You’re probably already aware that your passport should typically be valid for at least six months past the end date of an international trip. Many countries require this for entry, and if your passport expires within the stipulated window, you may be turned away from your flight at the airport. But did you know that some countries also require you to have two to four blank pages in your passport, too?
While American passports are designed to fit several passport stamps per page, it’s not uncommon for immigration officers to stamp a little haphazardly, perhaps taking up space for two stamps with just one stamp. Sometimes they may even skip an open space and opt for a blank page. That, of course, is one way for you to run out of blank pages fast — even before your passport expires.
To keep some passport pages blank, some travelers are placing sticky notes on certain pages, writing a polite note along the lines of “please stamp elsewhere; saving this space for a visa.” Since sticky notes are not permanent, they don’t damage your passport or render it invalid.
But the Post-it method isn’t a guarantee that those pages will be left blank.
If you do use the sticky note method, don’t make a fuss if the immigration officer disregards it.
Instead of relying on kind-hearted immigration officers, travelers should look into more reliable methods of preserving valuable passport pages — or some other alternatives.
Ultimately, it’s on you, the traveler, to be aware of entry requirements in different countries and ensure your passport fits those requirements. If your passport is getting even remotely close to full, it might be a good idea to renew in advance of your next trip, even if your passport hasn’t expired yet. Remember that passport renewals can take up to 11 weeks for a standard application or up to seven weeks for an expedited one.
If you’re within 14 days of departure for an international trip or you need a foreign visa within 28 days, and you’ve realized you need a new passport to enter your destination country, you might qualify for an urgent in-person renewal, which can get you a new document in a single day. But it’s a risky option — and it might require you to fly to another city for that in-person appointment.
The bottom line: Always monitor your expiration date and the number of blank pages in your passport. Before you book a trip, make sure your passport complies with all the requirements for entry.