NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You’ve planned every last detail of your dream vacation, but imagine arriving at the airport and being told you can’t go because your passport is invalid.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler found out, passport problems are happening to an increasing number of travelers.
Monte Carlo, Amalfi coast, Capri, Rome — Clark and Jill Soderlund had been planning a trip with four other couples for about a year.
The plan was to fly to Paris and then on to Nice, just a stone’s throw from Monte Carlo where they had VIP passes to the Monaco Grand Prix.
“It’s sort of a bucket list kind of thing and I know I’ll never get back to see the race,” Clark said.
Just moments after getting to the airport, the couple’s trip was grounded.
“Get up to the gate agent, and she just looks at our passport starts shaking her head,” Clark said.
The Soderlands were traveling in late May and returning the first week of June.
Their passports weren’t expiring until late August, but France requires passports to be valid an extra six months beyond your return date.
It was a shock to the Soderlunds.
“It was like being punched in the gut,” Clark said.
Travel expert Johnny Jet said they’re not the only travelers to learn this the hard way.
Several countries require passports to be valid a extra three to six months beyond your return date.
“Six months will be China, would be Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands,” Jet said.
The requirement has long been in place, but the State Department said it’s only now being more strictly enforced.
“Let’s say you’re in an accident and all of a sudden you’re in a hospital for a few months. They don’t want to deal with someone who doesn’t have a valid passport,” Jet said.
After spending the day at the passport office, the Soderlunds were issued new ones and were able to get a flight to Paris the next morning — with enough time to make the Grand Prix.
Still, it’s a vacation memory they’d rather forget.
“Don’t let it happen to you. It’s really miserable,” Clark said.
It could all be avoided by first checking the State Department’s website to find out the specific requirements for the country you’re planning to visit.
A new passport typically takes at least 8 days. There is expedited service for an extra fee.