Although pre-departure procedures can vary for each off-campus program, there are a number of common steps that students should take during the months before they leave for their semester(s) off-campus.
Passports and Visas
If you do not have a passport, begin applying immediately, as it can be a lengthy process. If you already have a passport, make sure it is valid for at least six months beyond the end date of your program; if it is not, you should begin the renewal process immediately. For more information, visit the State Department's travel information page.
As early as possible, you should also begin researching student visa requirements for the country in which you'll be studying. While a handful of countries will allow American students to enter on a tourist visa, most require that students apply for, and receive, a special student visa prior to entering the country (students who are citizens of countries other than the US may have different requirements). This process can be complicated and lengthy—students should begin researching the requirements for their particular study-abroad destination far in advance.