Are you looking to start your vacation and not sure where to start planning? If you work for the Department of Defense, the DoD Foreign Clearance Guide should be your first stop.

There are a lot of requirements for DoD personnel besides just having a passport -- especially if you have a security clearance.

Prior to any official and leave travel overseas, all DoD members must check the FCG for travel requirements for the country or countries they will visit.

It is imperative that supervisors know and check that the requirements are met prior to approval of any leave to a foreign country.

The FCG provides the necessary information for personnel traveling to foreign countries, as well as general information on foreign locations. Since the DoD FCG is directive in nature for all DoD and DoD-sponsored travel abroad, travelers must ensure they comply with this guide.

Prior to commencing travel, personnel should also receive a country briefing by either their Antiterrorism Officer or Antiterrorism Coordinator, or by the G-2 for official travel.

The country briefing will cover Department of State travel warnings, travel alerts and individual country-specific information.

This information can also be reviewed at travel.state.gov. The country brief must be completed within 30 days of your planned arrival in a foreign country.

For almost all foreign travel, it is a requirement to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP.

STEP is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This requirement is not only used for antiterrorism purposes, it is used for accountability.

Some of the benefits of enrolling in STEP are:

-- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.

-- Helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency.

-- Helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

Travel to certain countries requires theater clearances, country clearances, training requirements and other directed requirements. These clearances can take 30 days or more to process.

Currently being staffed is a recently developed FLW Foreign Travel Application which will serve as a one-stop checklist to ensure all the foreign travel requirements are met.

This form should make it much easier for travelers and their supervisors in preparing for foreign travel.

Stay informed, stay connected, stay safe.

(Editor's note: Porterfield is an Antiterrorism/Force Protection operations specialist at Fort Leonard Wood.)