Honeymoon practicalities: visas and ESTAs

A major consideration when travelling that can be easy to overlook when you’re also busy preparing for your wedding is the rather important issue of visas. Fortunately, many popular destinations don’t require a visa – certainly, if you’re travelling within the EU from another European country then you won’t have to worry about this – but a fair amount, such as India, Vietnam and Kenya, do. But even within this, there’s variations – for some countries, you’ll be able to get a visa on arrival at the airport or overland. You’ll usually need to take a passport photo or two with you, and have either local currency or US dollars to pay for it. For other countries, you’ll need to get your visa before travelling – in which case, you’ll usually find that you won’t be allowed on the plane without a valid visa on check-in – this will usually involve a trip to the country’s embassy, though these days a lot of embassies have the relevant forms online, which you can download, fill in, and send off with your passport.

Where to find out if you need a visa

For the most up-to-date information, check with your travel agent or government travel advisory – the FCO is always my first port of call for things like this.

When to get your visa

This will, again, vary from country to country. Some visas begin as soon as they are issued and will only be valid for a limited amount of time – so you’ll want to get them fairly last minute. Others will only be valid from a specified date – your arrival date – so it’s best to get them as soon as possible just for piece of mind and not to have to worry about it at the last minute.

Travelling to the US – ESTAs

Gone are the days when you could travel to the US from the UK without having to do anything more than fill out a landing card and deal with surly immigration staff. Now, all travellers from the UK, and any country under the Visa Waiver Program, must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and pay a $14 fee. This must be done in advance, online, through the ESTA website. Once you have an ESTA, you’re covered for all visits within two years – just make sure you keep hold of your authorisation number. The form is very simple and straightforward, and you’ll need your passport to hand to fill in a few of the details. You’ll probably get immediate authorisation after filling the form in, but it’s best to fill it in at least 72 hours before travelling just in case.

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