J-1 Travel Documents

Here are some items that you should carry with you or put in your carry-on luggage.  Do NOT pack these items in a suitcase you plan on checking in.

Your DS-2019 document, valid passport and many other important documents (marriage license or school transcripts for example).  If your spouse and/or children will be coming to the U.S. with you, be sure to have their DS-2019s and passports readily available.  You may also want to consider bringing records with the English translations of any foreign documents.

Financial Statements
Your original supporting financial documents such as a personal bank statements, a financial aid award and/or the offer letter

Your new U.S. Address
The street address of where you will be staying when you arrive in Los Angeles.  You will need it to give to the taxi driver.

Medications you use regularly
Including extra prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.  Make sure that you use the original container with the doctor’s information on any prescriptions you bring.  If you have a health problem that requires medication, bring enough to last as long as possible.

International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
You must inquire at a travel agency in your home country on how to obtain an international driver’s permit.  It is usually valid up to a year after your entry in the U.S. and is only obtainable in person in your home country.  This will help if you’re planning on driving in the U.S. immediately upon your arrival prior to applying for a California driver license.

A credit card that you can use in the U.S.
You can use it to pay for things while you are getting settled and you won’t have to carry so much cash with you.  You can also use it at the airport to pay for the cart to carry your luggage, and your transportation to LA.  It is safer to carry small amounts of cash.

An ATM card (bank card)
Make sure it is a card that can be used at an automatic teller machine (ATM) to withdraw cash in USD form your local bank account.  You will normally pay a small fee to the U.S. bank, and possibly your bank too, but you will get the most up-to-date exchange rate.

Money Matters
You should have between $200 to $300 USD so that you will have cash to pay for immediate expenses like meals, transportation, or a telephone card.  You might want to bring more in traveler’s checks, which can be replaced if lost or stolen, if you know you will be waiting for a wire transfer of funds to your bank in the U.S.