By Joshua Frank, General Counsel of DHL in the Americas
Global trade is on the rise. Not surprisingly, so is international business travel. With this in mind, what can global business travelers do to ensure their trips abroad are safe, efficient and productive?
A great first step is to ensure that their passports are up to date – a necessity for smooth and trouble-free passage through the Customs and immigration process. Understanding the visa and vaccination requirements of their destination countries is also important. For some travel, preparation should start months in advance. Travelers should understand that although certain countries may not require visas for tourists, visas may be required if the trip is for business purposes. The U.S. Department of State travel microsite offers comprehensive information on nearly every subject of concern to international business travelers, including:
- Passport information:Travelers can access passport application and renewal information.
- Destination information:The Department of State site allows users to access specific information about any country in the world, including requirements for entry, visa and vaccinations, and even the number of blank pages needed in your passport. Destination information for every country also includes explanations about health care, in-country travel and transportation, and safety. It is important to go through the requirements well in advance of the planned trip because visas and vaccinations can take several weeks or more to acquire prior to travel.
- Travel advisories:The Department of State regularly issues and posts travel warnings and alerts related to major safety issues, including crime, political upheaval, health and weather. International travelers should pay close attention.
- Emergency information and contacts:Within the site, travelers can access specific emergency resources by country, including contact information for all embassies and consulates, information about lost passports, medical emergencies and more.
Moving quickly through the border control process, and planning for in-country transportation and for emergencies is essential. In addition, travelers should consider these key issues:
- Trusted Traveler Programs:Customs and Border Protection offers U.S. residents a streamlined entry process for those returning to the country after traveling abroad. Global Entry offers expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. TSA PreCheck, which comes with acceptance into Global Entry, allows for expedited screening through security at most U.S. airports for domestic and international travel. Participants can enter by using automated kiosks located at certain international airports. Additional programs, such as Nexus in Canada and APEC for many countries on the Pacific Ocean, can expedite entry into other countries for pre-approved travelers.
- Currency exchange:In general, good planning should include a determination of how much currency you will need. Exchanging currency with your bank in advance of your trip is usually advised, and the use of credit cards during your trip is also encouraged. Check with your bank to learn more about specific exchange rate information.
- Communication:Just as it is on the home front, good communication is key to business success when traveling abroad. It is important to plan in advance for the hiring of interpreters for any meetings, from larger group conferences to one-on-one meetings. It is critical to ensure that your translators are professionals, and that their credentials can be verified.
- Emergencies:Even with careful planning, emergencies can occur. It is important to plan ahead, such as making a photocopy of your passport, and having a list of phone numbers to call, such as to cancel credit cards and ID cards, and family or business contacts. It is also a good idea to know in advance the location and contact information of the U.S. Embassy (or your home country) in the country you are visiting.
- Medical insurance:Some medical insurance will not cover treatment abroad. Travelers should understand their coverage and consider purchasing overseas medical insurance to ensure coverage. The Department of State offers additional information on this subject.
Today, markets are becoming increasingly globalized – something international business travelers know quite well. As you consider your future travels around the world, be sure to prepare, and journey safely!
Joshua Frank is General Counsel of DHL in the Americas and is responsible for all legal issues in the region, managing a Legal department of over fifty professionals. Mr. Frank is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.