Passports and Visas

You must have a passport in order to study abroad.  If you do not already have a passport, apply now. If your passport will expire during or within six months from the end of your study abroad program, renew now. Your program will need passport information, including passport number and a copy of the photo page of your passport, at the time of application. If you do not have a valid passport at the time of application, let your provider know so that they can continue to process your application; but update or apply for your passport as quickly as possible, and submit the required information to your provider as soon as you receive your new passport.

U.S. Citizens: Passport application forms can be found online at or at your local post office, though one particular post office in your area may be designated for processing. It is recommended that you apply at least three months in advance of your departure. If you will travel within 14 days and have not yet renewed or applied for your passport, you must make an appointment to do so in person at a regional passport agency.        

Non-U.S. Citizens: Any non-U.S. citizen leaving the United States needs to be in possession of a valid passport from his/her home country. Non-U.S. citizens must also check in with the International Services Office (ISO) at GW prior to leaving for a study abroad program outside the U.S. The ISO will advise international students on how to remain in legal visa status during their study abroad semester and how to re-enter the United States legally to complete their studies at GW. Please be sure to tell your program provider your country of origin to assure you will be given appropriate visa advice.


Visas are official documents issued by governments granting permission for visitors to enter a country. You will receive visa application information from your program provider; however, it is always your responsibility to be aware of policies and deadlines that may affect the visa process. Failure to comply with visa procedures could result in delays in arrival to your study abroad destination and subsequent financial repercussions.

To obtain visas, you may need to show proof of acceptance to a study abroad program or be asked to show proof of student status upon entering a country. You may also be asked to show proof of sufficient finances to support yourself while abroad.

Visa processes and requirements vary greatly by country, so be sure to read the materials given to you thoroughly and carefully and to research the visa process on your host country’s Consular Affairs website. Visa processing times can take anywhere from one to eight weeks. Please also be aware that you must mail your actual passport to the Consulate for processing. This means that any personal international travel between breaks should be planned accordingly.

Students considering spending a year abroad in two different locations should speak with a study abroad advisor about the immigration process for their second country. You will need to allow enough time to obtain a visa for your second destination in between study abroad programs.

Study Abroad Guide

Gelman Library and the Office for Study Abroad created a Study Abroad Guide listing library resources available for students while abroad.