Tag Archives: travel

India is a nation rich with culture, fantastic food and entertainment, and so much more to offer any traveler. Whether you’re a US resident going to India for business or pleasure, it’s a beautiful country well worth exploring. Before you go, though, make sure to have an up-to-date passport and a visa handy! The requirements are fairly similar for both business and tourism, but there are quite a few differences to take note of. Here’s what you need for your India visa:

For Tourism:

  • A completed, printed, and signed India visa application that must then be taken to your local US visa processing office for a 6-month multiple visa validity request.
  • A completed additional particulars form
  • A filled out India CKGS Disclaimer Form
  • Two passport-type photos (again, make sure you take off your glasses first!)
  • A copy of your driver’s license for proof of residence. The address must match the address on your application.
  • A copy of birth certificate if under 18. Naturalized citizens must include their naturalization certificate.
  • A passport with at least six months validity after the end of your trip and a blank visa page.
  • US residents who are not citizens must provide a copy of their green card or copies of their US visa and I-94
  • A copy of your flight itinerary
  • A copy of your passport

For Business:

  • A completed India visa application that is filled out online, printed, and signed. Take this form to your local visa processing office for a 12-month multiple visa validity request.
  • A filled out additional particulars form for visa services
  • A completed India CKGS Disclaimer Form
  • Two passport-type photos (make sure to take off your glasses first!)
  • A copy of your driver’s license for proof of residence. The address must match the address on your application.
  • A copy of your birth certificate (if under 18)
  • If you are a non-US passport holder, be sure to send a copy of your green card or US Visa and I-94. If naturalized, include your naturalization certificate.
  • Passport with at least 6 months validity after the end of your trip and one blank visa page
  • A copy of your flight itinerary
  • A detailed business letter on company letterhead that states the requested length of the visa.
  • An invitation from your host in India that states the requested length of the visa. This can be faxed or emailed.
  • Articles of incorporation from the company in India.
  • One invitation from host in India. Invitation must state the request of visa length (12 months). This may be a faxed or email attachment.
  • A copy of your passport

For more information and links to the forms you will need for your India visa, check out our comprehensive article on it here. For all of your US passport and visa needs, including obtaining and expediting your India visa, call Texas Tower Houston at 713-874-1420. We are ready and eager to assist you.

When traveling abroad, US citizens are encouraged to carry a passport and a visa, if applicable, for their travel destination. Whether you decide to get a passport book or card depends on your budget, the frequency with which you travel, and where you wish to go. If you’re a traveler based in Dallas, here’s a mini-guide to deciding whether a passport book or card is right for you.

A passport card is much like a driver’s license or state ID, and is a plastic card that fits easily into your wallet. Passport books, on the other hand, are larger affairs filled with blank pages for visas and stamps used as record for anytime you enter or exit a country.

The biggest difference you will find between passport books and cards is that passport books are valid for any international travel by air, sea, or land, while passport cards are only accepted for land and sea border crossings in or near North America. This includes the US, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. If you’re a US citizen, passport cards are not needed for American territories such as Puerto Rico, in which a birth certificate and photo identification would suffice for entry.

Another big difference between passport books and cards is in the cost. For adults, passport books will cost $110 plus a $35 execution fee for the first passport book, while a passport card costs $30 (plus the same execution fee for your first card). For both a book and card, you can expect to pay $140, plus the $35 execution fee if it’s your first time applying and you’re over the age of 16. For minors, passport books are $80, cards are $15, and it’s $95 for both. There’s still a $35 execution fee for first-time applicants. Both passport books and cards are valid for 10 years.

So, which one is right for you? It depends on your travel needs and budget. The passport card is definitely the budget-safe option at only $30, especially if most of your travel is in or near North America, especially for cruises and other non-air travel. It’s also handy for crossing the Canadian border by land or sea to get into or out of Alaska. For air travel, frequent international travel, and peace of mind in case of travel emergencies where you need to schedule a flight home, the passport card is your best bet and well worth the price.

If you’re a Texan traveler who wants to get your US passport needs taken care of in mere business days instead of waiting the typical 6 weeks, we are ready to assist you. Call Texas Tower Houston at 713-874-1420 about our passport expediting services today.

Lagos is one of the crown jewels of Africa, and a must-see for anyone on a trip to Nigeria. This active, multi-faceted city has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Here are the top 5 things to do on your first (or next) trip to the beautiful city of Lagos, Nigeria.

Visit Freedom Park

Freedom Park is a huge cultural hub in downtown Lagos Island. The old colonial prison grounds have been revitalized into a center thrumming with art, culture, and recreation. You can find a gallery, a food court, museum, and much more. Annual events like the Lagos Reggae Festival and Eko Theatre Carnival are also held there. There’s always something to do in Freedom Park, guaranteed!

Bask in the Nightlife

In Lagos, the night never really ends on the weekends. On Victoria Island, you’ll find the streets packed with bars and nightclubs, with other highly-regarded establishments in Lekki, Ikeja, and Ikoyi. Some nightclubs make a point to operate on Sundays for tourists and locals alike who are still looking to dance and enjoy the nightlife as much as possible before Monday hits.

Take In The Art Scene

Lagos’ art, music, and literature scene can be found at two fantastic venues: The Jazzhole and Bogobiri. Live music, literature, and great food and drink can be found at both. If you’re an art enthusiast itching to see what the Nigerian art scene has to offer, these are two fantastic starting points among many.

Scuba Dive

Divers, rejoice! Lagos has some beautiful diving locations for certified scuba divers. Check out the Jet Ski Club on Victoria Island for directions to diving hotspots or joining a local dive group if you need a dive buddy for your next underwater excursion.

Enjoy An Owambe Party

Owambe (lit. “it is there” in Yoruba slang) refers to some of the most colorful and fun social events you can find in Lagos, and can include weddings, birthdays, and even remembrance parties. These gatherings are often attended by socialites who are ready to let their hair down in beautiful traditional garb. This, paired with tons of food and drink, live indigenous music, dancing, and general merriment, makes for some extravagant parties in Lagos all year round. Most of the time, pretty much any well-dressed person can participate in an owambe!

Getting ready to go to Nigeria? We can help you with your US passport and Nigeria visa needs. For documents you need for your Nigeria business or tourist visa, check out our page here. Give Texas Tower Houston a call at 713-874-1420 and let us know how we can help you with your US passport and Nigeria visa needs.

Cuban food is delicious and flavorful blend of Spanish, Native American, African, and Caribbean cuisines that, like most Latin American cuisines, isn’t particularly spicy, but can be made spicier with some hot sauce at any paladares (privately-owned restaurants). Better still, the price at these restaurants for the quality food you get is very enticing: the average plate is much cheaper than at state-owned restaurants, coming in at around $3-$10 per plate. Portions are also often very large and perfect for sharing with your family, friends, and other travel companions.  

Have you been considering a trip to Cuba and wanted to learn more about the cuisine before you go? Here are 9 excellent Cuban meals to get your mouth watering:

  1. Pulpeta
    You can think of pulpeta like a Cuban spin on meatloaf. It’s well-seasoned mincemeat and ham mixed together with hard-boiled eggs stuffed inside. Rather than baking, pulpeta is generally cooked on the stove.
  2. Ropa vieja
    Ropa vieja (lit. “old clothes”) is the national dish of Cuba, which is interesting considering beef isn’t terribly common in Cuba outside of resorts and restaurants that cater to tourists. This heart stew is filled with tomatoes, onions, and tender beef chunks that slowly cooked until they are easily shredded.
  3. Paella
    Cuban paella is much like its Spanish cousin in composition, with its saffron rice, meats, and seafood cooked in a large, shallow pan, and is often filled with ham, chorizo, chicken, shrimp, lobster, scallops, and mussels.
  4. Ajiaco
    Ajiaco is another wonderfully hearty stew that has everything but the kitchen sink! This delicious Cuban stew has a little something for everyone: pumpkin, potatoes, plantains, corn, malanga, meats, spices, tomato paste, lemon juice, and even beer to add depth of flavor.
  5. Corn on the cob
    Cuba’s take on corn on the cob is both simple and delicious. First, the corn cobs are grilled before being rolled in mouthwatering cotija cheese, sprinkled with chili powder and garnished with a few drops of lime juice.
  6. Tostones
    Tostones are one of those foods that are found all throughout the Caribbean under different names depending where you are. This addictive dish is made using thick slices of plantains which are fried, pressed on to form something closer to a patty, and then fried again.
  7. Congrí
    This dish, simply rice and black beans cooked with garlic, oil, and spices, is found with pretty much any authentic cocina criolla (lit. “Creole cooking”), and is also referred to as moros y cristianos. It’s a delightful and satisfying dish with heart protein and flavorful rice that is the perfect accompaniment to any main dish.
  8. Arroz con leche
    Arroz con leche is a simple yet satisfying rice pudding made with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon that is the perfect comfort food for any occasion. The soft, sweet, creamy texture hits every high note a dessert should have.
  9. Cazuela de plátano
    This decadent dessert is made with bananas, raisins, pecans, butter, and brown sugar, and is an excellent dessert for lactose intolerant travelers. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, buttery, smooth and crisp to satisfy any sweet tooth.

If you’re hungry to try some amazing Cuban paladares, you’re going to need a passport and visa first. Fortunately, we can help you get both quickly and easily. Contact Texas Tower Houston at 713-874-1420 and we will always be ready to assist you with your passport and visa needs. For more information on what you need to get a Cuba visa, this article can help. 

Are you a Houstonian (or any American citizen) that is itching to travel abroad, but you need to renew your passport first? Is your passport about to expire and you want to renew before the expiration date? Here are the documents you’ll need in order to successfully renew your US passport:

  • Form DS-82
  • Your most recent US passport
  • Name change documents, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree
  • One photo, stapled in each corner with vertical staples to your application, that meets all requirements for a passport photo (2”x2”, plain white background with no shadows, no wearing glasses or uniforms, etc.)
  • Payment for a passport renewal fee. $110 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, $140 for both book and card. Checks or money orders must be made out to “US Department of State”

Once your application is accepted and completed, Keep in mind that, in order to renew your passport by mail, your most recent passport must meet certain requirements:

  • must be submitted with your passport renewal application
  • in largely undamaged other than some wear and tear
  • issued when you were at least 16 years of age
  • issued within the past 15 years
  • was issued in your current name (if there has been a name change, be sure to include documentation, such as an original or certified copy of a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or a court order)

When you’re ready to mail your passport renewal application, there are a couple of different addresses to consider that depend on where you live. There’s also an acceptance facility specifically for expediting passports. When your application is ready to go, be sure your papers are packaged in a way that leaves the application unfolded and ship only through USPS.

For travelers who live in Texas (or other states like Florida, California, Illinois, New York, and Minnesota), you will want to send it here:

National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 640155
Irving, TX 75064-0155

If you would like assistance in getting your US passport renewed or would like it expedited so you don’t have to wait a whopping 6 weeks for your next trip, we are ready to assist you. Simply contact Texas Tower Houston at 713-874-1420 about our passport services and we’ll take care of the rest.

It’s International Women’s Day! Ghana has been home to many inspiring and prominent women, from painters, poets, and activists, to engineers, business owners, and athletes. In order to celebrate the contributions and hard work of women all around the world, let’s have a look at some great women from Ghana, a beautiful country and a great place to start if you’ve ever considered traveling to Africa.

Farida Bedwei

Farida Bedwei (b. 1979), who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 1, didn’t let that stop her from achieving her goals. Her determination and know-how has led the software engineer to become co-founder of Logiciel, a cloud software service that hundreds of African microfinance companies rely on for their businesses to function.

Esther Afua Ocloo

Esther Afua Ocloo (1919-2002), an attendee of the very first UN World Conference on Women in 1975, was an entrepreneur with humble beginnings, selling fruit juices and marmalade. From there she eventually climbed her way to a position operating a bank tailored to aiding low-income women. She was also chairman of the board of directors of Women’s World Banking, and came to the aid of millions of women looking to start businesses and bring prosperity to their communities.

Theodosia Okoh

Theodosia Salome Abena Kumea Okoh (1922-2015) is most well known as the designer of the beautiful national flag of Ghana in 1957, which served as inspiration for the designs of many other African nations’ flags. This extremely skilled and talented woman was not just a multidisciplinary artist, she was also a teacher, writer, and athlete, who played a pivotal role in the development of hockey in Ghana. She was also given an official Grand Medal by the state for her myriad achievements in service to her country. Upon her passing, Ghanaian flags were flown at half mast for three days.

Ama Ata Aidoo

A celebrated writer, playwright, and poet, Ama Ata Aidoo is an illustrious African writer who serves as inspiration for other African authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Lola Shoneyin. Her writing is lush with detail that brings color and life to her work in a way no one else can replicate. She is also known for the support group she created for African women writers, Mbaasem, and has the first West African creative writing center named after her.

Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland (1924-1996) is a prominent Ghanaian author and playwright who wrote in both English and Akan. She was also involved in radio broadcasting, creative direction, and teaching, who contributed greatly to the development of literary and dramatic arts in Ghana. Her efforts in academia and government gave birth to drama studios, writer’s societies, a community story house project known as the Kodzidan, and Afram Publications. Her work allowed for the teaching of African theater at the university level.

If you want to get in touch with the country that brought forth such great and inspiring women, you can contact Texas Tower Houston at 713-874-1420 about expediting both your passport and your Ghana visa. We are ready to assist you with your passport and visa needs and wish you a wonderful International Women’s Day.

Need Your Passport Fast for a Business Conference in Taiwan-Taiwan is a hot destination for
business conferences, particularly in the oil and gas and IT industries. It’s not an unusual situation to realize at the last minute you need to renew your passport. Remember, if there are less than six months left until the expiration, you need to renew.

All you need to do is fill out the passport paperwork and our Houston office can do the rest.
American citizens do not require a travel visa for business or personal travel to the country of Taiwan.

However, your nationality may require a travel visa. Fortunately, we can help you.

Our visa services include making an appointment for the consulate or embassy so you don’t have to. We will also get any necessary travel documents certified and translated as needed.

Taiwan FlagCall us at (713) 874-1420, a Houston staff member can help you get started expediting your US passport or answer any questions you have regarding the travel documents you may need for travel to Taiwan.

 

We process passport and travel documents for individuals and corporations all over the United States. We also process travel visas and eVisas for U.S. citizens to use for entry to their country or countries of destination. Here’s a collection of some of the most common questions we get about visas.

1. Do I need a visa to visit every country in the world?
Nope! Here’s a handy map that will give you a fast overview of where you need a visa for entry and where you don’t.
(click to enlarge this map)

By Camoka4 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22514926
By Camoka4 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22514926

2. Is it true U.S. visitors entering Afghanistan are photographed on entry?
No,  but visitors entering the country are fingerprinted.

3. I was told that Azerbaijan does not issue visas to people of Armenian ancestry. 
That is among the guidelines from the Azerbaijan government. They also will only issue a 30-day visa if arriving in Azerbaijan on Azerbaijan Airlines from a departure in the State of New York.

4. I read about a temporary visa waiver by Brazil, when does that take place? 
Temporary visa waiver, for a stay up to 90 days, will be in place in 2016 between June 1 and September 18, just before and after the Summer 2016 Olympics and ParaOlympics.

5. What is required for traveling to Ghana?
One of the main things you need to have is an International Certificate of Vaccination required. To see the full list of what is required to travel to Ghana, visit our dedicated Ghana Visa page.

6. Is there a URL at the Department of State I can look up information about various countries?
Yes. You’re welcome to contact our office or you can look up information at the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.

7. I was told that I don’t need a visa to visit Russia now, is that accurate?
Not entirely. The 72-hour visa-free entry for international cruise ship/ferry passengers only. The requirements are very specific. You must be travelling with an organized tour and accompanied at all times by a tour operator.
American citizens may receive multiple entry visas valid for three years.

And there you have it. If you have a visa or passport related question, just send it to @txtpassportvisa on Twitter or Texas Tower on Facebook.

passport service in houston texas
Before a trip overseas, one of the things you don’t have to do is spend time renewing your passport. Using a passport expediting service, you simply pay a fee and let the agency do the work for you.

Going through the Passport Office or Post Office for renewing your passport can average 4-8 weeks.

Utilizing a passport service like Texas Tower will lower the time to 1-12 days and if you need to expedite service, they can turn around your passport renewal in 24 hours.

Issues Won’t Stop the Process
Another difference in how your paperwork is handled. If there are any issues with your paperwork, the passport agency will deny your application and return your paperwork. From there, you will have to start over from square one. Texas Tower  will work with you to quickly resolve any issues.

Isn’t it expensive to use an outside service?
Not really. There are fees on top of the existing government fees for this service, but our company works for you, one-on-one, to get your passport and travel docs. It saves a lot of time , and isn’t your time worth it? Our passport pages have the fees listed for each type of service to keep the process as transparent as possible. Just choose the type of passport service you need and you can see the total cost.

The process for getting your passport online is simple: 
1-Fill out your paperwork for the type of service you want.
2- Send to Texas Tower with your completed order form.
3-Receive your new passport!

You have plenty to do before you go on an international trip, gathering paperwork and waiting for your passport renewal doesn’t have to be one of those tasks.

It’s December 1st and it’s time look ahead to 2018. We put together five destinations that are proving to be popular this coming year.

Angra dos Reis, Brazil
In 2016, Brazil hosted the Summer Olympics and the influx of people visiting for the games turned into travel into outlying cities. The tourism board of Brazil is hoping to bring back the waiver to encourage another boom in tourism. A place well worth checking out is Angra dos Reis. This popular destination is where many of the country’s elite go to escape the crowds and own beach villas in the area. There are plans to open a 54-suite luxury hotel in the area as well as a golf course, more restaurants, and a marina.

Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade has been steadily growing since the end of the Yugoslav wars. The areas once covered in damage from fighting and graffiti has become restaurants and bars. The nightlife is vibrant and there are numerous night markets to take advantage of the local street foods. One of the biggest draws for tourists is the growing craft-beer brewing that has been showing no signs of slowing down.

Bermuda
Bermuda hasn’t been on any travel lists for a few years due to a financial crisis that left their tourism in a stagnant state. Bermuda has been shaking off the dive their tourism industry took and has been working on rebuilding and attracting travelers back to their island nation. Along with an improved economy, Bermuda is performing a 100-million dollar overhaul of the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, the islands 132-year old grand attraction for guests to stay in. Other luxury hotels are also getting modern makeovers to ensure the tourist industry gets back on its feet and stays strong.

Cambodian Coast
Want to do something off the beaten path that is also beautiful?
Cambodia has some of Southeast Asia’s most intriguing islands to visit, but getting to them has been difficult involving hours of travel. Now direct flights are being arranged from Ho Chi Minh City. Luxury spas are among the jewels you can find on Krabey Island and on Koh Russey, you can dine on traditional Khmer cuisine.

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Many travelers go through Guayaquil on their way to the Galápagos, but it is worth exploring on its own. New luxury hotels have opened to entice travelers to stay a little longer and enjoy what this country has to offer. There is also a wildlife sanctuary set on a former cacao plantation. The capital city has been modernized with playgrounds, galleries, museums, gardens, and even a Ferris wheel.

Search around at sites like Kayak for deals on international travel fares. For many of these destinations you will need a valid passport only, no travel visa required. If you aren’t sure, talk to us and we can tell you what documentation you’ll need for your destination country.