what can you do if your passport expires before visas do

Over the next few weeks as I travel through east Asia and the Pacific, I’ll have one passport expire and another whose pages will be filled with stamps and visas. In the first case I’ll need to get a new passport but what will happen to my visas that are still valid once that happens? You may also find yourself in this situation along your travels and the answer is surprisingly straightforward in most cases.

Before I get into that though let me say this is general advice – and the situation can vary between every nation’s passport and every country that’s issued you a visa. Always check the appropriate embassy website or call them (here’s how to find the right number) to be sure as entry requirements tend to change arbitrarily.

passport pagesGet More Pages If You Can

This may seem obvious to many of you frequent travelers but in case you don’t know, many countries around the world allow you to add pages to an existing passport. You may not need to get an entirely new passport if the one you have is simply loaded with stamps (yay for you international jet-setter!). Also, some countries upon renewal will simply add a page with a new expiration and photo (e.g. Turkey) if requested to extend a passport’s validity.

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Now for the cases where none of the above is an option, the solution is to simply bring your old and new passport when traveling to a country you’ve already got the visa for.

Bring Both Passports – New And The Old One With The Valid Visa In Question

Many nations around the world will accept entry if you have a valid visa and a valid passport, as is the case for America. This is also true for visas to the United Kingdom, however they do have an option that will let you transfer visas from an old passport to a new one. (It’s not required per say but saves you from having to remember bringing two passports.) In the cases of many countries however it’s important to note that the old visa will only be honored if you renew your passport with the same type. So if you’re changing to a diplomatic visa for example, you’ll need to have all of your valid visas from the old passport most likely renewed. Otherwise you can see if a transfer is possible.

Also, if you’re a dual citizen, the passport with the valid visa and your new passport must be from the same country. You can’t mix and match in those cases.

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color paper clipsDouble-Check And Don’t Forget Both

Keep in mind however you need both a valid visa and a valid passport – don’t try to enter another country with a good visa in a passport that’s expired. You won’t be allowed in and to be sure you don’t inadvertently forget, paperclip all of your passports with valid visas in them until the expire. You never know when you might have a sudden change of travel plans and don’t want to have to go through any visa process (plus fees) any more than required.

Finally, I want to mention again to confirm things with the appropriate embassy prior to making any travel plans. Some countries will vary in what they want you to do with your old visas, whether they expire when the passport does, and how to handle those situations. Although you might be a terrible planner like myself, visas are one area of travel where you shouldn’t wing it.

[Last paperclip photo is not mine, but rather public domain from Wikipedia. Mostly because I couldn’t find a paper clip to take a picture of.]