Passports are issued by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens (or your own government, if you're a citizen of another country). You must have a current and valid passport in order to travel overseas. For current passport holders, your passport must be valid for at least six months after you return from your host country. You will need a passport booklet, not a passport card. If you're over 18, your passport will be valid for 10 years.
Apply for a passport.
First time applicants must apply in-person at a passport agency. Local agencies include the Bettendorf and Davenport Main Post Office or at the Scott County Recorder's Office.
NOTE: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO GET YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS! You should apply for a passport as soon as you have been accepted into your study abroad program. Processing time varies from 4 to 8 weeks. If you're in a hurry, talk to the staff at the Passport Office about expediting your application (there's an additional charge for this service).
Be sure to make three photocopies of the inside front cover of your passport. Leave one with someone at home, give one to the Center for International Education, and take the other copy with you (kept separate from your actual passport). You will need a copy in case your passport is lost or stolen.
If your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, report the loss immediately to: the program staff; the nearest embassy or consulate; and the local police. If you can provide the consular officer with the information contained in the passport, he or she will usually be able to issue you a new passport promptly. It's also helpful to bring extra passport photos with you.
A visa is permission from a foreign government to apply for entry at the border and can be obtained from foreign consulates in the U.S. or in other countries. They are issued for specific purposes, such as work, travel, tourism, or study. Even if you are only planning to travel for a short time, some countries require a visa stamped in your passport. Each country has different requirements so inquire ahead.
To find out if you need a visa, review the US State Department website and your acceptance materials.
In most cases, study abroad programs only provide general information about visas. It is often your responsibility to obtain your visa from the appropriate consulate. Some advice about consulates: GIVE YOURSELF TIME AND ALWAYS BE FRIENDLY TO THE STAFF! Consulates have very limited office hours each day and are often short-staffed. Consulates are closed on national holidays.