I am a US Citizen planning on traveling to Germany to visit some relatives in the military. I don't know what documents I need to have, and the last thing I want to do is show up at the airport (or worse, get to the other country) and find out I forgot something. So what documents do I need to travel from the US?

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    given that the other question requires you to know that germany is schengen, I think this question is clearly different. Additionally, there should probably be a meta discussion about how hard it is to find answers. I searched for hours and didn't find the potential duplicate.
    – deltree
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


At first I thought "I need a passport". That part is true for sure. US Citizens need a passport to get BACK to the US from just about anywhere, so that's important.

Whether you need a visa or other documentation is country specific. Most of the countries in the EU (Germany among them) are part of the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen agreement allows easier travel between these countries (i.e. less paperwork). It currently includes the US in it's reduced travel requirements.

Whether you need a visa or not can (thankfully) be found on the internet. I found a website that let's you pick your destination and purpose and bam, out comes whether you need a visa: https://visacentral.com/

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Ultimately the Schengen agreement says: if you're from an approved list of countries (which includes those in the agreement naturally) you don't need a visa. Since the US is approved, you don't need a visa.

YOU DO NEED A PASSPORT though. Your passport is your travel document, and, conveniently, it's the only one you need.

Note: For some parts of Europe, you are also obligated to carry extra medical and travel insurance. Germany does not have this requirement, but if you plan on traveling around Europe, that's something to check on.

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    There are a lot of third party visa sites out there, whose accuracy ranges from excellent to absurd. We generally don't recommend people use such sites to determine if they need a visa, unless it's the company contracted by a national government to process visa applications. For visa information we generally recommend people use official information from the embassy of the country in question, or the visa checking tool (based on Timatic) provided by each airline to its customers, as this information is provided by governments to the airlines so that they can verify passengers' documents. Commented May 28, 2019 at 20:17
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    Also, for US citizens in particular, the visa advice given at travel.state.gov is also generally accurate and up to date. Commented May 28, 2019 at 20:18
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    @MichaelHampton except the US state department consistently misstates the Schengen passport validity requirement.
    – phoog
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 1:51
  • " US Citizens need a passport to get BACK to the US from just about anywhere" - Although a passport is the most common requirement for air travel other methods that prove your citizenship are allowed, with some restrictions. See help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/3618/kw/passport
    – HBruijn
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 8:02

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