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If you plan to travel abroad, you’ll need a lot more than your belongings. You’ll need valid identification based on the country you’re traveling through or to. Every country differs, and the documentation you’ll need may vary, but one thing they all have in common is the travel document number.
Whether you carry a passport, visa, or other federal ID, each document has a travel document number. This is the number the government uses to ensure the document is valid and not fake.
Government agencies use these numbers to track tourists, keep the borders safe, and identify you as a traveler, ensuring you’re eligible to travel abroad.
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Types of Travel Documents
Before you travel, it’s important to find out what type of travel documents you need. Here are the most common.
Most people know what a passport is. It allows you to travel from your citizen country to countries abroad. It identifies you no matter which country you travel to as it’s a universally used document.
You’ll use the passport to get through customs both in your home country and when you arrive at your destination. Your passport is often the first step to getting a visa if a visa is required to enter the country you plan to travel to. Even if you aren’t sure if you’ll need a visa or not, start with the passport as it’s the first step.
The Passport Travel Document Number
Every passport has a travel document number. You can find it in the top right-hand corner of the passport. It’s a 9-digit number, and no two passports have the same number.
Since a passport isn’t enough to visit every country, you may need a visa too. A visa is required to visit countries where you aren’t a citizen and passports aren’t accepted. In the United States, the USCIS determines who gets a visa to come into the United States.
A visa is more detailed than a passport. It tells you what you’re allowed to do when you’re in a foreign country and how long you’re allowed to stay. To get a visa, you must get it from the country’s consulate you plan to visit, but in the United States.
Before you apply for the visa, think about why you need it. Will you work in a foreign country or will you be a tourist? There are different types of visas based on your intentions. The visa process can take a while, so make sure you have all supporting documentation and pay close attention to the dates of your interview or other important dates.
To apply for a visa, you’ll need the visa application, which you can usually find online, your passport, application fee, and photo. You may also need to provide a reason for your trip and prove you have the finances to cover the cost of the trip.
At the visa interview, you’ll answer questions and provide your fingerprints (usually digitally). If there’s further documentation needed, you’ll find out then. Otherwise, you should receive your visa shortly afterward.
The Visa Travel Document Number
You’ll find the Visa travel document number easily because it’s usually in a different color than the rest of the visa. In the United States, it’s on the lower right corner.
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After you have a visa, you’ll need a Green Card if you want to become a permanent US resident. The USCIS issues the Green Card upon approval. However, you’ll still need a passport since Green Card holders aren’t citizens. A Green Card may make it easier to travel back and forth from your birth country to the US, smoothing the process along.
To apply for a Green Card, first, determine your eligibility and then complete application I-485. Like the visa, the USCIS will schedule an interview and determine your eligibility.
The Green Card Travel Document Number
You can find your Green Card travel document number on the back of the Green Card.
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What Is a Travel Document Number FAQ
Here are the most frequently asked questions about travel document numbers.
Is a Travel Document a Passport or Visa?
A travel document is any document you need to cross borders. In the case of traveling to the US from another country, you need a passport and a visa. The visa is a document inside your passport that provides more details and freedoms for your time in the US.
Who Needs a Travel Document?
Anyone traveling internationally will need some type of travel document. If you’re traveling to a tourist destination, a passport may be enough, but a visa may be necessary if you’re traveling anywhere to work or live for any length of time.
How Early Should You Apply for Travel Documents?
The USCIS website estimates how long each document may take but always err on the side of caution. On average, expect to wait at least a few months for any document.
Is a Passport Number the Same as a Travel Document Number?
Yes, your passport number is your travel document number. You don’t have to know it or memorize it, but if you have a passport card and a passport booklet, understand that the two numbers will be different as each number is unique to the document.
How Much Does a Passport Cost?
The type of passport you need determines the cost. A US passport card is $30, a passport booklet is $110, and both are $140.
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The Bottom Line
Don’t leave home without your travel documents. While you don’t need to memorize your travel document number, just make sure you have the correct documentation for your destination. Getting your travel documents isn’t something you can do last minute - it takes plenty of preparation and time to get the documents you need.