Are you ready to hit the beach for a week down south? Explore the bustling city life in Europe? Or how about walking the Great Wall of China? As a traveller, whether frequent or new, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have completed the “before you go” passport checklist–that way you won’t have any troubles at the border or with airlines and it’ll be free sailing from there.
Make sure you have ALL required documents for your destination.
We strongly believe that the global traveler of today MUST have a valid passport! You might hear otherwise, and yes, there are a few exceptions, but play it safe, get a passport. They usually are valid for 10 years. For US passport information and application forms visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
You already have a passport, that is great!
- Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date. You can always check with the Embassy of your destination if you’d like to get more information.
- Make sure your passport isn’t damaged! If your passport is damaged in any way, you can face delays or get denied entry at border crossings or flights. “I’m sorry, your passport is damaged, I can’t let you on this flight.” That’s not something you want to hear before heading on your vacation. Your passport is considered damaged if it:
- has been exposed to water and humidity
- has a tear in one or more pages
- has unauthorized markings
- has altered information or the photo is unrecognizable
- has pages that have been removed/torn out
- has been chewed by a pet
- has come apart (the cover)
If you’re concerned about the condition of your passport and want to make sure it’s not considered damaged, you can contact the airline you’re traveling with before you leave, or contact the National Passport Information Center.
Having the improper documents for a trip can become a real issue. A common example is a cruise. They may start and end in the USA, but sometimes they will dock in a foreign country, like Canada. Even though you don’t plan to leave the ship, if you don’t have the proper documentation for the country, you’ll be denied entry on the cruise.
Check the visa laws for your destination
Visa and immigration laws change all the time. Let’s say you planned and booked a trip six months to a year ahead of time. Laws may have changed since you’ve booked your trip, so it’s a good idea to check again before you leave to make sure you have the proper documentation. Let’s say you are a US citizen but your friend is from Germany. There will be different requirements as some countries have treaties with each other whilst others don’t. Visa Central is a great place to check and can also help you with visa procurement if needed.
Traveling with children
First off, if you need to apply for a passport for your child, both parents need to apply for the child’s passport. For more info click here. If you are a single parent, grand parent, friend and traveling with a minor that is not accompanied by both parents you will need a notarized Letter of Content, giving you permission to take the child with you when leaving the country.
Travel Tip: To be extra safe, scan and make a copy of your passport ID page, foreign visa (if applicable), itinerary, hotel confirmation, airline ticket, driver’s license, credit cards being used on the trip and Traveler’s Cheque serial numbers. Keep the pictures on your phone or store them online in a safe place, for example in your Dropbox.
We love Sonia’s Travel Tips and this video fits our topic perfectly!
This post was written by STEPHANIE JELLETT
Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org