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Know Before You Go - Free Information for the “Start-Up" U.S. Business Traveler
July 15, 2014
It’s hard enough being a start-up company or an entrepreneur getting off the ground here in the US of A.
Navigating the byzantine corporate regulations, rules and laws of establishing a new company is difficult enough, let alone navigating the visa and immigration concerns when entering the world of “global business”… and when asked to leave home and go abroad on that first overseas business trip!
U.S. Citizens enjoy recognition by many countries as welcome visitors for business and tourism. However, overseas business travel also carries an assumption that an individual has a basic understanding of the destination country’s basic immigration requirements, has obtained the appropriate visa (if required), and understands the host culture's fundamental legal and social mores.
For instance, U.S. Citizens enjoy the privilege (not “right”) to travel to approximately 172 countries as a visitor without requiring submission of visa application prior to departure. However convenient and time-saving, it is important to remember that every country does have varying requirements for granting entry as a business traveler.
Some notable differences are the requirement of prior application for entry using Australia’s online system, known as the Electronic Travel Authority or “ETA”, or Turkey’s Electronic Visa System ("e-Visa”). Other countries, such as the Philippines or the UAE, allow application for a Visa on Arrival (“VOA") at the time of the traveler’s entry. For most countries in the European Union, successful application for entry is issued in the form of an Entry Stamp.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs, as financial resources are usually very limited, having access to reasonably accurate guidance for all things international is hard to come by. Luminary Global would like to offer an overview of pre-departure resources ranging from checking if an entry visa is required, what alerts U.S. Citizens should be aware of when traveling to particular destinations, and understanding whom to contact should an unforeseen emergency arise.
U.S. Department of State - http://www.state.gov/travel/ - The home page for a range of services available to U.S. Citizens, both for general guidance on acquiring/renewing passports, general entry visa requirements for other countries, reviewing a country’s social customs and general legal requirements for foreign visitors and access to registering your presence with the U.S. Consular authorities when visiting another country.
Travel Warnings/Alerts for U.S. Citizen Travel - http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html – A decision to issue a Travel Warning is made by U.S. embassies and consulates assessing the situation on the ground in the destination country (e.g., kidnappings, high rates of crime, threat of terrorist actions against U.S. Citizens and/or Western interests). A decision by the State Department to issue this guidance is made with the participation of the host country’s government, the U.S. and host country intelligence and security communities, and in some instances the media, and with consideration of what it means for travel by U.S. Citizens.
Travel Alerts are for more immediate short-term events, which don’t necessarily have a particular expiration date, but which may be withdrawn when conditions leading to the warning cease to exist.
Country Information – Entry Visa Guidance/Social & Legal Customs - http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html – An excellent “primer” on what a country’s Tourist Visa requirements are along with understanding the basic legal and social mores of the destination country. Readers should note that different rules might apply for business visitors versus pleasure tourism.
The "Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements” information for any country of interest should be confirmed (as indicated in the State Department’s guidance) with the host country’s local consular post (e.g., if traveling to Nigeria, please check the visa requirements with the Nigerian Consulate closest to your city of residence in the U.S.).
Registration of Your Travel & Countries of Stay with the State Department – Enrollment in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (“STEP”) to receive updates on Travel Warnings/Alerts in the destination country(ies) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/step.html, understanding Emergency Resources for U.S. Citizens (Overseas Citizens Services) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/emergencies.html and reviewing what the U.S. Government can do for you when in another country http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/emergencies/crisis-support.html can be invaluable resources.
For ease, simply bookmarking the U.S. Department of State’s general website on your mobile device will be a quick way to access the library of information to read either at your leisure or, in an unforeseen emergency, the best first step to seek help and assistance from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Luminary Global wishes everyone much success and safe journeys when developing business abroad.
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