Globetrotting friends, have you ever faced the problem of having a valid visa in a passport you need to renew? By the time your passport is out of visa pages or close to the expiration date, you may have collected quite a few visas. When you have long-term visas to visit other countries, it seems like a shame to give them up when your passport is cancelled!
The good news is that some of the valid visas in your old passport may still be of use. Read on to learn more about what happens to the valid visas in cancelled or expired passports!
The General Rule About Valid Visas in Old Passports
In general, when your passport expires or is cancelled, all the visas inside it are automatically cancelled as well. Unless you have specific confirmation that you can use a visa in an old passport, assume that any visas in your old passport are not valid for travel. Better to be safe than sorry! You don’t want to fly halfway around the world only to find out that your visa is no good.
However, there are a few important exceptions to the rule that you can’t use valid visas in old passports. Several countries that issue long-term multiple entry visas to US citizens have special rules that may allow you to use the visa in your old passport.
Brazil is one of the rare countries in the Americas that requires visas for US citizens to visit. The good news is that if you’re visiting for tourism or business meetings, you will be granted a visa valid for ten years with multiple entries. (If you are visiting for other reasons, like volunteering or doing technical work, you may be granted a shorter duration on your visa.)
Your Brazil visa will be valid starting on the day it is issued, and you’ll be able to enter Brazil as many times as you like while it is valid. You can stay up to 90 days on each entry, for a maximum of 180 days per year.
Since the visas are issued for 10 years, and US passports are valid for 10 years, it’s inevitable that your passport will need to be renewed before your Brazil visa expires. But that’s no problem! You can keep using your Brazil visa until the day it expires. You will need to carry both passports with you when you travel – your new passport, and your old passport with the Brazil visa.
In recent years, the Chinese government has also moved toward issuing 10 year visas to US citizens as a matter of course. If you’re visiting China for business or tourism, you’ll likely be granted a multiple entry visa that is valid for a full ten years. You may be granted a short-term visa if your passport is close to expiring, though.
Now that ten year China visas are available to US citizens, it’s great that China has followed the example of Brazil. They, too, allow you to keep using your valid Chinese visa even after your passport has been renewed. You will need to carry both passports with you when you travel. They do have one specific rule, however: all of your personally identifying information has to be the same on both passports. This means that if you change your name when you renew your passport, you can’t use the Chinese visa on your old passport. It also means that if you have dual citizenship, you can’t use the Chinese visa on your old US passport if you are traveling on your non-US passport.
Just to make sure everyone knows the rules, the Chinese consulates even stick a note into your passport when you get a new visa!
Like China and Brazil, India is another popular destination that offers long-term visas to US citizens. Tourists who apply for an Indian visa to be stamped into their passport will be issued a multiple entry visa valid for 10 years. Business travelers aren’t automatically granted long-term visas, but they are eligible to apply for an Indian business visa valid for one, five, or even ten years.
If you’ve got a valid visa for India in your cancelled or expired passport, you actually have two options to continue to use it. One option is to travel carrying both your old and new passports, just the way you would for Brazil or China. Your other option is a little more complicated up front, but might be easier in the long run. You can apply for a visa transfer to have your remaining visa validity stamped into your new passport. Visa transfers are applied for just like any other visa. You’ll need to fill out a new visa application, and submit your passport, a new photograph, and all the normal supporting documentation. The big difference is that the consular fee for a visa transfer is a lot lower than getting a brand new visa! The nice thing about a visa transfer is that you don’t have to fuss with carrying two passports when you travel.
The majority of the other countries in the world do not allow you to use visas that are in an expired or cancelled passport. If you want to check on the validity of any of the visas in your old passport, you can start by looking on the website of that country’s embassy in Washington, DC. If you can’t find an answer there, you can try calling the embassy, or check with a reputable visa expediting company like RushMyTravelVisa.com or G3 Global Services.