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Traveling Abroad? Savvy tips about Passport & Customs

Traveling Abroad? Savvy tips about Passport & Customs

Are you planning your next trip abroad? Can’t wait to immerse yourself in a whole different world? We are just as excited for our next trip!   Obtaining the right travel documents is part of the experience of traveling abroad. Here are some tips and reminders to help with your preparation:

Important Travel Documents

PASSPORTS:passport travel documents

Your passport is the key to travel the world and getting back home! Before any plans to travel make sure your passport is up-to-date and valid. Keep these points in mind:

  1. 6-month Validity Passport Rule – when traveling internationally, it is a requirement that your passport not expire within 6 months of your date of return.  If your current passport is nearing the expiration date it is best to renew it prior to departure.
  2. Make copies of your passport – this is in case your passport is lost or stolen during the trip.  Before you go make sure to make copies, and bring them  with you during your travel. We also recommend storing an electronic copy of your passport as well.
  3. Separate the original passport from the copies – it is not wise to keep them together because you will also lose them together. We advise to divide them up.  We usually keep our passports in the safe in the hotel and walk around with a photocopy during the day.
  4. Keep your passport safe at all times – when carrying your passport, we suggest you use a money belt since this is a safe and great way to keep important items like cash or your passport. Do not ever place your passport in your checked in baggage.
  5. Register in the STEP Program – STEP or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service provided by the government wherein people who register can receive travel and security updates about their place of travel. You can register for free at STEP.state.gov.
  6. Be informed, read travel advisory and alerts – passport & visa requirements, policies, and travel advisory differ per location, so research ahead of time.

For processing of your passport requirements, we recommend going to a local passport office.   In Colorado, where we live, we use Colorado Passport Agency which is located in Aurora, CO. If you are traveling within 15 days, you can go to their agency and get your passport. To apply at this agency, you must:

  • Be traveling internationally in less than 2 weeks’ time or you need to acquire a foreign visa within 4 weeks.
  • Be able to show printed proof of your international travel, you may show your flight details, hotel reservation or cruise tickets.
  • Pay the expedite fee of $60 on top of the regular application fees
  • Book an appointment
  • You may also come in person to the agency if there is a need to correct a printing error in your recently issued passport. No need to book an appointment and no fees will be charged to you.

The details of the Agency are:

VISAS

travel documents abroad Visas are authorizations or endorsements granted by a country to a traveler/foreigner allowing them to stay for a period of time.

To date, U.S. citizens can visit 163 countries without a visa (116 countries without a visa and 47 countries with visa on arrival) as the U.S. passport is one of the most widely accepted passports in the world. It currently ranks 6th in terms of travel freedom.

For U.S. passport holders, a lot of free visas are good for 30, 60 or 90 days depending on the country. Research beforehand on the travel documents and visa requirements of your final destination!

CUSTOMS

Have you ever experienced falling in line at customs after a long flight? It’s pretty brutal, right? The long lines and wait times can be unbearable.

To avoid all of these, you can apply for the Global Entry Benefit.  When you’ve applied for a Global Entry, you can skip the long customs line when reentering the U.S. Travelers who have applied are able to enter the U.S. just by checking in at an electronic kiosk and scanning your documents.

Along with the Global Entry, you are also entitled to a TSA PreCheck, which helps you get through security faster. The TSA PreCheck helps you with the security process while the Global Entry helps you with the customs process. Another pass that is also applicable when entering the U.S. or Canada is the Nexus Pass. This gives travelers a faster way to cross borders by bypassing immigration checks provided they pass a detailed background investigation and interview.

We also recommend you to get a Mobile Passport. It’s a mobile app that lets travelers entering the U.S. submit electronically to the U.S. CBP their travel documents information via smartphone. This ultimately saves time because the administrative functions are reduced.  

If you want to have a hassle-free travel experience, then being knowledgeable and updated with travel documents is very important. Don’t let passport and customs issues stop you from exploring and enjoying the world!

We hope you found this article useful. If you’re like us and love to travel, check out where we’re heading to next!