Apply early for your passport: Passports are required to enter and/or depart most countries around the world. Apply for a passport as soon as possible. You can find the application and detailed information at the U.S. State Department’s Web site.
Some countries also require U.S. citizens to obtain visas before entering. Most countries require visitors who are planning to study or work abroad to obtain visas before entering. A "Visa" is a stamp of approval usually put inside your Passport. A Visa gives you permission to enter the country for the length of time permitted. You will first need a valid Passport in order to apply for a Visa, so make sure you have a valid Passport before applying for a Visa. Also, contact the nearest Consulate of the country you are going to, and obtain the Visa application documents. See "Consulate Web Links" below for some of the more popular/common Consulate’s Web sites for further information. The visa process can be quite lengthy as it requires you to gather supporting documentation including your actual passport (always required - you cannot apply for a visa until you have a passport), your acceptance letter (always required - like the passport, you cannot apply for a visa until you have an Acceptance Letter), financial records and guarantees, proof of health insurance while abroad, an application fee, and so on. A general Visa check list has been provided below, but please note each country outlines its own requirements, including the application fee (the fee charged for the processing of your Visa application), so be sure to check the consulate’s Web site for its specific requirements.
Consulate Web Links