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“Do I need a visa?”

“What do I say to the customs officer?”

“Can I bring my work laptop with me?”

If you travel out of the country for business purposes—to a company meetup or a professional conference—or even on a family vacation with your work laptop, you’re facing up to questions about business visitor visas, customs, and border security.

We have answers!

Traveling to the US

We’ll focus on traveling to the US since attending company meetups is our primary reason for international business travel.

Keep in mind, if you’re traveling more than 10 hours in the air (not including layovers), Basecamp will cover the cost of a business class ticket, up to $5000, twice a year.

When you travel for Basecamp business, here’s what you need:

  1. A passport! Apply for one now if you don’t have one already. Renew now if your passport expires in the next six months.
  2. A travel visa or waiver.
  3. An invitation letter that substantiates the purpose of your travel.
  4. Your hotel address and contact info.
  5. A security checklist for your laptop and phone. Clearing work data from your devices is required before crossing the border.

Visa

You need a visa (or a waiver!) to authorize travel to the US.

Canadians

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.

Visa Waiver Program

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.

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

Border screening is slow and stressful every time. “Trusted traveler” programs expedite and bypass some screening. 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.

Invitation Letter

To substantiate the purpose of your travel, we can provide an unofficial invitation letter that states that you’re traveling to the US for a business meeting and not to do work.

“Doing business”—e.g. attending a business meeting or conference—is allowed under the business visitor visa (and visa waiver), but “doing work” is not. That’d require a temporary work visa.

Company Security at the Border

When you enter the US, 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

Checklist: Before You Travel

Checklist: At Customs

Checklist: When You Arrive

Checklist: When You Return

Any Questions?

Hitting a snag or have any questions? Ping Jeremy or Andrea and we can help.

You’re welcome to edit and improve this document yourself, too. Please do!

We don’t just make Basecamp, we run our entire business on it too. It puts all our project communication, task management, and documentation in one place where everyone can work together seamlessly.