Before you travel outside of the United States to study abroad, be sure to prepare appropriate and accurate travel documents.
The first study abroad travel document you will need is a passport. If you don’t have a passport, give yourself at least eight weeks to get one. If you are traveling in the next several weeks and still have not gotten this travel document, there are several regional agencies that can assist you in getting one quickly. You will have to schedule an appointment before you go. Remember, all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, South and Central American, the Caribbean and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport. Visit the U.S. Department of State's site for more information.
When you go to get a passport, you will need a photo ID with your signature. This can be an expired U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a valid government ID card, a valid military ID card or a valid driver’s license.
Another study abroad travel document that you may need is a visa. Visas are official documents issued by a country that allow you to visit. If you are unsure as to whether you need a visa or not, visit the U.S. Department of State’s site for a full list of countries and details on how to apply.
When traveling, make sure you that you keep all necessary travel documents gathered into one place. It is a good idea to keep them with your airline tickets and ensure that everything is properly dated, signed and notarized. Without the proper travel documents, you can be denied entry to another country or be unable to return to your own. A good tip is to make copies of all of these documents and leave them with your parents -- that way, if something is lost or stolen, your parents can fax the copies to you. Getting them replaced in a foreign country is time-consuming and can be almost impossible.