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Definition of VALID Passport on MSC


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Hello all! I just booked my first sailing on MSC and it was kind of a last-minute holiday-driven idea; I booked the day before yesterday and the ship sails on 2/2 out of Miami (getting to the port will be an adventure on Super Bowl Sunday!) Mpassport expires in less than six months--it expires in mid-March, four weeks after I disembark. I was aware of this when I booked the sailing. My plan was to renew my passport BEFORE sailing, but that's kinda dicey as renewing requires mailing it off and then I have no control over when it returns. I am prepared to pay to expedite it, but even then it could be four weeks and with the holiday next week that's cutting it REALLY close. 

 

So I went onto the MSC site and this is what I found. My question follows.

 

Round-trip sailings to the Caribbean departing from Miami:
US & Canadian Citizens: All guests can travel with any of the below mentioned WHTI Compliant documents. Please keep in mind that a passport, even if not required, is still preferred and strongly recommended, as it is required for air travel.
 
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Compliant Documents
 
Adults US Citizens (16 years and older):
  • Valid Passport
  • Passport Card
  • Enhanced Driver's License
  • Trusted Traveler Program Card (NEXUS, SNETRI or FAST)
  • American Indian Card (Form 1-872)
  • Enhanced Tribal Card
 
Adult Canadian Citizens (16 years and older):
  • Valid Passport
  • Enhanced Driver's License
  • Trusted Traveler Program Card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
 
US Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Valid Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
 
US and Canadian Citizen Children (under 16 years):
  • Government Issued Birth Certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Canadian Citizenship Card
 
US Citizens ONLY can sail using Proof of Citizenship (an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or an original Certificate of Naturalization) along with a valid government-issued photo ID.

 

My question: what defines VALID passport in this case? Is that any non-expired passport? Because I know that some airlines won't let you fly if your passport expires in 6 months or less. And I know there's a three-month rule for some countries. But I also know that cruising is different, as you're not really visiting that country--you are considered "in transit". 

 

So I'm kinda stumped as to which would be the safer bet:

 

A. renewing my passport TODAY (well, tomorrow) and hoping it gets returned to me in less than 4 weeks.

or

B. sailing with the passport I have--which is considered not-expired for the duration of the sailing--and then renewing when I return home, as I do not currently have any international travel planned in the following 6-week period.

 

Has anyone sailed on MSC with a passport that expires soon-ish? Any issues? 

I also realize I can try to find my birth certificate, but I'm not sure where it is  or how long it would take to order a replacement. 

 

Thanks in advance for answering my complicated question. And remember folks--booking a last minute cruise is all well and good until you realize that problems like this exist! Hahahahahahaha! 

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I was able to get a certified copy of my birth certificate FedExed to me overnight when I was moving and stupidly left my passport and certified copy of my birth certificate in the filing cabinet which was in the custody of the movers.  The county involved was in a major metropolitan area, all counties may not offer this service.

 

I'm just off MSC with a passport which expires in March, so I had less than the allegedly 6 required months of validity.  Nobody even batted an eyelash.  It was a closed-loop Caribbean cruise.  And I took one of my certified copies of my birth certificate along just in case.

 

You have a much shorter expiration period than I had.  So if you don't know where your certified copy of your birth certificate is, I think it might be worth it for peace of mind to pay for expedited passport renewal.  Expedited renewal should not take 4 weeks.

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41 minutes ago, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

I was able to get a certified copy of my birth certificate FedExed to me overnight when I was moving and stupidly left my passport and certified copy of my birth certificate in the filing cabinet which was in the custody of the movers.  The county involved was in a major metropolitan area, all counties may not offer this service.

 

I'm just off MSC with a passport which expires in March, so I had less than the allegedly 6 required months of validity.  Nobody even batted an eyelash.  It was a closed-loop Caribbean cruise.  And I took one of my certified copies of my birth certificate along just in case.

 

You have a much shorter expiration period than I had.  So if you don't know where your certified copy of your birth certificate is, I think it might be worth it for peace of mind to pay for expedited passport renewal.  Expedited renewal should not take 4 weeks.

 

I will start by looking for my actual birth certificate. I know it's around here somewhere, but we recently moved and well...you know how it goes! 

Thanks for sharing your experience with MSC and an expiring-in-March passport! 

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5 minutes ago, colecandler said:

Just for your info....

We mailed (via track able USPS) our old Passports to Philly on 11/22/19.

We received our new Passports today.

This was a regular renewal NOT an expedited one.

I'm pretty pleased with that turn around!

 

That is reassuring! 

I also just learned that you can do the whole process at FedEx and pay a lot of money for them to expedite it. I may go with that option. 

Thanks! 

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Go to the US Post office.  They can take your photo and expedite as well.  Not all post offices offer passport service.  Check the USPS site for your closest office and call to make an appointment.  This is a slow time, so you should not have any issues getting it back on time.  You are also able to see the progress of your passport renewal online.       

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17 hours ago, elbodans said:

 

That is reassuring! 

I also just learned that you can do the whole process at FedEx and pay a lot of money for them to expedite it. I may go with that option. 

Thanks! 

Just looked that up....that's a great option that I did NOT know existed!! Fortunately I'm good until 2029! 

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1 hour ago, Nashna said:

Go to the US Post office.  They can take your photo and expedite as well.  Not all post offices offer passport service.  Check the USPS site for your closest office and call to make an appointment.  This is a slow time, so you should not have any issues getting it back on time.  You are also able to see the progress of your passport renewal online.       

In our area we learned that the best option for the initial passport process is NOT our Post Office.  We took a 30 mile drive over the mountains to the Buena Vista, VA Circuit Court where we had a great experience.  We literally had the whole office helping our children get their passports.  Check this website to check for all the locations around you.

 

U. S. Department of State Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page

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54 minutes ago, DCGuy64 said:

I work in downtown Washington, DC and there's a passport office located at roughly 19th and F Sts, NW. I believe they offer same-day passport renewal so if it's worth your while, you could come to DC and have it done in a day.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/passport-agencies/washington.html

They do offer that service.  However, you typically must show travel documents departing within a few days.  I have had clients get their passports in one day when they have an emergency.  

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Thanks, all! My goal is to make this as quick and painless as possible. I know I COULD drive down to Philly (between an hour and 2.5 hours away depending upon traffic) to get it done same day, but yes I would need to be departing in 2 weeks and no, I don't have the better part of a day to get that done. So definitely no to a six hour round trip drive to DC. 

I'm going to first try to find my birth certificate; if I can find that, I'll just take that and my not-yet-expired passport, as recommended by HappyCruiser, above. If not, I guess I'll be paying FedEx to expedite it. 

What a silly window I've booked myself into! 

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Is your Pennsylvania drivers license compliant with the Feds' latest rules?  Does it have a star on it?  Some states are not in compliance.  My Florida one works fine, as I had to show my passport to get it.  If you're going the birth certificate route, you must have two acceptable forms of ID.

 

Hope you will come back and let us know whether whatever you did worked.  Good luck!  And happy cruising!

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34 minutes ago, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

Is your Pennsylvania drivers license compliant with the Feds' latest rules?  Does it have a star on it?  Some states are not in compliance.  My Florida one works fine, as I had to show my passport to get it.  If you're going the birth certificate route, you must have two acceptable forms of ID.

 

Hope you will come back and let us know whether whatever you did worked.  Good luck!  And happy cruising!

 

Sadly I do not yet have my real ID license, so no--that won't work. I think I'm just going to go with taking my existing passport. The MSC site clearly states "valid passport". And my passport is valid for a month after I return. I feel that's a safer bet than sending it away right now and then possibly not getting it back. 

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We sail B2B starting with same sailing you are..

 

My 2 cents-- renew the passport now - express service.

You can do the forms online.

You MUST sign it in black ink --

Old passport, forms + check. 

 

IF you don't do this--be sure to put a reminder on your calendar and send it off for renewal the week you get back... just so you have it done for your next trip

 

I had looked at our passports during the summer and knew we needed to renew them after a B2B in Sept.

So sent them off the week after we got back as ours expired in April 2020

They were back in about 2 weeks.

If I was you and doing it today- I'd send them express service.  Put Jan 20 or so as your departure date

 

 

 

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My 2 cents (Canadian 2 cents at that)....

This is a return trip which I assume is a week.  And you are flying from PA to FL which means you don't even have to show the passport - so the 6 months prior should be irrelevant. 

Nowhere does it state you require 6 months prior to expiration on your passport.

A valid passport is one that is not expired.  For example, if you wanted to drive to Canada today, as long as your plan was to return before March, you would be entering with a valid passport.  

You may consider looking at the countries you are visiting on the itinerary and see what their regulations are for entry for cruise visitors, but given that my cruise last year was little more than a cursory glance to see I looked a little like the photo on the page,  and many didn't even have their passport at port, I am not sure I understand the concern.

But, of course, if you can get it returned expedited service and that will put your mind at rest and most likely be worth the cost. 

In the meantime, search up your birth certificate, as that is a valuable document regardless of cruising.

 

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On 12/27/2019 at 12:38 PM, DCGuy64 said:

I work in downtown Washington, DC and there's a passport office located at roughly 19th and F Sts, NW. I believe they offer same-day passport renewal so if it's worth your while, you could come to DC and have it done in a day.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/passport-agencies/washington.html

Hey neighbor! My mom and I went there a few years ago when her birth certificate wasn't accepted for a trip to Jamaica, they were very helpful.

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6 minutes ago, cruiser82 said:

Hey neighbor! My mom and I went there a few years ago when her birth certificate wasn't accepted for a trip to Jamaica, they were very helpful.

 

Did it have the required raised seal?  Photocopies are not acceptable.

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5 minutes ago, jkgourmet said:

 

Did it have the required raised seal?  Photocopies are not acceptable.

You need a valid US passport to enter Jamaica.  Cruise ships had lots of clout in Washington and got the exemption for those departing and returning to a US Port to use the alternative id.  

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50 minutes ago, jkgourmet said:

 

Did it have the required raised seal?  Photocopies are not acceptable.

I can't remember, but the issue ended up being that it was a Puerto Rican birth certificate and its authenticity was questioned. That's all been resolved now and she has her passport so we're good to go. 

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Apply early for your passport, or make sure your current one will be valid at least six months beyond your travel dates and has two or more blank pages.. Your cruise company may also require you to have a passport even if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not.

 

source:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-with-special-considerations/cruise-ship-passengers.html

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On 12/26/2019 at 1:23 PM, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

I'm just off MSC with a passport which expires in March, so I had less than the allegedly 6 required months of validity.  Nobody even batted an eyelash.  It was a closed-loop Caribbean cruise. 

closed loop Caribbean cruises do not require 6 months of passport validity.

We have traveled with a US passport which expired 1 day prior to disembarkation (no problems whatsoever), 1 month after disembarkation, and 3 months after disembarkation - all on closed-loop cruises out of FL.

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy
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22 minutes ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

closed loop Caribbean cruises do not require 6 months of passport validity.

We have traveled with a US passport which expired 1 day prior to disembarkation (no problems whatsoever), 1 month after disembarkation, and 3 months after disembarkation - all on closed-loop cruises out of FL.

 

Great. That's what I'm finding online, I just needed a real person to tell me it was true. 

I also found my birth certificate, so I'll take that as well. 

Also I did set a calendar alert to renew my passport the day I return! 

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