Be sure to organize your travel documents prior to your trip. Allow enough time if you need a passport renewal or visa prior to departure.
- USA Passports: Apply several months in advance for a new passport. If you already have one, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home and have two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.
- Children’s passports: Passports issued for children under age 16 are valid for only five years, not 10 years like adult passports. Check passport expiration dates carefully and renew early.
- Europe Travel via Canada and UK: Europe’s 26 Schengen countries strictly enforce the six-month validity rule. If you are transiting through Canada or the UK, which do not have that requirement, your passport must be valid at least six months, or airlines may not let you board your onward flight to Europe.
- **Make sure you receive a stamp in your passport when you enter and exit the Schengen area.**
- For citizens of other countries, please review the specific application and usage rules provided by the issuing authority in your country of your citizenship.
Prevent theft. Do not carry your passport in your back pocket, a back pack, or anywhere it could be snatched without you noticing. Never leave it unattended, and keep it separate from your money.
Going through the new biometric kiosks rather than traditional customs may help you to avoid crowded airport passport control lines. You may not need to have your passport stamped in this case. Find out how to avoid long custom and security lines.
Visas – Get Your Documents
- Visas: Visas are often required. Be sure to get your travel documents like visas, if needed. Whether you must obtain a visa or not, is generally determined by 3 things; Your nationality, the country in which you wish to enter, and your purpose of visitation. If you require a visa, it is often available upon entry/exit to/from a country. It often requires a cash purchase in the currency of the country from which you are obtaining the visa.
- However, many countries require you to apply for a visa prior to arrival.
- This can often take days or weeks.
- When a visa is required, your passport must contain at least one blank visa page that is valid for 6 months past the date you will enter the country is often necessary.
- Additionally, you may be required to show proof of itinerary (financial means, a place of “residence” while in the country, and a planned and pre-paid way and date of exit.)
Consent Forms for Minors Traveling
- Consent for Travel with Minors: If you are traveling alone with children, foreign border officials may require custody documents or notarized written consent from the other parent. Check with the embassy of your destination before traveling to see requirements.
International Driving Permit – Get Your Travel Documents
- International Driving Permit: Many countries do not recognize other country’s driver’s licenses solely. However, most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). This means you must have a valid driver’s license as well as the IDP with you when renting a vehicle and while driving. The IDP is not valid by itself.
- In the US, you can obtain these permits by taking your drivers license to American Automobile Association (AAA). AAA will take passport size photos of you there. You can also apply online through American Automobile Touring Association (AATA).
- To apply, you must be an 18 or older permanent resident of the United States or its Territories.
- You must hold a valid drivers license issued by a state or territory of the United States.
- Your license must remain valid for a minimum of 6 months from the issue date of your IDP.
- The United States does not issue IDPs to foreign visitors.
- To get an IDP, contact the motor vehicle department of the country that issued your driver’s license.
TIP: Safeguard Your Documents! Make two copies of all your travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted person at home and carry the other with you during travel, separately from your original documents.