First and foremost, the PASSPORT. None but the unwise will delay later than three weeks before sailing in attending to this absolutely essential matter. Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and a few minor places are the only ones into which any American, not a member of a ship’s crew, may be admitted without such credentials. If there is any possibility whatever of your American citizenship being in any way questionable, begin your passport negotiations months beforehand.
If you live in New York City, apply in person for a passport at the Passport Bureau in the Treasury Building at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets. Similar offices are maintained in San Francisco, New Orleans, and a number of other large cities. Others should write to the Bureau of Passports, State Department, Washington, D. C., for a passport blank, or apply for the same to the Clerk of any United States District Court, or any state court authorized by law to naturalize aliens. Having filled out the blank, appear in person at any of the above mentioned places. Two photographs of the applicant or applicants (wife and minor children may be included in the husband’s passport, or the minor children on that of the wife) are necessary. These must show the face or faces clearly, and may not be larger than 3 x 3 inches. Civilians may not use photographs of themselves in military or naval uniforms. If you have already had a passport, issued prior to January 2, 1918, bring it along for identification. If it is not available, an American citizen, who has known you at least two years, must appear with you in person to swear to the truth of your application. The same witness may act for two or more persons. If you have never had a passport, a birth or baptismal certificate is required. In lieu of this an affidavit by a parent, a brother or sister, or other relative, preferably older than the applicant, and sworn to before a notary, will be accepted. If no relative is within reach, the affidavit of some other person, who has knowledge of the time and place of your birth, will do.
A woman married since September 21, 1922, must submit proof of her own American citizenship, whether applying for a passport herself or asking to be included on her husband’s passport. A woman married before that date must show evidence of her husband’s citizen-ship, rather than her own. A widow or divorced woman may apply on the citizenship of her former husband, if married before the date already mentioned, but must in that case also present her divorce decree. If native born or naturalized in her own right, she may apply on her own citizenship. A widow or divorcee must prove her own citizenship if the marriage was after that date. A woman not an American citizen at the time of her marriage to an American after that date (1922), or who has not since, been naturalized in her own right, is still an alien and cannot be issued, or included upon, an American passport. As all other countries except the United States deny citizenship to a woman married to a citizen of any other country, the alien wife of an American cannot get permission to go abroad until she has been naturalized an American in her own right.
A person born abroad of American parents must furnish evidence of his father’s American citizenship. A person naturalized through husband or father must submit the naturalization certificate of that husband or parent. A man married since 1922 must present evidence of his wife’s citizenship, as well as his own, before she can be included in his passport. If the husband or wife, or any of the minor children, contemplate passing any frontier abroad, or returning to the United States, alone, separate passports should be applied for. Moreover, males of twenty or females of eighteen years of age must have separate passports to enter Poland, as must all per-sons of fifteen or over who plan to visit Finland, or of sixteen or over who intend to travel in Sweden. Every person who has reached the age of twenty-one, except husband and wife, must have a separate passport. Applicants for passports are no longer required to present income-tax receipts, but all aliens must do so, or prove that they are not subject to income tax in the United States, before the sailing permit necessary to them in leaving the country will be issued by the port authorities. Alien residents of the United States who plan a temporary trip abroad should apply to the Immigration Department at Washington, D. C., for a permit to re-enter the country, which is valid for six months only. Such a permit costs $3, but saves the $10 expense of an American visa from one of our consuls abroad upon returning. Lacking this permit, an alien resident runs the risk of being refused admission to the United States if the quota for his native land is exhausted.
The passport fee of $10 must be paid, in currency, at the time of the application for a passport. This ends the citizen’s part in the transaction, except that he must sign the passport in the space provided when it is received by mail at the address he has indicated, usually within a week. It is safer, especially in the busy travel season, to allow ten days or two weeks. The passport is good for one year, but may be renewed for another year either by forwarding it to Washington or by applying to any American consul abroad. It may be issued for specific countries, or will be made valid for “All Countries,” if that is requested at the time of application. Even then the application must bear the names of the principal countries the applicant intends to visit. The vessel and port of departure from the United States must be specified at the time of application, but a change of plans later does not invalidate the passport or require any amendment to it.
Above all things, do not lose your passport. If that mishap befalls you, report the matter immediately to the Passport Bureau, Washington, D. C., or to the nearest American consulate.
Because so many details in connection with securing passports have been included, do not get the impression that it is a particularly troublesome or time-consuming procedure. In nearly every case, if you have the necessary photographs and proof of citizenship, only one trip to the Court or Passport Bureau will be required. The most important thing to remember is to make your application as much in advance of your trip as possible so that you will not be delayed in case additional documents or proof of citizenship may be necessary in your case.
Do not sail until the VISA of at least the country in which you first expect to land has been secured. It is usually a saving of time and annoyance, and sometimes of money, to secure, before embarking, the visas of all countries you expect to visit. This need not require your personal attention unless you are traveling “on your own.” In that case at least a full day will be needed, before a trip of any great length, in New York, or whatever the port of departure.
Every American must apply in person for his own passportthough the wife or minor children to be included in the husband’s passport need not do so. The visas of foreign consuls on the other hand may be secured by proxy. Almost every tourist agency and many steam-ship lines perform this service for clients at actual cost of such visas. If you cannot be in the port of departure before the day of sailing, mail your passport, registered, to the agency from which your ticket was purchased, with a request to have it visaed for the countries you intend to visit.
Even if you are going on a cruise during which only a few hours will be spent ashore in some countries, you cannot leave the ship without the visa of that country. Exceptions to this are brief transit visas in a few countries. American citizens require no visa for Belgium (less than three months), Danzig (if entered by sea), Holland (a week or less), Switzerland (unless entering employment there), Mexico (if entered directly from United States), Salvador, Japan (if merely going ashore and re turning to same ship), a few South American countries. Germany and Sweden make no charge for visa. Spain, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece charge from $1.50 to $5, in the order named. Other countries practice reciprocity with the United States by charging $10 for every visa for American citizens. Nor-way has a special tourist visa for $2.70. American citizens born in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, require no visa for any of those countries, though they must have a passport. Visas for all parts of the British Empire will be issued for one fee (Irish Free State and Palestine must be specifically mentioned), but this requires two or three days. Travelers through Holland must have the visa of the country they are next to visit before entering Holland. Travelers in France may save the trouble and expense of applying to a French consul each time they wish to reenter that country, or to the Prefecture de Police each time they wish to leave, by getting a special visa, reading: Visa Special; Valable pour une annie pour se rendre en France ou a I’itranger. It is well to carry a few extra copies of the passport photograph, as they are sometimes required for local documents necessary in France and some other countries. Great Britain, Czecho Slovakia, Poland and one or two other countries have a transit fee for American citizens merely passing through the country, of one dollar each.
All this no doubt sounds very complicated, particularly to one planning his first trip abroad. But it really is not quite as bad as it sounds, especially if the good offices of the steamship line or the tourist bureau are made use of in the matter of visas.