If you travel out of your country of residence with your work laptop or other devices, you may face questions about business visitor visas, customs, and border security. We have answers!
When you travel for Basecamp business, here’s what you need:
- Your passport! Apply for one now if you don’t have one already. Renew now if your passport expires in the next six months.
- A travel visa, waiver, or an electronic travel authorization. Basecamp will cover the cost of any documentation you need to travel on Basecamp business.
- An invitation letter that substantiates the purpose of your travel.
- Your lodging address and contact info.
- A security checklist for your laptop and phone. Clearing work data from your devices is required before crossing any border.
Travel to the United States
You need a visa or a waiver to authorize travel to the US. If your country participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), then you can apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) within 3 days of travel. The ESTA is valid for 2 years. Apply for an ESTA here.
Canadian passport holders don’t need a visa to enter the US for non-paid business events. Passport and government ID are all that’s required.
B-1 Business Visitor Visa
If your country does not participate in the Visa Waiver Program or you are not eligible for an ESTA, you’ll need to apply for a B-1 business visitor visa… the long way.
We’ll work with you through this process. Start early, as soon as we have dates for a meetup or conference. Visa appointments and processing can take weeks to months. Ping Andrea as soon as you know that you’ll need a visa.
Trusted Traveler Programs
Citizens of some countries are eligible for Global Entry and Canadians are eligible for NEXUS. These programs are completely optional but may make life a little easier, at the cost of onerous biometric scans like fingerprinting (for Global Entry and NEXUS) and iris scanning (for NEXUS). Note: An ESTA is still required for travel; these programs just speed up entry.
Travel to countries other than the United States
The visa requirements for your nationality will vary depending on the country you plan to visit, as individual visa policies and requirements vary for different foreign citizens. It may or may not be necessary to obtain a travel document to visit your country of destination.
Please check the requirements for your nationality with your destination country as far in advance of travel as you can. You can also use a visa checker. You may be able to travel visa-free, or you may need to obtain a visa, a waiver, or an electronic travel authorization.
To substantiate the purpose of your travel to any country, we can provide an unofficial invitation letter that states that you’re traveling on behalf of Basecamp business. Verify in advance if the country you’re visiting requires a letter of purpose, and that you won’t need a work visa to accompany a letter.
Company Security at Border Crossings
When you cross a border, you may be asked to unlock your phone or laptop for search, possibly exposing sensitive company data like source code, passwords, and customer account data. Yikes! We need to take some precautionary measures to safeguard our data.
What’s a work device? Anything you have company data on: your laptop where you work with Basecamp source code; your tablet where you read Basecamp email; your phone where you use the Basecamp app; etc.
TL;DR: Don’t Travel With Work Data
- If you don’t need your work laptop (or tablet/phone), don’t bring it with you!
- Wipe company data from your phone before crossing the border. Restore it afterward.
Checklist: Before You Travel
- Let us know! Share your travel plans and when you expect to arrive in the US.
- Update your electronic travel authorization with your travel info when you have it.
- Ensure you have your passport, visa/waiver, invitation letter, and travel details all in order.
- If you run into general travel issues while on Basecamp business, contact Andrea.
- If you find yourself facing serious consequences like arrest or illegal detention in the United States, you can contact our attorney Jennifer Schaaf. Her contact information is in the teams vault in 1Password. You should also contact your home country’s embassy or consulate; please save that phone number prior to travel.
- If you’re traveling to a country with privacy laws that concern you, please raise that concern internally with Andrea before you travel so we can discuss putting protections in place, including connecting you with a local, on-call attorney.
- Check that your personal 1Password vault doesn’t have any work logins. If it does, move them to the Basecamp team vault instead. You have a personal vault inside the Basecamp team which is perfect for those logins.
- Turn on Travel Mode. Go to https://basecamp.1password.com/profile and click Enable Travel Mode.
- Open 1Password on each device you’re traveling with (laptop, phone, iPad, etc) so it can wipe its data while it’s in Travel Mode.
- Clear browser cookies, logging you out of all work sites.
- Basecamp source code.
- Make an encrypted archive on an external hard drive of your Basecamp git repos so you can download and restore it after you’re through customs. Here are instructions for doing that if you’re running a Mac OS. Please perform an equally secure file encryption for Windows or Linux OS & check with SIP if you’re unsure how to do that.
- Delete all Basecamp source code from your laptop.
- Other sensitive documents.
- Same deal as source code. Make an encrypted backup on your external drive and remove from your laptop. Please refrain from using iCloud for any files/repos.
- Log out of Dropbox and disconnect.
- Touch ID (optional)
- Unlocking your device can be compelled at US border crossings, but other countries may be less intrusive, so it may make sense to make your device a little harder to unlock.
- Disable Touch ID on your phone, tablet, and laptop. Require a passcode/password to unlock.
Checklist: At Customs
- Have ready your passport, visa/waiver, invitation letter, and travel details including the address of where you’ll be staying.
- Ensure your devices are charged up and turned on. Customs may balk at a bricked phone or laptop.
- Common questions:
- Purpose of your visit? Here for a business meeting in city.
- Here to do work? Nope! Here on business, meeting with Basecamp.
- Where are you staying? Lodging name, address, phone number.
- Be straightforward and truthful. You’re legit! No need to be cagey or misleading.
Checklist: When You Arrive
- Let us know when you’ve arrived at your destination and have cleared airport security.
- Touch ID: Reenable on your phone, tablet, and laptop.
- Dropbox: Log in and reconnect, but only if needed during travel.
- Basecamp app: Reinstall on your phone, tablet, and laptop.
- 1Password: Turn off Travel Mode. Go to https://basecamp.1password.com/profile and click Disable Travel Mode. Next time you open 1Password, you’ll have full access again.
- HEY: Log back in on your device(s).
- Basecamp source code: Download and restore the archive of your Basecamp git repos, but only if needed during travel.
- Other sensitive documents: Download and restore, but only if needed during travel.
Checklist: When You Return
- Same as when you travel! Repeat the checklists for any border crossing, whether into or out of the US.
Hitting a snag or have any questions? Ping Jeremy, Jane, or Andrea and we can help.