Ok so yes, there are far worse places to be stuck than Miami in January, but when you are about to board a 17 hour flight to Germany it’s not really fun to find out you can’t fly. Here’s what happened….

I had been putting off renewing my passport because I was living in Germany at the time and had no idea how long it would take to get a new one. If you are living in the US you have the option of paying a little extra to speed up the passport renewal process, but the same option does not apply if you are living internationally.

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Anyway, I knew I would be flying to the US for two weeks at the end of December and my passport was good until the middle of March so I figured I would just worry about renewing it when I got back to Germany because I didn’t want to risk that it might not come before my trip back to the states.

I had no problem when I landed in the US (but it’s my home country so I guess they don’t care too much how long my passport is good for), but when my boyfriend and I were at the airport in Miami planning to fly back to Germany we were unable to print out our tickets. The check in screen at the airport said something along the lines of “please proceed to one of our counters for help with your booking.” The woman working asked for our passports, looked at them, looked at me and said “I’m sorry you can’t get on this flight. Your passport needs to be good for longer than 3 months in order to fly internationally.”

I stayed pretty calm. I figured if it came down to it I would just fly to Massachusetts and visit my parents for a little while until I could get a new passport, but my boyfriend started to get visibly nervous. She told us the only option would be to go the US Embassy located a few miles away and see if they could help me. I then asked if it helped that I had a German Residency Permit. I didn’t mention that my residency permit expired in 6 days (I had to pick up my new one once we got back to Germany). She asked to see it and said, “Oh this is good until August. No problem. You can get on this flight.” She printed out our boarding passes and we were on our way.

Only once we were through security and my boyfriend had calmed down did I show him that my residency permit expired on 8/1. In Europe that mean January 8th, but since in the US the day comes first not the month she misread it and thought it was good until August 1st….and cue my boyfriend freaking out again for the next 17 hours until we were safely back in our apartment in Germany 🙂

So the lesson here is always make sure your passport is good for at least 3 months after the end date of your travel. 🙂


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  1. Hi, Sarah! That’s nice to hear that and good we did not know before. Love you Margit and Peter

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