What are the proper documents needed when traveling?
The horror stories never end. One of my agent friends had family members of her client book their honeymoon online. When they got to the airport, they had a “hospital copy of a birth certificate”. Someone had told her this would work. They missed 3 days of their honeymoon cruise and it cost them hundreds of dollars more than the original trip. Every day cruise ships are not allowing passengers to embark because they don’t have proper documents and their costs are not refundable. Here is what you need to do:
There are 3 different US departments that are responsible for entry and exit of the United States.
- Customs & Border Protection
- US Department of State-Passport Agency
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
There are many kind-hearted people who “think” they know what a person needs when traveling outside the United States. However, they may not be properly informed and the regulations can change at the drop of a hat. Don’t take the word of anyone-find out for yourself and your personal situation. Write down who you talk to, what they say, the time of day and time zone you are calling from.
Customs and Border Protection: www.cbp.gov 877-227-5511 . The job of this agency is to keep terrorists, their weapons and illegal material from entering the US. If you are a frequent crosser, find out about Global Entry www.globalentry.gov.
US Dept of State-Passport Agency. Everyone thinks they know what you need to leave and enter the US. Find out for yourself. http://travel.state.gov/passport 1-877-487-2778. Just get a passport and don’t mess with other ID.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA). http://tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm. This screening can change at any moment, at different airports and is interpreted different by the agents. Prepare for the ultimate checking and you will be pleased when it goes easier.
If you are a non US citizen, you need to find out your own information from your Consular office for travel in the US or leaving the US. You alone are responsible for this- not your mother or cousin. You must have proper visas.
If you book travel online, you are the MOST vulnerable for not having correct knowledge. 90% of those who get turned back are people who booked travel online. It can be expensive and uncomfortable to “do it yourself”. Call a Certified Travel Agent and save the stress.
And finally, please have a good attitude when dealing with these agencies. They are human beings and on the front line of abuse. A smile and “thank you” will win much favor. Happiness is contagious – spread it around.