May 26, 2015
When you’re planning your next international business trip, it’s important to be aware of a few legal requirements to travel outside of the United States. The U.S. Department of State notes that certain travel documents are legally required both to travel outside the United States and to reenter the country.
Here is what the Bureau of Consular Affairs states about necessary legal documentation when your job requires you to travel abroad:
A passport is a legal travel document issued by the U.S. Department of State to verify a traveler’s citizenship and identity. You generally need a U.S. passport if you are a U.S. citizen who travels overseas. Passports are internationally recognized, and most foreign countries require that you show a valid passport before you can enter or leave them. When traveling by plane, you must show security personnel your passport when reentering the United States—even if you are a U.S. citizen. When traveling by boat or by land rather than by air, you may be able to use the new U.S. passport card rather than the standard passport book. If in doubt, visit this government site on U.S. passport requirements. Also, any business traveler should leave themselves enough time to apply for a passport if they don’t have one yet. It generally takes 4-6 weeks to process a new passport, although in some cases you can request expedited service to get them faster. If you do have a passport already, be sure it is current; routine passport renewals generally take 4-6 weeks as well, and in some cases, you can renew them by mail.
Americans traveling abroad for short-term business may also require a travel visa to enter certain countries. Visas allow you to enter and leave a country within a specified time period. Visas may be travel documents or may be stamped into your passport; requirements and application procedures vary based on which country you are visiting. USA Today recommends that business travelers research whether their international business travel will require a visa at least 4 weeks before their departure date. To determine whether a particular country requires a visa, visit the Country A-Z Index on the U.S. Department of State website.
Though you’ll always need your passport to reenter the United States after your business travel, some countries may allow you to enter and leave their borders with a birth certificate, or with a birth certificate along with a driver’s license. It’s always smart to carry these additional forms of identification when you travel, as they can be helpful if you lose your passport. Check the U.S. Department of State website to learn more about country-specific legal requirements. This site may also direct you to contact the U.S. embassy of your foreign destination for additional information prior to your international business travel.
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