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Passport Angst

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I have probably been spending too much time on travel forums. We will be in Europe for 6 weeks in the fall, mostly in Italy. Departing Italy for the Uk Oct. 30 and flying from the UK back to the US on Oct. 31. My passport expires 3.5 months later, in late February.

I have read what I can find. the State Department travel website says that Schengen countries require a passport be valid for 3 months after departure. Apparently some countries have rules that make it much less, such as Germany which says a passport is valid for stays there until the date of expiration. I cannot find the rule for Italy if there is a separate one, but under the general Schengen rule I am OK.

So is there any good reason to renew my passport before the trip? On another travel board some suggested I should renew " just in case.". In case of what? Am I actually risking anything by traveling on my current passport? I really do not want to renew now If I don't have to. Not lazy; I just like the photo on my current one and hate the photo I had taken when I thought I might need a new one. Plus I would have to go in and change all the information on my airline tickets. So part vanity and part convenience.

So there is my question: is there any good reason to renew now? Do I risk anything if I don't? Are the people who say I should renew just alarmists, or do they know something I don't?

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