PASSPORTS AND VISAS
If you're a U.S. or Canadian citizen and are traveling outside North Amer-
ica, you'll generally need a passport. This is a pocket-size booklet with ID
information and a photo, and it's issued by your national government.
Obtaining a passport is fairly simple; the trickiest part for most peo-
ple is obtaining a birth certificate or other acceptable proof of citizenship.
Although the U.S. Passport Service claims to process passports in 25 days,
you should allow six weeks (or, better yet, several months) during the busy
spring and summer travel seasons.
When traveling, carry your passport in a neck pouch, zipped inside
pocket, or other safe place. It's also a good idea to photocopy the page with
your photo and ID information. Carry the copy separately from the pass-
port, so you'll have proof of identity if your passport is lost or stolen.
In many countries, you'll be asked to leave your passport with the
hotel desk for registration with the police. This is normal, providing you
get it back within a few hours or overnight.
English-speaking travelers can obtain passports from the passport
offices in their home countries:
U.S. Passport Services
Canada Passport Office
U.K. Passport Agency
New Zealand Passports
A visa is an endorsement on a passport by a foreign consulate,
embassy, or immigration office. It gives the foreign traveler permission to
visit the country for a specified period of time.
Some countries require visas of all travelers; others require visas
only for students, for workers, or for tourists on long visits. For informa-
tion on visa requirement, check the official tourist sites listed in the "Des-
tinations" section of this book.
When you're in a hurry to get a passport, or if you don't live near a
consulate or embassy of a country whose visa you need, try a commercial
expediter. Here are two in the United States:
This service will hand-carry your application to the National
Passport Center and have a passport on its way to you within 24
Visas are a specialty here; the company works with more than 100
consulates and offers expedited service for Brazil, China, India, and