new dates required. And there really is no faster way to ruin a vacation than to be denied entry into a country.

Luckily, the IATA contacted all the countries affected to clarify whether they would be implementing the policy right away or providing some flexibility given the short notice. This is what they found.

Beginning July 19th, the three-month beyond intended period of stay is effective in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The policy is expected to comes into force sometime this fall in Denmark, Italy, Norway, Romania, and Switzerland. There is still no official response to when Croatia or Slovakia will be implementing the regulation.

Given the desire for tourists, France, Belgium and Sweden are allowing for some flexibility during the summer holiday season, while Austria doesn’t foresee major disruptions as the decision is upon discretion of its border police.

The three-month regulation does not apply to the United Kingdom or Ireland, as they are not part of the Schengen Agreement.

Travel to the EU 

If you’re travelling to the EU this summer or fall, first make sure that your passport is valid for three months past your return date to Canada. If it is, then no further action in required on your part. But if your passport expires in the given period of time, you will need to renew it as soon as possible.

Passport Canada provides all the information regarding passport renewal online. Completed applications and payments can be mailed to Passport Canada’s main office in Quebec or delivered in person at any Passport Canada office.

Normal processing times range from 10 days – when submitted in person – to 20 days – when submitted through mail, Service Canada or Canada Post. However, that length doesn’t include postal delivery time and can be substantially longer depending on the number of applications received.

If your travel date is fast approaching, you can use the Urgent and Express Service. You must apply in person at a Passport Canada office and provide proof of travel, like an airline ticket or travel itinerary. You must also pay the additional fees – $110 for 24 hours, $50 for 2 to 9 business days and $20 for 10 business days. Though it may be a bit pricier, having that renewed passport safe in your hands means you can travel worry free.

If for some reason getting a new passport is not a viable option, you can try contacting the host country’s embassy or consulate to see whether they can issue you a special visa for travelling within the expiration period.

Travel outside the EU

The EU isn’t the only area to place entry and exit restrictions on its visitors.

While Canadians going to Cuba only need a passport valid for one month beyond the departure date, visitors headed to Aruba must hold passports valid for at least three months after their expected departure from the island and be in a possession of a return or onward ticket.

Thailand, Russia, Argentina, and Ecuador are among the countries requiring six-month validity from date of departure from the country, and India requires that a passport have 180 days validity from when a traveller enters the country. Canadians travelling to China need a passport that is valid for six months beyond the date they applied for their visa.

Not sure about your destination’s entry and exit regulations? Log onto the Government of Canada’s Travel website and simply type in the name of the country you’re headed to. You’ll find a wealth of information including visa and passport regulations and travel advisories. Being prepared ahead of time will ensure smooth, worry-free travel.

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Monica Bugajski

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