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Tourist visas and travel visas

You need travel visas to get in, and sometimes to get out

I am not going to do a whole per country visa page here. I am just going to comment on the places I have been, information I have gathered and links to more places.

Please keep in mind that prices change, as do regulations and policies depending on ones own nationality. I've updated everything below for 2015+

» European travel visas

» Turkish tourist visas

» Iranian tourist visas

» Pakistani tourist visas

» Pakistan to China via the KKH visas needed

» Indian tourist visas

» Nepali tourist visas

» Tibet/China visas & permits

» Moroccan visas

» Nigerian tourist visas

» Worldwide list of Embassies

» Tips on overstaying a tourist visa

» FAQ's


Tourist Visas for Europe


With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and then travel freely throughout the Schengen zone which consists of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

In other words if you apply to Spain for a Schengen visa, you can then travel to Hungary.

It is possible in Europe to apply for working holiday visas, but each country has it's own regulations.

Border checkers in Europe today: When I traveled through Europe I was under the impression that there were no more borders. I was wrong. From Portugal to Spain there were no border checks via bus but lots of security.

From Spain to France via Euroline bus we were stopped at the border and asked for our passports. A chinese man was removed and did not come back.

From Spain to France via car we used the southern routes and passed old closed off check points. There were not guards.

From France to Germany via Eurolines there was another border stop. This time longer, and all passports were taken for thirty minutes and a criminal check done on them. Again two people were pulled from the bus, and their bags searched.

From Germany to Poland by bus, no border stop.

From Poland down through east Europe via rail the border guards all entered the trains, and requested passports. They logged all details.
Link to more information (it will open a new window)


Tourist Visas for Turkey

(link to top)

The train stops at the border, you need to get out and purchase a visa from a little hut at the end of the platform. Have it placed into your passport. Then you join the second queue in a room again on the platform. A guard then stamps the passport. Bring all your bags with you. Although the price and country list is on the window, it's worth finding this out before you arrive. Some countries are charged a lot.
Link to more information (it will open a new window)


Tourist Visas for Iran (link to top)


You need a visa ahead of time. Do not arrive at the overland border without a visa! You cannot get one at any border in Iran. A 15 day tourist visa is available at some airports for some nationalities likewise a 30 day on arrival - check with the Iranian embassy for your country.

Applying from another country: If applying in a foreign country for an Iranian visa you will need a letter of introduction from your own embassy in the same city you are applying in. In other words if applying for an Iranian visa in Ankara, you need a letter of introduction from your embassy in Ankara. Istanbul will not do! You will need to write your itinerary down, including the names of a few hotels were you will be staying. They give you a bank account number and you go personally to the nearby bank, deposit the money, get a receipt and return it to the embassy to claim your visa.

Tips: Call the Iranian embassy up before hand and ask about your nationality and what is required. There are very many "iranian visa" type web sites out there offering authorization codes. Check ahead with the embassy before parting ways with your cash for one of these authorization codes. I dealt with one of these companies myself, and they insisted I needed a code. I called the embassy and they said it was "rubbish". They gave me my visa in an hour.

Official Iranian Online Visa (on arrival only!) - Yes the Iranian Government have an official Online visa application for on arrival applicants (air).
It's for 15/30 days on arrival and costs 50 euro, it's also extendable. Click here to the official Iranian Visa site (it will open a new window)

Iran Visa Extension - So you like Iran and would like to stay longer? Well, this might help. Yazd, Shiraz or Esfahan are the best places. Tehran is a nightmare, migrant workers will have you queuing for hours. You are a tourist, go to a tourist city. Another nice place would be Tabriz. Make and excuse that you are on the way out to Turkey but never saw the south of Iran, or have an old Iranian friend who just arrived home and invited you to his house in . . . You will need the following:

  • Your passport
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Two photocopies of the info/photo page on your passport
  • Two photocopies of the iranian visa and entry-stamp pages on your passport

Tips on getting an Iranian extension visa: Similar to the first visa, you will be given a slip to pay the fee into the back. It's about $10 USD and you should pay in Rial. Get your receipt and head back to the Embassy for your visa, though you might have to wait over night. My advice is to take an Iranian with you. Maybe someone from the hotel acting as your guide. They can clear up any communication issues and make it seem like you are rich and good enough to hire a guide in Iran.

The address for extensions in Iran are:
Yazd: Alien Affairs office. Valiasr Square along Zand.
Esfahan: 2nd Lane Chahar Bagh Baia Tel: 668-8166 Though I have a feeling it's moved. If so, go to any tour place and they will tell you. Or for to the Amir Kabir Hostel on Chahar Bagh Abbasi Street, they have a map and details on their notice board.
Tehran: Disciplinary Force for Islamic Republic of Iran Department for Alien Affairs. Valiasr Avenue TEL: 8880 0000


Tourist Visas for Pakistan (link to top)


Again when applying in a foreign country they requested a letter of introduction and the usual photocopies of my passport. It takes two days to process, but in reality may take longer. An itinerary is again needed. They give you a bank account number and you go personally to the nearby bank, deposit the money, get a receipt and return it to the embassy to claim your visa.
Link to more information (it will open a new window)


Pakistan to China via the KKH
You will need to get your Chinese visa in Islamabad, it may take a week.


Tourist Visas for India


Again you need to have the visa before going near the border. An Indian tourist visa can be up to 6 months, though that is going to be made shorter soon I am told. If applying outside of your home country you may or many not need a letter of introduction. It differs between embassies. They were quite fussy about the itinerary, though that could have been who I dealt with. They took my money on the spot, and it took 5 working days.
Link to more information (it will open a new window)


Tourist Visas for Nepal (link to top)


Visas at the border are relatively easy. A few photocopies and passport copies. Costs have gone up recently. Here's the latest information 2015:

Tourist Visa Multiple entry:15 days Fees:US$ 25.
Multiple entry: 30 days Fees:US$ 40
Multiple entry: 90 days Fees:US$ 100
Tourist Visa Extension: Visa extension fee for 15 days or less is US $ 30
Visa extension fee for more than 15 days is US$ 2 per day
Tourist visa can be extended for a maximum period of 150 days in a single visa year (January – December).
The process is relatively easy in Kathmandu, and easier still in Pokhara.
For anyone keeping count, you will see the 60 day visa in no longer available!

Please read my extensive Nepal visa information page for more

Tips for extending a visa in Nepal: If you are heading out on a trek, and your visa is going to expire during it, make sure to get an extension before you head off. There are fines if you are caught with an expired visa. The immigration offices in Pokhara and KTM are used to such requests but you will have to apply online - see the link above for more.


Tourist Visas for Tibet/China (link to top)

From my crossing these are the facts. To get from Nepal into Tibet and on into mainland china you needed a Tibetan Permit. No more. Having a Chinese visa and crossing the border will mean it will be cancelled. It is worthless to have it.

How to get a Tibet Permit: The only way to get the Tibet Permit is to go with a tour. These are available all over Nepal. They offer 8 day tours via Jeeps including accommodation and some food, and visa fees. The prices vary wildly. From 1000 USD to 400 USD, shop around all the tour groups. See my Nepal to Tibet overland section for more info on how I did it.

The average Tibet Permit is for 21 days. But you can get one for 28 days. Once the tour ends in Lhasa, you are free to move on into mainland China. However, if you entered as a group with all you names on the same visa form, you have to leave china together. Or else be fined at the airport, border. To get away with this, get your tour operator in Nepal, to order you a group visa with just your name on it. Pay more if you have too ;-) Otherwise head to Hong Kong, get stamped out. Get single Chinese visas, and then head back into china.

New regulations state that the minimum number allowed on the tour is 2. And you both most be the same nationality to get the permit.
Link to more information (it will open a new window) or see my extensive guide for traveling overland into Tibet.

A note on Chinese Visas

in late 2012 China introduced new visa applications for tourists. These include having to show evidence of a return flight & hotel bookings or receipt from an official tourist agent.

Please check with the nearest Chinese embassy to you as this regulation seems to constantly changing.


Travel Visas for Morocco (link to top)


Available on the ferry from Spain. Painless, and nothing needed but your passport.

Link to more information (it will open a new window)


Travel Visas for Nigeria


Good luck! You will need more than they say. Evidence of hotels to stay, in other words confirmed bookings. And possibly a letter from a resident. Plus a visa to another country proving you are leaving again. Return flight tickets will do if flying. It takes a long time, and can be painful.
Link to more information (it will open a new window)


World wide listing of embassies


Need to find an embassy? Try this link:
Embassy Worldwide (will open a new window)


Tips for overstaying a tourist visa


It's never a good idea to overstay a tourist visa. It might get you banned for a period of time from that country. Or cause you problems when applying for other visas if they see you've previously overstayed.

However, sometimes things happen such as mistaking a flight date, or simply making an honest mistake. What should you do?

  • Firstly, find out exactly how long your visa is for. Most visas are valid from the moment you are stamped in, until the time you are stamped out. Confirm when yours expires.
  • If it only involves one day, and you are arriving on a flight near midnight, stay the extra time in arrivals until after midnight before going the immigration queue to gain a day!
  • If after arriving you discover you'll be overstaying, make an effort to visit a local immigration office and explain. You'll most likely have to pay an extension but it should be slightly cheaper, and certainly less trouble than at an airport or border.

There have been reports of people with expired tourist visas not being allowed to leave a country until they obtain extensions. This has resulted in missed flights and many more problems.

Avoid the trouble and don't overstay!


FAQ's on getting Travel Visas (link to top)


What is a LOI (letter of introduction)

A letter of introduction is a letter from your own Embassy stating who you are, attesting to you being a of good stature. It also requests the that is requesting it of your purpose of wanting to visit the country. e.g. You are requesting a tourist visa for the purposes of tourism.

Why so I need a LOI? (letter of introduction)

It's essentially a bureaucratic thing. Some foreign Embassies abroad request this as further proof that your who your say you are. Other's might possibly do it due minor differences in opinion between the two countries. You need it in either case if the foreign embassy is requesting it, otherwise they will not issue you with a visa.

Where do I get a LOI (Letter of introduction)

A letter of introduction can be obtained from your own Embassy abroad. For example: If you are applying for a Pakistani visa in Ankara, you will be first asked to get a LOI from your own Embassy in Ankara. My advise is to telephone you Embassy first, and tell them what you need. Then go to your own Embassy, obtain the letter and take it to the Pakistani Embassy.

Is it guaranteed my Embassy will give me the letter?

No! There are plenty of political and diplomatic reasons why your country would not give you one. Take Pakistan as an example again. Many embassy's refused to give out LOI's during Musharaf's Emergency rule as they were fearful that their citizens were in danger. So the people applying were refused. This can also happen if there are current political differences between the two countries that are ongoing or heightened at the time.

Can I get a LOI at home?

I have heard of people doing this, but I have also seen people turned away with these letters too. Most embassies requesting a LOI want it from your Embassy in the Country you are applying too.

Do I need a LOI (letter of introduction) if applying to an Embassy that resides in my home country?

This is completely dependant on the Embassy or country you are applying to. As a general rule no. However you should check with the Embassy first.

 

 

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