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Red Tape: Passports, Visas and Shots


For any trip that will take you outside the United States, you'll need a Passport Book. The new Passport Cards CAN NOT be used for travel to Europe. These are only for travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Standard Passport Books are valid for 10 years, so there's no reason not to apply well in advance of your planned trip.

Getting your First Passport


If you don’t have a passport yet, APPLY NOW! Passport applications, whether new or renewal, can take 6 to 8 weeks to process.

First-timers need to apply in person at their local passport office (usually at the main post office). You can download the form or fill it out on-line and then print it.

In addition to the completed form you'll also need:

  • Proof of US citizenship, usually a birth certificate
  • A valid government issued ID, such as a driver's license
  • One passport photo — there are very specific size requirements, so get them taken by somebody who knows what they're doing. The passport office can do it, or you can get them ahead of time at places like Kinko's or AAA.


Complete details on applying for your first passport can be found on the US State Department's Passport Page.


Renewing a passport


If you already have a US Passport and need to renew it, you generally have to do this by mail. Note that many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your trip. I know of people who have gone to the airport expecting to fly to Europe and have been denied boarding because their passport would expire in less than six months.

Forms are available at most post offices, or you can download the form, or fill it out on-line and then print it.

In addition to the completed form you'll also need:

  • Your current passport
  • Two passport photos — there are very specific size requirements, so get them taken by somebody who knows what they're doing. The passport office can do it, or you can get them ahead of time at places like Kinko's or AAA.


Complete details on renewing your passport can be found on the US State Department's Passport Page.


Visas


The word visa literally means 'viewed' or 'looked at.' Some countries want to be very careful about who they let in, and how long they're allowed to stay. They require you to submit your passport to the local embassy before your trip and get a visa, basically a special stamp in your passport that says "this person is ok."

For stays of up to 90 days, US citizens do not require a visa for any of these countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).


Immunizations


Shots and medications for travel fall into two categories:

Required — i.e., the country you're visiting is worried about what they might catch from you

Recommended — i.e., you should worry about what you might catch while you're there

There are no shots required for any countries in Europe. General recommendations for travel anywhere include having your tetanus shot up-to-date, and getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. For more information about health issues worldwide visit the Centers for Disease Control.

Note: The information on this page applies to US citizens. If you are not a US citizen, you need to contact your embassy to determine your own travel requirements regarding passports and visas. Information on this page is provided without guarantee of accuracy or application to specific cases. Always confirm the information necessary for your specific situation from official sources.

Contact

Hand Crafted Travel LLC
5730 N 1st Street
Ste 105 PMB 145
Fresno CA 93710
Tel: +1 559 447 8441
E-mail
CST #2094789-40

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