A U.S. citizen needs a passport to depart or enter the United States and to enter and depart most foreign countries. Exceptions include short-term travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, and some countries in the Caribbean, where a U.S. birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship may be accepted. Your travel agent or airline can tell you if you need a passport for the country that you plan to visit. Information on entry requirements is available at http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/. The embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to travel can also advise you about its entry requirements.
Even if you are not required to have a passport to visit a foreign country, U.S. Immigration requires you to prove your U.S. citizenship and identity to reenter the United States. Make certain that you take with you adequate documentation to pass through U.S. Immigration upon your return. This documentation includes: A U.S. passport, an expired U.S. passport, a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship, or a Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States. To prove your identity, either a valid driver's license or a government identification card that includes a photo or a physical description is adequate
The address and hours for Hennepin County passport service centers can be found at http://www.co.hennepin.mn.us/vgn/portal/internet/hcdetailmaster/0,2300,1273_81888_121810723,00.html, or you can call the main Service Center information line at (612)348-8240. The addresses of passport acceptance facilities in your area are also available on the Internet at http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.
1. Proof of U.S. citizenship (Certified copy of record of birth in the United States, or original Naturalization Certificate. If the applicant is not applying for the first time, the most recent previous U.S. passport is the preferred proof of citizenship.).
2. Current Identification (usually a driver's license with signature and photograph).
3. A state issued identification card is not acceptable ID. Please call 612-348-8240 for further information.
4. Social Security Number (the Social Security Card itself does not need to be presented, only the number is required).
5. Two identical passport pictures.
Receipt of passport averages four to six weeks from time of application. Expedited service is available for an additional fee of $35.00. Express mail delivery both to and from the Passport Agency is also available, at current Postal rates.
Two identical 2" x 2" photographs, meeting a variety of specific requirements, are required in order to obtain a passport. These instant passport photos are available at passport agent offices. Fee: $9.60, plus tax.
A visa is an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government that permits you to visit that country for a specified purpose and a limited time - for example, a 3-month tourist visa. It is advisable to obtain visas before you leave the United States because you may not be able to obtain visas for some countries once you have departed. You should apply directly to the embassy or nearest consulate of each country that you plan to visit, or consult a travel agent. Passport agencies cannot help you obtain visas.
The Department of State publication M-264, Foreign Entry Requirements, gives entry requirements for every country and tells where and how to apply for visas and tourist cards. It can be ordered for 50 cents from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009; telephone: 719-948-4000; Internet http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/
You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies. Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.
It is wise not to carry large amounts of cash. You should take most of your money in traveler's checks and remember to record the serial number, denomination and the date and location of the issuing bank or agency. Keep this information in a safe and separate place so, if you lose your traveler's checks, you can quickly get replacements.
Some credit cards can be used worldwide, even for cash advances. Keep track of your credit card purchases so that you do not exceed your limit. Travelers have been arrested overseas for mistakenly exceeding their credit limit! Leave all unnecessary credit cards at home. Record the numbers of the credit cards that you do bring, and keep the list separately from the cards.
You should immediately report the loss or theft of your credit cards or traveler's checks to the credit card companies and to the local police.
If you intend to drive overseas, check with the embassy or consulate of the countries where you will visit to learn about requirements for driver's license, road permits, and auto insurance. If possible, obtain road maps of the countries that you plan to visit before you go.
Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver's license. However, most countries accept an international driver's permit. Before departure, you can obtain one at a local office of an automobile association. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses.
It is a good idea to be informed about U.S. Customs regulations. Foreign-made personal articles taken abroad are subject to U.S. Customs duty and tax upon your return, unless you have proof of prior possession such as a receipt, bill of sale, an insurance policy, or a jeweler's appraisal. If you do not have proof of prior possession, items such as foreign-made watches, cameras, or tape recorders that can be identified by serial number or permanent markings, may be taken to the Customs office nearest you, or to the port of departure for registration, before you depart the United States. The certificate of registration provided can expedite free entry of these items when you return to the United States. Minneapolis Customs Office can be reached at 612-348-1670.