Knock Knock! Thoughts on visas and passports.

Posted: December 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Planning | No Comments »

One of the important things about travelling is actually getting to enter the countries we want to visit. There’s such a huge variety of rules & regulations to wade through. I know a lot of frequent travelers wing it and usually succeed in getting into whichever country they’re aiming for through sheer luck and a lot of fast talking. Unfortunately, I’m really a by-the-book terrified-of-being-deported-and/or-possibly-be-thrown-in-foreign-jail kind of girl. That, and I’m terrible at fast talking. Whenever I try to fast-talk, I usually just end up saying "Ummm" a lot and majorly stuttering. It’s terrible.

So, research it is. One of the BEST resources for figuring out visa requirements is the US Secretary of State website.  Not only do they have all the information you could possibly need about rules/regulations for getting in a country, they have country-by-country information, travel alerts (for danger spots to be careful in), tips for traveling abroad, and a Safe Traveler Enrollment Program which lets you register which countries you’re going to be visiting. If there’s a sudden military coup or natural disaster in that country, they know you’re there and they’ll try to get you out of there.

Mostly, I’ve just copied and pasted what’s on the Secretary of State website for later perusal, but I’ve noticed there’s some recurring topics that I need to focus on:


Do you need a passport to enter? Usually, yes.
How long past the date of entry does the passport need to be valid for?  3 months? 6 months?
Do you need to carry your passport with you at all times while in the country?
Do you need to get a stamp?  Sometimes, from what I’ve read, depending on where you’re traveling to or traveling from, it’s better not to get a stamp of certain countries, or use two passports.  


Do you need a visa to enter? This varies based on what citizenship you have and what relationship your country has with the country you are visiting
What type of visa do you need?
How long does the visa let you stay in the country? Are there extensions allowed? Multiple-entry?
Do you need a valid visa to LEAVE the country?
How strict are countries about their types of visas, like if you’re allowed to work at all if you have a tourist visa?

Permits: Special travel permits to specific areas in certain countries, since we might want to visit Tibet while we’re in China.

Return/Onward air ticket: Do you need one? I guess this is to prove that you’re not going to try to immigrate illegally. 

Embassy: Where is it? My dad says that whenever you travel to another country, learn how to say “Please”, “Thank You”, “Where is the bathroom?”, and “Where is the U.S. Embassy?” in the country’s national language. 

Country Registration: I’d never known this before, but in some countries, it’s require to register with the police within 24 hours of arrival (though a hotel will often take care of that for you), or with the corresponding Office of Immigration.

Proof: Some countries need proof of finances to pay for stay or proof of medical insurance policy.  

Vaccination requirements: I believe this is self-explanatory. 

HIV/AIDS restrictions: Apparently, some countries do not allow you to travel within their countries or have a residence permit if you have HIV/AIDS.  That’s kind of sad. 


I also learned a bunch of new terms while perusing through all the nitty gritty details:

Departure Tax: A tax to leave a country.

Landing Visa: A visa you can apply for in some countries (like Taiwan) if your passport isn’t valid the amount of time it’s supposed to be. Usually just costs lots of money.

Schengen Agreement: U.S. citizens can enter all Schengen member states for a total of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes without a visa.  Read more about it here.

Transiting: When you’re travelling through a country en route to another country. Sometimes, if you have more than one stopover in a country (like China), you might need certain endorsements in your passport that allows that.


I just know I’m going to end up overwhelmed by all the different types of information I need to keep track of for each country we’re thinking of traveling to, not to mention all the countries we may need to pass through. I think I’m going to need to put together an Excel spreadsheet of some kind to keep track of all the information. If I ever do get around to creating one, I’ll put up a link here for everyone.

There’s one thing I know for sure, though.  First thing on my newly-established To Do list: get Rick’s passport renewed. 

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