The internet and email are becoming so pervasive in our communications around the world, and travelers are taking full advantage of the ever changing technology to keep in touch while on the road. Email through hotmail, gmail, and yahoo can be accessed anywhere. Programs like Skype allow you to make internet phone calls anywhere in the world for free to another Skype user – you can even chat by video!
Caravan-Serai Tours also uses these tools extensively to plan our tours and communicate with our coordinators in the region. We use email exclusively to transfer documents that before we had to fax (our fax machine is mostly silent now, hardly ever being used!). This includes copies of passports that are necessary to obtain visa authorization for countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, and more. We request a scanned copy of your passport in order to expedite this process. Our coordinators need a clean, legible copy of your passport in order to get the visa authorization, but we also need it for our files and to verify your passport is valid for the time of travel. We insist on a scanned copy to be emailed to us so we can turn around and email it to speed the process and ensure the accuracy of the information provided for visas, etc.
Here is another good reason to have your passport scanned. If you are traveling and lose your passport, you can retrieve a copy of your passport to present to the American embassy when getting a replacement. This will simplify matters greatly if you can produce a clean, clear copy – rather than a folded paper copy in black and white that is smudged and the photo unrecognizable and the text barely legible. You can scan your passport and keep a copy on a thumb drive, or your smart phone, to carry with you, or you can email it to a friend or family member at home who can then forward you a copy if you need it. Also, you can email a copy to yourself to your yahoo, hotmail, or gmail account, or other account that you can access anywhere.
Many of our embassies and consulates have a central (duty officer) email address, so if you do lose your passport, you can email the file directly to them if you don’t have a way to save the file from your email. The embassy email addresses can be found at the Department of State website under US Embassy information.
So in preparations for your next tour or travel adventure, scan your passport and save a file at home and with a friend for access from abroad. Keep this file, updating it with a new copy when you get a new passport. Then you will always be ready – to register for one of our tours, or to protect yourself in the case of a lost passport.