First things first…

I’ve accepted the job offer, so now what?!  It’s been a dream of mine to live and work ’round the world and I’m on my way!  I accepted a job to work in China… never have been to China… what do I need to get there, and to stay there for a bit.  Thankfully the company I am working for assists with securing the necessary documents for the proper visa to work and reside in China and they’re working closely with me on the visa process.  If you’re considering working in another country, this could be a requirement or a part of your negotiation.  If your on a tourist visa, the processes I’ll speak to below will still stand for you.

No matter where any of us travels today, we will require identification documents. Usually these documents include a passport, possibly our birth certificate, a second photo ID (driver license or ID card) and if traveling internationally a visa may be required as well.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 12.15.21 PMFirst off visit your country’s national government site (in America it is the US State Department site) to learn about obtaining or renewing your passport.  The State Department site has a whole host of information for US citizens traveling abroad and is a must to be saved in one’s bookmarks on your laptop and mobile devices alike.  The site lists information for emergency services and alerts, as well as locations of US embassies and consulates (which you will want to know for every country that you’ll be visiting).  There is also information on visas requirements for US citizens visiting foreign countries (you will still want to visit country specific web sites for requirements along with locations of consulate or embassy to obtain visas and which type of visa suits your type of travel to that country). Definitely take a moment to visit these sites, peruse them, bookmark them, and make notes about what is required (pay particular attention to delivery timelines and payment types accepted at foreign consulates and embassies) for your travel.

On the US State Department site there are two sets of tabs, with the top most set having a tab title Travel that will provide information about travel documents (passports and visas) emergency services for citizens abroad, etc. Click here and review this page for invaluable information for your trip.  The Center for Disease Control will give you an idea of immunizations required for entry to particular countries as well as information on health risks (outbreaks, etc.) in particular countries.  I can’t say enough how invaluable these sites are for preparing for travel.  The earlier you visit them and know the requirements, the better to ensure that you’re prepared with not only required paperwork but also up-to-date immunizations and health records.

Another suggestion is to visit a travel clinic in your city or county, or quite possibly at your medical providers facility.  The travel clinic can inform you and administer any immunizations and give you good general healthy practices advice for the countries you plan to visit.  Likewise, if you are moving to a foreign country, you could be required to have a health evaluation as a part of your required travel documents.  This physical exam may consist of not just a written certification by a physician of your general good health, but you may also be required to have specific tests such as EKG, blood tests for HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis, etc.  Outside of your primary care physician a travel clinic and some private service companies can provide the tests that you may need.  Search the internet for sites that will allow you to obtain blood tests, EKG, and lung x-ray independant of a primary physician.  In America travel clinics, Planned Parenthood, and county health offices could be sources for the general physical and certification of good health by a licensed practitioner.

Should your circumstances for travel be for employment purposes, your employer may assist you with visa and country specific documentation.  It’s a good idea to have a handful of additional passport sized photos of yourself, as it seems you’ll need one when you don’t expect it for one thing or another.  Additionally, be sure to keep secure electronic copies of all travel documents (passport, visas, birth certificate, identification card) along with your credit cards.  Keep these copies available securely on your laptop and portable devices as well.  This is a good practice in case any documents go missing or should you need something on the fly, you’ll have the required information in hand.

Knowing the required documentation and expected timeline for securing visas, etc. is a vital first step in traveling anywhere.  It is no fun to have arrived at the airport ready to head on a most excellent adventure only to realize your shy of some required documentation.  It is best to be duly informed and prepared before securing transportation to avoid costly charges for changes, etc. and to remain healthy and safe for your trip. Feel free to share your best practices and thoughts in the comments below.

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