5 Essential Documents Required to Travel Abroad

A trip, even a short one, must be prepared in advance so that it goes as smoothly as possible. Administrative formalities are part of this preparation phase. Knowing the 5 essential documents required to travel abroad allows you to fully enjoy your stay and leave with peace of mind.


Etymologically, the word passport comes from “pass” and “port”. It originally designated the free movement of goods before applying to men in 1464. Today, this document issued by the state authorities of a country is used to prove the identity and nationality of a person who is about to travel to a foreign nation.

In France, it is generally at the level of the town halls that you have to submit your passport application file. In some towns, there are also counters equipped with a registration station to record your request.

The period of validity of a passport is 10 years for an adult and 5 years for a minor. The production time of this essential document for the trip depends mainly on the period and the place where you submit your request. In general, it is two to three weeks, but may be shorter in a small town. Conversely, as the holidays approach, this period may lengthen given the increase in the number of files to be processed.

The loss or theft of the passport can have disastrous consequences on your trip. To prevent this kind of inconvenience, remember to protect it from thieves. Don’t leave it in your empty hotel room. Always put it in a safe place, whether it’s the safe in your room or the one at your hotel reception. If you have to keep it with you, be careful to avoid any risk of loss or theft.

Don’t forget to make copies of your passport and keep a few copies in your luggage, and even keep some in your mailbox. In this way, it will be easier for you to obtain an emergency passport from the consulate of your country of destination in the event of loss or theft.


A visa is a document issued by the authorities of a country in order to allow a foreign national to enter its territory for a determined period. Some countries require it while others are content with a valid passport, which is why you should find out beforehand about the entry formalities of the country where you plan to leave.

If you want, for example, to go sightseeing in Thailand, bask on the beautiful beaches of Seychelles, or in Bermuda, a 3-month tourist visa is sufficient. For some countries, obtaining a visa is one of the prerequisites before taking the plane or the car. This is the case in India or Australia. Also, the cost is different. The visa costs €87.5 for India while it is completely free for Australia.

In some cases, it is possible to apply for a tourist visa when you land at the airport. Thus, for a stay of fewer than 90 days in the United Arab Emirates, French nationals are exempt from an entry visa on Emirati soil since May 6, 2015. If you are leaving for Vietnam, the country offers its visitors a one-month visa with single entry at a cost of $43, issued at the international airports of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Laos also offers tourists this type of visa, which is valid for 30 days and costs between $20 and $45, depending on the nationality of the applicant.

Travel Insurance

Some countries condition the entry of a foreign national into their territory by taking out compulsory travel insurance. These include Russia, Cuba, China, and Algeria.

But, even if your destination country does not expressly require the purchase of travel insurance, it is recommended to do so as a precaution. Indeed, when you travel abroad, you are not immune to illness or accident. The quality of the water on site, the diet which generally differs from that which you are used to, the climate, or even the level of hygiene are the main factors that can be at the origin of an illness during your stay. If you fall ill, are hospitalized, or even repatriated to France, not only will your stay be cut short, but the expenses are likely to be substantial and put a heavy strain on your budget.

With the purchase of travel insurance, a large number of claims will be covered by the insurer. If the offers differ from one company to another, there are guarantees which must absolutely appear in your contract: medical expenses (including medical and paramedical acts, laboratory analyses, and pharmacy), hospitalization expenses, and repatriation to your country of origin if necessary.

Also, consider the civil liability in the event that you are involved in an accident causing property damage or bodily injury to others. Your insurance may also include cancellation cover and baggage insurance in the event of loss, theft, or alteration of your personal effects during the trip.

The vaccination record

Before packing your suitcase, make sure your vaccination record is up to date. Whatever your destination, it is recommended that you have up-to-date vaccinations against pertussis and tuberculosis (BCG), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis (DTP).

  • For those who plan to travel to Africa, it is also advisable to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid, and possibly meningococci A and C if you are called to stay in an area where this disease is endemic or if you need to come into close contact with the population.
  • In South America, the vaccine against yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, and rabies are particularly indicated to avoid any risk.
  • If you plan to travel to Asia, it is best to get vaccinated against rabies, hepatitis A and B, typhoid as well as Japanese encephalitis, and tick-borne encephalitis.

If certain “universal” vaccines can be carried out by your doctor, there are more than a hundred vaccination centers in France that allow you to be vaccinated before a trip. If you live in Paris, you can contact the Institut Pasteur Hospital, which is located in the 15th arrondissement. Two injections against hepatitis B will cost you approximately €26 in this establishment compared to €42 for a yellow fever vaccination. You can also go to the Air France International Vaccination Center in the 7th arrondissement for your vaccine against hepatitis B or yellow fever, for example. The first will be charged 30 € while the second 45 €.

Driving license

A driving license is one of the essential travel documents if you plan to travel by car once you arrive at your destination. Renting a vehicle allows you, in fact, to discover the country at your own pace and, in some cases, to avoid motion sickness due to public transport.

If you are traveling within the European Economic Area (EEA) and wish to drive abroad, your French driving license is sufficient. As soon as you move outside Europe, it is often possible to use your French driving license if your stay is short, but sometimes an international driving license is required. To find out, you can inquire before your departure on the portal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or at the embassy of your country of destination.

Whatever the nature of your next trip, remember to check your passport, visa, travel insurance, vaccination record, and driver’s license before you leave. It is essential that all these documents are in order in order to leave with complete peace of mind. If you need support in choosing your travel insurance, ACS is able to provide you with all the necessary advice and direct you towards the offers that suit you.