get-your-benin-visa
Traveling to Benin? You’re going to need a travel visa to enter the country.

The maximum stay is 30 days. If you need help getting your visa or you simply want to not have to be the one that goes to the embassy or consulate to get your travel papers, let us do it for you.

Just follow the simple instructions below to gather the paperwork necessary to process your tourist or business visa. If you aren’t sure about any part of the process, just let us know and one of our trained representatives can walk you through the process. We can to make the aquisition of your visa as easy as possible.

Also this is a good time to review your passport and make sure you have two necessary requirements covered before your travel to Benin. The first is that the expiration date of your passport is a date that is six months ahead of the completion date of your stay in Benin. The second requirement is that you have one blank visa page in your passport. If you need extra pages or to renew your passport, we can help you expedite that process.

Requirements to obtain your Benin Visa for Business or Tourist Travel
One completed Benin Visa Application
One passport-type photograph
Physical passport with minimum six months validity
One copy flight itinerary
One copy proof of vaccination for yellow fever
Texas Tower Order Form

Business travelers only: 
Company Business Letter

If you want to check to see if there are any current travel warnings for Benin issued by the U.S. Department of State, you can check here.

You can also enroll in the STEP program to get the latest country advisories.

Get a taste of what the country looks like. Here is a great travel video that gives an overview of what you can see and do in Benin. This country is located on the western edge of Nigeria, was once one of the most powerful empires in Africa — the Dahomey kingdom.

Ready to get started? Contact us today at 713-874-1420.

Take a minute and think about your passport, when does it expire? Your passport basically expires six months before the expiration date. U.S. travelers will be unable to travel out of the country.

So what happens if you book a trip out of the country and your passport is within 6 months of expiring? For one, it can put the brakes on your trip.

One woman recounted a tale of being in a Miami airport waiting to board a plane to Cuba when some fellow travelers had passports that expired within the following six months and had their trips canceled right then and there.

It can take 4-7 weeks on average to get your passport from the U.S. Passport Agency, and if you choose to have it expedited, be prepared to still wait another 2-3 weeks.

Using Texas Tower, we can fast-process a U.S. passport renewal. 24 hours from the time you give us your documents, your passport can be in your hand ready to travel with you.

We have a handy list of the documents you need to gather.
First, make sure you meet the requirements to renew your passport. If you don’t meet the requirements, you will need to apply for a new passport.
requirements to renew your passport

Now use the handy list for the documents and items you need to get your passport renewed fast.  All documents must be signed and mailed to us. Unfortunately, you may not scan and email us these documents because the Department of State requires original signatures.  [click to view larger]
Renew Your Passport - Texas Tower Fast Passport and Visa Call Now! (713) 874-1420.clipular

Send your documents to Texas Tower and our trained staff will begin the process to get your passport renewal expedited. Call us today 713-874-1420.

 

Tips for Getting a Burma Myanmar Visa
Once known as Burma, the country of Myanmar requires a visa for United States citizens wishing to enter the country. It also has a few special requirements you do not normally have to meet to obtain a visa.

The maximum stay for either a tourist or business visa is 30-days, Myanmar Tourism Showcase (3 minutes 40 seconds) -- myanmar branding video - YouTube.clipularand this is a visa you cannot obtain upon arrival in the country.  To get your travel visa, just fill out the required paperwork and we can make the visit to the consulate for you.

United States travelers living in New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey addresses will need to apply for their visa directly at the Myanmar consulate located in New York City. Texas Tower can do the legwork for you if you live in those cities, but there is an additional $40 service fee.

Requirements for Travel Visas to Myanmar

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Myanmar Tourism Showcase (3 minutes 40 seconds) -- myanmar branding video - YouTube.clipular (1)
Myanmar has had travel warnings issued in the recent past. Especially around elections. Check with the Department of State to get the latest travel warnings at their Myanmar/Burma page.

If you’re curious to get a glimpse of Myanmar before you go, check out this travel video from Myanmar Travel Information:

If you have any questions regarding the acquisition of your Myanmar travel visa, call our office at 713-874-1420, we have someone ready to help you.

How to Change Your Name on Your Passport to Your Married NameJune is often thought of as the month to get married, with that in mind, we’re going to show you how easy it can be to change your name after your wedding.  Many people feel that one spouse assuming the other’s last name is an old-fashioned and outdated tradition. There are others that want to keep the tradition alive and do so.

The good news is there are no wrong answers, whatever a couple mutually decides regarding keeping former names or assuming spousal names, is fine.  We put together some tips to make the process even easier if you choose to take your spouse’s name.

Change your name soon after your marriage.
Many states have time limits for a name change, make sure you know the time allotted in your home state.

Getting a new social security card is simple. Just either take two forms of identification along with a certified copy of your marriage license to your local Social Security office. You can also do it by mail, but you’ll probably want to get a duplicate copy of your marriage license to mail in.

Changing your driver’s license is easy to accomplish. Just make an appearance at your local Department of Motor Vehicles with your certified copy of your marriage license. You will be able get a new, updated license with your new name on it the same day in most locales.

name changeNow,  let’s talk passport. If you need to change your name, you’re going to need to reapply for your passport. Remember, your travel documents must match your identification or it will put the brakes on your travel.  The TSA will not accept a marriage certificate as proof of a name change.
Normal turnaround time can be four to six weeks, however, you can obtain your passport in far less time, 24-hours if necessary.
Here are the documents you need to get started:
[click to see larger]

Reapply - Name Change - Texas Tower 24 Hour Passport and Visa.clipular

Another sometimes overlooked area is something you’re probably in at least once a day.  You’ll need to update your name will be your email. This can usually be accomplished in a short and sweet email to everyone on your contact list about your status change.

Update your bank in person, as each financial institution has their own set of guidelines, ask what they need from you to verify the name change ahead of your appointment. Most major credit cards will have a form to fill out and send in with copies of your proof of name change.  Memberships and loyalty programs are other good accounts to remember to update. They usually have basically the same requirements as updating your credit cards.

Those are just the basics for getting your name changed! If you’re a newly wedded, congrats! If you have any questions about your passport and visa for your honeymoon travel, just contact us!

Get more tips and information for all your travel and personal documents on our Facebook page.

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How (1)There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport, ready to get your boarding pass- and your passport name doesn’t match your identification.

Newly married, newly divorced  are among the most common reasons for a name change. If all your identification doesn’t match, you’re not going anywhere until it does.

A good thing to do is either change your name well in advance of your departure or wait until you get back to handle all the name changes. Otherwise, your trip might stall in the security check.

Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security
Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security

Here’s all you need to do to get the ball rolling for an updated passport. First make sure you meet the requirements to reapply.

Then gather the following documents and items: (click to view larger)
Reapply - Name Change - Texas Tower Fast Passport and Visa Call Now! (713) 874-1420.clipular

Call our offices today at (713) 874-1420 if you need to change the name on your passport and have any questions. A team member can walk you through the process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a very helpful infographic helping travelers avoid getting sick when traveling overseas.

According to the CDC, “Unclean food and water can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases. Travelers to developing countries are especially at risk. In otherwise healthy adults, diarrhea is rarely serious or life-threatening, but it can certainly make for an unpleasant trip. Take steps to avoid diarrhea when you travel.”

This is why many people get hepatitis A and other vaccinations before traveling.

The CDC put together a helpful infographic for a rough and ready guide to what is probably safe to consume where you’re going.
cdc inforgraphic food safetyClick image for a full-size version

What’s Safer (source: CDC) 

  • Pasteurized dairy products like milk
  • “Dry” food like bread or crackers
  • Water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed (carbonated is safer)
  • Hot coffee or tea
  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Food that is cooked and served hot
  • Meat that is cooked all the way through
  • Food from a factory sealed package or container
  • Fruit and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled

What’s Not

  • Fountain drinks
  • Water or ice made from the tap or a well
  • Flavored ice pops
  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Food from street vendors
  • Bushmeat (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
  • Food served at room temperature
  • Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
  • Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
  • Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
  • Salads

Texas Tower expedites U.S. passports and travel visas. We also obtain certified U.S. birth certificates, translations, and more. 
Call us at 713-874-1420. 

 

China is one of the top ten travel visas that we process the most. We put together a page of the common questions we get from applicants. If you have a question we haven’t covered in this blog post, just contact our office at 713-874-1420 or write us at info@texastower.net.

Is a passport required for entry to China?
Yes. Your passport will need to have a minimum of six months validity remaining. Passports with less will result in deportation from China.

I heard about a 10-year Visa for China, how does that work?
Exactly like a regular travel visa, it’s just valid for ten years. It’s a good thing for individuals who travel frequently to Hong Kong or Macau, allowing for multiple entries to China.

Is a valid visa required to exit China?
Yes. You need to leave China before the expiration date on your travel visa.

Is China a country I can obtain a visa at on arrival?
No. You must have a visa prior to arriving in China.

Are vaccinations required?
China does not require vaccinations for U.S. citizens entering the country. Be aware that influenza, typhoid, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis are prevalent and travelers should get boosters against all these conditions prior to visiting China. Talk to your personal physicians about the vaccinations you need several weeks before your trip to China.

Does the State Department recommend any safety precautions?
While violent crime isn’t common in China, they do advise being aware of your surroundings at all times when traveling in China. Also “110” is the Chinese version of “911.” However, be advised very few English-speaking individuals staff their emergency lines.

What is the “Tourist Tea” scam?
Young Chinese individuals invite tourists out for tea then stick them with a huge bill.

I heard about a phone scam on travelers in China, how does that work?
The State Department has reported that individuals traveling in China have received phone calls in the hotel rooms that they need to wire money immediately to a police officer to avoid arrest for a supposed crime. The State Department advises any U.S. citizen receiving a call like this to immediately contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to verify the caller’s identity.

What are “Black Cabs?”
These are mostly encountered at airports. Black cabs are essentially unlicensed, un-metered taxi cabs. The State Department advises that travelers always have the driver remove any bags from the trunk of the taxi before paying.

How can I avoid counterfeit currency in China?
Counterfeit currency is an on-going issue in China. The State Department advises that travelers use small bills and only use ATMs at trusted financial institutions.

What types of travel visas does Texas Tower process?
We can obtain both business and tourist visas for China.

What forms do I need for a China Visa?
We have a dedicated page for that, you can begin the process here using our handy list of documents you will need to get your China visa.

Cuba has been open for tourism for a while now, and we wanted to share some of the most common questions we get from individuals seeking their travel visas. Cuba has some unique requirements for issuing travel visas, and outsourcing the task can definitely free up your time to plan your time in Cuba.

What are the U.S. passport requirements for Americans visiting Cuba?
Your passport must be valid at the time of entry, and two pages are required for entry/exit stamps.

Will I need a tourist visa to visit Cuba?
Yes. Although, technically tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited. Your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel. We can help you with that.

Are any vaccinations required to visit Cuba?
Currently, no vaccinations are required, but Hepatitis A is often recommended as water and foods may be contaminated. Dengue fever and the Zika virus are also prevalent.

Is it true U.S. credit cards don’t work in Cuba?
It’s true. U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. You will need to bring cash to cover your stay. The Cuban government will require tourists to declare any amounts over $5000 USD. Another point to note is that the Cuban government charges a 10% fee for all conversations from U.S. dollars, excluding electronic transactions or cash conversions in other currencies. When exchanging currency, use the state-run offices known as CADECAs.

Can I bring Cuban pesos back to the U.S.?
It’s probably better not to try. Travelers may only export the equivalent of 5,000 USD in any currency other than the Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). Anyone wishing to export more than this amount must demonstrate evidence that the currency was acquired legitimately from a Cuban bank. (Source: U.S. State Department)

Is Cuba safe?
Cuba is relatively stable and characterized by a strong military and police presence. According to the State Department, the U.S. government rates the threat of crime in Cuba as medium. With the recent influx of tourists to the island, there has been an increase in the number of property crimes, as well as violent crimes. Crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatchings and car break-ins, are on the rise. Overall, Cuba is a safe place to visit, but caution needs to be exercised as in any country you are visiting.

If you’re heading to Cuba and still need to renew/obtain your U.S. passport and travel visa, talk to us – we can make the process fast and easy.

What You Need to Know Before Applying for Your Ghana Travel VisaPlanning a trip outside the U.S.? Did you know that makes you part of around five percent of Americans who travel internationally each year? If you’re a first-time traveler overseas, we have some tips to make it easier.

Tip #1 – You will need a passport.
Actually, all signs point to travelers within the United States needing a passport by 2020, but you’re traveling outside the United States now and you will need a passport to exit and enter the U.S. when you return. You will also need to show a certified copy of your birth certificate to obtain your passport. Outsource the task of getting a passport and spend your time planning your trip and deciding if you really need to include that 15th pair of shoes. Once you get your passport, it will be good for ten years. When you get your passport photo taken, get a few extra copies. Sometimes random countries will ask you for one at the border or you might need one for a visa (more on visas in a moment).

Tip #2 – Will You Need a Travel Visa?
Not every country requires a travel visa for entry. This is where the process gets extra fun, every country has their own rules, regulations, and process for obtaining a visa for entry. It also usually requires a trip to the consulate or embassy. This is a good task to outsource.

#3 Research Your Destination
In many countries, people in the cities do not drive at all. Public transportation, taxis, private buses, ride-sharing and other ways to get around make even renting a car unnecessary for a lot of destinations. Look up where you’re going and learn the basic customs, hot spots, places to avoid, and whether a Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended to avoid getting sick from the food or water.
Tip #4 Where To Stay
A hotel isn’t your only option. Check out couchsurfing.org or AirBnB.com to get in a local’s home and really get a feel for the place you’re visiting (maybe even make some new friends) get insider tips on cool places to go and save money.
Tip #5 Learn How the Money Works
In the present, if you don’t have a credit card with a chip, ask your card issuer for one and you’ll likely get it. Most chipped cards won’t come with outrageous fees for using it abroad. Ask your credit card issuer what their fees are to avoid surprises on your statement when you get back.

Using a credit card is excellent security against fraudulent transactions. However, not all businesses will take cards so it’s a good idea to carry a little local currency with you.

Figure out the exchange rate ahead of time so you aren’t trying to do constantly calculate prices. For example, if you are in Iceland and you know 600 Krona is roughly equal to five dollars U.S., you can have a rough and ready point of reference for figuring out how much to spend and keep on you.
Tip #6 Avoid Roaming Fees
When you board your flight, switch off your mobile data. WiFi is available pretty much everywhere, use that to upload your travel photo to Instagram instead of your phone’s data and you’ll save money.

Tip #7 Learn a Little of the Local Language
Most places you visit will have people who speak English. However, it is polite to at least learn how to say, “Do you speak English?” and a few other phrases in the local language. You might be met with grins and laughs for trying, but most people are happy to help if you try.

Tip #8 – Know the Basics to Pack
Here is a complete list of the basics you need to pack: a toothbrush, toothpaste, your passport, your phone, and your credit card. Anything else you might want can be acquired where you’re going.

You can make life easier for yourself by packing clean undies for a week if your stay is longer wash them in a sink with whatever soap is handy, and hang up to dry. Wool socks won’t heat up your feet and never gather a smell.

For clothing, dress nice and for the weather (again research your destination) and you won’t need more than two pairs of shoes for most trips.

And that’s the basics for having a great time on your first jaunt outside the U.S.

Halloween is almost here, want to know where to go for the best scare? How about a mummy museum in Mexico? An island of ghosts in Japan? Lonely Planet teamed up with Great Big Story, a production company that produces microdocumentaries for social, digital, and theatrical release. Here are a few of their most frightening choices.

Doll Island – South of Mexico City, in the canals of Xochimilcoa, a man said a young tourist died outside of his home and her spirit returned to scare him. For protection, he began hanging dolls he found around his island home. In 2001, the owner of the island drowned the same way the tourist did. His grand-nephew took over as caretaker.

Hotel Palmyra – amazingly through the wars and turmoil that has embroiled this area of the world, this hotel has been standing in Lebanon since 1874. There are Roman ruins right outside the front door.

Shengshen Island, China – a place where nature has reclaimed a once-thriving fishing village.

Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico isn’t meant to be a scary place. It is a collection of naturally well-preserved bodies from a Cholera outbreak in the 1800s.

Those are just three destinations around the world. What’s your favorite Halloween destination?