essential documents to have ready, well before it is time to depart
With the exception of US citizens participating on our tours in Florida, Hawaii or our Alaska only trips. a valid passport IS required for all participants.
And now is the time to check that your passport will be valid for the tour. The general rule of thumb for validity, is that your passport should be valid for at least six months after your tour ends. While there are exceptions by certain countries for certain nationalities, it is best to renew if you have less than six months left before your passport expires. There have been a couple of occasions, when a tour guest was denied boarding and not allowed to fly to the tour because their passport had less than 6 months left.
Don't have a passport? Best get after it right away, as processing time for your first passport can be a couple of months in some countries. Each country's rules on applying for a passport and the required documents vary. The following links are for passport info websites in the countries from which we draw most of our guests (our apologies if your country isn't listed):
USA Dept of State - website
Canada Passports - website
GOV.UK - website
Australian Passport Office - website
STEP ONE: If you have a passport check if still valid as above and renew if not. If you don't have a passport, start the process right away.
Guests are responsible for obtaining all the necessary visas needed for the countries visited during your tour with Pedalers. Pedalers is not able to obtain visas on your behalf. The one exception to this is for Bhutan, where government rules require visas to be issued via the tour operator. We strongly recommend researching the visa rules for your nationality at the destination country, as they vary widely.
The best source of information on the current visa rules is the website of the destination country's embassy in your country. Most have a section of their website labeled as "visa" or "consular" services. Some visas are a simple online form followed up by an eVisa, other countries require a stack of paperwork mailed to their office with your passport. Always good to start planning early to allow time for the process.
There are also a number of Visa processing services operating around the world. These services will guide you through the paperwork required, take your passport and visa paperwork to the Embassy themselves, then mail the stamped passport back to you when it is ready. If you prefer to have someone handle the processing of your visa needs, you can work with our friends at VisaHQ. Their website is also a good reference for the current visa rules, even if you don't want to pay for their services.
Note: Many tourist visas are valid for just a few months from the date of issue, so don't apply too early.
STEP TWO: Check if a visa is required for your citizenship by the country the tour visits. If required get prepared.
A good reference to check if your documents and visas are in order is Timatic, the system used by airlines to verify the requirements for each passenger. You can access this same system via the IATA Travel Centre website. Select the Passport, Visa, Health and step through the questions (there are quite a few) to see if your documents are in order.
The airline flying you to our tour, will check all your documents to make sure you are eligible to enter the country before checking you in. If your passport, visa, etc are not in order for entering the country, they are required by international agreement to prohibit you from boarding the flight. If you are unable to fly due to denied boarding the airline will not refund your airfare and you will not be eligible for Pedalers' change policy or refund.
STEP THREE: BE PREPARED!
People often get the terms involved with entering a county incorrect, this is especially true with bloggers and influencers and yes sometimes even travel professionals. As you read posts about a country's entry policy keep the following in mind.
Visa: Permission to travel to a country and ask to be allowed to enter, period. Being issued a visa only means that the embassy has determined that you meet certain requirements for admission to that country. It is NOT permission to enter. The immigration official that processes you upon arrival is the one who decides to let you in or deny entry.
Entry Stamp: The stamp the immigration official puts in your passport that grants you permission to enter the country. The entry stamp usually specifies how long you can remain in the country. And if you go to the immigration office to extend your stay, you are extending your entry stamp, not your visa.
Exit Stamp: The stamp the immigration official puts in your passport to indicate your departure from that country. Some countries such as the USA, UK, etc do not have exit formalities, so you will not be stamped on the way out.
Denied Boarding: The airline check-in staff determined that you might be ineligible to enter the country and prevented you from boarding your flight. The airline can be fined up to $25,000 for allowing someone who is ineligible to enter to fly to the country. Always good to check in early to have time to sort out any last minute issues.
Denied Entry: The immigration official that processed you upon arrival has denied entry into the country. They have final say regarding your entry into the country and can deny entry, for whatever reason they feel warranted. This usually only occurs if the official feels you don't have the financial means to support yourself while visiting or aren't telling the truth about the reason for your visit.