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This week arrived with the news that the U.S. Department of State had made the decision to discontinue adding pages to passports and, instead, require a filled passport to be replaced with a fresh book. This change, due in December this year, would mean frequent travelers who quickly fill passport pages would have to face the re-application, payment, and processing time of receiving a new passport more often than if the refill pages were still available.
We published the news on Monday and, today, have a response from the State Department. It may very well be the justification for the change being sent to all media reporting on the topic, but it's still worth a read:
Travel News / Passports / Visas / → All Tags
A standard US passport is only 32 pages. Considering it's supposed to last you through 10 years of travels, that's a pretty poor expectation the U.S. Department of State has for its citizens. Thankfully thing are looking up, as The Points Guy received a hot tip from Allied Passport today that, beginning this December, standard passports will increase to 52 pages.
At the same time, the ability to order extra pages will go away, meaning once you've filled your book you'll need to re-apply and pay for a whole new passport.
Visas / Visa Fees / Americans Abroad / Traveling to America / Traveling Abroad / Travel Fees / → All Tags
One of the most common travel complaints involves visa fees. Other than inquiring about whether or not the country you visit requires a specific type of visa, the complaint revolves around why the tourist visa even exists. But rather than wondering why you have to pay a visa fee to enter certain countries, consider the amount that tourists must pay to visit the United States. It may open your eyes.
Twenty-five years ago, Estonia, the independent nation, didn’t exist. It was a country stuck behind the Iron Curtain, controlled by the Soviet Union. This week, Estonia launched into a technological forefront by declaring anyone—as long as you’re of age—the chance to become a resident, an e-Resident, that is.
India Travel / Passports / Visas / Travel Tips / Immigration / Travel News / → All Tags
Almost two months ago, during a visit by the country's Prime Minister to the United States, it was reported that India's visa-on-arrival program would be delayed until the summer of 2015. But last week, as we were enjoying our turkey dinners, India announced that the system was officially up and running for travelers from 43 countries, including the States.
The new program definitely makes entering the country a lot easier for U.S. travelers and is a pretty straighforward process. You apply for the visa online at least four days before your trip and up to 30 days in advance. You will have to upload a photo and pay the $60 fee. When approved, the visa will be sent in an email and is valid for 30 days. Remember that your passport must valid for six months from the dates of travel.
You can find all the information and details online.
Visas / Papua New Guinea Travel / Port Moresby Travel / Passports / Politics Travel / POM / → All Tags
When it comes to new opportunities in tourism, Papua New Guinea might be the latest and greatest travel destination not named Myanmar. The latter’s recent surge is due to, among other political improvements, a complete restructuring of its tourism policies in 2013. In very much the same way, Papua New Guinea, after nearly four decades of struggling to find its footing as an independent country, has slowly been transitioning into a destination foreigners can feel comfortable visiting.
According to its Tourism Authorities, only 5,000 Americans visit PNG each year, putting those who make the journey in an exclusive class of travelers. Despite what you might assume from a generally poor population, the cost of living in Port Moresby is on par with other major cities around the worldthink the high rates of New York and Parismostly thanks to the influx of foreign mining companies over the past decade, a list that includes Exxon and Mobil.
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If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Would you enjoy the sunsets on a beach in Phuket? Maybe you’d prefer a diet of pasta and Chianti in a Tuscan village? For those wanting to experience life in another country, it can be difficult on pesky 30- or 90-day tourist visas. Do you really feel as if you experienced life in another city, or even country, based on these limited days? That’s not even enough time to learn how to properly order two Big Macs—one without tomato and one easy on the dressing—in a new language.
Operating outside of these visas can be difficult. Stay beyond those days and you risk deportation and the possibility of never returning to that beloved country. So, for those itching to get out of America, here are some spots where obtaining an extended visa is quite easy.
Oh, and we’re not talking about student visas or the like. If that were the case, you could easily relocate to Vietnam as an English teacher. These countries allow Americans to easily uproot and emigrate.
There's no doubt that obtaining a visa for travel is a headache, and for a long time Chinese visas were among the worst. There was the price ($140), the consular visits, the being separated from your passport during processing, and then the frustration that all that work only resulted in a visa valid for one year.
Then, in early 2013, the rules eased when China began allowing for 72-hour visa-free visits. Quick visits for business, shopping, or just taking advantage of great airfare sales to China became possible without the need to plan far ahead and fill your passport with visa pages.
Today brings more excellent news, as applications are open for a 10-year China visa. The move was only announced a few days ago, while President Obama was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. Citizens of the US and China have similar visa rules thanks to reciprocity, whereby one country applies the same limitations and requirements as the other. Reciprocity continues with this new announcement, as visas to the US for Chinese citizens will also enjoy the decade validity.
Passports / Visas / Hong Kong Travel / HKG / Travel News / → All Tags
There's a certain smugness that comes with flipping through a passport full of stamps from all over the world. Unfortunately for travelers who enjoy that feeling, stamps from Hong Kong are no longer part of the action.
Forgive us for being super late on this news, but Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) started dispensing little slips of paper in place of stamps in March 2013, with a full goodbye to stamps in December 2013. It wasn't until our most recent visit last month that we were alerted to the change, and looked at this tiny piece of paper like a step backwards.
India Travel / Passports / Visas / Travel Tips / Immigration / Travel News / → All Tags
On his recent trip to the United States, India's Prime Minister Nahendra Modi confirmed that his country's plan to expand its visa-on-arrival service to 180 countries will include U.S. travelers for stays of up to 30 days.
While we were initially optimistic that the program would be up and running by now, Modi said the expansion will be delayed until sometime next year, most likely coinciding with the introduction of India's new e-visa system in early summer, which will allow travelers to get a visa online prior to their trip. The delay is a bummer, but it makes sense to wait at this point. Otherwise, by the time U.S. travelers got used to the visa-on-arrival system, the new e-visa operation would make it irrelevant.
Visas / Travel News / Bangkok Travel / BKK / Thailand Travel / Southeast Asia Travel / Passports / → All Tags
In response to decreased tourism returns this year due in part to the country’s political woes, Thailand has doubled the amount of days that tourists are allowed to stay in the country on a visa-exempt stamp from 30 to 60.
Passport holders from 49 nations, including the United States, do not need to apply for a visa to enter Thailand. Instead, travelers from these nations receive a visa-exempt stamp upon arrival which grants them 30 days in the country. Under the new rule, tourists can now obtain a one-time, 30-day extension stamp when their initial 30 days expires by visiting an immigration office. The extension will be granted same-day and costs $59 (1,900 baht).
When it comes to planning a trip overseas, too much information is never a bad thing, especially as it pertains to the details of crossing borders.
United States citizens are lucky enough to be able to travel around the world nearly unfettered, but there are exceptions here and there, with visas and/or fees required in certain countries. Luckily our buddies at CN Traveler have the latest visa requirements.