Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Travelers urged to be aware of expiry dates of passports

COUNTING DOWN:The foreign ministry said that customary international practice is that passports should be valid for more than six months to travel

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday urged the public not to travel on passports due to expire in less than six months.

The ministry’s statement came amid heated online debate about whether a Taiwanese traveler with a passport due to expire in three to six months would be able to travel to Japan, which offers Republic of China passport holders 90-day visa exempt entry.

Some netizens said that local airlines have denied them a boarding pass for flights to Japan because they were carrying a passport that expired in less than six months, with airline staff saying that they were following requirements laid out by the ministry’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

However, according to the bureau’s Web site, visitors to Japan are only required to possess a passport with at least three months validity remaining.

“While the Japanese government does not explicitly stipulate a minimum of validity in a tourist’s passport, it is within the discretionary power of each country’s customs officers to decide whether to grant admission to their nations,” Bureau of Consular Affairs Chief Secretary Elaine Chen (陳瓊玉) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday morning.

There have been cases where tourists were denied entry despite having all the required travel documents, so people planning to travel abroad should be aware that customary international practice is that tourists should travel on passports valid for more than six months, Chen said.

The bureau cannot intervene with airlines over their regulations, Chen said, adding that airlines sometimes refuse to issue a boarding pass to travelers with passports due to expire in less than six months to avoid potentially having to fly the passenger home if they are denied entry at their destination.

“We will step up communications with airlines on the enforcement of such requirements,” Chen said.

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