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Can You Travel With An Expired Passport?

Can you travel with an expired passport? That’s going to depend on where you travel, and where you are in the world. Obviously the short answer to the question of “can you travel with an expired passport?”, is no. There are a lot of things that can come into play though, and that’s what we want to cover here. For example, can you travel nationally on a plane? Yeah of course you can, all you need is to make sure that you have another government issued ID that you can identify yourself with, and you should be able to get on the plane. By the way, that goes for national flights in other countries other than your own. You could run into some resistance at some airports though. 

person putting a passport on bag
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Although you are not going to be able to get on an international flight in most cases with an expired passport there’s a chance that you’ll be able to get on a flight before it expires, and then find yourself trapped in a foreign country. What should you do in that situation? That’s one of the main topics that we want to cover here. Also, in most countries it’s not entirely difficult to get a passport in a short amount of time, if it is for you in your country there may be an unconventional way to get a “provisional” passport. That’s going to include traveling to another country, so you could actually turn your need for a new passport into a trip. That may sound incredibly ironic, and untrue, but if you play your cards right it could be something you can at the very least explore! 

Can You Travel With Expired Passport – International Flights 

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The answer is technically, no, across the board. There are a couple of instances where you may be able to get on a plane when you have an expired passport on international flights. As mentioned if you’re heading back to your home country you may be allowed on the flight. It depends on where you are and what country you’re looking to return to. Although you may be detained when you arrive home and there may be an issue at the departing airport as well there is a chance again that you’ll be able to return and then deal with the issues back home.   

There are actually certain countries that you can travel between without the need for a passport. Now the list is kind of slim at this point. If you can believe it, travel restrictions weren’t as stingy in other times. You were allowed to travel with just an ID. Just as a word of advice, if you’re traveling a route where you are allowed to travel without a passport you need some other form of ID. If you have your expired passport, and you’re coming back home it may be a good idea to show it. When you’re flying to another country, hide the passport if you can! The best way to figure out where you can travel without a passport is to Google your nationality and ask where “X” residents can travel without a passport.  

How To Get A Passport Abroad

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There are a couple of ways to be able to get a passport abroad. Actually it’s essentially one way per se, but it can vary. We’ll start explaining before we make this any harder than it needs to be. Essentially what you need to do is contact your embassy. That is the embassy of the country that you were born in or the one that you have citizenship in. You can visit the site of your embassy and one of the first links that you’ll probably be able to access is one that talks about lost passports. Also, you can find the phone that you can contact the embassy in. Literally let them know what your situation is, and they’ll let you know what the process for getting a new passport is.  

Each embassy is going to have a different process. The process may also be completely different for example if you lose your passport or if it’s expired. If you lose your passport there may not be too many options other than having to physically head over to the embassy. It’s going to be hard to prove your identity with potentially no ID. If you’re someone who wants to be extra prepared for your trip, one of the things that you can do is locate your embassy in the country that you’re going to be visiting. This is because virtually any issue that you could be facing may be resolved right then and there. It’s kind of a last resort to find your way back home if anything bad happens.    

Could You Actually Get A Passport Abroad Intentionally? 

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Let’s say that you lose your passport or your passport is expiring soon. As we’ve covered the answer to can you travel with an expired passport is a no. So, you’re going to need to get one abroad. The best way to be able to do that is to contact your embassy. This is going to be easier said than done depending on what country you are traveling to. In any case you need to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate that is based in the country that you happen to be in. Most of the embassies have a quick step by step process that their countrymen must follow to be able to be granted a passport when they are abroad. Since lost passports are one of the main reasons why people contact foreign embassies in the first place. 

For US residents a new passport could cost up to 130 dollars. That depends on the type of service that you require though. The embassy also reminds people that actually US residents can travel back to their home country without a passport. However, they need to be able to present a valid ID at checking, but again you may have trouble leaving the country that you’re in without a passport or valid visa from that country. So your best bet may be to go ahead and call the embassy and ask for assistance. In some cases embassy agents can help people directly at the airport. Once you notice an issue with your passport you’re going to want to call the embassy as soon as possible.    

Traveling Back To Your Home Country With An Expired Passport

Stansted Airport
Stansted Airport by Eirian Evans is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

We’ve talked about this recently kind of off the cough rather quickly. We want to make sure that we’re able to expand on this topic. If you go to the embassy site it may literally tell you that you don’t need a valid US passport to be able to enter the United States if you have a way to prove that you are in fact a United States citizen. As we’ve mentioned though, the process can get a bit murky. It’s not like you’re going to be able to show up with your driver’s license at TSA after an international flight, and they’ll be ok if you’re good to go. First you need to get permission from the country that you’re leaving to board a plane without a passport. That’s going to be a tricky one.  

If you’re traveling by land it’s actually going to be easier to be able to gain access to the US without a valid passport. In that case if you have your birth certificate or ID to prove that you are in fact a US citizen then the lack of passport could be overlooked much easier. Since you won’t necessarily need to be checked by both of the countries in the process. So for example if you’re leaving Mexico or Canada for the US you just have to drive up to the US border. You may come across a border check on the other side, but if you can prove you are a US citizen you will most likely be allowed to continue on. 

What Type of Repercussions Could All Of This Have?

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This is a topic that is maybe not widely talked about. There’s an argument to be made that the official government pages are not necessarily clear on what’s going to happen if you come in with an expired passport to your home country. Yes, the best case scenario is that you walk up to the immigration officer, and they point out that your passport has expired, and then let you continue on your journey with just a warning. That can certainly happen, but there is some value in these types of situations in preparing for the worst, because it can happen. Really the worst thing that can happen is that you get detained, and they take you to the room in the back that is typically filled with foreign passengers that are also there for questioning. 

They may keep you there for a while. At the end of the day if you can prove that you are a local citizen and that you’ve made an honest mistake they are going to let you go. Is this an issue that can tarnish your record in any sense? While that could be the case it won’t be an issue that will linger in the sense that every time that you travel you’re going to be stopped by immigration. Once you’re able to get on a plane or get to the border to come back into your home country you are pretty much home free. Even if you do get stopped for further questioning, which could be a possibility for sure.  

Usually You Won’t Even Be Able To Buy An International Plane Ticket

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With an expired passport you probably won’t even be able to buy an international plane ticket. That can be a real issue of course if you happen to be abroad. What happens is that most travel sites that sell flights these days force you to input your passport number on the site to be able to book a ticket. If they scan your passport and realize that things don’t add up you’re not going to be able to progress to the payment page. Of course, being able to print out a ticket is even more out of the question. 

If you find yourself in this situation your best bet will be to contact your embassy. You could go out to the airport and look into getting a ticket on site. Again though, that’s going to take some convincing. A lot of airlines now run essentially the same software that allows people to buy tickets online so you may come across the same issue. You won’t be able to purchase a ticket to get back home. We’ve already been through some of the only real solutions that are going to be on the table for you at that point.  

Can You Travel With An Expired Passport – Conclusion 

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There are places where you will in fact be able to travel with an expired passport. National flights for example don’t require a passport. Travel to certain countries may also be exempt from this. It comes down though to what your nationality is, and where you want to travel. If you want a list of countries that you can travel to without a passport you can always Google the question directly. “Where can US nationals travel without a passport?”, for example. 

If you happen to lose your passport when you’re abroad there are a couple of things that you’re going to be able to do to get back home. The first thing that we would recommend though is that you contact your country’s embassy. As we’ve mentioned passport issues are typically something that they deal with on the regular. Therefore it’s very likely that they’ll have a step by step plan set up to be able to help you get a new passport or get to where you need to be. Another option that you may have will be to return home by land. That of course is only going to be a viable option if you happen to be close enough to your home country. In any case, don’t panic, and call for help!