Don't forget your visa

Make sure you have your travel visas.

I’m not talking about credit cards, although travelling with more than one credit card is always a good idea in case one gets deactivated along your travels.

The travel visas I’m talking about are the extra “hoops” you must jump through to get into some foreign countries. It is not always apparent when booking flights online that it may be required. 

Lack of the proper documentation can stop you in your tracks at your international departure point, regardless of how many prepaid travel arrangements you may have.

Visa requirements are based on your passport nationality; as a Canadian resident may not need a visa but your Chinese companion does. 

Whenever you are travelling internationally, you should verify the following:

  • Required validity of passport – countries can require that your passport be valid anywhere from 3 to 6 months beyond your date of entry
  • Proof of payment of reciprocity taxes – Argentina as example requires a receipt proving you’ve paid the required entry tax prior to arrival
  • Required entry visas based on passport citizenship

Not validating this information can be a costly mistake. There are two ways to investigate your entry requirements. Canadian citizens can go to this website.

The most precise and up to date information is found on the individual country’s embassy or consulate sites.  Through this avenue, you can check all nationality’s requirements. You can also speak to consulate staff to verify any specific challenges or questions you may have.

The visa itself is an official document, usually stamped or glued within your passport. It is processed and authorized by foreign government offices operating within Canada.

Each individual country has its own requirements, fees and varying processing times.  Many countries are now adopting online pre-approved visa processes called ETA’s (Electronic Travel Authority).

Be aware that when researching how to facilitate visas through the internet that there will be several Visa Processing Centers showing in your search results offering to handle the procedure for you. 

These “centres” charge very expensive processing fees, much higher than the applicable visa fee that is charged by the consulate of the country you are hoping to visit. 

Always deal directly with the source.

Visa processing can be a tricky matter at times. The representatives of the country to which you are travelling need to physically see your passport before they can issue the visa. 

If you are unable to visit the foreign government office in person, you will have mail in your passport, fees and application form along with a self-addressed return envelope. During this processing time, you are of course unable to leave Canada. Be sure to leave yourself ample time to facilitate the documentation. 

Expedited or “Fast Tracked” processing can be done in emergencies but at a much higher cost.

Do your due diligence and research your next destination. Don’t get enticed by a “too good to be true” cruise sale out of Brazil only to find that you need both a newly renewed passport, visa and zika vaccination.


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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