If traveling overseas on business, consider the following: meeting plans, presentation materials, business cards, clothing, etc. While shuffle immigration requirements may be lost, immigration documents should appear on the Business Traveler Checklist prior to travel. Forgetting the required documentation can lead to experiences that range from slightly impractical to potentially catastrophic, including:
- Missed flights;
- Refusal of entry;
- Long waiting times at the inspection; and or
- Canceled travel.
Many of these problems can be prevented by keeping the proper documentation. Below is a checklist of recommended documents you'll need for each business trip.
Which documents to pack
- Valid passport
Most passes are valid for 10 years, making it easy to forget they will ever need to be renewed. Please check the expiration date of your passport and get a new one if the expiration date is within 6 months of your travel date as strict passport validity requirements apply in many countries.
- letter of invitation
Carry a letter from the company or customer you visit. This letter, also referred to as a "letter of comfort", should be brief (less than one page), explaining the reason for your visit, indicating the length of stay and providing information to your local contact.
- Confirmation of onward journey
The immigration officer at the border must be satisfied that you leave the country at the end of your visit. A flight plan indicating the return or onward journey provides this proof, if required.
- Hotel booking with address
Travelers are expected to be able to say where they are. It is good to have the address at hand.
- working confirmation
This can be done in the form of a letter of employment confirmation and / or a current payroll. A letter of confirmation should be short and just confirm your date of employment, your job title and your current salary.
- Required visa or permit prior to approval
US citizens do not need a visa for most countries in the world when traveling to business meetings. However, there are 33 exceptions to this standard (notably Australia, New Zealand and India). For these 33 countries, US citizens must obtain a visa, an eVisa or an electronic travel authorization before boarding a plane. Airlines are instructed to refuse boarding for people who do not have this documentation.
Packaging and presentation of these documents
All immigration-relevant documents should be included in a carryon and on paper instead of in a checked bag or in a digital format. Checked baggage documents are usually available only after immigration control, and digital devices are prone to connection and power problems. When documents are distributed in print, these potential problems can be avoided.
A border official may only ask for your passport and visa (if necessary). You should have the other documents at hand, but only submit them on request. Many travelers are not asked for documents that go beyond their passport for years. However, border officials around the world are increasingly investigating the most common travelers and it is best to prepare for it.
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