I wanted to try and compile some information for my readers to equip you with the best information if you are planning to travel outside of the United States.
First, let’s look at preparing for your visit to another country.
- You need to make sure that you are aware of the entry requirements for the country as well as any possible travel alerts or warnings that may have been issued for the country or countries you will be visiting. The US Department of State has done an excellent job of placing this information directly on their website (www.travel.state.gov). When you visit the website, you can select the “International Travel” tab and then from the drop-down menu choose the country you are visiting . A “Country Specific Information” page will load for that country. It will include information about the location of US Embassies, Entry/Exit Requirements, Threats and Crime, Local Laws and Conditions, Medical Information, and additional information to prepare you for travel to that country. The Department of State also has an iPhone app called the ‘Smart Traveler’ with this information. An Android version is due in June 2012.
- The State Department also encourages US Citizens to enroll in their “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP) [https://step.state.gov/step/] when traveling internationally. This is a free service that enables you to be contacted abroad in case of a family emergency, or if there is a crisis or alert for the location you are visiting.
- Be sure to leave your itinerary and contact (hotel) information with a trusted individual at home. Another good idea is to leave a copy of your passport and credit card(s) with them as well. This information can come in handy if something happens to you or your belongings while traveling abroad.
- Make sure you contact your medical care coverage company to see if your policy will cover you while traveling abroad.
Lastly, make sure you’re prepared to return to the United States.
- Some documentation changes have recently taken place and are stated as:
All persons including citizens of the United States traveling by air between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda will have to present a passport, Merchant Mariner Document (presented by U.S. citizen merchant mariners traveling on official business) or NEXUS Card. NEXUS enrollment is limited to citizens of the United States and Canada, and lawful permanent residents of the United States and Canada. Children will be required to present their own passport. Beginning June 1, 2009, ages 16 and older will be required to present documents from one of the options below when entering the United States at land or sea ports of entry. Children under may present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. One of the following documents may be presented to prove both identity and citizenship:
• U.S. Passport;
• U.S. Passport Card;*
• Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST);*
• State issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available this secure driver’s license will denote identity and citizenship);*
• Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available);*
• U.S. Military identification with Military TravelOrders;
• U.S. Merchant Marine document;
• Form I-872 American Indian Card.
- You should be aware of what you will need to claim when returning to the US. Anything you are bringing back with you that you did not originally take needs to be claimed. This includes items purchased in duty-free shops. I recommend keeping all your purchase receipts for documentation. Be careful when purchasing from street vendors, as the items could be illegal and confiscated upon re-entry into the United States.
Looking for more information? Check out the great information available at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/ and http://travel.state.gov/