When planning to travel abroad, the most important item you need is a passport. A Passport is a document certifying nationality. Your Passport allows you to travel across international borders. To obtain a passport you must apply for one at an acceptance facility or Passport Agency. If you already have a Passport and it has expired you may mail it in along with an updated photo to receive new travel biutiful oficial . For now, I just want to provide you with a general overview of the function of a Passport and the Visa Waiver Program.
A Passport contains detailed information about admissions and entry of the various Countries that you visit while travelling. As of August 2007 Countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) issue e-Passports, or Electronic Passports. These Passports have an integrated circuit chip embedded into the back cover. All the information that is on your photo page is stored in the chip. In order for the chip to be read the back cover must be open. This is for safety reasons, i.e. to prevent identity theft. If the chip fails your Passport still remains a valid travel document.
To travel on the VWP you must have permission of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and pay a fee. That will grant you access to the 37 Countries currently participating in the VWP. Also, the purpose of your travelling must be the same as that of a traditional Visa.
The VWP allows you to travel to the participating Countries for stays of 90 days or less. The following are examples of activities permitted while on the VWP; business, attend a convention or conference, short term training, negotiate a contract, tourism, vacation, visiting or pleasure, medical treatment, participate in social events, sports and short recreational course of study. Travel purposes NOT permitted on the Visa Waiver Program are Study (for credit), Employment, Work as Foreign Press, Radio, Film, Journalist, or other Informational Media and Permanent Residence. Those examples require an application of a traditional Visa.
In summary, when travelling abroad a Passport is required to enter any Country that you wish to visit. Many Countries today are members of the VWP and now issue e-Passports that allow you to travel without applying for a traditional Visa. That should speed up time when entering a foreign Country or crossing Borders and allow you more time to enjoy your travel and sightseeing destinations.