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Gary Goldberg, RFC®,Wealth Manager  |  June 13, 2024

WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD I BRING ON VACATION?

It's that beautiful time of year when everyone is taking their vacations! Whether near or far, here is a little bit of advice on what to take with you on your trips to make your travel as easy as possible.

Whether you are traveling domestically within your home country or outside of it, you’ll need proper identification. You can leave your voter registration card at home, but other than that – consider bringing multiple versions of identification documentation (or at least copies of it).

For instance, if you are old enough to have a driver’s license, you probably will consider it silly to bring a copy of your birth certificate. But if you lose your passport along the way, you may be glad you have proof of U.S. citizenship in the safe at your hotel.

In 2025, domestic travelers will be required to have a Real ID, which is an identification card that meets the standards laid out by the U.S. government in the Real ID Act of 2005. The Real ID driver's license looks very similar to your current driver’s license, except it includes a new star icon on the top right corner. For travelers without a Real ID, a valid passport or TSA-approved ID is an acceptable alternative for domestic travel.

It's best to start preparing for international travel as early as possible.  Some destinations may require a special visa or other entry documents that can take time to process and fulfill.  
Whether you're jet-setting into the wild blue yonder or traveling by land and sea, make sure to keep you passport and important travel documents such as health certificates, tickets, and itineraries close at hand.
If you bought a brand new camera or electronic device for your trip, consider carrying receipts or the U.S. Customs and protection form 4457.  This shows that you had the items before leaving the U.S. which grants you a duty-free re-entry.

We touched upon this above, but we don’t just mean copies of documents where your originals are home. You want a copy of all your identification – one for each checked bag. Keep a hard copy of your documents in your carry-on and each checked bag of luggage with which you are traveling, in case any of them go missing during the trip.

These copies can help you in multiple situations. Lose the original identification? You’ve got copies to get you new ones – or home. Lose a bag? The airline or tour group has extra identification that it is indeed your luggage. We also recommend making digital copies and leaving them at home with a trusted loved one that can help if you need access to them while abroad.

Speaking of digital copies, check out the new "mobile passport" app from US Customs and Border Protection. It's been made available for US citizens reentering the country, allowing travelers to "breeze through customs" when they return from an international trip. It could be a lifesaver if you misplace your passport during your trip. If you are traveling through other countries, those customs agents most likely will not recognize a mobile passport, but it could possibly help expedite the process to get a new passport book at the local embassy while you are abroad. Currently, mobile passports are available for use at four cruise ports and 28 airports nationwide.

The coronavirus pandemic changed domestic and international travel alike.

Some destinations require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within a specific timeframe. Some also require travel insurance, with coverage requirements varying by destination. We recommend confirming this information before purchasing your policy. If these are requirements for your next destination, be sure to keep your proof of insurance and COVID-19 test results in an easily accessible location as they may be required at different times.

Vaccinated travelers are not only encouraged to travel with their vaccination card as proof, but keeping this item safe in a plastic sleeve or laminate is recommended. Most vaccination records are made of paper which makes them vulnerable to damage or destruction, particularly during travel. Additional protection for this document may be helpful in the event of a spill or accident.

Some travel suppliers are testing programs that would serve as a standard format for health information or verification documents. These digital health documents, often referred to as "health passports," may include proof of a negative COVID-19 test and some may be able to provide proof of vaccination. This technology is expected to link with health care systems and hospitals to ensure accurate information.

Traveling with a furry companion?  Make sure to secure a health certificate from your veterinarian.  May countries and islands (such as Hawaii) require specific documentation to prove your pet is healthy.

Remember to pack your presciptions in their original packages with pharmacy-generated labels attached.  These labels constitute a legal document, and pharmacists may be able to provide a short-term refill in an emergency.

Happy and Safe Travels!

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