The most important documents you need to travel abroad include a passport and possible visas. There are a few other documents that can make traveling overseas easier and that might be required for entering certain countries: these include an international vaccination certificate.
You need a passport to travel to most countries in the world. Some countries require that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after your travel dates. When traveling inside the Schengen area in Europe (which includes most Western European countries but not the UK, for example) passports are not checked on the borders, but you are required to carry a valid ID and spot checks can happen. Non-Schengen nationalities do need to present a passport and possible visas when entering the Schengen zone.
Many countries require a visa and it usually needs to be applied in advance. Some countries issue visas on arrival, but visa rules vary depending on the country and depending on your nationality. Make sure you find out about relevant visas at least several weeks before traveling, and preferably a couple of months in advance, as the application process may take time. You can get up-to-date visa information from the nearest embassy of your destination country. Most embassies publish visa information and application instructions on their websites.
Although most flight tickets are electronic these days, carry a paper copy of your flight tickets with you. A confirmed return or onward flight is required for entering some countries, which means that in order to be allowed in to a country you might have to prove that you will be eventually leaving the country.
Bring a copy of your travel insurance policy, and bring details of any prescribed medicines in case you have to buy medications abroad.
International Driver’s License
If you’re planning to hire a car in your destination, or if you think you might drive any kind of a vehicle (a car, a motorbike or even a moped), get an international driver’s license. Many countries in the world require you to have an international license and if you’re going to rent a car, it is essential to have one as most car rental agencies want to it together with a credit card.
International Certificate of Vaccination
If you are traveling to certain countries in Africa or South America, find out if you need to get a yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination details should be recorded on an International Certificate of Vaccination (or the “Yellow Card”). This is a small card that you can fold to fit in to your wallet and that lists all your vaccinations and the vaccination dates. If you need to get a yellow fever vaccination to enter a country, the details will be recorded on the Yellow Card and signed by the healthcare practitioner who administered the vaccinations. Even if you don’t need the yellow fever injection, the card is convenient for keeping a record of all your jabs.
It is a good idea to carry a list of important phone numbers, even if you have stored these in your phone –just in case your phone gets lost or stolen. These include emergency contact numbers, friends and family, and the numbers you need to call to cancel lost or stolen credit cards. Make sure you know the number to your own embassy in the destination country. It is also a good idea to leave photocopies of all your important documents at home, so you can refer to the copies for details if you lose your passport or any other important paperwork. Finally, always carry a few passport-size photographs. They are needed in all sorts of unexpected situations abroad.