My mom was supposed to arrive in Prague today from California via London Heathrow, but was turned away at the gate by BA officials, who explained that her passport validity was not good enough for Czech officials.

Her passport expires in October, but apparently in an effort at tit-for-tat over the continuation of visa requirements for Czechs who want to visit the US, Czech authorities are requiring passports to be at least 90 days ahead of their expiration. My mom’s passport was somewhere around 45 days from expiration, but that wasn’t good enough for Czech officials.

Let this be a warning to those visiting the Czech Republic, especially from the US: Check your passport’s expiration date. If it’s within 90 days of expiry, you’d better get it renewed.

In my mom’s case, she had to leave the airport and head downtown to the US embassy, where they issued her a passport on the spot. But the trip – being an inexperienced visitor to London with a lot of luggage, she took a cab from Heathrow – and the hotel and the express passport all combined to set her back about USD $400 and a lost day off her already-short visit to Prague.
Let me say this: The US visa requirements for Czechs are stupid. But countering this by cracking down on Americans is stupid too. Stupidity is being countered by stupidity here.

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