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How strict is Belgium about post-departure [US] passport validity requirements?

How strict is Belgium about post-departure [US] passport validity requirements?

Old Jul 12, 15, 9:23 pm
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How strict is Belgium about post-departure [US] passport validity requirements?

We are due to travel to Belgium later this summer and I noticed that Belgium requires passports to be valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure. Two of our children have passports that will expire eight weeks after our return to the US.

We were all set to renew the relevant passports until I realized that we have to hand over the current passports while applying for new passports. We have an intervening international trip at the beginning of August but new passports take 4 to 6 weeks to process so that conflicts with our early August trip.

At this stage it seems that the options are:
1) Shrug - the Belgians don't really care if US passports are valid for the full three months after departure from Belgium and will probably barely look at our passports [we will be arriving from the UK]
2) Panic, make an appointment with the nearest US passport agency, pay the additional fees for expedited service and drag the entire family down to the agency since the children and both parents all have to be present in person to apply for new passports for minors. No doubt the passport agency has long wait times and the high security lockdown typical of US offices that deal with border security so it will be a fun environment in which to have three children under six.

Any experience or advice?

thanks

baobab
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Old Jul 12, 15, 11:16 pm
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In fact, this requirement is for ALL Schengen-area countries, not just Belgium. For my risk-averse self I would go for Option #2 rather than risk getting denied entry at Belgium, but I'll let other more experienced FT'ers chip in.

Option #3 change your departing flight from Belgium to exactly 3 months before your passport expiry date. Enter Belgium. then change your flights back to the originally scheduled departure.

Option #4 don't even change your departing flight just edit the PDF and show it to border control.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 11:22 pm
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Originally Posted by shuigao View Post
In fact, this requirement is for ALL Schengen-area countries, not just Belgium. For my risk-averse self I would go for Option #2 rather than risk getting denied entry at Belgium, but I'll let other more experienced FT'ers chip in.

Option #3 change your departing flight from Belgium to exactly 3 months before your passport expiry date. Enter Belgium. then change your flights back to the originally scheduled departure.

Option #4 don't even change your departing flight just edit the PDF and show it to border control.
Maybe I misread your post, but for Option #4 are you actually suggesting forgery?
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:09 am
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Originally Posted by shuigao View Post
In fact, this requirement is for ALL Schengen-area countries, not just Belgium. For my risk-averse self I would go for Option #2 rather than risk getting denied entry at Belgium, but I'll let other more experienced FT'ers chip in.

Option #3 change your departing flight from Belgium to exactly 3 months before your passport expiry date. Enter Belgium. then change your flights back to the originally scheduled departure.

Option #4 don't even change your departing flight just edit the PDF and show it to border control.
#3
You will need to go through border control to get to gates existing Schengen. all it takes is a scan of the PP expiration date.... i would not take this risk

#4 bad idea jeans

you will need to get renew passport for the kids anyway. look at this 1-time hassle and cost a necessity for future 10 year travel anyway, not specifically just for this trip
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:13 am
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Originally Posted by BadgerBoi View Post
Maybe I misread your post, but for Option #4 are you actually suggesting forgery?
Originally Posted by deniah View Post
#4 bad idea jeans
I didn't say it was a good option Some #YOLO people might consider the risk worth saving a trip to the passport office, who am I to judge?
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:40 am
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Originally Posted by shuigao View Post
I didn't say it was a good option Some #YOLO people might consider the risk worth saving a trip to the passport office, who am I to judge?
Besides the fact that this would be definitely not something you should do, they still need to leave the Schengen area, and that's the point that matters, not a flight that has been booked (or not). And if they leave after the deadline of 3 months then it doesn't matter what their PDF says, or whichever flight they have booked. Anyway, I don't think they usually check return tickets anyway?

I don't know how strict Belgium is with this regulation, but I would not risk this either, better get new passport before your trip. It also matters if you enter any other Schengen country before and after Belgium, as you then "enter" the Schengen area in this country (e.g. if you fly from the US via Frankfurt, Paris, etc. to Belgium)
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:48 am
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Definitely renew the passports paying the expedited service. If the passports are read automatically by the machine scanner it will redflag it even though the immigration officer eye-balling the passport might have missed it.

This is asking for trouble and paying the extra fee is the only way to travel with the peace of mind that you won't have any immigration issues which could ruin your whole trip and in the end might incur cost much higher (e.g. buying a return ticket on the spot, penalties,.. ) than the fee to be paid.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:11 pm
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Thanks all. We will bite the bullet. The issue with expediting when there is less than three weeks available before departure date is that one has to make a trip to the passport agency. This isn't much fun for adults but is a form of torture for (and when accompanied by) small children.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:54 pm
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I'd probably go for expedited renewal too in your situation... but note it's "date of intended departure" not "date of actual departure". You're unlikely to get into any trouble if your plans change after you have entered Schengen...
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Old Jul 13, 15, 3:19 pm
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OP's kids and therefore OP won't even make it onto the aircraft xBOS (or whichever international gateway they use). The carriers are strict about this because they get fined and have to transport people back. They then tap the individual for the fine.

This is more than about expedited service and that makes it much easier. There won't be long lines because passport agencies don't process that many applications anymore and they only do it by appointment.

OP can also complete all of the required forms online, print them and have them ready for signature (remember, presuming two custodial parents, both must sign for the kids -- or provide the additional forms authorizing issuance).

Don't do stupid things like presenting forged documents. It couldn't be a stupider thing to do. Yes, I am judging.
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Old Jul 14, 15, 4:22 am
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I think the lesson learned is: Always check you travel documents before you book any trip.

I have learned it the hard way, as a lot of others. Good thing, you usually will not make that mistake again
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Old Jul 17, 15, 6:35 pm
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^ the lesson learned is not just check your travel documents but check the country-specific requirements. Also, this being the first time I've had to renew US passports I was shocked that the US requires you to hand in your passport - and thus be totally unable to travel - while applying for a new one. It was really that last requirement that nailed us and caused the trouble with timing.

Also agree that it is beyond idiotic to forge anything to do with immigration requirements. That's a really fast way to land yourself in custody and potentially be banned from visiting a country for life. I've spent some time being interrogated by immigration officials and had my passport seized. It's not a pleasant experience for an adult and would be triply awful with children. (I was in the right but that didn't give me any rights or speed things up - I just had to go through the process, be polite and keep pointing at my totally okay documentation and how I was 100% conforming with the constraints on my visas etc). An expired passport is small beans in comparison.

Thanks again for all the advice.

baobab
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Old Jul 21, 15, 1:53 am
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You also need to consider the "rules" applied by the airline. Sometimes these - in reality or as interpreted by the airline staff - are more rigorous than the actual national requirement. It's all very well standing on your dignity at check-in, but whatever the actual airline rules are or ought to be, the last laugh is on you as the traveller if you're denied boarding.

I'd definitely renew the passports before the trip.
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Old Aug 20, 15, 9:46 am
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Last edited by ft556; May 28, 18 at 7:42 am Reason: legal
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Old Aug 23, 15, 7:26 am
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We got in just under the wire for doing a rush renewal via the USPS counter, which was much easier than having to go to the agency... but it came down to the wire and the passports finally arrived in the mail the Friday afternoon before the Saturday morning we were departing. I had images of have to haul three small children through Friday afternoon mad traffic to the agency. If the State Department used mail tracking it would have been far less stressful knowing that they would arrive in time: I would have happily paid a few extra dollars for that!
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