When you’re packing for your next overseas holiday, of course your passport is going to be at the top of your ‘Do Not Forget’ list.

But just having it in your possession isn’t good enough. There are actually a tonne of rules and regulations around your passport, which can make or break your holiday.

Here’s everything you need to know before heading to the airport.

Check your expiry date

Different countries have different rules about how close your passport can be to expiry when you travel. To be safe, make sure that your passport has more than six months’ of validity from the date you return from your trip.

Just ask one US family, who turned up at the airport for a Greek Island holiday only to be banned from checking in, as they only had a few months left before their passports expired.

It can’t be ripped or torn or mouldy

Recently, a woman had a page of her passport torn by an airport scanner, and subsequently had to cancel her trip.

You can’t have any ripped or torn pages in your passport, as that renders it immediately invalid. Airlines can face fines for bringing passengers into a new country without a valid passport, so they’re pretty strict when it comes to the quality of your documents.

Different countries have different rules – for example, Indonesia is known for being one of the strictest in the world. Even just a tiny bit of mould on a page is enough for them to stop you boarding the plane.

You can’t have random stamps

Novelty stamps in your passport seem like fun, but they can render it invalid. Tourist locations like Machu Picchu and Easter Island offer free passport stamps when you visit, but these aren’t “official”.

The Department of Internal Affairs, which issues New Zealand passports, told Stuff Travel that Kiwis should avoid them.

“New Zealand passports are official government documents. Our advice is that people use them as intended – for official purposes – and don’t risk their passport not being accepted by other countries by putting novelty or unofficial stamps in it,” explained Julia Wootton, General Manager Services and Access at Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs.

Research specific requirements

If you’re going to the US or the UK, so long as you’ve got six months’ validity on your passport, you should be fine. But other countries have other rules, so it’s best to check with each one before you go.

For example, some insist on having two or even four blank pages for their entry stamp.

Of course, you’ll need specific visas for certain countries, so always check for any visas or vaccinations you’ll need.

Make sure there are plenty of blank pages

The Department of Internal Affairs advises that: “If your passport does not have at least one empty visa page, or pages with enough room to place a stamp, you may be refused entry and your travel could be delayed.”

Also, make sure you sign the passport

The NZ passport “is not valid unless you have signed it on page 3. All adults, and children aged 10 and over, must sign their passport”.

You can keep using your child’s passport

If they’ve just turned 16 and still have a few years left on a child’s passport, don’t worry. You can keep using that one until it expires or is cancelled. After that, they must renew their passport as an adult.

Give your new passport a lot of time to arrive

Don’t fill out that application form and send it off just before you leave, thinking you’ll be fine. The NZ passport office recommends you allow at least five weeks for your passport application to be processed, as well as allow extra time for delivery.

– with Stuff

– This article was published by 9Honey and is republished with permission.