Small World Map

Pre-departure planning


A visa is an entry/residency permit and official permission granted by the authorities of the countries where you will study or travel which allows you to enter and remain in that country. The visa itself is frequently a stamp in your passport, not a separate document. You will need a passport before applying for a visa (and the entire "passport-plus-visa process" may take three to four months, so start early). If you are a U.S. citizen (carrying a U.S. passport), a visa is not required by most Western European countries if you are spending fewer than three months in the country. However, the regulations change regularly, so check with the Office of Study Abroad or the embassy/consulate of your host country.

CIBTvisasOpens in new window is MSU's preferrred provider of passport and visa services, offering fast processing and special pricing for MSU travelers. Further information is available here (PDF)*.

The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad. This includes countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by consulting a travel agent, calling the consular offices of those countries, or checking theTravel Document Systems website.

You may be denied entry into, or be deported from, a country for which you have not obtained a required visa. The Office of Study Abroad and Michigan State University are not responsible for obtaining visas, nor are they in any way responsible for visa or entry denial. For some countries, certain medical requirements must be met before a visa will be issued. Many countries will not issue visas to persons with any type of police record!

NOTE: If you are not a U.S. citizen, visit our Helpful Tips for Non-US Citizens and Resident Aliens (PDF)*. You should also consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You should check the U.S. Department of State websites for Foreign Consulate Office listings and for the listings of Embassies and Consulates.

The procedures that you will follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures. International MSU students must visit the Office of International Students and Scholars in room 105 International Center to obtain a signature on visa documents to permit re-entry into the United States.

Students participating in programs in the United Kingdom should be especially careful with visa regulations. Visit OSA's UK visa webpage for more information.

Return to the Study Abroad Student Guide index

*Adobe Acrobat Reader Opens in new window is required to read PDF documents.