International Tips

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Information About Physicians and Hospitals Abroad

U.S. embassies and consulates abroad usually keep lists of physicians and hospitals in their area. Major credit card companies also can provide the names of local doctors and hospitals abroad. Many HMO medical plans have international partner hospitals in case there is a need for medical attention when traveling. Please check with your provider.

Immunizations

Under international health regulations adopted by the World Health Organization, a country may require international certificates of vaccination against yellow fever and cholera. Typhoid vaccinations are not required for international travel, but are recommended for areas where there is risk of exposure.

 

The information is also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-232-3228 or at their website http://www.cdc.gov.

If vaccinations are required, they must be recorded on approved forms, such as those in the booklet PHS-731, International Certificates of Vaccination as Approved by the World Health Organization.

Documentation for Medications

If you go abroad with preexisting medical problems, you should carry a letter from you doctor describing your condition, including information on any prescription medicines that you must take. You should also have the generic names of the drugs. Leave medicines in their original, labeled containers. These precautions make customs processing easier. A doctor's certificate, however, may not suffice as authorization to transport all prescription drugs to all foreign countries. To ensure that you do not violate the drug laws of the countries that you visit, you may consult the embassy or consulate of those countries for precise information before you leave the United States.

International Safety Tips

Protect Your Passport
Your passport is the most valuable document that you will carry abroad. It confirms your U.S. citizenship. Please guard it carefully.

When entering some countries or registering at hotels, you may be asked to fill out a police card listing your name, passport number, destination, local address, and reason for travel. You may be required to leave your passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so that it may be checked by local police officials. These are normal procedures required by local laws. If your passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the impoundment to local police authorities and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Guard Against Thieves
Coat pockets, handbags, and hip pockets are particularly susceptible to theft. Thieves will use all kinds of ploys to divert your attention just long enough to pick your pocket and grab your purse or wallet. Try to prevent theft by carrying your belongings in a secure manner. Do not make it easy for thieves!

General International Traveling Tips and Concerns

A U.S. citizen needs a passport to depart or enter the United States and to enter and depart most foreign countries. Exceptions include short-term travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, and some countries in the Caribbean, where a U.S. birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship may be accepted. Your travel agent or airline can tell you if you need a passport for the country that you plan to visit. Information on entry requirements is available at http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/. The embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to travel can also advise you about its entry requirements.

Even if you are not required to have a passport to visit a foreign country, U.S. Immigration requires you to prove your U.S. citizenship and identity to reenter the United States. Make certain that you take with you adequate documentation to pass through U.S. Immigration upon your return. This documentation includes: A U.S. passport, an expired U.S. passport, a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship, or a Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States. To prove your identity, either a valid driver's license or a government identification card that includes a photo or a physical description is adequate

How to Apply for Your Passport in Person

The addresses of passport acceptance facilities in your area are available on the Internet at http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.

How to Apply for Your Passport in Person

  1. Proof of U.S. citizenship (Certified copy of record of birth in the United States, or original Naturalization Certificate. If the applicant is not applying for the first time, the most recent previous U.S. passport is the preferred proof of citizenship.).
  2. Current Identification (usually a driver's license with signature and photograph).
  3. A state issued identification card is not acceptable ID. Please call 612-348-8240 for further information.
  4. Social Security Number (the Social Security Card itself does not need to be presented, only the number is required).
  5. Two identical passport pictures.

Passport Fees

  • Adults (age 16 and over): $60.00 (valid for 10 years);
  • Minors (age under 16): $40.00 (valid for 5 years)Minors under age 13 do not sign the passport application, yet must be in the United States when the application is processed. A parent executes the application on the minor's behalf. Parent's identification can be presented on behalf of a minor under age 18, when the minor does not possess his or her own identification.

Receipt of passport averages four to six weeks from time of application. Expedited service is available for an additional fee of $35.00. Express mail delivery both to and from the Passport Agency is also available, at current Postal rates.

Passport Pictures

Two identical 2" x 2" photographs, meeting a variety of specific requirements, are required in order to obtain a passport. These instant passport photos are available at passport agent offices. Fee: $9.60, plus tax.

How To Obtain Visas

A visa is an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government that permits you to visit that country for a specified purpose and a limited time - for example, a 3-month tourist visa. It is advisable to obtain visas before you leave the United States because you may not be able to obtain visas for some countries once you have departed. You should apply directly to the embassy or nearest consulate of each country that you plan to visit, or consult a travel agent. Passport agencies cannot help you obtain visas.

Foreign Entry Requirements

The Department of State publication M-264, Foreign Entry Requirements, gives entry requirements for every country and tells where and how to apply for visas and tourist cards. It can be ordered for 50 cents from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009; telephone: 719-948-4000; Internet http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/

Important Issues to Consider:

Travel Insurance
You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies. Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.

Money
Traveler's Checks
It is wise not to carry large amounts of cash. You should take most of your money in traveler's checks and remember to record the serial number, denomination and the date and location of the issuing bank or agency. Keep this information in a safe and separate place so, if you lose your traveler's checks, you can quickly get replacements.

Credit Cards
Some credit cards can be used worldwide, even for cash advances. Keep track of your credit card purchases so that you do not exceed your limit. Travelers have been arrested overseas for mistakenly exceeding their credit limit! Leave all unnecessary credit cards at home. Record the numbers of the credit cards that you do bring, and keep the list separately from the cards.

You should immediately report the loss or theft of your credit cards or traveler's checks to the credit card companies and to the local police.

Driver's License/Auto Insurance
If you intend to drive overseas, check with the embassy or consulate of the countries where you will visit to learn about requirements for driver's license, road permits, and auto insurance. If possible, obtain road maps of the countries that you plan to visit before you go.

Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver's license. However, most countries accept an international driver's permit. Before departure, you can obtain one at a local office of an automobile association. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses.

U.S. Customs Pre-Registration
It is a good idea to be informed about U.S. Customs regulations. Foreign-made personal articles taken abroad are subject to U.S. Customs duty and tax upon your return, unless you have proof of prior possession such as a receipt, bill of sale, an insurance policy, or a jeweler's appraisal. If you do not have proof of prior possession, items such as foreign-made watches, cameras, or tape recorders that can be identified by serial number or permanent markings, may be taken to the Customs office nearest you, or to the port of departure for registration, before you depart the United States. The certificate of registration provided can expedite free entry of these items when you return to the United States.

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