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January 2015 Cruising Tip

Posted by on January 6, 2015

Check that Passport Date

An invitation to attend the Moscow Boat Show in March of this year and then a visit to St. Petersburg seemed too good to refuse. I of course said yes to the publisher who has translated two of our books into the Russian Language, (The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew and Storm Tactics Handbook.)

In late November I received an email, “Please send me a copy of your passport so we can purchase your airline tickets today or tomorrow, some good deals going right now,” wrote Elena the lady who would be hosting us. I promptly scanned the appropriate pages and emailed them back. “Sorry,” wrote Elena. “The airlines will not sell tickets to anyone who does not have at least six months left on their passports beyond the date when they plan to depart from Russia. You will need to get your passport renewed before we can proceed.”

I have always been aware that few countries will give you a visa for more than half of the time left before your passport expires[1], but this took me by surprise. I have since checked with New Zealand immigration plus three consulates for three other countries and found this six month rule, though not standard, is becoming more common.

I immediately set to work getting a new passport, even though mine had 9 months left before it expired. A few weeks later I scanned and sent the info to Elena. As we all know, during December the price of oil continued to fall, rumors of economic chaos in Russia began to filter through the news. So I wasn’t completely surprised when the word came back that the precipitous fall of the ruble had put the whole trip in jeopardy. Unfortunately the publisher and Sailing School who are funding the trip have decided we all have to wait for a year or so to see what happens to the ruble. And I can’t help thinking I missed out on a very special experience just because my passport expiry date was wrong.

Same thing could happen to any cruiser arriving in a new port of call without checking their passport expiry date. You could find you are only given a month’s visa when you really hoped to stay for six. It may seem a nuisance and waste of money, but it pays to renew your passport 10 months before it is due to expire.

[1] I discuss this and other important aspects of paperwork for voyaging in The third edition of Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew in the section called, The Official Word.

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