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Travel Documents

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Travel Tips for passports, visas and other government documents which are a necessity for international travel.   Some countries require both a passport and a visa, so make sure you know exactly what is needed months before your departure date.   Passports are needed for Canada and Mexico from the US.    In the US, state governments will issue an ID separate from a driver’s license if needed.    On all domestic flights, locals must show a national ID with picture and foreigners must show a passport.



If you don’t have a passport, apply for one at least two months prior to departure.  You can apply for a passport at your local post office.   The application can be expedited for a fee.     If you have a passport, check the expiration date.   If it needs to be renewed, this can be done by mail.    All questions should be answered, even if asked for the departure date and destination for your travel abroad, which is used to help determine the priority of the application.  Each person, including children, should have a passport.  For the passport application, you will need:


  1. Two recent passport photos.
  2. Original birth certificate, not a copy.
  3. Driver’s license or state photo ID.
  4. Previous passport if any.
  5. Application fee.

US passports are valid for ten years.    If yours is about to expire, don’t wait, submit the application at least two months prior to the expiration date.   If you are a citizen of another country, you will need to contact the embassy or consulate of that country to renew or extend your passport.  

Dual citizenship can cause some problems, especially if it is involuntary.   If you were born outside the country of your parents and your citizenship and you return to that country, you may be required to have a passport from your birth country before you will be allowed to leave.  

 If you loose your passport, report this to the police and obtain a copy of the police report.   This would be a good time to also have a copy of your passport.    Take the police report and any other related information to your country’s nearest embassy or consulate.   This would be a good time to have other personal ID with photo which was kept separate from your passport.    Be aware that some people sell their passport and the government may ask many questions before a new passport can be issued.  



A visa is an authorization issued by a government granting permission to enter their country.    You may also have to provide, upon entry to that country, where you plan on staying, how long, who you plan to visit, purpose of visit, a departing ticket, and how you plan to financially support your visit.  

Some countries do not require a visa at all and some countries will impose many restrictions, conditions and bureaucratic procedures to limit or control your visit.    These visa requirements can change at any time, so know exactly what you need before you travel.   Check the current requirements with your travel agent or the consulate or embassy of each country you plan to visit.   Visas may be stamped in your passport or issued as a separate document.  

Some visas can not be issued until your air travel has been confirmed.    So always get the latest information available on each country’s requirements before you make any non-refundable reservations.  

Sometimes the biggest problem with getting a visa, is determining from where to get the visa.   For most countries this is obvious but for some regions that are colonized, occupied or divided, you need to determine exactly what country is responsible for issuing a visa.   For example, visas for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands must be obtained from the US government.   For French Polynesia, New Caledonia, French Guyana, Reunion, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, go to the French embassy.    Visas for Bermuda, British West Indies and British Virgin Islands, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar must be obtained from the British government.   

It is recommended to apply for your visa yourself.   However there are Visa Services and some travel agents can do most of the work for you if desired, for a fee.  


For short term stays, few countries require any immunizations for tourist visits.
By AJ Haas
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