Thank you for visiting our “Top 5 Delivered by DHL” series. It’s a fast and informative way to help you learn more about global topics that affect your business. Below, we’re delivering insights about international business travel – and how you can execute your plans flawlessly. Look for more about Holiday Shipping, Going Global, Cuba, Brazil, Avoiding Import Delays, NAFTA , Global E-Commerce and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on our YouTube playlist.
Travel and tourism is an enormous industry, contributing more than 10 trillion dollars to the global economy in 2015. Business travel is a huge portion of this industry, making a total global economic contribution of 1.11 trillion dollars during the same year. More and more U.S. businesses are moving into global markets. They need to visit the countries first-hand that they’re doing business in. It’s the best way to understand how those countries conduct business. It’s how you build strong and effective relationships with international partners.
While there are multiple steps that go into a productive international business trip, here are the top five things you need to know about international business travel.
1. Research destination information
The travel microsite of the U.S. Department of State offers comprehensive information on nearly every subject of concern to international business travelers. The site allows users to access specific information about any country in the world, including requirements for entry, visa and vaccination necessities, and even the number of blank pages needed in your passport. Destination information for every country also includes explanations about health care, in-country travel and transportation, and safety. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements well in advance of the planned trip. Visas and vaccinations can take several weeks or more to acquire prior to travel.
2. Consider trusted traveler programs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers U.S. residents a streamlined entry process for those returning to the country after traveling abroad. Global Entry offers expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. TSA PreCheck, which comes with acceptance into Global Entry, allows for expedited screening through security at most U.S. airports for domestic and international travel. Participants can enter by using automated kiosks located at certain international airports.
Many other countries also offer trusted traveler programs that U.S. persons can benefit from, such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card that the CBP issues. It allows you to use the diplomatic or crew line (in the 30+ countries where it is accepted) during immigration processing so you can clear faster.
3. Hire an interpreter if needed
Just as it is on the home front, good communication is key to business success when traveling abroad. It is important to plan in advance for the hiring of interpreters for any meetings, from larger group conferences to one-on-one conversations. It is critical to ensure that your translators are professionals, and that their credentials can be verified.
4. Plan ahead in case of emergencies
Even with careful planning, emergencies can occur. It is important to plan ahead, such as making a photocopy of your passport and having a list of phone numbers to call to cancel credit cards and to contact family or business colleagues. Purchasing medical evacuation insurance ahead of time can save you money and provide peace of mind if you were to get sick or injured during your travel. It is also a good idea to know in advance the location and contact information of the U.S. Embassy (or your home country embassy) in the country you are visiting.
5. Currency exchange
In general, good planning should include a determination in advance of how much currency you will need. Exchanging currency in advance of your trip is usually advised, and the use of credit cards during your trip is also encouraged. Check with your bank to learn more about specific exchange rate information, as it would be wise to use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
What is your business doing to make international travel more successful? Let us know on Twitter at @DHLUS.