Travel Documents 101

travelling abroad

Traveling abroad is always an exciting prospect, but it can be challenging to remember all the requirements before you take off. While there are sometimes specific types of documents you will need to enter a foreign country, most of the time they include passports and visas. Canada, Australia, and England do not require the latter, but other destinations may well demand an updated one. Be sure to double check well before you start packing.

If you are undertaking international travel for the first time, you may not yet have been issued a passport. It, in effect, identifies you and your citizenship (place of residency). We all shun those unattractive photos, but they are necessary, and remember, it will be there from five to ten years!It depends on the age you were at the time of issuance. If 16 or older, the time frame is ten years. Otherwise it is five. If in doubt at the time you think is right for renewal, just look at the passport to be sure. You can opt for a family version, by the way, if you are all off on the jaunt together.

The good part is that you can collect stamps as mementos of your worldwide roaming. It is nice for boasting when you are sitting bored on a plane and want to engage your seat partner and maybe impress them. When you renew in person or by mail, you get to keep the old one as a souvenir.

One of our greatest fears is to lose a passport and get stuck in a country awaiting a replacement. Not to worry. Embassies and consulates know just what to do, so write down their locations as soon as you arrive. If the passport becomes damaged or mutilated in must be replaced, and cannot be done by mail. Also remember that you have to report a name change and you will need to show proper documentation.

Visas are necessary for extended visits and require ID as do passports for issuance. You can use a birth certificate or driver’s license. Even though there are countries that do not demand them, why not get one just in case. You may decide on a last minute change of itinerary. A tourist visa supplements and does not replace your passport, but like one, it can be replaced or renewed at your embassy abroad. It is always important to be mindful of penalties for lapsed documents.

Last but not least are work permits that allow you to obtain employment in a foreign land. Yes, it seems that you must be trackable whatever you do! These are authorizations from the host country and they are not automatic, so you can’t rush the process. In the UK, for example, there are applications for various industries. In some countries, the job categories are limited. In South Africa there are quotas and in Singapore there are educational and financial requirements.

These are the basic documents. Should you wish to adopt a new citizenship, there are additional legal hurdles and plenty of forms to fill out. For the average person, it is all manageable, but seek help if you are uncertain at the outset.