When you’re traveling to another country, you are required to show proof of your citizenship and your desire to come back after your trip. So, before you even get too excited about creating the perfect itinerary and packing your bags, make sure you’ve made all the necessary arrangements when it comes to your travel documents. Here are some tips on what you need to remember when preparing them:
- Secure your passport
Before you are even allowed to leave the airport premises, you will need to make a stop at the immigration office to verify that you have a valid passport to enter the country legally. It is very common nowadays, as well, for most airlines to require their passengers to show valid passports for them to be able to board their flight.
If it’s your first time to travel abroad, you can secure a passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs of your country. A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and citizenship.
The application process varies from one country to another, however they all require proof of your citizenship in the form of a birth certificate or any other government-issued ID. Depending on the processing office, it would normally take about four to six weeks for you to be able to receive your new passport. It is your responsibility to make sure that all your information is correct upon receipt. You don’t want to have problems at the airport because your name was misspelled.
- Check the validity of your passport
If you already have a passport, it is your responsibility to make sure that it remains valid for at least six months prior to your actual date of departure. Failure to comply with this prerequisite can lead you to being refused entry upon arrival in the country. Renewing your passport generally also takes four to six weeks. However, you can pay a higher fee to have the process expedited for two to three weeks.
If you’ve already bought a ticket and you just realized that the validity of your passport is less than the minimum requirement, you can try making an appointment at your local passport agency for them to be able to help you. In some cases, the validity of the current passport is being extended.
- Check the pages of your passport
While it is acceptable for your passport to show obvious signs of wear and tear, you can be refused entry if one of the pages of your passport has been torn, tampered, mutilated or watered down. Additionally, if you’re a frequent traveler, check if you still have a few pages available for the entry and exit stamps when you go through the immigration office. Other countries may deny entry to travelers who don’t have one fully blank visa page in their passport, so you need to be careful about this as well.
- Make sure you abide by the visa requirement of the country you’ll be traveling to
A visa is a stamp placed in your passport to authorize that you are legally required to enter a foreign country. However, not all countries require a visa for entry. So before purchasing a ticket, check whether your dream destination requires a visa or not.
Different countries have different visa requirements, and it also varies depending on the purpose of your visit. For some countries, all you need to do for the visa application is mail the necessary requirements along with your passport, while others require your personal appearance for an interview at their closest embassy. Each country has different processing times, so it is best to contact the embassy of the country you intend to visit for a comprehensive guide on how to apply for the visa and how long it takes.
If you do need a visa to be able to enter the destination of your choice, you need to be mindful about your travel dates, as well, so that you can get your visa on time and confirm if your passport remains valid. You may also seek assistance from travel agents that specialize in visa applications if you’d rather have someone arrange it for you. However, it shouldn’t be a tedious process if your criminal record is clean and you have all the necessary documentation readily available.
- Bring a printed copy of your flight tickets and hotel confirmation details
Aside from your passport and visa, other countries also require printed out copies of your flight itinerary and hotel booking confirmation details. Take note, it has to be printed and not shown on your phone, so you need to keep this in mind before you even board your flight. Other border guards aren’t quite lenient about this, so making sure you have this documentation ready should not be taken lightly. Make sure that your hotel booking confirmation details contain the address of your hotel, the confirmation code and your dates of stay.
- Keep a photocopy of your passport and other travel documents with you
Even if you are extremely careful about stowing your passport, there are instances when it can get lost or stolen. Fortunately, it would be much easier to replace your passport if you have photocopies of every page with you. Make sure to guard these in the same way as you would your originals. You don’t want to fall victim to identity theft, in case someone finds the photocopy of your passport. If you don’t want to carry them around, you can take digital photos of them and store them online, so that you can pull them out quickly whenever the need arises.
Securing all your travel documents may seem like a lot of work, but don’t let it deter you from making your dream vacation happen. All you need is a few months’ worth of preparation and you’re guaranteed to have a smooth sailing trip without any hassles or interrogations. Even better, make sure that you have a valid passport at all times, even if you don’t have a trip in the near future planned!