Valid Passport – A guide to what makes a passport valid

For a Regular Full-term passport, the length of validity depends on the age of the person who is issued the passport. Someone who is 16 years-old or older will have a valid passport for 10 years from the date it was issued. Likewise, those who are 15 years-old and younger have a valid passport for 5 years. The Issue Date of a passport can be found on both the passport book’s data page, or on the front of the passport card.

Limited Validity passports are those that are issued for less than the term of a regular passport. These types of passports are generally used for special circumstances such as emergencies, where traveling between countries is essential and cannot wait. Limited passports are usually valid for a maximum of 12 months, though they can be issued for a different amount of time depending on the circumstance. Those who are issued a Limited Validity passport are given documentation on how long their passport is valid. These passports can be extended or converted into full regular passports on a case-to-case basis.

Many countries have laws that need a passport to be valid for at least 6 months before they are accepted. Other countries require that passports are not due to expire within 3 to 6 months. For these reasons, it is important to research the passport laws of destination countries before any international trips. Keeping a passport renewed and valid is the best way to avoid delays in travel plans.

As renewal or issuance can take between 4 to 6 weeks, this process should be initiated at least 9 months before any trips. This is the best way to make sure the passport will be in line with most overseas laws, as previously mentioned. Sometimes this process can be expedited, or “sped up”, for special circumstances as determined by the issuing authority. Those who would like to have their passport expedited must complete the application in person with an accepted issuing authority.

Limited Validity passports can take longer to process. Limited passports that are less than a year old are less difficult to convert. There is no guarantee, however, that a Limited Validity passport will be extended. Conversion to a full-term regular passport does not cost any extra fees, as long as all necessary documentation is provided. When converting to a regular passport, the Limited Passport must be surrendered for cancellation.