Passports & Visas

With summer rapidly approaching, many of us are looking forward to some well deserved time off. For those lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel outside of your normal habitat, I’m sure the excitement is building.

As you make the final preparations to your itinerary and confirm various bookings, take a minute to do a few things:

  1. Find your passport. Sounds silly, no? Trust me, there is nothing worse than getting ready to leave for the airport and realizing that you have no clue where that little bugger is located.
  2. Check the expiration date of your passport. Most countries you visit will not allow you to enter if you don’t have at least 6 months before your passport expires.
  3. Count how many blank pages you have. Ok, so if you rarely travel or this is your first trip (how exciting!) this shouldn’t be a worry. For more frequent travelers, have at least 6 blank pages left in your passport. There are immigration officials out there who strictly follow the rules of their country…and who don’t get paid enough to deal directly with the public everyday and be friendly.
  4. Find out if you need to obtain a visa before you travel. For many, this is a non-issue as most countries around the world have agreements with one another to not require visas ahead of time. If you’re an American going to China, you need a visa.
  5. Confirm what visa fee you may have upon arrival in a foreign country. As Americans, we’re often appalled at the thought of having to pay for a visa. It is what it is. Don’t take it out on the immigration official – that’s generally a bad plan. Just have enough cash available to pay the appropriate fee and then enjoy your vacation. These fees vary greatly from country to country – so let us know if you need some help figuring out what you will owe.

With the above completed, you should have no trouble getting into the country you plan to visit. I would recommend filling out completely any ‘entry forms’ or ‘entry cards’ that are distributed on your flight or are available just before you chat with an immigration officer. In most cases, these forms are your name, passport info, and where you will be staying while in country. Going to multiple places? Jot down the info for your first hotel/lodge/AirBNB and tell the official that you’ll be visiting other places too.

Rule of thumb – if you have the chance to use the restroom BEFORE getting into the immigration entry line, you may be very thankful. It’s really no fun to be in an hour long line and ready to burst.

If you’re traveling as a student – much of the above holds true for you too. There will be some additional visa considerations that we’ll outline for you in another post.

Travel Safe!


(Photo is of Monet’s garden at Giverny in August 2017.)

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