Travel Visas

When traveling abroad, you might need a visa along with your passport to visit certain foreign countries. A visa is simply a special document that permits you to enter the country and stay for a specified length of time. After that time period is up, you must leave the country.

Some countries will give you a travel visa once you arrive in the country, but others require you to obtain your visa in advance. Either way, acquiring a travel visa isn’t a difficult process.

Do You Need a Travel Visa?
Travel agents often determine visa requirements for their clients and will arrange any necessary tourist visas for a fee. It never hurts to check out the visa requirements yourself, however. Visa rules are always in a state of flux and you don’t want any hassles ruining your vacation.

Find the embassy’s website for the country that you would like to visit. You can usually find the visa requirements in the consular section. Read the visa requirements for travelers and determine if you need to obtain a visa in advance.

Many popular tourist destinations will give you a free, short-term visa when you arrive in the country. You just need to go through airport customs to get your passport stamped.

Obtaining a Travel Visa in Advance
Various application procedures exist for ordering a visa in advance. Some countries, including Australia, Iran and Cambodia, offer an electronic visa service for travelers. You submit the application forms and pay the application fees on the embassy websites.

Other foreign embassies allow you to download a visa application from their websites. You then print out the forms and complete your application. Be sure to follow all of the directions very carefully. Mail or take your application in to the relevant country`s embassy or consulate.

You will have to wait from several days to several weeks before receiving your travel visa. It is a good rule of thumb to begin the visa process at least four weeks before you plan to travel.

What Do You Need to Obtain a Travel Visa?
The requirements for travel visa applications vary. Some countries just require you to attach your passport photo to the application forms. Others require you to prove your identity and citizenship by including a copy of your birth certificate, a government issued ID or your marriage certificate. Still others require proof of income before they will issue you a travel visa. You might be required to send copies of your bank statements, income tax returns or certification of employment.

Other potential requirements include copies of your medical insurance information, vaccination information or hotel reservations. If you are above a specific age, you might need to send in medical release forms signed by your family doctor or proof of travel insurance.

Other Travel Visa Tips
Make sure that your passport isn’t going to expire within the next six months. Some countries will deny you entry until you renew your passport. Be sure to leave the country you are traveling to before your travel visa expires. If you will be staying longer than specified, go to the nearest immigration service center and submit an application to remain for a longer period of time. A few countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, require exit visas as well as entry visas.

Most travel visas aren’t valid for longer than six months. They want you to enjoy your vacation and sightseeing but then return to your home country. The set time period for your visa does not begin until you actually enter the country.

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