Passports & Visas


 Passports are required for all travel outside of the United States. Applications are available online, here, at the State Department website. Passport renewals can be done via mail, but you will need to apply in person if:

  • you have never had a passport before;
  • your previous passport was issued when you were under the age of 16;
  • your previous passport was lost, stolen, or damaged;
  • your previous passport was issued more than 15 years ago.

You must also provide two passport photos, a certified copy of your birth certificate, and a valid driver's license, or comparable proof of citizenship and identity.

Where to Get Your Passport

  1. Northfield City Hall, 801 Washington St., 2nd floor. Passport processing available only on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month, 8-10:30 AM. Photos taken on site for $15. Call 507-645-9576 with questions.
  2. Rice County Courthouse in Faribault, 320 NW 3rd St. Open M-F, 8 AM-4:30 PM. Photos taken on site for $15. Call 507-645-9576 with questions.
  3. Minneapolis Passport Agency, 212 3rd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55401. Open M-F 8 AM-2:30 PM (opens @ 9 on Wednesdays). If you are traveling internationally in less than 2 weeks or need to obtain a foreign visa within 4 weeks, you are eligible to schedule an appointment at this agency. Will call (pickup) service is offered for life or death emergencies and immediate travel. Call 1-877-487-2778 to schedule an appointment.

Be sure to sign your passport. It is not valid until you have signed it. Make two photocopies of your passport, leave one at home, and pack the second photocopy and extra passport photos somewhere other than with your passport. You may also consider scanning your passport to have an electronic copy of it. In case of an emergency, one parent should have a valid passport copy while you are abroad.

Passports must be valid six months beyond your anticipated return date.


Visa requirements vary according to countries visited, length and purpose of stay, and nationality of passport holder. The Embassy or Consulate website of the countries you intend to visit is the best source of information on visa requirements. A visa service like Perry International provides comprehensive information about visa requirements for most countries. The website has great information on Schengen visas for most European countries. Another great general guide on Visas is published by

For Carleton programs where all students need visas, OCS will advise the group on specific requirements and the application process. International students are required to be proactive in determining if they need a visa for their program country and in completing the application in a timely manner. OCS advisers can provide advice and support, but ultimately, obtaining the visa is the student's responsibility.

Upon request, OCS will provide a letter for students who require visas for any OCS programs; this letter would satisfy any ‘proof of financial means’ requirement that most visa applications have. Additional common documents include passports, application forms, airline tickets, proof of financial support, passport-quality photographs, and cashier’s check or money order for the fee. Some countries require yellow fever cards, medical exams, FBI background checks, etc.

You will need to send your passport to the issuing Embassy or Consulate, so plan ahead to make sure that your passport is valid six months beyond the program end date and that you do not have other travel plans during the period in which your passport will be at the issuing Embassy or Consulate. Some countries such as France and Spain require all passports to be dropped off in person at their offices in Chicago, so be prepared to travel in person if required. Students who use their passport as their primary ID are highly encouraged to obtain a Minnesota State ID to use when the passport is not in your possession. State IDs take about six weeks to process, so plan ahead!

Carleton students and faculty have relied on the visa service providers listed below for assistance, and you may wish to contact them too. Consulates and embassies will often reject any incomplete or incorrect applications outright, so if you’re sending the application yourself, be careful to include ALL documentation. 

Perry International
Phone: 312-372-2703
Very experienced in working with consulates located in Chicago

Travel Document Express
Phone: 202-785-3250

Travel Document Systems
Phone: 800-874-5100
Does not handle Schengen visas

Global Passport
Phone: 800-644-1642
Specializes in Brazil, China, and Russia

Customs and Immigration

U.S. Customs allow $200, $800 or $1600 worth of goods duty free per person. Purchases exceeding these amounts are subject to duty taxes. For more information, visit the US Customs and Border Patrol Website.

Alternative Identification for US Domestic Travel

International students planning to travel abroad during their time at Carleton are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to apply for a Minnesota State ID as soon as possible. Cost is $19.25. Applications for Minnesota State IDs can be made at Northfield City Hall Department of Motor Vehicles office, and the card takes 6-8 weeks to arrive.

The MN State ID is recognized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as government-issued identification and can be used in lieu of a passport for travel within the United Sates.

Students traveling without government-issued identification (usually because they are required to leave their passport at a foreign consulate for visa processing and did not apply for a MN State ID in time) may request a letter from OCS certifying that they are a student at Carleton College. They should also compile a dossier with their I-20, Carleton Student ID, copy of their passport, and credit cards. They should arrive at least two hours early for their flight and expect to be pulled aside for a special security check, including questioning, pat down, and screening of the carry-on bag. While there are no guarantees this strategy will work, it has been successfully used by Carleton students in the past.