Trip to Anywhere

Passports, Visas, ETAs, oh my!

There's a lot to think about when planning a vacation, especially when you are leaving the country. Some countries require a travel visa, some just a passport will suffice, and some require Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). What's the difference? Allow us to break it down for you!


Visa

A travel visa is a conditional authorization granted by a country to a foreigner, allowing them to enter and temporarily remain within, or to leave that country. Visas typically include limits on the duration of the foreigner's stay, territory within the country they may enter, the dates they may enter, the number of permitted visits or an individual's right to work in the country in question.

A visa is most commonly a sticker endorsed in the applicant's passport or other travel document. The visa, when required, was historically granted by an immigration official on a visitor's arrival at the frontiers of a country, but increasingly today a traveler wishing to enter another country must apply in advance for a visa, sometimes in person at a consular office, by mail or over the internet. The actual visa may still be a sticker or a stamp in the passport or may take the form of a separate document or an electronic record of the authorization, which the applicant can print before leaving home and produce on entry to the host country. Some countries do not require visas for short visits.

Passport

A travel document, usually issued by a country's government, that certifies the identity and nationality of its holder for the purpose of international travel. Standard passports may contain information such as the holder's name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other identifying information.

Passport Card

is a credit card–sized national Identity card and limited travel document produced in the United States to meet the documentary requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) as an alternative to the traditional passport booklet. The U.S. passport card is, like a passport, only issued to U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals. The passport card's intended primary purpose is to issue to the U.S citizens an easy carrying federal "national" Identity card and, which also allow cardholders to cross the United States border into and out of Bermuda, Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. The passport card cannot be used for international air travel. However it is an acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel inside the United States.

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)

An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a new entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to or transiting through some countries. The authorization is electronically linked to your passport and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.


Here is the run-down for the requirements for a few of the most popular destinations we book, but if you have a specific destination you would like to inquire about don't hesitate to give us a call or email us at travels@olsen-oleary.com


1. Australia

U.S. citizens don't need visas to enter Australia. However, they do have to obtain what is called an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which basically works like an online visa. The ETA costs AU$20 and may be applied for at http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/.

2. New Zealand

If you are a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for a visa waiver and do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less. You must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from New Zealand. Visit the New Zealand Embassy website for the most current visa information.

For more info: New Zealand Department of State

3. United Kingdom

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourist or business travel to the United Kingdom for a stay up to 6 months. A valid U.S. Passport is required.

For more info: United Kingdom Visa: Requirements and application form

4. Italy

Please visit the Embassy of Italy's website for the most current visa information. Passports should have at least six months remaining validity beyond your departure date. U.S. citizens may enter Italy for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.

For more info: Country Specific Information - Italy - US Department of State

5. France

American passport holders are not required to obtain a visa prior to visiting France -as tourists- for up to 90 days per semester. If you plan to work in France for up to 90 days, you are NOT required to have a visa except if you are a diplomatic / official passport holder on a mission or a journalist.

For more info: http://www.consulfrance-chicago.org/Visa-requirements-for-American

6. Mexico

Passport holders from countries on Mexico’s no visa required list do not need to apply for a formal visa to visit Mexico. They may, instead, use a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM or Forma Migratoria Multiple. If you arrive in Mexico by land or sea and intend to travel beyond the ~35 km ‘free zone’ you will need to get a visitor’s visa (FMM) and if you fly to Mexico, air crews on international flights hand these out before the plane lands, and they are also available at Mexican airports.

For more info: https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/mexico-essentials/mexico-entry-requirements/#ReqTourists

7. Canada

U.S. PASSPORT AND WHTI COMPLIANT DOCUMENTS:

  • U.S.Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere countries.
  • The Passport Card: The passport card is only valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.
  • WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of June 1, 2009:
    • Trusted Traveler Programs (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
    • State Issued Enhanced Driver's License (when available)
    • Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available and approved by DHS)
    • U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
    • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
    • Form I-872 American Indian Card

AIR TRAVEL: All persons traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States.

LAND AND SEA TRAVEL: U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry need to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

For more info: www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-facts-en.asp


8. Thailand

U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport and in possession of an onward or return airline ticket do not require a visa to enter Thailand. The passport must have at least six months validity remaining to be allowed entry.

For more info: Thai Visas for Americans | U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand

9. Russia

To enter Russia for any purpose, a U.S. citizen must possess a valid U.S. passport and a bona fide visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate. It is impossible to obtain an entry visa upon arrival, so travelers must apply for their visa as well in advance.

For more info: Russian Visas | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia


10. India

U.S. citizens seeking to enter India solely for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 60 days, may apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to their arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian embassy or consulate.

For more info: India – US Department of State


11. Vietnam

As a citizen of United States, you are required Visa to visit Vietnam. Since 1996 All U.S. citizens that come to Vietnam can pick up a visa at the Vietnam airport.

For more info: http://vietnamembassy-usa.org/consular/visa-applic...



12. China

U.S. citizens planning to visit China's mainland must apply for an entry visa through the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. With a U.S. passport, citizens do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong.

For more info: Chinese Visa Application: A Complete Guide (Updated 2016)



13. Japan

You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passports must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan. You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.

For more info: Japan - Travel State - US Department of State


The following countries do NOT require Visas to enter, but you will still need a U.S. passport valid for at least 6 months after your return date:

  • The Bahamas
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bermuda
  • St. Kitts
  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • St. Lucia
  • Cayman Islands
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • South America
  • South Africa


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