Making sure you have all the right documentation pre-trip is essential.
Correct documentation is a must for all travel, particularly if you require a visa to enter a country. If you don’t have the right documents, you’re not going to be let in!
You wouldn’t go to the airport without your flight tickets or passport. Correct documentation – from visas to ID – are just as important. What you need will depend on your nationality, circumstance and your destination, and it is worth checking all paperwork requirements well in advance of your trip to allow plenty of time to prepare.
Being prepared, travelling smart and taking out insurance are linked. You want to know that your possessions and yourself will be adequately covered while you are away. This means reading the small print and double-checking that there are no exclusions on the activities you wish to pursue. It also means bringing the correct insurance documentation away with you so any incidents can be dealt with promptly. Other documentation you should carry includes copies of photographic ID, your European Health Insurance card (EHIC), any booking information and receipts.
Visas are complex. The rules and criteria for obtaining them change from country to country. Fundamentally, a visa is a piece of paper that grants entry to your given country for a particular purpose, such as tourism, study or working. Visas are normally restricted to a set time period, which can be anything from 30 days to five years.
Once you know your travel destination, check with that country’s embassy to see if you actually need a visa to enter, and whether this has to be organised ahead of time, or can be granted at the point of entry (airport or overland border crossing). If you need a visa, you can usually send your passport off with a visa request form and have it returned with your visa inserted, or may need to attend the Embassy in person where it will be done on the day. Some circumstances, such as if you intend to work or live for a longer time in a country, may require more detailed background checks, and you may need to attend an embassy interview to obtain your visa.
When travelling with children extra documentation may be needed. Requirements will vary from country to country and depend on circumstances, so do your research. Again, know exactly what you need well in advance of travel. For international travel your child will need a passport, though there may be exceptions when travelling between countries in the EU. If a child holds their own passport then usually they require their own visa. However if a child is travelling under a parental passport, they are often included on the single visa. For children traveling with adults who are not their parents, such as grandparents or step-parents, permission from the parents, or proof of the child’s relationship to the adult may be required.
If you plan to enter a country by vehicle you may find you need more documentation than a tourist travelling on foot. If you require a visa to enter your destination, you may also have to declare your vehicle. This may not be an issue if hiring a car, but be sure to check. Research and plan for such eventualities before you leave.
It can also be difficult to hire a car in some parts of the world if you do not have certain documents with you. Bringing both parts of your driving licence is essential, as you will find it difficult to rent a car without them. An international driving permit (obtainable at the Post Office) may also be needed. If you will be driving your own car then you also need to carry copies of your motor insurance certificate and vehicle registration document (VC5).
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