Welcome international teams! We are so happy you've chosen to participate in our competitions. Since traveling to the U.S. to compete can be challenging (especially for new teams) we have created this page to offer advice on planning your trip.
In order for us to provide a letter confirming your team's participation in an event, we need the following information to include in the letter:
|Team Affiliation||First Name||Last Name||Passport Number||Name of University||Country Representing||Birth Country|
|Team Member||John||Smith||XXXXXXXX||List the name of your university||USA||USA|
We must receive this information for each member of your team.
Determine what permissions each team member must obtain to enter the U.S. and obtain the necessary permissions/visas well in advance. You can visit the U.S. Border and Custom Protection's online travel authorization website to identify what is needed for your country. https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
Determine what permissions you need to transport your vehicle. We recommend an ATA carnet, an international customs document that allows the holder to temporarily (up to one year) import goods without payment of normally applicable duties and taxes, including value-added taxes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Carnet. In this document you list all vehicle parts and their estimated value. This gets stamped in customs on your way out of your country of origin, also when it enters the US, again when it leaves the US and then for the last time when it enters back into the country of origin. When you apply for an ATA carnet you pay some fee and deposit an insurance in some way. You then get your insurance deposit back when you hand in the ATA carnet with the stamps from all the customs described above. It's therefore very important that you make sure that this document gets stamped in all the customs places. Otherwise you may not get your deposit back (and that can be a significant amount).
Figure out transportation for your vehicle and equipment. If possible, consider bringing your vehicle on the plane with you as checked luggage. This may or may not be possible due to size/weight limitations. Be aware that if you're not flying with the same airline the whole way, the second "leg" may not accept your vehicle as checked luggage. So either make sure that all the airlines will accept it or try to use the same airline the whole way if possible. It is very important to speak with the airline and get contacts at all the places where your vehicle will stop. Please note that customs offices are closed during the weekend so its best to plan on getting your vehicle out of customs by the Thursday or Friday before the competition begins. If you cannot check your vehicle as luggage, investigate shipping options EARLY. When speaking with companies that specialize in shipping, make sure they know exactly what you are shipping, its size, weight, etc.
Identify a way to transport your batteries. If you are using lithium batteries, be aware that there are very strict rules about transporting lithium batteries. If you must use them, consider using a common battery type that you can find in the city hosting your competition. Research retailers that sell batteries in the area and order them in advance. If you cannot find a retailer near the competition that sells the batteries you need, consider ordering your batteries and having them shipped directly to your hotel. If you do this, plan for possible shipping delays and request delivery several days in advance of the competition.
Identify the team members that will travel and make flight arrangements. As a general rule, plane tickets become increasingly expensive as you near your travel date.
Book your hotel. While its possible to find hotels near the competition that may have cheaper rates, we highly recommend you book rooms at the competition headquarters hotel. The AUVSIF staff negotiates with the headquarter hotel to allow teams to use the swimming pool in the evening (with certain rules). By staying at the headquarter hotel, your team also has the opportunity to interact with other teams.
Determine your rental car needs and identify who is best suited to drive. Most teams will require at least one minivan for transporting their vehicle and many teams rent another car for trips to the store, etc. When reserving your rental car, ask whether an international drivers license is required. Also ask if there is any age requirement - many companies charge a much higher premium for drivers under 25 years of age.
If you have any questions, please e-mail Cheri Koch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help you!