Study Abroad

Passports and visas

  • Proper documentation and identification is required for entry into foreign countries.
  • Each country has its own special requirements for entry based on your citizenship, purpose of visit, and length of stay.
  • Find out which requirements pertain to your situation, and plan in advance.
  • Obtaining documents from embassies or consulates can take months.


  • A passport is a document from your home country that confirms your citizenship.
  • It is the only form of identification recognized everywhere that verifies your citizenship.
  • You need a current passport that is valid beyond the time your program ends.
  • Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines may not even allow you to board if this requirement is not met.

For U.S. citizens

  • Apply early!
  • Learn more and apply at the UW State Department website.
  • The normal processing time is four to six weeks, longer during peak travel season.

For international students

  • Consult your home country’s equivalent of the Department of State, or the “citizen’s services” section of your home country’s U.S. Consulate.
  • If you need an enrollment verification letter from UW Study Abroad please allow at least one week for processing.

For undocumented students

  • The Resources section of our website has information for undocumented students to help you navigate the study abroad process and obtain the necessary documents that you need to travel outside the U.S.


  • A visa is a document provided by the country where you will be traveling.
  • It gives permission for you to enter the country.
  • Visa requirements vary from country to country.
  • You must have a passport before you can apply for a visa.
  • The country issuing a visa typically attaches various conditions of stay, such as the territory covered by the visa, dates of validity, period of stay, whether the visa is valid for more than one visit, etc. In some instances, you may need to apply for a visa in person at a consulate.
  • Visas may be paper documents that are requested and received prior to arrival, or may be a stamp that is placed on your passport upon arrival.
  • Information relating to all visas may be obtained from the embassy or consulate of the country or countries in which you will travel.
  • U.S. citizens may also also consult the U.S. Department of State website for entry requirements.
  • If you are an international student, you can visit your home country’s equivalent institution.

Applying for a visa

Your visa application may need to include special letters or documents (such as a letter of acceptance from the educational institution or program). Apply early for your visa to provide ample time for processing. Embassies and Consulates can usually issue your student visa 120 days before your program registration date.

Some common forms and documentation required to obtain a student visa include:

  •     Passport
  •     Proof of insurance
  •     Proof of sufficient funds
  •     Proof of enrollment in a study abroad program
  •     2×2 photograph
  •     Transcripts
  •     Standardized test scores
  •     Flight itinerary

Visas and length of stay

  • Research visa requirements early!
  • Student visas can last from one month to one year depending on the country where you will be studying. If you plan to stay longer, you will need to research if it is possible to extend your visa.
  • Many countries do not require a visa for U.S. students traveling to their country for less than 90 days.
    • If you are an international student, this provision may not be available to you! Do not sign a contract for your program until you know that you can get the visa you need in the time frame available to you.
    • International students should plan to apply for a visa at the consulate nearest to the UW – likely San Francisco. You should not plan to apply for a visa in your home country. Applications filed at other consulates are often denied.
  • The consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling should always be consulted for current visa entry requirements in tandem with the Department of State or equivalent.

Students studying in Europe: If you are traveling to the Schengen Area (most of Western Europe), we advise you to familiarize yourself with the restrictions on periods of stay and the ability to do back-to-back programs or extended travel before or after your program.  You can consult the U.S. Department of State website for Schengen area borders agreement information.

Copies of travel documents

  • Along with your originals, bring a copy of all travel documents and leave copies of your travel documents with a contact in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Scan your documents and email the copies to yourself and your contact in the U.S.
  • Keep copies in a safe place, separate from where you keep your original documents.

Enrollment letter

  • Send an email to your UW Study Abroad program manager to request an enrollment letter.
  • Your program manager’s name is listed in your program’s brochure.
  • Be sure to provide your program manager with the information required by the consulate.

Proof of insurance

  • Once you purchase your UW Student Abroad Insurance policy, our insurance provider will send you an email with your policy number and dates of coverage.
  • If you need additional documentation proving you have insurance, you can write to to request an enrollment letter.
  • Visit the Medical Precautions and Insurance page of our website for more information on UW Student Abroad Insurance.


Confirmation of good health

  • Some countries will require that a health form or letter of good health (confirmation that you are free from certain diseases, etc.) be provided to obtain a visa.
  • You can make an appointment with Hall Health or Hall Health Travel Clinic to schedule a pre-travel counseling session and a general physical assessment.
  • Visit the Medical Precautions and Insurance page.

Confirmation of vaccinations

  • You may also be asked to show proof of having received certain vaccinations to travel in regions with endemic diseases, like cholera, yellow fever, etc.
  • You can obtain this documentation from your primary health provider.
  • Visit the Medical Precautions and Insurance page.