How Long Does a Passport Last?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Tue Nov 14 2017

Some travelers might assume when they receive a passport book for the first time, after all the hassle, filling out forms, waiting, and fees, that their documents would be good for a lifetime of international jaunts. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you if you thought this was the case, but no passport around the world is valid forever.


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How Long Does a Passport Last?

In addition to unexpected events like loss, theft, and damages that can cause the government to invalidate travel documents, each type of passport comes with different expiration dates. So keep reading and find out how long does a passport last!

Emergency Passports

Let’s start in order, with the travel document most likely to have the shortest validity. A temporary passport, also known as an emergency one, is a special document issued outside the US at an American embassy or consulate, usually as the result of theft or loss of the previous passport.

Rather than forcing its citizens to return home (which is an option), the US Department of State has the discretion to issue a temporary travel document good only for the duration of the trip. However, because the loss of a passport may be connected to a serious crime or loss of other money, luggage, etc. causing the traveler to want to be repatriated immediately, most of these passports are usually given a limit of two days, just enough time to book a flight.

Second Passports

With all the paperwork and bureaucratic hassle to obtain even one travel document, why would anyone even want a second US passport? For frequent travelers, it’s a matter of practicality. If you’re cut short on time prior to your departure from the US, it may not be possible to arrange appointments at multiple foreign consulates and apply for all the visas you need.

However, should your travels keep you in another country for a week or more, it can sometimes be a simple matter to apply for these visas abroad. The problem is if you turn your one and only passport over to a foreign consulate to process a visa, you won’t have an acceptable form of ID abroad: this may mean being unable to check into hotels, not to mention the risk of running into the authorities.

A second passport is a practical option in this case, but don’t get your hopes up that it will be valid for the same length of time as your regular book. Second US passports used to be issued for only two years, but now they’re good for four.

Children’s Passports

The good news is your children are allowed to travel with their own passport book. The bad news is the application process is much more excruciating than any of the others listed here – the emergency passport requires a police report, but the US consulate is general assumes the responsibility of getting its citizens home.

Technically, a child can be issued a passport immediately after being born provided both parents consent and have the necessary paperwork and photographs. Usually it’s a good idea to always have an “age progression” series of photos when renewing a document or even passing through immigration to prove the baby in the passport picture is now the same child, four years old. Passports for children under 16 years old only last five years, meaning your child can potentially have three in their lifetime.

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Adult Passports

After a US citizen turns sixteen, the standard application process – and the most common one – begins. Even experienced travelers sometimes forget that it’s a good idea to check the validity of their documents prior to a long trip, as many countries will not allow entry for anyone with less than six months’ validity on their passport book (nor will airlines allow you to board). As of this time, the standard validity of a US passport is ten years.

Special Cases: Passport Cards, Diplomatic Passports

While passport cards offer US citizens the opportunity to still experience international travel, they are usually restricted to land border crossings, i.e. Mexico, Canada. Any country that requires a visa or a stamp to be affixed will only accept passport books. Passport cards, like books, offer the same validity period depending on the age of the applicant.

Diplomatic passports, despite being issued to adults, are usually only valid for five years. However, these documents can be invalidated if the holder’s diplomatic status is revoked to the loss of their position.

If you have any questions that are related to passports, you can always contact us!