Travel Guide: Important Documents For Your Trip
Passport, driver's license, travel insurance and more – those who want to travel should not forget to bring along certain very important documents. Learn more in our blog
A trip to another country or even around the world is an adventure that many people dream of. In order to make sure it will be a wonderful experience, some preparation is necessary, as the journey often takes place in areas far away from the destinations of mass tourism. Among the most important preparations: your travel documents including passport, proof of insurance, vaccination records and driver’s license. The following blog reveals more information.
Your passport is probably the most important of all documents on your big journey, because in all countries it is actually the basic requirement to enter the country at all. Without carrying a passport with you, you will be sent back immediately. Therefore, you should take a closer look at your passport in time before you start your trip around the world. How long is the passport still valid? Is your photo up to date or are you now wearing glasses or did you dye your hair recently? Is the passport clean and undamaged and does it have enough blank pages for visas and stamps? If you answer only one of these questions with no, you will have to get a new passport in time. Please note that it takes at least 6 weeks in the low season before a new passport can be issued, and even longer in the holiday season. It may even be advisable to apply for a second passport. You can submit this to the embassy of your next country of travel for the visa application on the way while using the other passport. In many countries, tourists are required to be able to prove their identity at all times.
In many countries the vaccination card is also an important document. It is much more than just a yellow piece of paper to remind you not to forget the date for your next vaccination. If you come from countries where yellow fever is common, you may be refused entry if you do not to have a yellow fever vaccination. Please note that vaccinations must be given a few weeks before the start of your trip to be effective. Some vaccinations even have to be repeated before they provide reliable protection. You should consult a specialist for tropical or travel medicine some weeks or even months before your departure.
A national driver’s license is usually not valid outside the EU. In most cases, you need an international driver’s license to be able to drive a car outside your home country. You can get one for a fee at the responsible authority in your home country. Depending on the country you travel to, you may drive for 6 to12 months. You usually do not need the German driver's license while being on the road.
Other important documents
The papers mentioned above are only the basic equipment for your big trip. Among the important papers is your identity card although it is not enough to be able to enter countries outside the EU. Nevertheless, it is helpful in many situations in non-European countries. It is accepted as a pledge in many hotels, room rentals or car rental companies. If your passport is stolen, you can use it to prove your identity at the German embassy or consulate. Compared to the passport, the ID card is a bit more handy as it is smaller, can be stored better and is waterproof. However, you should always keep it separate from your passport so you don’t use both documents at the same time.
It is probably common knowledge that one should not start a journey without an international health insurance. But did you also know that more and more countries require proof of insurance on entry? Proof of insurance is intended to ensure that the treatment costs can be paid by the traveller if necessary. The insurance certificate is usually a multilingual document. You must make sure that your insurance cover is valid for the entire duration of the trip and that the costs of a medical return transport by air ambulance are covered in an emergency.
Under certain circumstances, you may need a certificate of departure. This paper is necessary if you give notice of leaving your apartment in Germany and do not move into a new one within Germany. The certificate of deregistration is very helpful if you are going to apply for a new passport at a German embassy abroad. If you want to stay away for a longer, indefinite period of time, the certificate of deregistration is advantageous because you are then no longer liable to pay taxes and neither health insurance contributions nor social security contributions.
How to store the documents?
If papers are stolen or damaged, this may lead to unpleasant consequences, especially on a world trip. In this case the local police must be called in and the responsible German embassy must be contacted. If you are unlucky, the embassy is hundreds of kilometres away. Therefore, it is best to do everything possible to avoid the loss from the outset. According to travel experts, a waterproof neck pouch has proved its worth. It protects your papers not only against theft, but also against moisture. On the road, conditions can sometimes be quite harsh. In addition to heavy rainfall, spray during boat trips can also cause important papers to become soaked and thus unusable. A fanny pack, on the other hand, is less practical because it is often more noticeable.
Creating an electronic backup
In case your passport or other important documents get lost, it is good to have an electronic backup. This is very easy to do. There are many apps that allow you to store files online in a so-called cloud. To do this, you simply take a photo of the document and upload it. As it is stored in the cloud, you can access it from anywhere over the Internet. For example, if your passport is stolen, you can retrieve the photo from the cloud and give the serial number and expiry date to the police or embassy staff. This information is needed to block the passport. For less important documents, such as proof of insurance, it may even be enough to go to an Internet café and print out the lost document. One of the most popular apps is Dropbox. The basic version is free. Apart from an electronic version, it is advisable to carry a conventional photocopy of your most important travel documents with you.
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