Traveling internationally is completely different than traveling domestically – for one, you’ll obviously need a valid passport, return tickets, sometimes proof of accommodation, and perhaps a valid visa to enter your destination country. The bottom line is that all of these travel requirements are for you to read about, acknowledge, and fulfill. If you are missing some critical document or aspect, you will be denied boarding and won’t be able to travel.
International Travel Requirements
When you travel internationally, you need to have with you several documents and pieces of information. Every country you travel to and even transit has different requirements and everywhere you land, you’ll need to make sure you have met every requirement – otherwise you could be returned home or even denied boarding before your trip.
When traveling internationally, the main items you generally need to have are:
- a valid passport
- a Visa, if required
- proof of a return or onward ticket
- proof of accommodation
- proof that you have enough money to support yourself during your entire stay (cash, credit cards, etc.)
- any required vaccinations
Those are the basic requirements, but depending on the country you are traveling to, there could be other items you need to prepare – such as a yellow fever vaccination if traveling to select countries in Africa, for example.
What is a Travel Visa?
Your passport allows travel to many countries around the world simply by just having it – for example, in most cases you can book a flight to most places in Europe and show up and be granted a stay of up to three months. However, there are countries that require a Visa to enter that country – a Visa is essentially permission to travel to and remain in that country for a described period of time. Visas are either electronic or manually pasted into your passport.
If a Visa is required to your travel destination, a lot of countries allow you to apply for this authorization online – and then it will be electronically linked to your passport and all you’d need to do is print the Visa grant notice. There are, however, more strict countries that require you to go to an embassy for an in-person interview and then they’ll paste in a physical Visa into your passport which will allow you to travel to that country.
If you are traveling to popular countries like Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, most European countries, etc. you most likely won’t need a Visa if you have a U.S. passport. However if you want to go to places like India, Vietnam, etc., those countries do require Visas. If the Visa is electronic you will be asked to fill out a form, upload pictures, provide proof of travel, etc., and you’ll usually receive an electronic notice via email within a few days.
Types of Travel Visas
There are different types of travel Visas, such as:
- Travel Authorization
- Visa on Arrival
- Electronic Visa
- Physical/Traditional Visa
The list does go on and in most cases if a country that accepts tourists requires a Visa, it will be electronic. If you are eligible for one on arrival, you usually do not need to do anything other than have the required documents with you when you travel.
How to Find Visa Requirements
The simplest way to find out if a country requires a Visa for travel is to simply Google “visa requirements for X country”. The top links will include the country’s official pages and also Wikipedia. Whenever I want to quickly find out if I need a Visa, I will check Wikipedia since most of the time it is accurate and then right before booking a flight, I will check the country’s official pages to confirm.
Wikipedia is great because it lists the visa requirements for each country based on your country of citizenship. For example, if you search for “visa requirements/policy of Mexico”, the Wikipedia page will have a list of every country and what passport holders of those countries need to have in order to enter Mexico.
Since it is of utmost importance to have the correct documents when you travel internationally, you should double check the requirements several times via official sources in order to make sure you have them all fulfilled.
All in All
When planning a trip, look into all of the travel requirements that you will need to complete and have ready when you travel/fly. It is absolutely critical that you have everything prepared for well ahead of travel as in some cases it could take several weeks to receive a Visa, for example. When applying for a Visa, ideally you will want to wait to book flights until you have received it or book refundable flights, in case your Visa is rejected. Research carefully any additional items you will need to complete well before your trip to ensure it does go smoothly – and remember, even if you are only transiting a country, it may also have requirements you need to fulfill.