Here’s a fun fact that should be emphasized a lot to students planning to go abroad: it is recommended, and in many cases, required that your passport be valid until 6 months after your expected return date.
Amanda and I will be in Spain from early September until mid-December. My passport, which I got before my family’s trip to Canada and Alaska when I was almost 15, was due to expire in March of 2013, about three and a half months after our return from Spain. The UCF study abroad application asks if your passport is good for 6 months after your trip, but there is no context to that question. I assumed that six months was the recommendation, but surely three and a half months was fine. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to get stuck in Spain for three and a half months after my date of expected return, right?
Never assume anything! It was foolish of me to do so, especially regarding something as important as a passport. I should have looked into it the moment the question was asked. Even better, the study abroad website should say right there on the application that the expiration date must be 6 months after your expected return date in order to get a student visa, and, in some cases, a plane ticket. This is not a guideline; it is an actual rule.
I have now sent off my passport application and I’ll have a new passport in a few weeks, but I should have done this earlier. Now we’re a bit pressed for time, since I need my passport number to make my appointment at the Spanish Consulate in Miami to apply for a student visa. We need to make these appointments a month in advance, and then the approval process can take another month. Amanda and I wanted to go to Miami in mid-June, but thanks to my assumption, we might be a bit delayed. We will still have time to get everything done, but I wish I had been better informed earlier.
On a more exciting note, guess who booked plane tickets from Miami to Madrid today? We did!