Keeping Ahead of Visa Requirements in Uncertain Times

Keeping ahead of visa requirements in uncertain times

Due to changing political climates and uncertainty across the globe, the American passport doesn’t afford carte blanche tourist opportunities the way it used to. In a post-9/11 world, and with threats to international travel morphing almost on a daily basis, visa requirements are not the same as yesteryear. Even among countries long considered to be U.S. allies, security concerns have trumped traditional partnerships, and citizens of the United States aren’t necessarily free to travel across borders as easily as in the past.

Your passport may fall under the purview of different visa rules than you were expecting if you are flying through one or more cities in different countries to get to your final destination. When flying through Reykjavik, Iceland, for instance, your passport must be valid for at least 90 days before expiring as of your arrival date, and many airlines won’t let you board the plane, even if you’re not planning to leave the airport. Even if you check with the embassy in each country, the airlines may have different rules to avoid heavy fines. Passport holders whose visas or passports don’t pass these rules may be subject to large fines and being sent directly back to their country of origin, and the receiving country will also fine the offending airline who let you through, so it’s up to the managing airline staff to make that decision, and they will not take it lightly.

Although most U.S. citizens can travel to many international locations without a visa before arrival, many countries require you to get a visa prior to entry. Brazil is especially stringent about requiring visas for U.S visitors, and you should plan to acquire a visa at least six weeks before your arrival in the South American country. The U.S. Post Office and many other shipping services, such as Staples or the UPS Store, can assist in securing a visa, although you will have to pay a fee and secure your own photos. Luckily, the Brazilian visa lasts 10 years once you have it, so you only have to go through the lengthy visa process every decade.

Criminal history is another thorn in the side of international travelers, and any travel-weary jet setter who has ever admitted to Japanese immigration they were convicted of a crime in their past – no matter how minor – has found themselves faced with a ban on entry and been turned around at the gate. Canada, too, is surprisingly strict about criminal convictions regarding driving while intoxicated, although there are waivers you can secure if you happen to have one on your record. Securing this sort of waiver can take many weeks and quite a bit of money, so make sure you plan to get one in advance if you’re going through Montreal or Toronto, even if it’s just to step onto a cruise or another flight.

A few tips on visas and passports:
– Always check passport and visa requirements before booking a flight, as it is your responsibility to know them, and most airlines won’t refund your money even if they haven’t explicitly told you what to expect.
– If your passport expires fewer than three months from the last day of your trip, renew it as quickly as possible. This can be done via mail at many US Post Offices if you have at least six weeks before your trip, or can be expedited for an extra fee at a US Consulate Office, either in person or via mail.
– Check the State Department’s travel advisories on any country you are visiting.

Making sure our clients get to their destinations safely and legally is a priority for Worldwide Golf Adventures. We keep track of visa and passport requirements for all of the beautiful spots where we send our intrepid golf clients, and we will help you make sure your trip is free from unforeseen passport trouble. Contact us today to learn more.