Yes, yes you do! Especially if travelling to Fiji
I’ve been fortunate enough to not really have too many travel horror stories. Sure, I’ve ran for a train (never a plane Dad taught us early how you should always be 6 hours early for a flight!) , lost a boarding pass, misplaced a passport, cut it fine for boarding even with the 6 hour wait time, had a few dodgy character try to take us the wrong way in Marrakech but really nothing too bad or anything too serious that has thrown my travel plans into jeopardy.
Well, that was until recently and spoiler alert it all turned out ok and probably isn’t as dramatic as you might expect but when I was googling for advice nothing came up so I wanted to share my story in case it helps anyone else.
As regular readers will be aware we’ve recently been to Fiji. Oh, beautiful Fiji -The holiday blues are still sooo raw. Fun fact about Fiji- you don’t need a visa (for Australian or British Passports) but you definitely need 6 months validity on your passport from the date of departure from your home/departing country.
This is where the problem lay.
If you are like was stressed, cranky and googling everything combination of- passport, Fiji, validity and looking for quick information scroll to the bottom and the answer lies there!
Months ago when we booked our flights my other half said his passport will have less than 6 months validity and asked will it be ok? I (stupidly) was like yeah, of course, they just say 6 months to be careful. Point to note here I hadn’t even checked as genuinely believed that as long as your passport is valid you can enter any country. Of all the places and all the trips, I’d been on I’d never had any issues with this or really never checked about passport validity only about visas. It’s Travel 101 and my error number 1.
We were moving house during this time and were stressed and minds elsewhere so it wasn’t till the night before we were to fly that I checked again and noticed that my other half’s passport expired exactly 6 months to the day that we left London. I text my parents, my sisters, I put a message up in a Travel Facebook group, I googled to page 20 and no one could help or had a definite answer if we were going to be able to fly. Some websites said 3 months, some said 6 months but from the date of when you leave Fiji, and then other says 6 months from when you enter Fiji. No one knew and even when I checked the Fiji website it didn’t specify if it was exiting or entering. I was so confused. It probably also didn’t help that night I hadn’t slept for almost 24 hours so I was pretty highly strung.
I spent the whole 2-hour bus trip to Heathrow on edge. Do we fly all that way and then they say no, do they say no at Heathrow, what’s plan a/plan b/plan c.
Queuing at Heathrow check-in and looking at the desk clerks praying we weren’t going to get the grumpy one that looked a bit of a computer says no jobsworth. Thankfully we got a friendly one. Handed over the passports holding my breath. Then I saw the fingers come out. I could see her counting. 1,2,3,4,5,6. And then the words I didn’t want to hear.
‘We aren’t sure if you can fly today as the entry requirements for Fiji is 6 months passport validity’.
Noooooo. She said to not worry but she had to go check with a supervisor. Longest 3 minutes EVER! She then came back saying as today was the 1st of October and the passport expired on the 1st April we were very lucky with dates as it was 6 months to the day and we can fly.
As much as I was pleased I still was worried he’d get turned away in Fiji. Not the feeling you want to have before you get on a 30 flight. I text my family to relay the good news as they were also on tender hooks about if we’d both be joking for the wedding or just me. My sister then gave us information that I swear should be more accessible as I didn’t find any of it in my googling session. If an airline allows you to board but you are aren’t allowed to enter a country it’s their responsibility to pay for your return flight and they will be fined in excess of £/$10k so they will always be careful when allowing you to board.
So you’d think we’d be on cloud 9 and no worries but I still wouldn’t relax until we were actually there and on the beach.
We flew Heathrow to Dubai then to Melbourne and due to board a connecting flight to Nadi. We’d had no issues up to Melbourne until we got called to the check-in desk over the tannoy. Initially, it was just to get new boarding passes but then they wanted to check Passports. My heart sank. We’d made it so far!! Again the fingers came out. 1,2,3,4,5,6 and then the ‘I need to check with my supervisor and Fiji immigration’. Cue more freaking out and me trying to explain London said it would be ok like that would do anything but thankfully she came back and said it was ok.
My nerves couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a very large glass of wine!
Stepping off the plane in Fiji and I had everything crossed, praying, hoping it would be fine and you know what, no one even batted an eyelid when we went through immigration. Nothing AT ALL!! Just a Bula and have a nice day. There was probably notes on the system but still NOTHING!!
I almost felt cheated and then I remembered we were here and to hurry up and get out of the airport just in case they changed their mind.
Every day is a school day so..
- Always check not just visa but passport validity when going somewhere new. I’ve since learned there are all sorts of these validity rules for lots of countries!
- Make sure partners passport is up to date.
- Yes, you need 6 months validity on your passport(defo Australian or British) if trying to enter Fiji. Based on the day of your date of departure eg when you start your journey
- No, you don’t need a visa to enter Fiji (if you have a British or an Australian passport) Please check if you have another passport.
- If an airline allows you to board they are generally 100% sure it’s going to be ok as if not they need to pay for your return flight and will be charged in excess if £/$10k
- If British you can get an emergency passport both at home or abroad but you still need a few days before flying to get it sorted and you’ll need to do it as a high commission
Have you had any passport dramas?? Drop them in the comments would love to hear and to also to reassure myself that others can be just as clueless and that I just didn’t miss the travel memo on this.
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