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What Documents Do You Need to Travel Abroad?

Simon Colwill - November 12, 2021 - 0 comments

The pandemic in 2020 has left many of us more eager than ever to travel abroad, see new places, and experience different cultures, but with this are an increasing number of travel regulations and documents required to do so safely. 

MSC Notaries provide professional notarisation and apostille services to legalise the various types of travel documents required and ensure they’re fit for use, such as those needed to travel alone with children or those required to get married abroad

Keep reading for our summary of the key travel documents needed to travel abroad and how to identify which you need for your specific destination and purpose.

What are travel documents?

There are various types of travel documents, however generally these include forms of identification such as a passport, visa, driving license or birth certificate. Without the right documents that abide by regulations and laws set by the government of the destination country, you risk being refused entry and even being detained for investigation due to not abiding by their laws.

It’s important when booking a trip abroad, whether it’s for holiday, work or a personal emergency like family illness, that you determine exactly which travel documents you need, the form you require them in and how to obtain them well in advance of travelling to ensure you can cross borders safely without issue or worry. 

Personal identification

Aside from the obvious like your boarding passes and tickets, the first and most important form of travel documentation is personal identification, the most critical of these being your passport.


There are a few key things to note about travelling with your passport:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months before the data that you are travelling home
  • It must have two or more blank pages 
  • Depending on the country you are travelling to, your passport will need renewing if it is over ten years old
  • Child passports will need renewing if they are over five years old
  • You must sign your passport and complete all your emergency contact details in the back, failing to do so can mean it is invalid
  • You will need other forms of ID or copies of your ID to apply for an emergency passport or travel document if your passport is stolen while you’re abroad
  • You will need to check whether there are any laws on passport stamps in advance of travelling to your destination as some counties don’t allow stamps from certain others, for example, Egypt doesn’t allow stamps from Israel

Along with your passport, you may need other forms like your driving licence or birth certificate if you don’t drive or are too young to have a license. Having multiple forms of ID with you when travelling is important should anything happen to your passport whether it’s stolen, lost, or damaged on your trip. 

Along with your passport and another form of ID, it’s always recommended to take photocopies of your original identity documents in your case or have photos of them safely on your phone so if you lose or have anything stolen you have back-ups should you need them to obtain an emergency passport or prove your identity.
Another form of identity to consider is anyone travelling with you, such as children or pets that you’re travelling abroad with and are responsible for, documents include child passports and animal health certificates.

What documents do you need for your destination?

Each country has their own specific rules on travel documents and these can be changed at any time, so researching these is essential well in advance of your travel dates.

There are various types of travel documents that can be needed when travelling to certain countries:

  • Visas or permits. You will need to research the destination(s) you’re visiting in advance to apply for these where necessary.
  • Advance Passenger Information (API). These are required by some countries in addition to your visa and passport. 
  • Consent for travelling alone with minors. Some foreign borders will require documents to show the person travelling has custody of the child or written consent from the parent with custody that has been notarised by a qualified professional. 
  • International driving permits. You should always check that your driving license is recognised in the country you’re visiting if you plan to drive and if not, arrange an international driving permit.
  • Medication prescriptions and GP letter (translated where necessary). Not all medicines are legal in every country, meaning if you require regular medication as prescribed, you will need to make sure it is legal in your destination country and make arrangements with your GP for an alternative medication if not. It is also advisable to take a copy of your regular prescription and a note from your GP outlining your medical condition(s) to ensure you can travel with them.

Aside from the above, each country more recently also has COVID-related travel regulations and advice that travellers now need to be aware of that can come with a whole host of other required travel documents, such as COVID passports or evidence of negative test results. 

On top of this, now the UK has officially left the EU, there are more factors to consider when travelling to an EU country such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

What travel insurance documents do you need?

Although travel insurance isn’t necessarily a required travel document, it is highly recommended to always arrange an insurance plan before travelling abroad and to take a copy of this with you along with your health insurance card (EHIC or GHIC). 

Your travel insurance plan should cover all the destinations included on your trip in addition to any activities planned. Without travel insurance, you risk having to pay out large sums of money should you need any emergency medical treatment abroad or your belongings are lost or stolen.

Health and COVID-19

As there are varying diseases and health risks across countries, you will also need to determine in advance whether you need any specific vaccinations. These are usually required eight weeks in advance of travel and you will need to take the relevant documents as proof of vaccination away with you. 

COVID-19 has added a whole new dimension to travelling as each country and region is entitled to have its own laws and regulations. 

Some COVID-19 travel documents you may require are:

  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travelling and/or before returning home
  • Proof that you are fully vaccinated
  • Information on where you will be quarantined if you are travelling home from a country on the red list, for example, some countries require you to quarantine in a specific hotel

Some further tips for travelling abroad

Travelling doesn’t have to be stressful, despite the documents you might need to arrange and take with you, providing you do your research and prepare well in advance.

On top of packing all the right documentation, we also recommend:

  • Identify where the nearest British embassy or embassy for your country is located and how you can contact them in the event of an emergency
  • Make sure your friends and family are fully informed about when you are travelling, where to, where you are staying and have your contact details. To be extra safe, give them copies of your ID and passport to store safely too
  • Pack physical copies of your travel itinerary and booking information. You may choose to have this information on your phone but it can be useful to have your itinerary printed with the contact details of your hotels or booking company should anything go wrong.

Enquire about our notary, apostille or translation services today

MSC Notaries offer a range of notary and apostille services at affordable prices for both personal and business documents, including those needed for children travelling with a lone parent, getting married abroad and the notarisation of property documents for use abroad. 

We have offices in London and Harrow or can provide mobile notary services for those in other areas or countries. Contact our team for more information or to enquire about our services today.

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