The information shared in this section is standard information for individuals with US citizenship believed to be accurate at the time of publication. However, it is your responsibility to meet the necessary requirements for your personal circumstances.
If you do not have US citizenship, it is your responsibility to ensure that your passport, US visa, and any additional visas necessary for the country in which the outreach is being conducted meet the requirements for your country of citizenship. Please ensure you possess all the documents necessary to re-enter the US from the outreach.
Specifics that are pertinent to your outreach will be sent to you from your coordinator as you prepare for your outreach. These details may override the general guidelines provided here. Please contact your coordinator via email if you have questions or need assistance with meeting international travel requirements.
You must have a valid passport in order to go on the outreach. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of return. Please make sure that you sign your passport exactly as your name appears on the passport. We suggest that you give a photocopy of the front page of your passport to a family member/close friend for emergency purposes and that you have a copy in each piece of luggage that you take with you. Having a copy of your passport available will aid in replacing your passport in the event that it is lost or stolen during your travels.
If you do not have a passport, apply today! Obtaining a passport may take ten weeks or longer. Waiting until you have all your ministry funds will not allow you to receive your passport in time.
Passport application and renewal forms can be downloaded on the internet at www.travel.state.gov.
A visa is a document issued by a country giving a certain individual permission to formally request entrance to the country during a given period of time and for certain purposes. Visas are typically stamped or attached into the recipient’s passport or are sometimes issued as separate pieces of paper.
Generally speaking, US citizens do not need visas for countries in South and Central America, or Western and Central Europe. Complete visa requirements can be viewed at www.traveldocs.com.
If a visa is required, it is you responsibility to obtain a tourist visa for your outreach.
NOTE: if the immigration officer at the airport asks you the purpose of your visit, say “tourism” unless directed otherwise by your field contact.
Please check with the CDC (CDC Travelers' Health) or your local health department/doctor for the required immunizations for the country(ies) you plan to visit during your outreach. It is up to the discretion of you and your doctor to decide whether you should receive these immunizations. Be sure to consult with your personal doctor/family physician for their recommendations.
Because you will not be living like a tourist all the time, you will have a greater potential of being exposed to many things that the average tourist would not be exposed to. This is why you need to receive the correct immunizations.
When scheduling immunizations, please be aware that -
Flights and Travel Agencies
Once you have been accepted to the outreach, please arrange your flight to and from the field. Travel reservations can be purchased by you independently or through a travel agent. We recommend travel insurance or a refundable ticket.
Prior to arriving at your destination (country of outreach), an airline attendant will give you a customs form. You will need to complete these and submit them at Customs and Immigration. You may need to know the address of where you are staying. Your coordinator will send you this information.
You will need to indicate the reason for your visit. Be certain to use “tourism” for the reason of your visit when filling out custom forms; under NO circumstances use the term missionary.
The following travel agencies specialize in serving short term missionaries like you. Generally, these agencies can secure a lower-priced fare than the commercial agents or the airlines, and they can often find better connections. You are under no obligation to book travel with any of these vendors.
Here are a few other websites worth checking into for flights:
Emergency Medical and Evacuation Insurance is designed to provide short-term travel insurance, supplementing your existing insurance when traveling outside the US. Plans typically include sickness and accident medical protection, traveler’s assistance, accidental death and dismemberment, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.
You will need to purchase your own travel insurance from one of the following vendors: Seven Corners Insurance Plan and International Volunteer Card.
Staying Healthy Overseas
No one plans to get sick on a short-term mission. But experience tells us that it happens quite often, therefore take the proper precautions now and while overseas to keep yourself healthy.
During the preparation phase and particularly in the immediate days before the outreach, proper rest, exercise, and diet will have a crucial impact on your time during the outreach. If applicable, obtain physical and dental exams and address impending issues. Check that eyeglasses and braces are well maintained and in good working order.
Make sure that you have a sufficient supply of prescription medication for the length of your travel and a few days extra in case of travel delays. Leave the medications in their original containers, because unmarked medication can arouse suspicion with customs inspectors.
When you arrive overseas, you will receive specific instructions from OM staff about what foods and beverages to avoid. Be aware that if tap water is not safe, you will need bottled water even for brushing teeth. Hot beverages, bottled water, and bottled soft-drinks are usually safe. You can also treat water with commercial iodine or chlorine tablets. Keep your mouth closed when you shower. Avoid raw vegetables. Fruits with thick coverings/skins that need to be peeled are always safer than fruits without coverings/skins. Consider how the food was prepared and how long the food has been out at room temperature before eating. Do not be paranoid, but do use common sense and follow the advice of your team leader and other OM staff.
It cannot be stressed enough that washing your hands frequently and drinking plenty of fluids are two of the simplest ways to stay healthy.
Please note that eating times and food portions may not be what you are used to as an American. It may be helpful to pack snacks.
The following is a list of health items that participants have found helpful or wished they had: