Can I travel with an expired passport?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Thu Oct 4 2018

The short answer is no. If you plan to board an international flight, take a bus or drive to a land border crossing, or a one-way cruise across the globe, you will need a passport book or card to pass through immigration every time.

However, there are ways for US citizens to travel across the ocean without a passport book or card, and even enter foreign countries for a short time. One option is to fly directly to a US territory, like Guam, American Samoa, or Puerto Rico; these areas are officially part of the United States and require nothing more than a state-issued photo ID compliant with the Real ID Act to board a flight.

Another way to travel without a passport is on a closed-loop cruise. Passengers who will be departing from and returning to the US are not always required to carry a valid passport – though it is a good idea in the event you need to fly home in an emergency – even when they disembark for a day trip in Mexico, Jamaica, or the Cayman Islands.

While these situations include traveling without a passport at all, are there any in which you can cross an international border or board a flight without a valid passport? Let’s take a look.


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Can you travel with an expired passport for ID?

Internationally, no. Your passport book will be checked by the airline staff, at the security checkpoint, and possibly by gate agents. Only valid passport books will be accepted for international flights.

On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping you from using your expired passport book as a form of photo ID for domestic travel. Whether or not you’ll be granted entry to the security area is usually at the discretion of airport staff, which is why it’s a good idea to carry a valid state-issued ID as well. However, an expired passport is acceptable in some cases, as it doesn’t need to be stamped or used for international travel.

What happens if your passport expires on your way to the US?

This is not a common scenario, as it requires you to leave your point of departure abroad late on the day your passport expires and arrive in the US one day after the expiration date; most countries require you hold a passport with at least six months’ validity to ensure you have enough time to return home.

A US passport is valid until midnight on the expiration date local time, meaning if your passport expires on October 5th, and you take a flight out of Istanbul at 10:30 PM that day heading for Los Angeles, you will arrive in the US on October 6th, having boarded the flight and left Turkey legally but are now trying to enter the US without valid travel documents.

In general, this would not be allowed. Airport and airline employees would see your flight itinerary and passport expiration date, and advise you to renew your documents at a US embassy or consulate abroad. One of the reasons for this is flight delays; if your flight is held up for hours and you’re forced to leave the airport on foot, you would no longer be allowed to enter the country, significantly limiting your options.

While departing and arriving on your passport expiration date is legal and acceptable to airport staff, it’s always recommended to have a few months’ left before traveling. You never know what can happen!

What can I do if my passport is expired?

If you’re in the US and notice your passport has already expired, never fear; there are plenty of options at your disposal. You can make an appointment at a regional passport agency, send in your application through the mail, or entrust it to a service like Travel Visa Pro for expedited processing.

If you’re abroad when your passport expires, you can take the expired book or card to the nearest US embassy or consulate for a renewal. The time for this process varies, which is why it’s always recommended to have plenty of time remaining on your passport before leaving the United States. However, it’s not the end of the world to renew abroad.

Have you checked the expiration date on your passport lately?