Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hints on Passports

  • They will be required later this year for flying into Mexico and Canada (they had to delay this because the passport office couldn't handle the load)
  • Carry a copy of your passport photo page with you. It is also a good idea to scan in those same two pages, attach it to an email and mail it to yourself. This assumes you have a email provider that allows easy web based access to your email. Gmail (Google's email), Yahoo, Hotmail are all examples of email services that provide this service. I prefer Gmail. With this email approach you can always retrieve this information anywhere you can get internet access.
  • I typically carry my passport with me at all times. Sometimes stores will ask for it when you charge something. For business trips you are often asked to produce this if you visit a customer or vendor. Many countries require you to carry ID. Your state drivers license will not be acceptable.
  • Hotels in Europe, Japan, China, etc. will often ask for you passport when you register. Occasionally they will want to hold it for a while, but it seems like this is becoming uncommon.
  • Visas -- for US citizens a visa is often not required or can be easily obtained at the border if you are just being a tourist, or a short business trip. However you should always check before hand. China for example does require a Visa and this can take weeks to get. If you are studying for multiple months or plan to work then a Visa is usually mandatory. Work visas are hard to get.

  • Passport expiration dates can be a nasty surprise--I know people that have been turned away at the departing airport because of this. Some countries require that your passport be valid for the entire time you can legally stay in their country. A typically country might allow you to enter a country and stay for up to 30 days under a "Tourist Visa" that is automatically granted. However if your passport is going to expire 25 days from when you enter then you might have a problem -- even if you intend to be back in the USA well before your passport has expired. Your passport will be generally be carefully checked before you leave the country, so if you have this problem you might not be allowed to board the plane. Check the expiration date on your passport and if it is less than 60 days I would check the rules very carefully before assuming you are ok. Better yet, renew it!

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