May 2, 2017
What is a Travel Visa?
Many countries require that you obtain a travel visa before entering. A travel visa is simply an official government document that authorizes the holder to temporarily visit the authorizing country. The visa is usually just a stamp or decal that is placed in the holder’s passport by a representative of the country that’s being visited. Normally, a visa will specify dates that the visitor may stay in the country. They may also specify which areas of the country a visitor may enter, the number of visits permitted, or the visitor’s right to work while in the country.
Traditionally, the visa is granted by an immigration official upon the visitor’s arrival in the country. However, it’s becoming more and more common for countries to require the visitor to apply for the visa in advance. Requirements vary from one nation to another, so it’s important to do the research before you leave for your trip.
How do I get a travel visa?
First, you should find out if you even need a visa for the country you plan to visit. The easiest way to find out is to visit the Americans Travelling Abroad section of travel.state.gov. On the page, you’ll find an interactive map that tells you a country’s travel document requirements when you click on it. Many countries, such as those in the Schengen Area — 26 nations, mostly in Europe — don’t require a visa for a temporary visit. If that’s the case for the country you plan to visit, nothing more is required (you’ll still need a passport).
Travel visas aren’t free. Most cost between $50 and $200. If a visa is required where you’re going, you need to find the application. You can find most applications online, most commonly at the country’s embassy or consulate website. Once you print the document and fill it out, you’ll probably need to mail it in or deliver it by hand with payment to the nation’s local consulate.