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REAL ID Act
Starting October 1, 2020, every U.S. state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing Federal facilities (inlcuding military bases), entering nuclear power plants, and boarding commercial aircraft. For more information, see the Department of Homeland Security's Real ID website.
Applying for a Passport
All U.S. citizens traveling overseas need a U.S. Passport. You should submit your passport application in person at an Authorized Passport Acceptance Facility. ASU has a facility with this designation. ASU's facility can provide you with passport photos and forward your completed passport application to the Department of State. For location, hours, services and fees, see ASU's U.S. Passport Acceptance Office.
Receiving a Passport
Keep in mind that processing times vary when submitting your passport application. Expedited processing carries additional fees. For more information on expedited processing, see the Department of State's Get a Passport in a Hurry page.
Complying with Passport Requirements
If you already have a passport, it is important to make sure it complies with the passport requirements of the country to which you are traveling. Some countries have requirements such as:
- Expiration Date - must be 6+ months beyond your date of entry/exit
- Pages - must have 1-2 blank pages for entry stamp(s)
- Stamps - must not have stamps from Israel (a condition of some Arab countries)
For passport requirements by country, see the Department of State's Country Information page.
Determining Visa Requirements
Consider the following when determining your visa needs:
- Length of stay
- Purpose of trip
Failing to obtain a visa, overstaying your visa or obtaining the incorrect type of visa - tourism instead of business - can have severe consequences such as deportation, clearance requirements to exit the country, ban on re-entry, fines and even jail time. To determine visa requirements for your trip, see the Department of State's Country Information and/or Contact Information for Foreign Embassies in the U.S., and navigate to your destination country.
Applying for and Receiving a Visa
Some countries require you to obtain a visa prior to your travel while others require you to obtain a visa at your point of entry, e.g., the airport or border crossing.
Prior to Your Travel
Obtaining a visa prior to your travel can sometimes be the most difficult part of preparing for your trip. Begin this process early, but be aware that some countries start the clock on your visa as soon as they grant it. Research the country to which you are traveling to learn about the application process as well as common challenges, tips and wait times.
Use these strategies for applying for and receiving a visa where appropriate/applicable:
- Send your application to the correct embassy/consulate, i.e. the embassy/consulate that has jurisdiction over your U.S. state.
- Have your host (local partner) submit an invitation/letter(s) of support directly to the embassy/consulate.
- Have your host (local partner) follow up with a phone call to the embassy/consulate - preferably a high-ranking individual.
- Visit the embassy/consulate in person to talk to a consular officer.
- Consider using a visa expeditor.
At Your Point of Entry
Obtaining a visa at your point of entry to a country can be an easy or difficult task, depending on the country. Research the country to which you are traveling to learn about the process as well as common challenges, tips and wait times.
Use these strategies for obtaining a visa where appropriate/applicable:
- Bring a folder with required documents, which may include copies of your passport, passport photos, proof of vaccinations, itinerary, and/or an official invitation/letter from your host (local partner).
- Have cash for fees in the locally trusted currency and condition. For example, some countries only trust U.S. dollars in poor condition while others only trust them in excellent condition.
Using a Visa Expeditor
If you decide to use a visa expeditor, some popular vendors are CIBT, International Visa Service, PassportVisasExpress.com and Travisa. We are interested in hearing about your positive or negative experience with a particular vendor. To provide feedback, contact Global Operations.
Federal Travel Programs
Enrolling in Federal Travel Programs
You can enroll in several U.S. government programs to make international travel safer and quicker.
Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to provide you with important safety information and contact you in case of emergency. It is a free service to help you stay informed and connected. We highly encourage you to enroll.
Enrolling in a Trusted Traveler program allows you to get through customs and security quicker using dedicated lanes and kiosks. If you are a frequent international traveler, you may want to consider applying for one of these programs. The application process involves filling out some forms, paying a non-refundable fee ($50-$122) and attending an in-person interview. Membership lasts five years.
If you do not need expedited customs processing, the TSA Pre✓ program provides expedited security screening only. The application process is similar to the Trusted Traveler process, but there is no interview, and the fee is $85. A handy comparison tool is available to help you decide which program is right for you.