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Passports

For information, contact the following agencies:

For Residents of Australia -- Contact the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit www.passports.gov.au.

For Residents of Canada -- Contact the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).

For Residents of Ireland -- Contact the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.foreignaffairs.gov.ie).

For Residents of New Zealand -- Contact the Passports Office, Department of Internal Affairs, 47 Boulcott St., Wellington, 6011 (tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand, or 04/474-8100; www.passports.govt.nz).

For Residents of the United Kingdom -- Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency, or contact the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), 89 Eccleston Sq., London, SW1V 1PN (tel. 0300/222-0000; www.ips.gov.uk).

For Residents of the United States -- To find your regional passport office, check the U.S. State Department website (http://travel.state.gov/passport) or call the National Passport Information Center (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Visas

The U.S. State Department has a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allowing citizens of the following countries to enter the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. (Note: This list was accurate at press time; for the most up-to-date list of countries in the VWP, consult http://travel.state.gov/visa.) Even though a visa isn't necessary, in an effort to help U.S. officials check travelers against terror watch lists before they arrive at U.S. borders, visitors from VWP countries must register online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before boarding a plane or a boat to the U.S. Travelers must complete an electronic application providing basic personal and travel eligibility information. The Department of Homeland Security recommends filling out the form at least 3 days before traveling. Authorizations will be valid for up to 2 years or until the traveler's passport expires, whichever comes first. Currently, there is a $14 fee for the online application. Existing ESTA registrations remain valid through their expiration dates. Note: Any passport issued on or after October 26, 2006, by a VWP country must be an e-Passport for VWP travelers to be eligible to enter the U.S. without a visa. Citizens of these nations also need to present a round-trip air or cruise ticket upon arrival. E-Passports contain computer chips capable of storing biometric information, such as the required digital photograph of the holder. If your passport doesn't have this feature, you can still travel without a visa if the valid passport was issued before October 26, 2005, and includes a machine-readable zone; or if the valid passport was issued between October 26, 2005, and October 25, 2006, and includes a digital photograph. For more information, go to http://travel.state.gov/visa. Canadian citizens may enter the United States without visas but will need to show passports and proof of residence.

Citizens of all other countries must have (1) a valid passport that expires at least 6 months later than the scheduled end of their visit to the U.S.; and (2) a tourist visa.

Australian citizens can obtain up-to-date visa information from the U.S. Embassy Canberra, Moonah Place, Yarralumla, ACT 2600 (tel. 02/6214-5600), or by checking the U.S. Diplomatic Mission's website at http://canberra.usembassy.gov/consular.

British subjects can obtain up-to-date visa information by calling the U.S. Embassy Visa Information Line (tel. 0891/200-290) or by visiting the "Visas to the U.S." section of the American Embassy London's website at www.usembassy.org.uk.

Irish citizens can obtain up-to-date visa information through the U.S. Embassy Dublin, 42 Elgin Rd., Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 (tel. 353/1-668-8777; http://dublin.usembassy.gov).

Citizens of New Zealand can obtain up-to-date visa information by contacting the U.S. Embassy New Zealand, 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington (tel. 644/472-2068; http://newzealand.usembassy.gov).

Customs

What Foreign Visitors Can Bring In -- Personal effects, which are items you use yourself, such as clothing, cameras, and fishing rods, are exempt from duties. In addition, every visitor over 21 years of age may bring in the following without paying duties: 1 liter of wine, beer, or hard liquor; 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars for your own use and another 100 as gifts (but not from Cuba), or 2 kilograms (4.4 lb.) of smoking tobacco; and $100 worth of gifts. To claim these exemptions, you must spend at least 72 hours in the United States and cannot have claimed them within the preceding 6 months. The duty on goods exceeding these exemptions is 3% of the value on the first $1,000 (the flat rate); above that amount, it depends on the item. The flat rate applies only to items for your own use or gifts and can be used only once in 30 days. Importation of most raw food and plant material is prohibited or requires a special license. Foreign visitors may bring in or take out up to $10,000 in U.S. or foreign currency, traveler's checks, securities, and so on, with no formalities; larger sums must be declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on entering or leaving, and paperwork must be filed. For more information, consult CBP's website (www.cbp.gov), contact a U.S. consulate or embassy, or call CBP officials in Anchorage (tel. 907/271-6855).

Don't think about bringing firearms into the United States except for a hunting trip. Unless you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, you cannot bring in, buy, or even possess a gun without a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (tel. 304/616-4550; www.atf.gov); these take up to 2 months to process (the application, Form 6NIA, is on the ATF website: www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5330-3d.pdf). The application must be accompanied by a valid hunting license (there are a few narrow exceptions, such as athletes involved in shooting competitions or visitors carrying certain invitations to qualifying events).

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (tel. 907/465-6085; www.alaska.gov/adfg) sells hunting licenses to nonresident aliens for $300 (tags are that much or more); however, aliens can hunt only with a registered guide. First find the guide, then let him or her help with all the paperwork, but start many months in advance and be ready to pay.

Taking Home Wildlife Products -- Authentic Alaska Native art and crafts made from protected marine mammals are perfectly legal to buy and own under U.S. and Alaska law, even though possessing marine mammal parts is not legal for non-Natives. Alaska Natives have used these materials for thousands of years, and their subsistence harvest is not a danger to the species. But some individual states have more restrictive laws (you may want to check), and generally marine-mammal products you buy made of any threatened or endangered species cannot be taken out of the country unless they're at least 100 years old. To leave the United States, including going through Canada, you will need a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declaration form (Form 3-177), and you may also need a wildlife export permit recognized by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, known as CITES. These permits can be complicated to obtain and take 60 to 90 days for processing. For international visitors, the most practical advice is simply to avoid buying anything made from marine mammals or any other species requiring a CITES permit, including brown or black bear, wolf, lynx, bobcat, or river otter. Before you buy an item, make sure you can legally take it home, then have the shop mail it to you insured, and have them take care of the paperwork. If you carry it with you in your baggage or mail it yourself, perhaps because you bought it from someone who can't handle the paperwork, you'll need to get your own permits and clearance from Fish and Wildlife. For information, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage (tel. 907/271-6198; alaska.fws.gov/law). Foreign visitors exporting wildlife may need to contact the agency's Division of Management Authority in Washington, D.C. (tel. 800/358-2104; http://international.fws.gov), regarding permit requirements.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.