Sam Becchetti, Guest Author
Your honeymoon is one of the most important aspects of the wedding planning process. Think of it as you reward for making it to the finish line of the marathon of planning your wedding. Let’s face it, it’s been your part-time job! This is the first chance for you and your groom to reconnect as a couple and recover in bliss. It’s also one of the most memorable aspects, so make sure to give it some thought.
Q ~ How do I get a passport?
A ~ First of all, be sure to start the process at least eight weeks before travel, or you may have to pay for expedited service. Step 1: Obtain your official birth certificate from your birth state by visiting www.cdc.gov/nchs/wes.htm. Step 2: Complete the application form. Step 3: Obtain a valid passport photo. Step 4: Make an appointment for an IN PERSON application – you cannot go for your intended spouse! For information on fees and other details, visit www.travel.state.gov/passport.
Q ~ Will I also need a Visa?
A ~ In most cases, no, but a few countries will require one even for a shorter term stay. Be sure to check with http://www.travel.state.gov/visa or your travel agent for requirements for the country(s) you plan to visit. If they do require one, and you do not have it upon arrival at the destination, they can refuse to allow you to exit the airport.
Q ~ Customs and Immigration – What’s the difference?
A ~ At the airport, you must pass through both. Immigration is the process of inspecting your documents to be sure you are who you say you are and have permission to enter the country. This is where they validate your passport (and possible visa). For most travelers, this takes just a few minutes with the officer. In some countries, they will also distribute a “tourist card” which you must present upon departure from that country.
Once you collect your luggage, you then go through Customs where they inspect your belongings and your declarations paperwork. Customs monitors the import/export of goods from other countries, so this will take place both at your foreign destination as well as when you return to the U.S. If you have goods that require duties to be paid they will be collected at this point. Customs also checks for items that are not allowed into the country for example, Cuban cigars bought in Mexico are not allowed to cross into the U.S. and would be confiscated. These rules very from country to country. It’s also important to note that just because you buy an item in a duty-free show does not necessarily mean you can bring it into the U.S.
Q ~ What does duty-free mean?
A ~ Duty-free shops, typically found at airports or in cruise ports, offer goods for sale at supposed discounted rates. Customs duties and local taxes are not charged on these items. It’s a good idea to know what the going prices are so you can decide if the duty-free prices represent any savings to you. Each country has different allowances for what you can bing back duty-free. The U.S. has a limit of up to $800. Anything over that is subject to taxing at customs. There are also limits on certain items like alcohol and cigarettes.
A ~ There are two steps you should consider taking before departure to assist you in the event of an emergency. One is to purchase a comprehensive travel protection plan which provides coverage for various situations, as well as medical coverage, as most health insurance policies do not cover you when you travel out of the country. The second is to register with the STEP program at www.step.state.gov so the state department, consulate or embassy can assist you in event of an emergency.
Q ~ What if I still have questions?
A ~ Well in advance of your trip it’s a good idea to check out the www.travel.state.gov website. There you will find answers to questions you may have about the place(s) you are visiting. Do they have any required immunizations or breakout of illness? Political unrest? While this is good information, don’t panic. Remember that it is being provided by the government and they want to make sure they have covered any issues that my potentially be a problem at the time of your travels.
Larry’s NOTE: If you plan to travel out of the United States on your honeymoon or destination wedding, call my friend, Sam @ 480-838-9447. I consider her to be one of the best experts on honeymoon and destination wedding travel.
Copyright © 2014 – Sam Becchetti. Reprinted with permission. Sam Sam Becchetti has been a travel coordinator since 2007 specializing in honeymoons and destination weddings. She is graduate from ASU in Tourism and Special Events and has served the wedding community for 20+ years in Phoenix. Not surprising, her favorite hobby is to travel – whether on the road for work or play she is always scouting new resorts for her clientele. Visit “All About Honeymoons, Weddings & Travel Services” at: www.HoneymoonSam.com
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