Tips for Traveling Abroad

Information Resources

Travelers should familiarize themselves with their destinations, both to get the most enjoyment out of the visit and to avoid known dangers. Travelers should also be aware of restrictions on items that may be brought into the U.S. (see Customs and Import Restrictions).

Entry Requirements for the United States

  • Temporary visitors to the United States can find visa and required documentation information on the Travel.State.Gov website.

Obtain your visa from the appropriate consular or embassy representative before proceeding to the United States. Allow sufficient time for processing your visa application, especially if you are applying by mail. As soon as you receive your visa, check it to make sure no mistakes were made. Processing and visa fees vary, and fees may not be refundable.

What to Take With You on the Trip, and What to Leave Behind


Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:

  • Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry
  • Irreplaceable family objects
  • All unnecessary credit cards
  • Social Security card, library card, and similar items that may be in your wallet

Do bring medical necessities

Leave Copies of Documents and Itinerary With Relatives in the U.S.

Leave a copy of the itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.

Make two photocopies of the passport identification page, airline tickets, driver’s license and the credit cards you plan to take. Leave one copy of each with family or friends at home, and pack the other copies separately from the originals. Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your travelers’ checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list.

Plan for the Unexpected

Take with you items that you will need if your trip is unexpectedly extended. These items may include extra money or medications.

Assistance from Foreign Embassies in the United States

Foreign embassies in the United States provide assistance and advise citizens who are in serious legal, medical or financial trouble, including health emergencies, arrests, deaths, missing persons, and destitution.

Finding a hospital or doctor

If you become seriously ill or injured while in the United States please visit the closest medical treatment facility. A foreign embassy officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family and friends. If necessary, an embassy officer can also assist in the transfer of funds to the United States. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler.

All travelers should familiarize themselves with conditions at their destination that could affect their health (high altitude or pollution, types of medical facilities, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, etc.).

Temporary visitors participating in a State Department sponsored exchange program should have health coverage through their respective program. Many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

For more information on health and medical care in the United States click here.