Prepare Your Travel Documents Checklist for 2023 Travel


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Discover What Travel Documents You Need for Your International Trip

Traveling out of the country? The last thing you want is to get turned away at the airport or an international border because you don’t have the proper documentation to travel abroad. Proper planning can ensure you know what to expect and have everything you need for international travel.

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International Travel Documents Checklist

In addition to purchasing flight tickets, making hotel reservations, and filling your suitcase with clothes, you will also need to provide some documentation when preparing for a trip abroad. An international travel documents checklist will help you keep track of everything you need.

Below, you’ll discover tips for creating your own comprehensive travel checklist, documents to consider adding to your checklist (including COVID-19-related documents necessary for travel in 2023), and tips for figuring out what your destination country requires for entry.


How to Create Your International Travel Checklist 2023

You can download our international travel checklist for 2023 that includes a list of the necessary documentation you might need for your trip.

Or you can use our tips and advice to create your own travel checklist template for travel documents on a platform that works best for you.

Here are some methods of creating your own checklist if you choose to go that route:

  • Create a simple list in your notes app. Create a list in a regular notes app on your phone or tablet if you’re someone who wants something simple that is accessible at all times.

  • Create a checklist in a word document or spreadsheet. Some popular spreadsheet applications include Google Sheets and Excel. Get fancy and use colorful fonts or color-coded boxes. You can even convert your checklist to an international travel checklist pdf for sharing with others. Just make sure to download your preferred spreadsheet app to your phone and print off a backup hard copy to take with you on your trip.

  • Use a travel checklist app. TripIt is a popular travel app that creates master itineraries for all your upcoming travel plans, including flights, hotels, activities, and more. It can sync with your calendar and update your trip information as it receives it to keep you organized. The app’s “Traveler Profile” section can store all your important documents beneath a secure 4-digit pin so you have them wherever you go.

When it comes to packing, try a packing checklist app like Pack, PackPoint, or Packr. These apps allow you to create customizable packing lists and lists of activities to do in your destination.


PRO TIP! A good rule of thumb is to start preparing for an international trip six months in advance to give yourself time to ensure everything is up to date and complete.


Travel Documents for International Travel Checklist

A checklist for your travel documents could mean less stress in the long run. These are some of the documents you might need to include in the “travel documents” section of your international travel checklist:

  • Passport – Some countries require your passport to be valid until at least three or six months after your trip is scheduled to end

  • Visa – Some countries require citizens of certain countries to also obtain a visa in order to enter

  • Birth Certificate or Other Proof of Citizenship – May be required for kids under a certain age; learn what documents children may need to fly

  • Consent Form for Travel with a Minor – If you are traveling alone with a child, you may be required to have custody documents or notarized written consent from your child’s other parent; check with your destination’s embassy prior to travel

  • International Driver’s Permit – If you plan on driving once you arrive at your destination

  • Proof of International Travel Medical Insurance – Required by some countries and visas; also recommended by the U.S. Department of State for those whose regular health insurance is not adequate abroad

  • Return Ticket – May need to provide proof of this before entering a country

  • List of Medication – May need to provide documentation from your physician for medication you’re bringing abroad (also note that some narcotics and over-the-counter medications are illegal in other countries, so check with your destination’s embassy prior to travel)

  • COVID-19 Travel DocumentsSee the section below for details


PRO TIP! Are you creating a travel checklist for international students or a business travel checklist pdf? Your visa may require additional documentation for proof of your school enrollment or employment. Verify these additional items and add them to your checklist.



Documents Needed to Travel to USA

If you’re traveling to the U.S., knowing the documents needed to travel to the USA and its territories is key. Here’s a list of the items you might need:


For U.S. Citizens Entering by Air (One of the Following):

  • Valid U.S. Passport (children must have their own passports)
  • Trusted Traveler Program Card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
  • U.S. Military Identification Card (when traveling on official orders)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business)


For U.S. Citizens Entering by Land or Sea (One of the Following):

  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Valid U.S. Passport Card
  • Enhanced Driver's License (EDL)
  • Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • U.S. Military Identification Card* (when traveling on official orders)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business)
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
  • Birth Certificate or Proof of Citizenship (for U.S. and Canadian citizen children under the age of 16, or under the age of 19 if traveling with a school, religious group, or other youth group)
  • Hospital-Issued Birth Certificate (for a newborn whose actual birth certificate has not yet arrived from the Vital Records Department)


*According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, military personnel traveling under orders may present a photo ID and orders. Family members must present a passport, with the exception of children 15 and younger arriving by land or sea.


For U.S. Citizens Entering from Closed-Loop Cruises (Cruises That Begin and End at the Same U.S. Port):

  • Birth Certificate and Government-Issued Photo ID

Your destination country may still require you to present a valid passport. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents prior to travel.


For Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. (One of the Following):

  • Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card,” Form I-551)
  • Reentry Permit (if gone for more than 1 year)
  • Returning Resident Visa (if gone for 2 years or more)


For Canadian Citizens Entering by Air: (One of the Following):

  • Valid Canada Passport
  • NEXUS Card


For Canadian Citizens Entering by Land or Sea: (One of the Following):

  • Valid Canada Passport
  • Enhanced Driver's License/Enhanced Identification Card
  • SENTRI Enrollment Card


For Bermudian Citizens:


For Mexican Citizens Entering by Air or Sea (One of the Following):

  • Valid Mexico Passport with Visa
  • Valid Mexico Passport with Border Crossing Card


For Mexican Citizens Entering by Land:

  • Border Crossing Card


For Citizens of All Other Countries:

IMPORTANT: There are also current United States travel restrictions and requirements in place in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This means there is additional documentation required for international travelers to the U.S. See our “International Travel to the USA” page to review any current U.S. travel bans as well as COVID-related vaccine, testing, and mask requirements to enter the United States at this time.

Keep in mind that travel requirements for the U.S. may change in response to health and safety risks around the world, so make sure you check the requirements regularly leading up to your trip.


Documents to Include in Your International Travel Checklist During COVID

With COVID-19 being so prevalent, dedicating part of your international travel checklist to all the documents required for air travel during COVID is key. The factors which determine the requirements for traveling to another country during COVID-19 include the number of COVID-19 cases both inside and outside the country and the government’s response.

Determine whether you need to add these essential travel documents COVID-19 has made necessary:

  • Negative COVID-19 Test Results – Some countries require you to provide your airline with proof of a negative test prior to boarding. Make sure you verify which types of COVID-19 tests are accepted, and keep in mind that many countries require the test to be taken within 1-3 days prior to travel.


  • Vaccine Card or Proof of Vaccinations – Many countries require proof of vaccination to enter. If vaccination isn’t required for entry, it may be required for indoor dining, museums, or other activities within the country.


    For example, as of November 8th, 2021, all foreign national air travelers (non-immigrants and non-citizens) must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the U.S.


  • Health Report – You may need to fill out a health report in addition to proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test. These reports can usually be completed online. You should be prepared to provide a current health report from your physician to further validate you are in good health before entering a foreign country.

  • Proof of Travel Insurance with COVID-19 CoverageSome countries require tourists to provide proof of insurance that covers COVID-19-related medical expenses or that meets certain requirements. Other countries, like Aruba, require you to purchase their own health insurance for visiting tourists.

Note that many regular health insurance plans offer little to no coverage outside of your home country, so you may want to consider travel health insurance for unexpected medical expenses regardless of requirements.


PRO TIP! Ensure you know your destination’s rules regarding masks, social distancing, and quarantining upon arrival. Remember to pack washable and/or disposable masks to meet mask requirements in the airport, on the plane, and within your destination. You can also use this international travel packing list PDF from Smarter Travel to help you pack.



What About International Travel Restrictions?

It’s important to note that travel restrictions are different from travel requirements. Requirements are steps you must follow and documentation you must provide to gain entry to a country. Restrictions dictate whether you can come into the country at all.

International travel restrictions are frequently high in response to COVID-19. When figuring out your international travel plans, researching travel restrictions by country is always recommended. You may want to create a timeline of your trip and monitor restrictions on a weekly basis if needed since coronavirus travel restrictions can change quickly.


How to Figure Out Exactly What You Need to Fly Internationally in 2023

You now know that flying internationally during the pandemic often requires more than just a passport or visa and your boarding pass. Every country has different requirements to meet.

When planning your trip, you will need to know those requirements are to avoid any complications while traveling. Every country has an embassy or consulate website where you will be able to see the conditions that apply to you when visiting the country.

However, there is an easier way to seek information on what you need to fly internationally in 2023. This travel restrictions map can point you in the right direction regarding travel restrictions and requirements for countries around the world. 


How to Use the Travel Restrictions Map

Our travel restrictions map is color coded to show which countries are open for travel and which countries require testing, quarantining, or are currently restricting travel. Use the filters at the top of the page to fill in your:

  • Passport location (i.e., which country issued your passport)
  • Departing location
  • Arriving location
  • Whether or not you are vaccinated for COVID-19

If you haven’t decided on an exact destination yet, you can also filter what destinations appear on the map by:

  • Travel Is Open – Open for travel; COVID-19 testing or quarantine is not required.

  • Test & Travel – Open for travel with required COVID-19 testing.

  • Testing & Quarantine – Open for travel with required COVID-19 testing and quarantine upon arrival.

  • Entry Is Restricted – Travel is only open for returning citizens and those meeting strict requirements.


NOTE: Some locations are listed as “Unknown” because travel restrictions for this location are currently unknown. Visit the country’s visa embassy or consulate website for information regarding documents needed to travel abroad during COVID.


Hover your mouse over a country to view a summary of its travel restrictions and requirements. For more details, click on a specific country. In the pop-up window, you will see country-specific:

  • Travel restrictions
  • Visa requirements
  • List of documents needed for your trip
  • Additional info (ex. mask mandates in the country)

Click “See details” for more information regarding the restrictions and requirements as well as links for obtaining and filling out the specific documents. Many countries allow visitors to submit most of their required documentation (negative COVID-19 test results, health passes, proof of vaccination, etc.) online. However, you will most likely need to provide some physical documents (such as an international travel passport) on your departure day.

These regulations may quickly change in response to health risks around the world, so you may want to make sure that you check your destination’s travel restrictions regularly leading up to your trip so you can update your international travel packing list.


PRO TIP! Don’t forget to review the travel restrictions and requirements for every destination in your trip, including transfer or connection destinations and your home country.


To view requirements for returning to your home country, toggle to “Return” at the top of the pop-up window. The section will now populate with travel restrictions, a list of documents you need for your trip, and additional info. These regulations can change frequently, so you may want to make sure to bookmark on this page on your phone so you can check it regularly before you depart.


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