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5 Things to Know about Visa & Passport Requirements

Not knowing your destination’s entry and exit requirements—and subsequently being denied passage or deported—is one of the most common travel mistakes, but it’s easily avoidable with some basic research.

1. Each country's visa requirements vary and depend on your citizenship, reason for travel, length of stay, and whether multiple entries are needed. You can research your requirements and apply on your own through your destination country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S.

Most countries offer some version of the following visas:

  • Tourist: for travel that doesn't require another kind of visa.
  • Business: typically for business meetings; sometimes for short-term research or study.
  • Student: for enrollment in an educational institution.
  • Resident or Employment: for long-term stays or work; a separate work permit may also be required.

Some countries require other specific types of visas for certain work—such as researchers, journalists, or missionaries—or for particular family or immigration situations.

2. Transit visas may also be required for countries you stop in or pass through en route to your final destination.

3. Visa waivers may be offered to citizens of certain countries traveling for specific reasons in a short amount of time.

4. Expiring passports and insufficient blank pages can result in denied passage or detainment. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you plan to leave your destination country. If your passport will expire while you’re abroad or shortly thereafter, you should renew it before departure. You should also check to see if your destination requires a specific number of blank pages.

5. Visa and passport applications can take up to 10 weeks—and you may need to make a personal appearance at your destination country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S. Apply early, or use a visa and passport services vendor who can submit expedited applications on your behalf. Check the U.S. State Department's passport processing times.

Outbound Visa Advice & Application Assistance

Visa and passport processing firms are often able to obtain travel documents more quickly than individual travelers and are especially beneficial for rush orders. We’ve negotiated a reduced rate with Travel Document Systems (TDS), a visa and passport services vendor. For free, they’ll advise you on your requirements, and for a small fee, they’ll assist you with routine and expedited applications. Visit the TDS portal for Harvard travelers to receive the reduced rate, or call them at +1-877-874-5104 Mondays—Fridays from 8 am–8:30 pm (EDT) .

And as always, you can contact us if you have any questions.