Why is a valid passport needed to make reservations for your trip to Machu Picchu or other destination in South America? And what are your options if your passport is expired, about to expire, or you haven’t applied yet?
The simple definition of a valid passport is – a government-issued document that allows you to travel across international borders. And the most important detail affecting the validity of a passport? Is the expiration date. It must not expire within 6 months of your scheduled arrival date in your foreign destination. Expiration policies may vary from country to country, but it’s your responsibility to verify that your travel document meets local guidelines.
Adios Adventure Travel‘s policy is that we will accept any passport if the expiration date is at least 6 months beyond your date of arrival for any destination we organize trips to in South America. For a trip of short duration, 3 weeks or less, this is a conservative policy that allows time to work around problems. But it you are visiting more than one country or planning an extended stay abroad, it is wise to confirm your passport is valid for your entire trip.
Why you need a valid passport when booking your trip to Machu Picchu:
- US airlines will allow you to reserve flights abroad and defer presenting your valid passport until the day you depart, but in South America, most airlines require a valid passport # at the time the ticket is confirmed and paid for.
- In Peru, hotels are required to document the nationality of their guests because Peruvian citizens pay an additional 18% tax. To avoid paying the added tax, you present a passport to prove you are not Peruvian. If you are sharing a double or triple room with someone who has a valid passport, it may be possible to make the reservation in their name and then submit your name and passport later. Policies may vary from hotel to hotel. (Adios Adventure Travel is able to work around this obstacle because as an operator, the hotels we work with know that we take responsibility to track and manage information relevant to our groups)
- Inca Trail permits are ONLY issued to individuals who have a passport. NOTE: It’s possible for an operator to buy your permit using your expired passport, if the name and date-of-birth on the old passport matches the same information on the new passport. But YOU MUST TRAVEL WITH BOTH THE OLD AND THE NEW PASSPORTS. If you have neither a valid or expired passport, you cannot get permits for the Inca Trail.
- Machu Picchu entry tickets are issued to travelers who pay the fees and submit full names, passport nationality, passport number and date-of-birth. In order to enter the ruins, you must present your valid ticket AND your valid passport. NOTE: It’s not uncommon for names to be misspelled if your ticket is purchased through a 3rd party. And agents at Machu Picchu point of entry may overlook the misspelled names. However, the passport # on your entry ticket must match the number on your passport.
- To reserve your own tickets to Machu Picchu, visit the government website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe
- Cost of entry tickets to Machu Picchu are listed in Peruvian soles. Students may qualify for a discount. And children under 7 years old are free. Scanned passports are required for students from 7 – 16 years old. (older students may qualify for a discount if they can provide scan of ISIC card)
- A valid passport is required to purchase tickets for the train to, and/or from, Aguas Calientes (the gateway village to Machu Picchu) You must present your paper ticket and your passport to board the train.
- Photo copies or digital copies of passports are not accepted anywhere. You must present the original document.
Most common passport problems:
- Being mistaken about the expiration date on your passport – Solution: do an annual passport check on Jan 1 or on your birthday, if you don’t remember the date your passport was issued.
- Not understanding the urgency of applying for a new passport or renewing an old passport – Solution: even if you don’t have a trip planned, apply for a passport now. When your valid passport reaches the 1 year mark before expiration, apply for a new one. When you book a trip abroad, always check the expiration date of your passport and let your agent/operator know what it is.
- Not saving a digital copy of your passport. Solution: scan your passport (or take a photo with your phone) and store it in your device or send an email to your web-based email account.
Travel Tip: What to do if you forget your entry tickets to Machu Picchu
After months of preparing and planning your trip to Machu Picchu, what happens if you get to the Machu Picchu main entry and discover you left your entry tickets at home or in your hotel? Answer: To the left side of the main entry gates is an office where you can present your passport and they will print copies of your tickets.
We hope this information will help you understand why keeping your passport updated is a small, but necessary task. Preventing passport problems can enhance the overall enjoyment of your travels. We encourage you to train yourself (and teach your children) to take responsibility for maintaining the single most important document to traveling abroad.