Study Abroad

Studying Abroad: What Documents You Will Need

College is a time of unique and exciting experiences. One opportunity that is especially thrilling, as well as highly educational, is studying abroad. If you yourself or a college student in your family is considering a study abroad program, you will have a lot of planning to do. In addition to packing, preparing educational materials and saying goodbye to family and friends, there will be some extensive paperwork to gather. While you should always check with someone from the school for the most up to date information, the following checklist can help you begin preparations.

Passport – A valid, up-to-date passport is the key to traveling outside the United States. No matter if you are visiting the other side of the border for a day, or going on a yearlong study abroad experience, you will need a passport to leave and re-enter the U.S. Obtaining your passport takes a bit of paperwork, but it is not difficult. Plan ahead because it can take a up to a few weeks to get your passport in order.

Visa – Your first step should be to take a look at the U.S. State Department’s International Travel Country Specific Information page. This will give you an overview of the requirements of the country that you will be visiting. Depending on the country and the length of your stay, a visa may be required. A student visa is easier to obtain than other types, but it will take some effort. You will likely have to provide proof of age (in the form of a birth certificate) and proof of where you will be staying and why. Obtaining a visa an important step if it is required for your specific study abroad location.

Proof of Age – This will vary from country to country, but most of the time when you are traveling you will need something to prove how old you are. A current US passport, along with a valid driver’s license or state ID card may be acceptable, but you may need something specialized for the country you visit as well. Bringing a certified copy of your birth certificate can also be a good idea. Luckily, it is easy to get a government approved copy. Then, you can secure the document and bring it on your journey.

Certification of Vaccination – When you are traveling outside the United States, it is important that you have all needed vaccinations. Check with the person who organizes the study abroad program to find out what vaccinations are required, then find out what type of proof is necessary. This is something that should be provided by your general practitioner or from an on campus doctor.

Now that you have a better idea of the documents you will need to study abroad, you can begin the process of locating this important paperwork. If you have to order copies of any of your documents, make certain you obtain official, certified, government-approved copies. The best course of action is to start with the agency responsible for issuing the document(s) and follow their guidelines for ordering to ensure you get exactly what you need. By taking these precautions, you can rest assured that when the time comes to begin that much-anticipated study abroad, everything will go through without a hitch.

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