We had so much info to share on travel documents that we decided to split it into 2 parts. Enjoy part 1!
Now that we’ve been back from our Round the World trip for 6 months, we’ve had some time to reflect on how it went. This post is about lessons learned on the trip relating to travel documents – Part 1.
1. Bring documents that prove you are the parents of your children
This tip is specific to family travel to South Africa. If you want to enter South Africa, you need to bring each child’s long form birth certificate (the one that shows who the child’s parents are). We forgot this for our girls, but luckily, my husband had scanned the birth certificates. The airline accepted a printed version, otherwise we would have been stuck in the Sao Paulo airport in Brazil.
South Africa requires a long form birth certificate because your children’s passports do not identify who the parents are. This rule is in place to protect children who are born to parents from different countries. If the parents split, problems can arise when one parent wants to take the children out of the country without other parent’s consent.
2. Passports valid for 180 days past the end date of your travels
Each country has different rules regarding how long your passport has to be valid for after you either enter or leave the country. Some countries (such as those in the European Union) require your passport to be valid for 90 days, whereas other countries (Turkey) require 180 days. Since the rules are not standardized, you’ll need to check the requirements for each country.
Three of our passports were valid for about 105 days after the end of our travels. Since we were originally supposed to be flying back to San Francisco through Germany, that would have been fine. I decided not to renew our passports before the trip, and sure enough Murphy’s Law kicked in. We lost our flight through Germany and had to fly back through Turkey. The Istanbul-San Francisco flight was delayed and the next available flight was a day later. Since our passports were valid for less than 180 days, we had to pay a lot of money for a visa just to stay one night.
Although I confirmed the visa requirements for each country we were going to stay in, one thing I didn’t consider was the requirements for countries we were just visiting.
For example, from Brazil, we were going to take a day trip to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls, but since I hadn’t checked the visa requirements we got stopped at the border. Being Canadians, it turns out we did need a visa. We could have done the paperwork there, but given the cost, we decided to just stay on the Brazilian side. This is a good resource for visa requirements to/from various countries.
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