Several very important papers are required in order to legally study abroad. All take a bit of planning and time in order to process and receive. Start early!
"A passport, as I'm sure you know, is a document that one shows to government officials whenever one reaches a border between countries, so the officials can learn who you are, where you were born, and how you look when photographed unflatteringly."
— Lemony Snicket
U.S. citizens are required to have a passport to enter most foreign countries and to gain re-entry into the United States. Do this as early as possible as passports can take 4-6 weeks or longer to be processed. It’s advisable to apply several months in advance. You will also need a passport in order to apply for any country-specific visa which can also take many weeks. For more information on applying for a passport, pricing, etc. see the U.S. Government’s website.
How to apply: You must apply in-person at one of the following:
Chittenden Superior Court
175 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401
8:30 - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
Tip: It is always advisable to photocopy all your documents when applying for passports.
How to renew: If you already hold a passport that has been issued within the last 15 years, and you were at least 16 years old at the time of issuance, you may be eligible to renew your passport by mail. Passport renewal application forms can be obtained from the Chittenden Superior Courthouse. Or, find out pricing and get an application on the U.S. Government's website.
A visa is special permission, usually as a stamp or endorsement on your passport, granted by a foreign government to enter their country. Visas are granted for travel, extended stay, work, and study. In most cases, you will need to obtain the visa before leaving the United States. As with your passport, please allow plenty of time for your visa to be processed.
Visas can only be obtained by applying directly to the foreign government via their diplomatic offices in the U.S. Be aware that some countries do not accept applications through the mail and require you to appear in person at their U.S. office in order to secure your visa.
Find out if you need a visa: Once you have been accepted to your program, check with them to see if you require a visa, and if so, which type of visa you need.
Find out if you or the program secure the visa: Check also to see if your program will process the visa for you. If your program does not process visas for its participants, you will be responsible for securing your own visa.
Obtain the visa: The easiest way to obtain a visa is by applying to a foreign consulate (located in most major U.S. cities) or to the foreign embassy in the U.S.. To check the nearest location of a consulate or embassy, you can refer to the State Department's website. Visa application processes vary widely between countries., Check the consulate or embassy website for information regarding application fees, requirements, process timeline, and regulations regarding visa validation upon arrival in country.
Tip: Photocopy everything before submitting it and use certified mail both ways. Usually, visas are stamped directly in your passport and you will likely have to submit your passport along with your application (possibly photos as well). Certified mail will ensure that this valuable document can be traced if lost.
While making your plans to study abroad, verify your own health insurance policy to see what coverage it provides for medical services abroad. You are required to have a valid medical insurance policy in order to participate in a study abroad program. Some programs and/or countries may require that you purchase their health insurance. Check with your university or program provider for requirements.
If your physician locally or at home can provide you with international travel medical advice, please feel free to the seek the guidance of that specialist. Also note that the UVM Travel Clinic serves the needs of UVM students traveling to foreign countries for study abroad or for independent/personal travel. Students will meet with experienced nurses who will provide many services including required and recommended immunizations for the region you're visiting, as well as International Certificates of Vaccination/The World Health Organization Card (known as the Yellow WHO Card), and much more.
The Travel Clinic is located within Primary Care, on the ground floor of 425 Pearl Street. Appointments can be made by calling Primary Care at (802) 656-3350.
How do you transfer academic credit for the courses you take? Find out in Step 5: Earning credit for your studies.