Author's Note:This is the first of a planned 4-part series of articles on the them of becoming an expat that will appear on the site from time to time.
You are going to need a valid passport to travel, so take your passport out now and look at the expiration date. These documents expire and, if you are like me, you haven’t looked at the expiration date recently. If it is close to expiring or already expired you will need to get it renewed.
Or perhaps you are one of the 66% of US citizens who don’t have a passport (43% of Canadians and 30% of Brits don’t either). In that case, you will need to make application and pay the necessary fees. Don’t know how? CLICK HERE if you are a US citizen, CLICK HERE if you are Canadian, or CLICK HERE if you are British. Getting a passport or getting your passport renewed can take months, so don’t put it off until the last minute before you plan a trip abroad.
By the way, there are services that advertise that they can get your passport more rapidly or with greater ease. I don’t recommend such services. The process is relatively straight forward and, unless you have a complicated situation, you are probably better off doing it yourself. In most cases it can be accomplished entirely by mail, but in some cases you may need to appear in person. In those cases you might need to appear even if you were using a service.
(Note: A passport is NOT the same as a visa. Passports are granted by your own country, while a visa is granted by the country you want to travel to.)
An option that some people may find attractive is the possibility of dual citizenship. That means you have two valid passports and can choose to use the one that is most convenient as you travel. A short anecdote will illustrate the point.
We have a friend who is a Canadian citizen but had a grandmother who was an Irish citizen. She was able to get an Irish passport while still maintaining her Canadian citizenship and passport. When she decided to seek residency in Spain she used her Irish passport and got residency in a few days. That is because Ireland and Spain are both part of the European Union and there are reciprocal agreements that allow EU citizens freedom to travel and live within the EU. In contrast, our Spanish residency took several months, many forms, and two trips to Houston, Texas because we are US citizens.
If you want to look into this complex topic CLICK HERE.
With a valid passport (or passports) in hand, you are ready to take the next steps toward becoming an expat. Stay tuned.