Before obtaining a visa, travellers should first determine whether or not the country they’re travelling to requires one. For instance, some countries like Russia and Australia require you to have a visa regardless of the duration of your stay, even if you’ll be in the country for just two days. Luckily, many countries only require a visa for longer stays, usually those exceeding 90 days. The U.S. Department of State is a great resource for American citizens looking to travel abroad and provides a wealth of knowledge and country-specific details, including entry and exit requirements, visa information and travel alerts and warnings.
If you do need a visa, call or make an appointment with the country’s consulate. The consulate will provide you with the next steps for obtaining a visa, and tell you whether or not you can send the visa paperwork via mail or if you must apply in person. Keep in mind that visa costs and fees vary from country to country. Also, note that some countries have multiple consulates and cater to geographical areas, so make sure you are in contact with the specific consulate assigned to your region.