Passports are generally administered by a designated government department. In the United States they are issued by the Department of State (www.travel.state.gov), within the United Kingdom by the Home Office (www.ips.gov.uk) and within Australia by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (www.passports.gov.au).
Your passport is your most important travel document. If you need a passport, allow the issuing authority at least 4 weeks to process your application and issue your passport. It can happen faster, but it will cost you more.
Many countries will insist that you have at least 6 months remaining on your passport to grant you access into the country or issue a visa.
As you should have done with your tickets, take a photocopy of your passport to leave with someone you trust - just in case they need it to assist you to get a new one.
Visas are documents that are stamped or glued directly into your passport or issued as a separate document by some countries to grant you access into that country for a certain period of time.
There are some countries that require everyone who travels there to get a visa and other countries that only require travelers from certain countries to apply for a visa.
You can find out your visa requirements through the website of the destination countries embassy or consulate in your country
Visas can be issued through the destination countries embassy or consulate before you depart home, or issued by immigration officials when you are in-country or crossing borders. Find out before you leave.
There are different types of visas - tourist, business and multiple entry visas. Often, tourist visas will restrict you from working in your destination country.
If you need to apply for a visa before you leave home you will need to either send your visa and application form to the embassy or consulate of your destination country or make an appointment in person. You may also be required to be photographed and finger printed.
Time frames from application to visa issue can be up to two months, so ensure you allow plenty of time before your travel date to apply.
Visas may be denied if you have certain infectious diseases, have a criminal record or if they believe that you are financially disadvantaged and may have to rely on public assistance.
Take a photocopy of your visa and leave a copy at home with your key trusted point of contact.
Bring additional copies of your passport / visa photos. If you lose your passport (or it is stolen) you may find it difficult to obtain new photos for replacement documents.
A little bit of planning will keep you safe, secure, happy - and most importantly - able to come back home!