Destination I Do
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do Your Visa Research Before your Destination Wedding or Honeymoon

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by Brett Snyder

Let’s say you’ve decided to have your wedding in some exotic foreign locale, or maybe you’re ditching your guests and just hitting the road for your honeymoon. You’ve put the whole trip together, but as you slip the gate agent your boarding pass, she gives you that look of doom. You aren’t going anywhere. Did you remember to check your passport and get a visa? Do you need a visa? Wait, what the heck is a visa? If you don’t take care of this, you might end up crying like a school girl as you wave goodbye to your airplane.

First, let’s info you need on passport applications from the Department of State. Besides, it’s just cool to have a passport, despite the creepy RFID chip that they now embed in each one.

If you already have a passport, make sure that it’s valid. And it doesn’t just have to be valid for your trip. Many countries require that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your trip. If you’re cutting it close, get it renewed just to be safe.

Now, let’s talk about visas. Visas are only required by some countries, but the more exotic they are, the better chance you’ll need one. It’s basically an authorization for your specific trip, and you need to apply for it through the embassy or consulate of that country. As you can imagine, those countries, especially those that may not rely on English as their language of choice, do not exactly make directions very clear on how to do this. If you want to make your head spin, take a look at China’s visa page.

Do you need a visa? Not if you’re going to a place like most of Europe or Mexico. (At least, not if you’re just going to visit. If you’re going to do business or stay for a long time, that’s a different story.) Places like Australia have a hybrid type of program which just require that you apply online for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

As I mentioned, you need a visa for China. How about India? Kazakhstan? You’ll need one in both those spots and a lot more. I actually just had a Cranky Concierge client who wasn’t allowed to board his flight to India from Dubai because he didn’t have a visa. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in that position. It required a drive to Abu Dhabi and some begging and pleading at the Indian Embassy. Not good.

So, a few months before you’re ready to go, cuddle up with this fun-filled (read: shockingly boring) website that gives you complete entry and exit info for every country in the world. Oh, and you’ll need to have your valid passport before you apply for a visa, so if you don’t have one of those, get started asap.

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