Frequently Asked Questions
What is a passport?
Passport is a travel document issued by the government of a traveler’s native or adopted country as proof of citizenship.
What is a visa?
Visas are the permission that are granted by a sovereign nation to a traveler permitting entry into that country for a specific purpose. Most visas are stamped into the traveler’s passport. The most common types of visas are granted for the specific purposes of tourism, conducting business or attending a conference or symposium, establishing temporary or permanent residence, or going to school. A traveler must follow very distinct guidelines and procedures established by each sovereign nation in applying for the appropriate visa category.
All government offices (Passport office and all Embassies) are closed on weekends and in the evenings. If you lost your US passport or need a new passport, follow our passport instructions and deliver in person or FedEx all the documents to our nearest Sam’s Passport Inc. office the next business day. If you need an emergency travel visa, gather ALL the required documents and deliver (or FedEx) them to a Sam’s Passport Inc. office the next business day.
What does Sam’s Passport Inc. do?
Sam’s Passport Inc. assists individuals, travel agents, and corporate travel departments, allowing them to meet travel deadlines without worry. We understand the passport process can be confusing, time-consuming, and extremely stressful when your trip is on the line. Sam’s Passport Inc. is not a government agency – but we work directly with the US Passport Agency and the Department of State to process passports according to the departure date.
Why did Sam’s Passport Inc. place a gold sticker on my passport?
The stickers are very important for identifying Sam’s Passport Inc. to the Embassy, should the Consulate require additional information, or should we need to call the embassy to request special service. Embassies will not look through hundreds of passports to locate the client by name. Embassies and Consulates generally require visa applications submitted by a third party to bear an identifiable symbol.
Why do I need a visa if I already have a US passport?
A US passport is proof of citizenship, and permits you to re-enter the United States after your trip abroad. However, a US passport does not automatically permit entry into every country without a visa. Many countries allow US passport holders to enter without a visa because of reciprocal visa waivers and long-standing diplomatic relations; many countries do not.
How long is my passport valid?
Unless restricted to a specific validity, most US passports issued to adults (over 16 years at the time of issuance) are valid for 10 years. Passports for individuals under the age of 16 are valid for only 5 years. Non-US passport validity varies by nationality.
I have run out of blank visa pages on my passport, but it does not expire for another three years, what do I do?
If you are a US citizen, submit your passport to Sam’s Passport Inc. for the addition of pages, which will be affixed in your current passport by the US State Department. Call Sam’s Passport Inc. to obtain a list of the required documents and form.
Why must I have a full blank visa page in my passport when I need to get a visa? Why can’t a visa be issued on a blank amendment page at the back of my passport?
Most visas are stamped, or affixed, in your passport on the pages specifically marked for them, and countries require that visa stamps be placed on those pages that do not contain any other stamps. Amendment pages at the back of US passports are specifically designated by the US State Department for changes and endorsements to a passport, after initial issuance. Countries generally refuse to recognize the usability of an amendment page for visas.
What do I do if my passport is lost or stolen while I am traveling abroad?
Sam’s Passport Inc. Protection Plan is the answer. We provide you with specific instructions as well as important numbers so you can speak directly with someone who can help you. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are a phone call away, and with the Plan you are assured free transmission of all the forms and applications you need. This necessity for any international traveler lasts for the lifetime of your passport so it is always there when you need it most.
Does a minor need a passport?
It depends on the nationality of the traveler. The US Government requires a separate passport for each traveler.
The name on my passport does not match the name on my ticket. Will this be a problem?
For many reasons, which include security issues, you may be denied boarding if your travel documents and tickets have different names.
Why do I need a visa for some countries and not others? How do I find out if I need a visa for a specific country?
Most visa requirements are based on treaties of trade and commerce between nations. Still other nations base visa issuance on diplomatic or historical relations. For example, the exemption of citizens of former colonies or dependent territories from visa requirements is fairly common. Please contact any Sam’s Passport Inc. office for nationality-specific information. Or, US citizens may check our web site at http://www.Sam’s Passport Inc..com for the particular country information you require.
What is the difference between a tourist visa and a business visa?
Visas are issued to permit entry into a country for a specific purpose – to allow travel for leisure, or to conduct business activities. The various classifications and requirements for these, and other, visa categories are usually defined by treaty, and vary by country. In general, “tourist” visas are issued specifically for the purpose of travel for pleasure, while a “business” visa generally permits a traveler to engage in normal business-related activities.
Travel for Tourism
Some countries do not require a visa for US citizens traveling as a tourist for short periods of time. In these cases, it may be sufficient for the traveler to present upon arrival in a non-visa destination, a US passport, valid for a specific period of time, as well as a round-trip ticket.
Many countries not requiring a tourist visa for US citizens do, however, require the completion of a tourist card or arrival/departure card for presentation to the admitting customs officer upon arrival in that country. These arrival/departure cards are available through airlines. A limited period of stay is usually authorized upon arrival for the specific purpose of tourism.
Travel for Business
Business visas, depending upon the country, are most often required for a traveler who has a business agenda in the destination country. Each country defines what activities are allowed under their “business visa” category. Contact Sam’s Passport Inc. on the specifics for the country you will be visiting. Generally, business activities can include the following: attending meetings and discussions, visiting customers, providing non-technical sales support, gathering market information, conducting short-term research, attending a business seminar, making a presentation, discussing regulatory changes, negotiating and signing contracts, participating in a conference or symposium, or meeting with government officials.
If a visa is required, do I need to send Sam’s Passport Inc. my actual passport?
Yes, a passport needs to be submitted so the visa may be stamped on one of the blank visa pages.
What is the difference between “Single-Entry” and “Multiple-Entry” Visas?
Depending on the reciprocal treaties governing visa issuance for each nationality, a visa may allow one entry before its expiration, or it may permit the traveler to enter at various times.
A single-entry visa may only be used for one entry for the specific purpose for which it was granted.
In general, the number of times that a multiple-entry visa may be used depends upon restrictions of time (expiration date of the visa), the nationality of the traveler, or restrictions placed on the total number of days permitted in country during any year.
Why can’t the picture in my passport be used for the visa application?
When photos are required to obtain visas, the photographs must be attached to the visa application forms and submitted to the country issuing the visa. Thus, the photograph in a passport cannot be used for visa applications. Most countries will accept either black and white, or color, passport-type photos taken within the past 3 months; digital photos are not usually accepted. Photographs are sometimes, as in the case of Russian visas, affixed to the actual visa.
Why can’t I fax my passport or visa application to you for processing?
For a visa or passport request, most countries require the submission of not only the actual passport, but also original photographs and completed application forms bearing the applicant’s original signature, as well as various supporting documents. These requirements, which vary by country, are imposed by sovereign nations in consideration of granting a visa to a particular individual for a specific purpose. Thus, faxed documents are not usually accepted.
Does the traveler actually have to sign passport and visa applications?
Yes. The applicant, through signature, is acknowledging that all the information appearing on the application is true and correct, and formally petitioning a sovereign nation for the right to enter that country.
What is the difference between the “Consular Fee” and the “Sam’s Passport Inc. Service Fee”?
“Consular Fees” are fees paid to an embassy or consulate in order to fulfill visa issuance requirements, or document authentication /legalization charges. Most consular fees are reciprocally charged, according to the current treaties of trade and commerce between nations. It is not unusual for consular fees to change, without advance notice, as trade negotiations take place and treaties are amended. If a country arbitrarily changes consular fees, reciprocal action generally will be taken.
The “Sam’s Passport Inc. Service Fee” is charged for actions performed by Sam’s Passport Inc. in facilitating the issuance of visas, or other documents and services to successfully fulfill each order. Sam’s Passport Inc.’s fees are separate from the fees charged by the consular offices.
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