Even though we live in a time when its never been easier and simpler to travel, there is one thing that can cause headaches and complicate everything – visas.
On my RTW trip I had to adjust, research and struggle to get some of them, because of Pakistani visa I got stuck on border of Iran and Pakistan for three long days, I even change my route because of some countries procedures. But at the end – its definitely possible (for most of the countries) to travel and work your way around visas, if you are adjustable.
It would be great if borders don’t exist, or if we have a passport that allows you to cross all of them without any problems, but for now we have to follow current visa procedures for certain countries, which are:
1. VISA NOT REQUIRED
This one is very simple – if you want to visit a certain country, you just need your passport valid for at least six months after the entrance. No paperwork, no questions, and its free.
2. VISA ON ARRIVAL
Still pretty simple procedure – you come on the border, fill out a short form, pay a certain amount, and you get a stamp in your passport saying how long can you stay in the country. Usually its between three and six months.
3. VISA REQUIRED BEFORE ARRIVAL
Some countries demand that you have a visa before entering the country, and you get them in any embassy of that country. For example, you are in Malaysia, wanting to go to Thailand – you go to Thai embassy in Malaysia and apply for a visa there. There is some paperwork involved (most often proof of sufficient funds, proof that you will leave the country, and similar – but that also varies from country to country), and you have to pay for the issuing. Also, you will most probably have to wait for couple of days to get it.
4. VISA REQUIRED BEFORE ARRIVAL, BUT IN A SPECIFIC EMBASSY
Some countries demand that you have a visa before entering the country, but you have to get them in a specific embassy of that country, most often in your home country. There is some paperwork involved (most often proof of sufficient funds, proof that you will leave the country, and similar – but that also varies from country to country), and you have to pay for the issuing. Also, you will most probably have to wait for couple of weeks to get it.
5. VISA AVAILABLE ONLINE
Similar procedure like with the embassy, but in this case the embassy is virtual.
Now that we know how visa regimes can be, here are some answers to most common questions that can make your visa issues more simple:
HOW DO I GET A VISA FOR XY COUNTRY?
The only possible answer to this (frequently asked) question is – I have no idea. There are few reasons for that: I haven’t visited many countries myself, I only know whats it like for someone who has my passport, and I only know whats it like for the period when I was there.
Meaning – rules change. Because I got a certain visa on a certain way when I was going to a certain country in a certain period, today it doesn’t have to mean nothing. Even if you get an answer from me (or anyone else) with all the details, you will still have to confirm all those informations from an official person.
Yes, there are sited where you can write down the name of the country you are coming from and the name of the country in which you are going to, and check what is the visa regime:
But, the problem with them is that their informations are from God-knows-when, and is everything still valid for you.
Generally, the safest option is to call/write/visit the embassy of the country you wish to visit. They will answer all of your questions, precisely and with the newest updates.
HOW TO GET THE PROOF OF SUFFICIENT FUNDS?
If you have sufficient funds, go to the bank and ask them to print out your bank statement. Or, if your bank is not close by, you can print it out – it should be enough.
But, if you don’t have sufficient funds, there are two other ways:
– ask someone from your family/friends to transfer the money on your account so you can get the bank statement, and when you get it – give them their money back.
– you can forge the bank statement with simple use of photoshop, or with the help of a friend that knows around photoshop.
disclaimer: I don’t suggest the other options, and if anyone from any immigration office reads this – I never did it, I swear!
HOW TO GET THE PROOF OF ONWARD TRAVEL?
If you are traveling overland, there is a big probability that you won’t need it. If you arrive with and airplane to some countries, they will ask for proof of onward travel. Some air companies won’t even let you on the plane if you don’t have it.
The only safe option is to buy a ticket out of the country. Since the chances are that sometimes you have no idea when and how will you leave the country, the best would be to find a cheap bus or plane ticket online, which you can cancel and refund once you are in the country
Even if there is no option of refund, it pays to pay some money in exchange of them letting you in the country and making sure your plane ticket and your travel plans don’t go to waste.
HOW TO GET AN INVITATION LETTER?
Well, I never had experience with this, but my friends tell me that:
– if you have friends/family, it is enough to write a short letter of invitation, tell how long you are planning to stay, put down address and contact information (phone and email), as well as signature.
– if you don’t have friends, a ho(s)tel reservation for the first night should do the trick.
– sometimes the best shot is to find an agency that can provide you an invitation directly to yourself or when requested to the embassy of your choice.
WHAT IF I’M ENTERING THE COUNTRY ON A BOAT?
For boat crew there are special rules, and most probably you can get a visa on arrival. But, of course, check it with the embassy.
WHAT IF SOME COUNTRY HAS REALLY HORRIBLE PROCEDURE FOR GETTING A VISA?
Simple – change your route and visit another country.
Do you have any experiences with your visa adventures you would like to share?