Know Thy Passport

 

Whether you say "move abroad" "live overseas" "live in another country" "become a digital nomad" or "become an expat", that means living in a country other than your passport country

And when you move to or live in a country other than your passport country, there is nothing more important than your passport

Your passport is the primary document related to your identification and legal status when you are outside your passport country. You will need it for daily tasks, for important transactions and in emergency situations. 

If you do nothing else, you must Know Thy Passport...and understand it well.

So...right now...Get your passport out. 

Not exactly sure where it is? Find it. 

Don't have a passport? Can't find it, damaged it...lost it? Or does it expire in the next 2 years? Then it's time to get your first passport, a new one or renew the passport you already have. These things take time, so don't delay. If you're a US citizen, start here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html/

Then, read it, Understand it. Examine each page, read each entry carefully. Notice where your Name, Date of Birth and Place of Birth are on the page. Notice where your Passport Number is. You will need to provide this information to others in many circumstances. 

Finally, Protect it. 

Take a set of photos and scans of the front and main pages. Save these to your computer, in the cloud and email a copy to yourself, anyone who will be traveling with you and one additional contact. 

Buy a passport holder - and I don't mean a fashionable thing! Buy a large "travel document organizer" that closes with a zipper. No zipper, don't buy it! This organizer will also hold your printed itineraries, emergency cash stash and other must-haves. Order one today, even if it will be sitting in a drawer for the next 6 months. If you take your passport out of the document organizer, put it back as soon as you can. Not in a pocket or sitting on a counter. Always in the same spot. Travel document organizer. Trust me on this!

Last but not least...Decide on a place where your passport (in its holder) will always live in your home. We travel a lot, so I keep mine in the laptop backpack that I use for every trip. It's always there and I never worry. Commit to always putting in the same place -- you should always be able to go directly to your passport, without searching around. This is a great habit to start today and will save you a lot of time and stress down the road. 

We have a lot of passport disaster and near-disaster stories! All of them could have been avoided. So: Find it. Understand it. Protect it. 

And...just like that...you're on your way to move abroad success!

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