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A passport is a document that is issued to you by the government of your country of citizenship. It is official proof of your citizenship, especially for the purpose of international travel. You will need to work with the government of your country of citizenship to obtain a passport.

U.S. citizens may use the links below for information on applying for and renewing a U.S. passport.


A visa is an endorsement, usually in the form of a stamp on your passport, that is issued by a foreign government granting permission to enter and stay in that country for a specified period of time. Depending on your country of citizenship and your host country’s government, you may or may not need a visa. It is ultimately your responsibility to determine if you need a visa for your study abroad program destination. Start the process by contacting the foreign government’s embassy or consulate in your home country.


Embassies are the headquarters for ambassadors from foreign countries. They are involved in country relations, consular affairs (such as issuing travel and student visas), and all matters related to citizens of their own country residing or traveling in a foreign country. Most embassy websites have a consular affairs section.

Embassies have different sets of criteria for obtaining a visa. Make sure to follow their instructions very carefully. Please remember that you are asking for permission to stay in their country. Embassies are not required to give you a visa.


Consulates are branch offices of an embassy. One of their purposes is to handle visa matters for a given geographical area. Many but not all countries will have both an embassy and one or more consulates in a foreign country.

For U.S. citizens residing in California or surrounding states, there may be a consulate of your host country represented in Los Angeles. You may be able to apply for your visa through their consulate in Los Angeles.

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