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Passport and visa: You must have this under control before you travel

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You need to have this under control regarding passports and visas before you travel abroad
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Passport and visa: You must have this under control before you travel is written is The editorial staff, RejsRejsRejs.

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Remember the most important thing on the journey

If you are asked what the most important thing to remember when traveling is, most people will probably agree that your passport is at the top of that list. It is rather difficult to travel without the two P's – passport and money.

If you are going on an adventure to distant shores, however, there is one more thing that can be incredibly important if the adventure is not to end before it has begun – namely a visa, because not every place, a passport opens all doors.

But even though most people know that passports and in some cases visas are essential for you to be able to set off on your journey at all, problems and confusion regularly arise for many travellers, and for some this unfortunately has the consequence that they cannot coming off.

What do you do, for example, if you just forgot to check whether the passport is still valid and the answer turns out to be no? Do you really need a passport with you to Sweden? How are the rules for transit in the US? And what the hell is visa on arrival?

We've put together a complete guide to the rules for passports and visas right here, including extras about the US and Canada.

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You need to know about the rules for your passport

Your passport is your entry ticket to the world, and it determines whether you are allowed to enter a country or not. Your passport is your proof that you are a citizen of a country and is used as identification for international travel, so it is important that you always have your passport with you when you travel outside Denmark and the Nordic countries.

The rules for passports are quite strict, and several airlines have even become even stricter in recent years in relation to the condition of your passport.

It is therefore a good idea to give your passport a "health check" before you leave. Your passport can be rejected at check-in if it doesn't meet the rules - and it's quite a shame to miss out on your dream trip due to technical problems with your passport.

There are several things you should be aware of about your passport before you leave for the airport. For example, there must be no missing pages in your passport. This also means that pages must not be glued together. Your passport must also not be damaged.

If your passport does not meet the requirements, you must get a new passport made before departure. You can read more about temporary passports further down in the article.

As a general rule, your passport must always be valid for the entire journey, but some countries actually require your passport to be valid even longer than that. Some destinations require your passport to be valid for up to six months after finished traveling in the country. IN Mexico for example, your passport must be valid for six months after your stay in the country.

Therefore, always remember to check the rules for your passport's validity before you leave. You can either do this on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website or by checking with the airline. You can, for example, use Timatic, which is the tool the airlines themselves use when they check you in.

Do a "security check" of your passport before the journey:

  • Check for missing pages in your passport. There must be no missing pages in your passport and they are numbered so it is easy to check.
  • Pages in the passport must not be glued together.
  • Check that your passport is still valid. Also always remember to check the rules for validity at your destination. In some places, your passport must be valid for up to 6 months after the journey.
  • Are there any free pages in your passport? There must always be several free pages on departure, and in some places they require at least 6 free pages.
  • Are there large deep scratches, bent pages, drawings or other "beauty defects" on your passport? Many airlines may refuse your passport because of it.

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Lost or damaged passport during the journey

If you are unlucky enough to lose your passport on the journey, there are a few different steps you must take.

First of all, you must quickly contact the local police and get a police report or receipt for the report made, so that you can present it when you apply for an emergency passport. You must also use the receipt if you want to seek cover from your insurance, and in some countries you must also use the notification in connection with your departure from the country.

When you have reported your lost passport - and received documentation for the report - you must contact the nearest Danish embassy or consulate and arrange an appointment to have an emergency passport issued, which you will need to travel home. They can also help you with what documentation is needed in that country. You can find everyone Danish embassies and consulates here.

If there is no Danish embassy or consulate in the country, you must contact the embassy of another EU country. They can help you get an EU emergency passport issued. An EU emergency passport is only valid for returning home to Denmark, and cannot be used to travel onward to other countries.

An emergency passport is – as the name suggests – intended for emergency situations, so it can basically only be used to travel back to Denmark. If you have to travel to Denmark via other countries, check in advance whether you can stopover or travel into these countries on an emergency passport. The local authorities can help you with that information.

Most countries allow you to travel on an emergency passport. If a visa was required upon entry, however, you must contact the country's immigration authorities in order to be allowed to leave the country on an emergency passport. 

If you lose your passport, you must appear in person at the embassy or consulate and bring the following:

  • Valid photo ID (e.g. copy of passport or driving license)
  • Passport photo
  • Declaration about lost passport (found on UM's website)
  • Passport application form (found on UM's website)
  • Money, as it costs a fee to get an emergency passport issued. Check whether your insurance covers your expenses.
  • Optional – Police report or copy of the notification of the loss of your passport.

Basically, it is always a good idea to have a copy – or a photo – of your passport when you travel, just in case you lose your passport or it gets destroyed. This makes the process of getting an emergency passport issued easier. You can both take the copy with you physically and email it to yourself.

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Are you going on a trip and need a passport?

The suitcase is packed, the mood is high and the passport is packed in the hand luggage. All is well, for it is holiday time. But when you have to check in, it all falls apart. Your passport has expired. With the flick of a finger, you see the dream trip disappearing into the horizon. But luckily there is help available.

If you are going to travel and your passport is not valid for some reason, you can get a temporary passport made. A temporary passport is free if you order a new passport at the same time.

You can get a temporary passport made in citizen services if you discover it before you are at the airport and your passport cannot make it home. But if you only discover it at the airport or the night before, when citizen services have closed, you can also get a temporary passport made at the airport.

In that case, the police will help you issue a temporary passport. You must therefore contact the police department at the airport if you need a temporary passport. Make sure you are at the airport in good time, as it may take time.

You must be aware that not all countries accept a temporary passport, and you must therefore always check whether the country you are going to accepts a temporary passport.

Some countries also require the passport to be valid for six months after the end of stay in the country, which a temporary passport does not have. If you are in doubt about the rules for your destination, you can always contact the country's embassy.

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When do you have to take your passport with you on the journey?

As a rule, you must always have your passport with you when you travel out of Denmark. This also applies if you travel to another EU country. However, this does not always apply when you travel in the Nordic countries, where a driver's license or other identification will in many cases be enough.

If you are traveling by plane or ferry to Sweden or other Nordic countries, you must bring your passport with you.

Several Nordic countries also have increased border controls at times, which require you to have your passport with you. This applies, for example, to Sweden, which has sometimes required that you have a passport to travel across the border. However, it varies, and often photo identification will be enough if you travel to Sweden, and you therefore do not necessarily need to bring your passport. But always check the rules before you leave home on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

You must always remember photo identification such as a driving license if you are traveling in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland), as you need to be able to confirm your identity. When entering Sweden, you must be able to present valid identification, which currently does not have to be a passport, but can be a driving license or other valid photo ID.

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Visa – what you need to know

A visa is the document issued by a country that allows you to enter that country. There is a big difference in the visa rules depending on where you are traveling in the world, and it can be both super easy or incredibly time-consuming to get a visa - it all depends on your destination.

It is your responsibility to comply with entry and exit regulations in the countries you are traveling to, so always remember to check the regulations for your destination well in advance of your journey. It is always the local authorities in each country who set the rules for entry and exit, and they are also the ones who decide whether you comply with them.

Always remember to check if the dates are correct when you get your visa and what will be stamped and noted in your passport on your journey. It is ordinary people who do this work, and mistakes can happen when the authorities at the airport stamp entry and exit in your passport.

If a mistake has been made and some incorrect information is entered, it can lead to problems on the journey and will often require you to apply for a visa again. You can avoid that hassle by just checking in at the airport.

You do not need a visa if you travel within the borders of the EU, but when you travel outside the borders of the EU, you must apply for a visa in several places. There are different rules and processing times for applying for a visa depending on where you are going, so it is always a good idea to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, where you can find visa rules for each individual country.

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Visa on arrival – what is it?

Visa on arrival, or visa on arrival, as it is called in Danish, covers the type of visa you can get when you arrive at your destination.

It gives you the opportunity to get a visa at the border instead of having to apply for it in advance at the embassy. This applies, for example, to a popular destination like Bali in Indonesia, where you have to buy a visa on entry. However, not all countries offer visas on arrival, and often it is only possible to get a tourist visa this way.

If you are traveling to a country with a visa on arrival - visa on arrival - you must remember to have cash in dollars, as it often costs a fee. They may also require two passport photos and, not least, time, because it may well be a rather slow process, depending on how busy it is at the airport.

In some other countries you get a visa on arrival free of charge and without any problems, e.g. this is currently the case in Thailand og Argentina.

It is always a good idea to check the rules for visas on arrival, as the rules can change suddenly. See all help tools at the end of the article.

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Visa to the USA

If you have ever traveled to the United States, you know that the process of obtaining permission to enter the country can be quite lengthy and at times time-consuming and difficult. What surprises someone is that you also have to do something active, even if you are only in transit in the United States.

As a rule, you do not need a visa to enter the US as a Danish citizen if you are on a business trip or traveling (up to 90 days).

Instead, you need to apply for something called ESTA. It is a pre-authorization that allows you to board a plane or ship that has a destination in the United States. An ESTA approval is usually valid for two years and for multiple entries and allows you to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days. It also gives you the right to be in transit in the United States.

If you are going to stay in the US for more than 90 days, you must apply for a visa. You must also apply for a visa if the purpose of your stay is other than a temporary business or visit trip.

It is a good idea to apply for ESTA in good time. As a starting point, it is recommended to apply for ESTA no later than seven days before departure and always no later than 72 hours before departure. The process can be slow, so you cannot be sure of getting an approval if you apply just before departure. You must apply for ESTA on it US Embassy website here.

However, we would recommend applying much earlier, as the application lasts for several years, as mentioned, and they regularly reject ESTA applications, for example, two months before.

Always remember to double check your ESTA application before sending it off. If there is just a small error, there is a high probability that it will be rejected. It is therefore important that you double-check that all information such as name, birthday and passport details are correct before submitting your ESTA application.

Be aware that there are several companies on the web that offer to help you with an entry permit to the US at a significantly higher cost than the official site of the US authorities. We therefore recommend that you apply via the official ESTA site here.

Your ESTA application may be rejected. This applies, for example, if you have been to some of the following countries within a specific period: North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or Cuba.

If your ESTA application is rejected, you must apply for a US visa instead, which is a more involved process. You have to apply for a visa to the US at the US Embassy, ​​and it can easily take several months.

Other things worth paying attention to when traveling to the United States:

  • You must be able to present a return ticket or a ticket for onward travel outside North America and the Caribbean upon entry
  • If you travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean during your stay in the US, these trips count towards the 90 days of permitted stay in the US when entering on ESTA
  • Danish emergency passports are only recognized for departure, and therefore cannot be used to enter the USA
  • Danish extended passports are only recognized with a visa, so you cannot apply for ESTA with an extended passport
  • If you have an ESTA or visa for an old passport where the approval is still valid – ESTA up to 2 years, visa up to 10 years – you must bring both your old and new passport when entering the USA
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Remember to check whether you need a visa for stopovers

Some smaller airports do not have a transit, so if you stopover somewhere with a small airport, you may run the risk of having to go through immigration.

If you are traveling outside Europe, this may mean that you need a visa, so it is always a good idea to check from home whether the airport has a transit. Large international airports generally always have it, so as a rule of thumb it only applies if you have a stopover at a smaller airport.

If you travel by scheduled flight with a stopover in the USA or combine the trip with a visit to the USA, you must always have an ESTA or visa, even if you are only in transit.

If you travel by scheduled flight with a stopover in Canada, or combine the journey with a visit to Canada, an eTA application is required. You can find more information about eTA at the official eTA site.

Have a good trip - and remember to check your passport!

You can use these 5 tools to check your passport and visa

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The editorial staff, RejsRejsRejs

RejsRejsRejs.dk's regular editorial staff shares both their own personal tips and tricks and tells about everything that happens in the travel world.
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