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Tips for International Travelers

  • All persons traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.
  • Effective June 1, 2009 - ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by sea between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • More information - Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

Helpful Links:

Advice for international travelers:

  • Before you purchase tickets, make sure you check the entry requirements for the country or countries you plan to visit. Allow plenty to time to obtain needed documents such as proof of citizenship, passport, visas, etc. Passports, if required, must generally be valid for at least six months after your date of entry.
  • Minors traveling internationally without both parents must generally have a notarized letter from the parent/parents not traveling which gives permission for the minor to travel.
  • Some countries, particularly those in less developed areas have health and/or vaccination requirements. Check the CDC's website regarding health advisories or requirements for the specific countries you are visiting.
  • Make photocopies of important documents such as passports, visas, travelers' checks, tickets, and even credit cards. Leave one copy in a safe, accessible place at home and give one to your traveling companion. If your actual documents are lost or stolen, this will make replacement much easier.
  • When flying, always include in your carry-on items things you can't live without, such as prescriptions or other needed medications, eyeglasses, contact lenses, keys, passports, travel documents, etc. Never pack them in checked luggage in case your luggage goes astray.
  • Make sure any medications you bring are kept in their original container to avoid problems with customs.
  • Purchase and wear medic alert tags for any condition that may require medical attention.
  • Double check your health insurance and property insurance policies to see if you will be covered when you travel. You may want to consider purchasing special travel insurance to cover you internationally.
  • U.S. Customs officials may ask you to provide proof of purchase in the United States of items they may suspect you purchased abroad. To avoid this complication you may want to register items with the U.S. Customs Service before departure. Each person traveling internationally is entitled to bring into the United States items purchases totaling $800 or $1600, depending upon the country visited. Certain items such as cigarettes and alcohol have specific exemptions. Also, some countries have exemptions for locally produced items. See the U.S. Customs website for specific information.
  • Leave expensive jewelry in a safe place at home. Don't carry excess cash... instead utilize credit cards and travelers' checks whenever possible. Most hotels offer safes or safety deposit boxes where you can store your tickets and other small valuables. Do not leave such articles in your hotel rooms, rental cars, or in unattended bags by the pool or beach.
  • Be very cautious about utilizing ATM machines, especially those located outside.
  • Your best defense against becoming a victim of crime against travelers is using your common sense, knowledge, and awareness of your surroundings.
  • Become familiar with local currency and exchange rates before you depart.
  • In many international cities the cost of living (hotels, meals, taxis, etc.) is very high. Be prepared to spend more that you would at home, especially for meals eaten at your hotel or in nicer restaurants. The fluctuation of currency exchange rates can also greatly affect the prices you pay for everything.
  • Confirm your itinerary a few days before each international flight to keep up to date on schedule changes. Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure on international flights.
  • Electrical current varies internationally. Most areas of the U.S. and Canada have 110 volt, 60 cycle alternating current (AC). It is more common overseas to find 220 volt, 60 cycle direct current (DC). Unless you use and adapter/converter, the heavier voltage will instantly burn out hair dryers, irons, shavers, etc. Be sure to take a converter/adapter kit when you travel internationally if you intend to use such items. Don't buy electrical appliances abroad unless you are sure they will work at home.
  • Before making telephone calls from abroad, check to see if your hotel adds a surcharge to the normal telephone charges. This is very common, and phone calls made from the hotel lobby phones may be less expensive. You may want to purchase an international prepaid long distance card.
  • Familiarize yourself with local customs, history, and culture beforehand; and be a courteous and respectful guest. The more you learn about the country you are visiting before you travel, the more rewarding your experience will be. Travel with knowledge, awareness, curiosity, flexibility, courtesy, and respect.
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