Your Passport Might Not Let You Travel- A Cautionary Tale in Immigration

Photo by tootdood

My sister Charm was denied a boarding pass the minute she presented her passport at the check-in counter.


Because her passport had only less than six months validity.

My sis and I have been planning a trip to Vietnam since last month. The snag was that her passport was about to expire in six months but I needed her passport number to book our tickets. I told her to check with the Vietnam consulate and even asked my Canadian friend who’s only been to two countries if we can still travel if our passports will expire soon (you guessed it, she said yes).

All was to go according to plan except —

we forgot to check with our own country’s immigration laws.

No Filipino can exit the country if their passports aren’t valid for six months.

We replanned to fly from Cebu instead of Manila (where immigration is stricter). The problem is that there were no direct flights to Vietnam from Cebu. We decided on international hub Singapore then hop on a flight there to Ho Chin Minh.

Except it was too late that we found out we can’t enter the country if your passport’s not 6 months valid.

There are some places that will accept less than 6 months passport validity. Hong Kong’s one of them (one month validity). If you want to know more, check with your local travel agent. Wished we consulted one before we secured tickets online. Lesson learned.

So check when your passport is going to expire before you leave. It can save you a lot of trouble and money.

I am currently in Saigon/Ho Chin Minh, Vietnam now after being in transit in Singapore. It’s a wild and crazy city. Watch out for those motorbikes!

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    13 thoughts on “Your Passport Might Not Let You Travel- A Cautionary Tale in Immigration

    1. Migs says:

      I already bought a ticket for my Hong Kong trip and am scheduled to leave the Phils. in a few days. The only thing I ever considered was that my passport wasn’t expired making it okay to travel abroad, and I knew it was still valid, but good for only less than a year. I thought that six months rule was applicable only for visa applications.

      So then I came across this article via Google… and immediately checked to see when exactly my passport will expire. Lo and behold it was a wee bit short of six months! like two days short from my date of departure!

      Oh boy…

    2. Kate says:

      Hi Mig,

      Whew. quite a dilemma you have there. *whistle*
      kind of like my sister’s, only hers was worse.

      I thought that six months rule was applicable only for visa applications.

      I thought the same way too till I got into this situation. (shakes head)

      If you live in the Philippines, it’ll be hard to leave w/ less than 6 months validity unless you know someone in the immigration department (under the table policy and all that). But if your city’s immig isn’t so strict, then maybe you can leave cuz Hong Kong will accept one month validity. Check with your bureau of immigration first.

      Good luck with your HK trip! The weather is a combination of cool and hot, meaning short sleeve shirts are still in fashion.

      Hope you can tell your friends or others about this so they escape from this problem.

    3. Migs says:

      Hi, yeah I checked the travel requirements in the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website, and it clearly says you need to have a valid passport good for “at least 6 months”. So technically I’m screwed! A friend of mine told me he knows someone who can offer me an “escort service” in the airport, but how sure is that?? The last thing I want is to get all stressed out and paranoid about it and I’m not really in a big hurry anyway. So I’m thinking of just moving it to late November until I have renewed my passport (which if I am not mistaken will take at least ten days to process).

      Thanks for the advice this site has really been a big help! It could have been worse if I hadn’t come across it. I guess it’s off to the cemetery for me in a few days! Wee what fun…

      • Kate says:

        That’s great! No, don’t trust the escort service. We did that (yeah, we also
        knew somebody at immigration) but the minute we went to the check-in counter
        of cebu pacific, we were so totally screwed! My friend didn’t have any say
        in the matter because airlines was out of his jurisdiction. So all that
        worrying, paranoia and cajoling wasn’t worth it. My sis had to cancel and we
        lost some money and knowing how late with the payment cebu pacific is, our
        refund hasn’t arrived yet. 😦

        So yeah, yours is the best wisest move. Move it to November– you won’t lose
        any money, your passport would be renewed, you won’t get questioned by
        immigration and best of all, your trip won’t be spoiled with all that

        if it’ll take 10 days for you to renew your passport, I’m guessing you live
        in Manila or somewhere near right? We were in Cebu at that time and it would
        have taken my sister a month just to renew hers.

        Your welcome. I’m glad my site has been of help to others. I don’t want them
        to be in the same position as I was. Bring those sweaters if you are coming
        to HK in late Novemeber, it tends to get a little bit chilly.

        And ooh, love those cemeteries… Eating lechon, playing bingo, gambling and
        dancing around ancestral graves. Nothing beats that. Too bad no cemeteries
        here in China 😦

    4. Albert says:

      duh?! had i knew this site earlier, i could have saved lots of’s my story,

      I booked a flight for me and my wife this week for a long independence day weekend. it’s manila-macau and hk-manila.i travel almost every month or even twice a month.I didnt mind about my passport expiration because i thought that as long as your passport is valid(not yet expired), then u have every right to use it whenever you want to go. I booked a flight for June 10 and returning to manila on June 15.the expiration on my passport is on june 16.i have already booked in 5star hotels in macau such as Lisboa hotel same for accomodation in HK.Only today did I remember the 6month passport validity requirement when i browsed thru the airline website.I even spoke to a very unaccomodating lawyer from the bureau of immigration to confirm my concern.Guess what, you can easily what’s next if i’d be able to travel or is June 9 and tomorrow is the flight.May luck be on my side as I cross the immigration line(that is if the airline allows me to check-in).I already paid almost P30,000 for the travel and accomodation alone.I really hope that everything will be fine come tomorrow. Should I be successful in this flight, certainly I’ll share my experience to you. I hope everybody would learn from this lesson that I have to pay dearly.thanks and regards to all 🙂

      • Kate says:

        Albert, I wish you all the luck in the world. I’m in the same position as you were. I hope you get through but there’s a slim chance. Drop a comment though and let us know what happened so we could also benefit from your experience.

    5. Albert says:

      hi kate.i remeber my promise to post the outcome of my travel dilemma. Well, guess what, I was able to go on with my flight! If there’s a will, there’s a way.Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I applied for a new passport thru the director’s office and they told me that it is impossible for me to be issued a new machine readable passport in a single day.I told them I already knew that this is the consequence of my ignorance. I also pointed out that they the immigration even allowed me to travel to Beijing last Feb 09 with my passport only having four months validity period before expiring. They then told me that my situation now is much different and it’s impossible for them to process a passport in one day.soonest according to them (if your reason is a matter of life and death) is 4days. So I almost lost hope upon hearing this. I didn’t give up. I used every word and emotion I can project just to persuade them to do their best to issue me a new passport on the next day. I was asked to write a request letter and reason as to why they should succumb to my request. Well, details are confidential but I it didn’t involve life and death thing. My reason is very light and is just about family affair. I wrote the request letter as honest and as persuasive as I could.After that, I went thru the normal process of passport application. Come the next day (which was also our flight date) I went to the DFA at 10.30 am in the morning. I was told that my passport hasnt been processed yet and that I should not expect that it would be released the same day. I left the DFA with my morale low but still has some sort of hope. I went back around 1.30pm and my passport wasnt there yet.Come 3 pm, no trace of my passport still.4pm,nothing happened. I almost gave up. I was told by the guard that there are 3 deliveries of passport everyday coming from their processing house near CCP complex. I already invested every effort I can so I then waited until their closing time at 5pm (even though my flight to Macau is 7.30pm). Then here comes the last delivery of the day, I was asked to get inside the directors office and find out if my passport is included. Alas! they found my new machine readable passport freshly delivered! The same person who discouraged me in the morning was the same person who found my passport!!! It’s really amazing because the impossible was made possible. I then rushed back to my condo in Makati and in no time managed to get to the airport an hour before the flight. I hope everyone learns from this experience. Please check your passport validity date.It should be at least 6mos valid.

      moreover, i didnt give any single centavo as bribe.kudos to the employee in the directors office who made this happen.thanks ma’ least, i can still attest that there are still government employees who are with integrity and ready to attend to our needs without an extra charge.good day to all!

    6. pinoyz says:


      problem with my passport… need help..

      my complete name is nilo cruz alegrias II

      my plane ticket : nilo cruz alegrias II

      my passport : nilo cruz alegrias..

      going to singapore later… any suggestions? tnx..

    7. pinoyz says:


      problem with my passport… need help..

      my complete name is nilo cruz alegrias II

      my plane ticket : nilo cruz alegrias II

      my passport : nilo cruz alegrias..

      going to singapore later… any suggestions? tnx.. =)

      • Homer says:

        always buy a ticket to the same of ur passport silly, just as it is on ur passport!!!


        but since ur already done it, then try to not say anything and see if they will notice, and be honest and tell them u did not know and beg them for help

    8. Homer says:

      wow what a great web site kate, i love it

      i also have a similar funny story about this stuff

      i was flying from ph to tw something i do on monthly basis bc of my line of work.

      i was stopped in tw immigration after we landed and told i can not be let into the country using my AMERICAN passport bc it was expiring in 5 months. the guys wore SO SUPER happy to ketch me and even smiled and said YES to them-selfs and said that they will have to put me on the same plain going back to ph in 30min so i have no time and we must hurry, they said that bc of me the airlines that let me fly will be fine 30,000php for making the mistake.

      but god is always on my side i guess, and by being a smart and very lucky businessman i just provided them my EUROPEAN passport that had years left on it until expiration.

      As i did so they started to apologize to me and walked me all the way outside of the airport where my other tw business partner was waiting me. The immigration official said sorry to my partner as well for the long wait and explain them-self again and wore so super apologetic.

      life is good when your on top of things i guess.


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