What is a Passport?
A passport is an official identity document issued by your own government which certifies your citizenship and allows you to travel to and from foreign countries.
Passports and Study Abroad
All students studying abroad must have a passport to travel internationally. Even if you are not sure when you would like to study abroad, the Office of Education Abroad strongly recommends looking into applying for a passport as early in advance in possible. Furthermore, passports are an unavoidable expense to consider and one that we recommend getting out of the way as early as possible, even if you remain unsure of the program to which you would like to apply.
It is not required to have a valid passport when submitting a study abroad application, but students will be required to submit their valid passport copy and information if approved to study abroad. Please note that this information is collected to assist the student in the event their passport is lost or stolen abroad - it is not used to verify that the student's passport meets the validity requirements of their destination country.
Typically, passports expire 10 years after the date of issue. How long a passport needs to be valid and at what point (i.e. at entry, for duration of stay, etc.) for your study abroad depends on the destination country and the student's citizenship. It is each individual student's responsibility to ensure that their passport meets the validity requirements of their destination country well in advance of departure.
- it is strongly recommended that passports be valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended date of departure from a destination country (i.e. if you will leave your host country on March 12th, 2019, your passport should be valid through at least September 12th, 2019)
- to research specific passport validity requirements and other entry requirements:
- go to travel.state.gov
- hover over the "Country Information" tab
- enter the name of each country of interest (perspective students) or destination country (if already admitted into a program)
- click "Go"
- read the information listed under the "Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements" heading carefully
Non U.S. Citizens
- consult your home country’s embassy or consulate to verify passport validity requirements for each country of interest or destination country
- consult your home country's embassy or consulate to apply for a valid passport as necessary
- consult the embassy/consulate of your home and the destination country(ies) for visa requirements and processes, and to see if you will need any supporting documentation from UNC Charlotte to enter
- consult with the International Students and Scholars Office at UNC Charlotte to:
- ensure you will be authorized to reenter the U.S. following the program
- obtain a travel authorization signature if necessary
- explore other resources
NOTE: It is very important that all students review all country-specific passport validity requirements carefully. If a country requires that your passport be valid for 6 months beyond your date of departure, you may be denied entry into that country even if your passport will be valid on your date of entry!
Applying for a Passport
The OEA cannot process nor advise on passport applications. If you do not have a valid passport, you will need to apply for one as soon as possible.
The processes for obtaining a new passport and renewing an existing passport are different.
- reference the U.S. Department of State passport website for detailed instructions on how to apply for a passport
- Union Station in the Student Union on UNC Charlotte's main campus is certified as a Passport Acceptance Facility
- you will need to make an appointment to submit your application materials at Union Station
Non U.S. Citizens
- consult your home country's embassy or consulate for information on how to apply for a valid passport as necessary
- Sign your passport as soon as you get it. It is not a legal document until signed.
- Guard your passport. Do not leave your passport laying out, let your dog chew on it, or otherwise mistreat the passport. Keep it in a safe place both prior to travel and while you are abroad.
- Make photocopies of the SIGNED identification pages of your passport before going abroad. Having copies of the passport can greatly assist you in obtaining a replacement in case your passport is lost or stolen while traveling.
- copiers and scanners are available for free student use at Atkins Library
- keep one copy in a safe place at home
- put one copy in your carry-on luggage when you travel (separate from the actual passport!) and keep it in a safe place at your accommodations abroad
- It can take weeks to receive your passport after applying, and there is always the slight risk of delays due to application volume or delivery issues - start this process right away so you are not anxiously waiting to receive your passport in the days before your departure abroad or hit with hefty fees to expedite the shipping of your passport.
- You will need a valid passport to apply for a visa if you need one, and it takes weeks to receive a visa after applying for one. Given that it also takes weeks to receive a passport after applying, apply for a valid passport as early in your study abroad plans as possible.
Loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the Passport Services office in the U.S. Department of State.
To replace a lost passport while traveling abroad you will need to contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy in your host country. You will need your passport copy to apply for a replacement process at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.
Non U.S. Citizens
Prior to departure abroad, verify what you need to do in the event your passport is lost or stolen with your home country, and whether or not it is possible to replace a lost passport while abroad.