Passengers at Dubai International airport departure Photo: Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Picture this: You are all set to fly out of Dubai for your much-awaited summer travel and you get offloaded from the flight because your travel documents are not in order.

Aviation sources told Gulf News that this happens to several hundreds of passengers every year as their passports or visas are not renewed in time or due to other careless mistakes passengers make.

“Often people come with expired passports of family members, especially children,” said one source at Dubai International Airport.

He said this does not happen usually with working men and women as they might be using their documents often or their companies must be reminding them about renewal.

“But there have been cases where people come to travel with their family members’ and even colleagues’ passports by mistake. These are careless mistakes that can cost dear.”

Prem Chand, consul, passport, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, said the mission occasionally receives requests from parents to renew expired passports of their children very late.

“Sometimes months would have passed after the expiry of the passport. Parents realise this when they are about to travel.”

He advised residents to keep reminders on their phones to alert them about passport and visa renewals on time.

In case of countries like India, passports can be renewed one year before expiry.

Vinay Malhotra (right) , Regional Group COO for Middle East, South Asia and China, VFS Global, said it is always recommended to renew your passport when it is nearing six months of expiry and ensure you have sufficient blank pages on your passport before travel.

“Most countries will not allow you to apply for visa if your passport expires in six months from the date that you are applying for your visa.”

Flying without enough pages to stamp the visa of the destination country has also resulted in many passengers being sent back.

International travel always requires additional attention to many other details as well, Malhotra pointed out.

“Visa requirements vary widely depending on a number of factors — your nationality, the purpose of your visit, the country you are applying to and sometimes, even your age.”

In a cultural melting pot such as the GCC region, he said, knowing what to keep in mind when applying for a visa can make a huge difference in your pre-travel arrangements.

“When applying for a visa, many countries stipulate that your residence visa must be valid for three months post your return, so check the rules in advance, depending on the country to which you are applying for a visa.”

A UAE residence visa can be renewed if it is less than three months valid. Residents wishing to renew their visas earlier than that need to take prior approval, according to the call centre of General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai.

Yet, there have been several cases where UAE residents were offloaded by airlines for not complying with residence visa validity requirement while flying to countries where they are eligible for visa on arrival.

Airlines refuse to fly passengers not meeting such requirements as they will be fined for accepting improper documents of passengers which will result in the latter ending up without a visa on arrival at the destination airport.

It is the passengers’ responsibility to make sure they have travel documents in order and reach the airport on time.

Reporting three hours prior to departure is advisable as they will get time to sort out any unforeseen issues such as outstanding dues in banks, immigration travel ban etc as well, said one industry expert.

Tips for smooth travel

• Check if you can apply online or can get a visa on-arrival or if you are eligible for a visa waiver
• Keep your tickets, hotel bookings and insurance ready to include in your visa application
• Check that your passport is not expiring in six months and ensure you have sufficient blank pages
• Check the standard processing time of your visa and apply in advance
• Be sure about your reason for travel to apply for the right visa
• Book your visa appointment in advance, as at times appointment availability can vary from 15 to 20 days
• If you are a UAE expat, make sure you meet the required validity of your residence visa for travel
• Reach airport on time and make sure to carry valid travel documents of each passenger