General Visa Information

We provide the following visa details in good faith, but diplomatic relations and consular processes do change regularly.

It is always best to check with the embassy concerned in your home country for the most up-to-date details.

But, hopefully the details below will provide you with a good basis of advice to begin planning your trip.

In many cases you are going to need to have a scan of your passport (JPEG file) ready for uploading, plus a digital version of your passport photo, also in JPEG format. The passport scan in particular needs to be the whole document with no edges or corners cut and must be clear. Here is an example:

 

 

It is also worth noting that in all cases your passport should have at least six months of remaining validity from the date of your expected travel. Dual nationality is not recognised in quite a number of the countries listed below, so keep it simple and consider using a single passport for travel and visas on your trip rather than two.

The normal process of gaining an Afghan visa is to apply at your local embassy, send your passport away to be stamped and submit a fee.

However, as we only organise tours to one specific area of the country and make use of a sole point of entry, our advice can be rather more specific.

We will enter Afghanistan into the Wakhan District of Badakshan Province at Ishkashim / Eskashim. This is the name of the towns on both the Afghan and Tajik sides of the border. We will be obtaining our Afghan visas at the consulate in Khorog, Tajikistan. You will need to bring 2 copies of a passport photo with you in case these are required. Payment is also necessary in $US Dollars, priced at between $150 and $220 per person (depending on nationality) in clean, un-crumpled bills.

There is sometimes a wait for the visa to be issued a the consulate and any itinerary will have flexibility built into it for this reason. The standard turn-around time for an Afghan visa at the Khorog Consulate is two days, but this is often shorter. You’ll also need to pay between $20 and $60 for the Wakhan Conservation Area entry fee, and this is done in Afghan Ishkashim. Furthermore, you’ll need to allow for around $25 for photocopying documents in Afghan Ishkashim – you can bring copies of documents with you if it’s easier, and you’ll need at least 6 copies – 10 is better – of every passport, permit and visa in the group. Along with this, you are going to need 6x passport photos each, so make sure you get these in Khorog if you want to avoid the only camera in Afghan Ishkashim running out of batteries, followed by the only printer running out of ink, paper, the will to live etc.

Finally, if you are driving a car, you need to budget for this. It will cost $100 at the consulate in Khorog and a further $80-$100 at the border crossing when you exit Afghanistan. This is for the foreign vehicle registration and road permits for the Afghan Wakhan. All of the above is totally possible without a guide, but using the services of a local guide makes the entire process a lot faster and easier. A guide will cost you around $60 per day plus food and accommodation.

EU, UK and US citizens are on the visa-free list for Armenia for stays of up to 180 days.

Most other nations are also visa free or even visa-exempt. There is still a list of those countries whose citizens require a visa on arrival in Armenia, and details of this and other arrangements for those citizens can be found here

Azerbaijan has an efficient e-visa system with a simple online application and payment portal that usually results in a visa being issued within 48 hours. This provides only single entry visas. For all other visa types you should consult your local Embassy of Azerbaijan for details. Citizens of most countries are eligible for the e-visa process but some may not be – check the e-visa website here for details.

There is a burgeoning trade in fake e-visa sites that will handle your application for you. They look incredibly realistic and whilst many do actually provide the e-visa for you, it will be for a significant fee, sometimes up to three times what the actual e-visa would cost through the government web portal. The real portal is at https://evisa.gov.az/en/  and should cost around US$20 with a US$3 fee for processing.

You’ll need to know the address of a hotel in Azerbaijan to include on your application. Usually we will have informed you of this, but you can also use any search engine to find a hotel address in Baku.

A visa is required for overseas visitors to China. The process is relatively painless, using an online visa form on the Visa for China website which is then printed and sent to either your local Visa for China Centre (see website for details of your nearest). The cost of a Chinese visa is around US$140 and the timescale is around one week to get your returned passport/visa.

We work with local partners and for any tour involving China on the itinerary, we will inform you of the process and outline all steps that we can take to assist you in obtaining your visa in the most efficient and pain-free manner.

Citizens of more than 90 countries can enter Georgia for up to one year without needing a visa. For others there is an e-visa system available. Details of the states permitted to enter without a visa can be found here

Iran has a visa-free regime for citizens of around eleven countries. It has a visa-on-arrival scheme in place with many nations, details via Wikipedia here as the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs own site often provides outdated information. Israeli citizens cannot get a visa to visit Iran.

This information is divided into two sections – the first is for nationals of the UK, US and Canada (collectively known as the ABC countries) on the process of requesting a visa and having it issued in the passport by your local Iranian consulate.

The second part is for those nationalities eligible for a Visa on Arrival (VOA) and what procedure to follow in requesting and during the issuance process in Iran.

ABC (America, Britain and Canada) – Visa at Consulate

  1. All ABC nationals must be part of a tour (group or private) in order to visit Iran as a tourist.
  2. Visas must be applied for in advance and issued in their passports before arrival.
  3. ABC nationals may not use the Visa on Arrival system.
  4. The procedure works as follows for all three nationalities:

On booking, we will ask you for some basic personal information – names, address, occupation etc, plus scans of your passport and a passport photo, and a completed CV/ Resume form that also includes details of your domestic addresses for the last 10 years.

Once ALL of these documents have been received they should be sent together to us for forwarding to our local partner. They then translate them to Persian for submission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For group travel, all documents must be submitted at the same time – individual submissions are not possible for members of a group.

It takes anywhere from three to five weeks for the visa authorization number to be processed.

When we receive the VOA code (Visa authorization number) from our Iranian partner, we will send it to you. It looks like this (click to see full image):

You must then must apply for the actual visa at the Iranian consulate or consular office where they requested to have it issued, as follows:

North America

US and Canadian citizens visas are processed through the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, DC. Current visa costs should be checked on-line or confirmed at time of processing as they may change.

Iranian Interest Section – Embassy of Pakistan
Address: 1250 23rd St NW #200, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Telephone: +1 202 965 4990
Website: http://www.daftar.org/Eng/default.asp?lang=eng

They are very helpful with questions and instructions should you have any questions or concerns.

Again, the cost of the visas, shipping charges and method of payment need to be checked at time of processing as conditions may change.

You will need the following documentation:

  1. The completed visa form.
  2. List of residences for the last ten years.
  3. A scanned passport photo (women do not need to wear a headscarf for this photo) (must be of correct quality in order to be accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see the following site for details: https://evisatraveller.mfa.ir/en/request/image_tools/). Also click to download the following guide to providing the correct type of image: PHOTO REQUIREMENTS
  4. A scanned passport information page (must be of correct quality in order to be accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see the following site for details: https://evisatraveller.mfa.ir/en/request/image_tools/). Also click to download the following guide to providing the correct type of passport scan: PASSPORT COPY REQUIREMENTS
  5. A CV / Resumé template – fully completed (you will have provided this to us at the visa authorisation stage – see document below)
  6. Basic social media profiles link address – LinkedIn or Facebook
  7. Travel insurance certificate/schedule

Here is a CV/Resumé template for you to download and complete:

CV and Residency Form UPDATED
United Kingdom

UK nationals are processed at the Iranian Consulate in London.

Current visa costs should be checked on-line / by telephone and confirmed at time of processing as they may change.

Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Address: 50 Kensington Ct, Kensington, London W8 5DD, UK
Telephone: + 44 20 7361 0814
Website: http://iranconsulate-london.org/en/221

To have the visa issued you will need to visit the Consulate in London in person.
Current opening hours are 2:00 – 5:00 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but please check the consulate website first to confirm this.

If possible also call ahead of time to check for random closures.

When you attend the Consulate, first obtain a queue ticket from the desk upstairs and then go back outside and down the steps into the basement section and wait for your number to be called.

You will then need to hand in:

  1. The printed copy of the Visa Authorization Code provided by the tour operator
  2. Two passport photographs (scarf is not required for women) See click to download the following guide to providing the correct type of image: PHOTO REQUIREMENTS
  3. Completed visa application form (available on the consulate website – see below for information to put on the form)
  4. The required visa fee IN CASH (currently £150, but take a bit more just in case of changes, again please reconfirm all with consulate beforehand.)
  5. Completed CV/Resumé template (you will have provided this to us at the visa authorisation stage – see document below)
  6. Travel insurance
  7. A self addressed and postage paid special delivery envelope if you want your passport posted back to you.
  8. Your fingerprints will be taken and a receipt provided which you’ll need if returning to collect your passport.
  9. We recommend you also take a copy of your flight tickets and tour itinerary to show, though these are not normally asked for.

Here is a CV/Resumé template for you to download and complete:

CV and Residency Form UPDATED

There are 3 options for collection of your passport with the completed visa:

  1. By post. It can take up to one week to have the visa issued in your passport and then posted back to you so to be safe please ensure you won’t need your passport for 2 weeks after the date of your visit to the consulate.
  2. In person. You can visit the consulate again, normally in one week’s time, to pick up your passport and completed visa. The official will give you a day and time to come back with your receipt. This is really most suitable if you live in or close to London.
  3. Same day. For an extra fee (currently an extra £100) you can pay for a same day service. For this you return to the consulate with your receipt at 4.30pm the same day and wait in the ground floor hall (not the basement where you submitted your passport). Completed passports are then handed out.

Visa application form information:

Most sections are self explanatory, but the following info can be used for the specific fields noted:

  • Type of visa: Tourism
  • Number of entries: Single (unless you have a complicated multi visit trip)
  • Purpose of visit: Tourism
  • Date of entry: As per your flight itinerary
  • Duration of stay: As per your itinerary (eg. 7 days)
  • Name of individuals you plan to meet: We will provide this to our clients after booking.
  • Your address & phone number in Iran: We will provide this to our clients after booking
  • Phone: We will provide this to our clients after booking
  • Business Address: Leave blank
  • Mailing address: Leave blank unless you are getting your passport posted back to you, in which case add your home address.

Visa on Arrival for citizens of eligible countries

Citizens of most countries outside the ABC nations, noted above, can obtain a Visa on Arrival (VOA). This means that a pre-authorization called a Visa Authorization Code will be issued prior to departure and be exchanged at the airport of arrival in Iran for a paper visa that you must keep with you until departure.

If you are travelling by land you must have the visa issued in your passport prior to departure and cannot use the VOA. The VOA can be issued in the following Iranian airports:

  • Ahvaz International Airport
  • Bandar Abbas International Airport
  • Imam Khomeini International Airport – Tehran
  • Isfahan International Airport
  • Mashhad International Airport
  • Shiraz International Airport
  • Tabriz International Airport

In order to obtain the VOA you must provide the following to us:

  1. Fuly completed visa form.
  2. A scanned passport photo (women do not need to wear a headscarf for this photo) (must be of correct quality in order to be accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – see fhe following site for details: https://evisatraveller.mfa.ir/en/request/image_tools/). Also click to download the following guide to providing the correct type of image: PHOTO REQUIREMENTS
  3. A scanned passport information page (must be of correct quality in order to be accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – see the following site for details: https://evisatraveller.mfa.ir/en/request/image_tools/). Also click to download the following guide to providing the correct type of passport scan: PASSPORT COPY REQUIREMENTS

Send it to us, and this will then be submitted via our Iranian partner to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Visa Authorization code will be issued. Please note this can only be applied for 4 to 5 weeks prior to departure, as the document is only good for entry to Iran for 30 days.

Once issued, we will send you a PDF of your visa grant notice (click on thumbnails for larger images)

You’ll take this with your passport and on entering the country, follow the signs for Visa on Arrival.

Here you’ll first get an insurance document ($16):

which you take along to the visa counter.

They will look at your form and send you over to the bank, where you’ll pay your visa fee ($75), and receive a receipt:

You then take this back to the visa counter, where they’ll swap your visa grant notice for a Visa in paper format (no stamp in your passport):

This paper must stay with your passport throughout your stay, and will be stamped by immigration.

Make sure that it is not separated from your passport – especially for example, at hotel receptions etc.

Now you have entered the Islamic Republic of Iran!

Citizens of the following countries can gain a visa on arrival (15-30 days validity, free of charge) but can only travel in Kurdish areas. Any travel intended for other areas of Iraq must have a visa, organised separately at your local Iraqi Embassy.

•  United States •  Denmark •  Ireland •  Portugal
•  Canada •  United Arab Emirates •  Italy •  Qatar
•  Australia •  Estonia •  Japan •  Romania
•  Austria •  Finland •  Kuwait •  Slovakia
•  Belgium •  France •  Latvia •  Slovenia
•  Brazil •  Germany •  Luxembourg •  South Korea
•  Bulgaria •  Greece •  Malta •  Spain
•  Croatia •  The Netherlands •  New Zealand •  Sweden
•  Cyprus •  Hungary •  Norway •  Turkey
•  Czech Republic •  Iran •  Poland •  United Kingdom

To travel in Israel or the Palestinian Occupied Territories, most nationalities will not require a visa, thanks to wide-ranging visa exemption. The UK and USA and many EU states are exempt from visa requirements, but other nationals may still need a visa. The details for all nationalities can be found here.

Officially, passports are no longer stamped on entry or exit to Israel and instead a gate ticket is provided with a picture of yourself and a bar-code identifier on it. However, situations can arise where a resort to the old stamp system is needed so if you are to travel onwards to an Arab country, visitors must ensure that the officer is aware not to stamp your passport. This is rare but worth knowing about.

Jordan requires a visa for those wishing to visit. All visas are obtained easily on entry to the country and are provided as single entry (30 days US$60), double entry (90 days US$90) or multiple entry (180 days US$170). Exit fees of around US$15 are levied on exiting the country by any land or sea border, but not at airports.

Further information on the visa procedure for Jordan can be found on the Jordan Tourism Board website here.

An alternative to the visa is the Jordan Pass, which – as long as your itinerary includes 3 nights/4 days stay in Jordan – waives the visa fee and also includes free entry to over 40 historical and cultural sites, notably Petra, whose day entry fee alone usually costs from US$70. The Jordan pass costs from US$99 and is ordered online before arrival via the Jordan Pass website.

Citizens of the UK, EU, USA and around 30 other countries can enter Kazakhstan without a visa.

Others will need to obtain a visa before or on arrival and the timing and cost will depend on whether it is single, double or multiple entry.

All nationalities who enter Kazakhstan will be given a registration card and must keep it with them and get it stamped at Migration Offices (OVIR) within 5 days of arrival. Technically, those arriving in Kazakhstan who are part of the visa-free regime do not need stamps, but in practice the rules can be enforced rather arbitrarily. If you want to be safe, go to the local OVIR office and get stamped within 5 days of arrival.

Our guests will have advice given to them in their travel information packs that is up-to-date and relevant to their trip.

The vast majority of nationalities can enter Kyrgyzstan without a visa and can stay for betwen 30 days and indefinitely, depending on citizenship.

For the UK, EU and USA as well as many other nations, the visa-free regime allows up to 60 days stay with as many top-ups as you like.

Pakistan is a place with some pretty complex visa procedures and a lot of outdated information on government and embassy websites. In essence, independent travel is becoming more difficult, yet is still possible.

You’ll need a letter of invitation from a registered Pakistani tour operator and you’ll then need to complete the visa application for a tourist visa. This will involve entering details about your grandparents and their professions, providing an itinerary of your proposed trip, and providing proof of your employment status and available funds. It can all feel a little overwhelmingly invasive, but they are the rules and sticking to them normally results in a visa being issued within two weeks of your application arriving at your local Pakistan Embassy.

For our itineraries in Pakistan we work with a local partner who can help us to gain group tourist visas. These are easier to obtain and are issued on arrival. This is only open to citizens of around 20 countries (most of the EU, Australia, USA and UK are included on the list). You are welcome to contact us for further details.

Tajikistan provides a slick e-visa process for citizens of many countries that permits a single entry of up to 45 days per e-visa for citizens of most nations.

Details of countries eligible for e-visas and those who are permitted visa-free travel to Tajikistan can be found here.

Those travelling who want to enter the country more than once have the choice to either apply at their local Embassy of Tajikistan for a multiple-entry visa – a process that will likely involve at least one trip to the embassy in person plus a significant fee – or they can apply for a second e-visa.

For example, if you were travelling to Tajikistan and wanted to leave to see the sights of Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan before returning to finish your trip in Tajikistan, you’d apply for one e-visa for the initial date of entry, and a second from your date of re-entry. You’ll need to pay for two e-visas but we feel this is far simpler than the other options available.  If you get 2 sequential e-visas organised, be sure to only provide the authorities with the first one when you enter the country for the first time. We have heard of people handing both documents over when entering and the authorities simply stamp the newest one, thereby rendering the other, earlier on invalid.

A single e-visa costs US$50, the process takes around 20 minutes online via the government portal here and results in your e-visa being issued within around 48 hours. There are some sites appearing that look like the Tajik e-visa portal but these are either scams or agents who will charge you to do what is a very simple job that you can easily do yourself.

If you intend to visit the Pamirs, Wakhan or other areas of southern or eastern Tajikistan, then you are going to need a GBAO permit (GBAO stands for Gorno Badakshan Automomous Oblast and is the region encompassing the Pamirs) in addition to your e-visa. This is obtained on the same online portal via a simple tick-box and costs a further US$20 per visit.

You will need the address of a guesthouse or hotel in Dushanbe on your application and these can easily be found via any search engine.

Turkmenistan is not an easy place for which to obtain a visa. There are two ways to enter the country:

  1. On a transit visa. This is issued for those travelling across the country and normally applies to those entering at one border and leaving by another. Exceptions have been known. Transit visas are applied-for via your local Embassy of Turkmenistan and will require proof of travel both inbound and outbound to/from Turkmenistan, plus visas for the countries you will enter on departure.
  2. On an organised tour of the country with a registered Turkmen tourism organisation. As part of our trips that include Turkmenistan, we will request information from you in order to provide a letter of invitation from the Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is swapped for a visa at the border on entering the country. It is by far the simplest process. You’ll pay around $85 in cash – more for some nationalities – at the border entry point to Turkmenistan. Expect to be at the border for at least 2 hours on your way into Turkmenistan, less on the way out.

There are currently no other, easier ways to get a visa for Turkmenistan. It is the least-visited Central Asian country with under ten thousand visas being issued each year (2018) This is less than visit the spice bazaar in Istanbul in a single hour of every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Turkey has an e-visa system for most nationalities, valid for visits of up to 90 days for a cost of US$20. The website can be found here.

As with many other countries requiring an e-visa, there are many sites with similar web addresses acting as agents for a fee. Go the government site linked above and you will pay much less for what is a very simple process – it takes around five minutes. Citizens of many countries – including some EU nations, the USA and UK – can get both single and multiple entry e-visas from the site. Others (see the FAQ’s on the site for lists of countries) will need to make a paper application for multiple entry visas.

 

Uzbekistan was once a difficult place for which to obtain your visa. Thankfully it is in the throes of creating greatly increased accessiblity for tourists.

On January 5th 2019, the government of Uzbekistan announced the relaxation of visa rules for around 55 countries. The following nations are now ‘visa-free’ and citizens do not require a visa to enter Uzbekistan for up to 30 days (starting from Feb 1st  2019):

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vatican City.

For those nationalities not on the above list, as of July 2018 an e-visa scheme has been in place.  Applications and details of the countries included can be found here. The cost is US$20 and the form takes a mere 10 minutes to complete. You can expect to receive your email within about 48 hours of applying. As with other countries with an e-visa system, this is for single entries only.

Any multiple entry visas for nationalities not on the visa-free list should still be obtained at the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here. This older website allows you to enter your information to an online form, then print it out ready for sending to your local Embassy. As with other visa sites, you will need a scan of your passport, a digital passport photograph and a hotel address in Uzbekistan. The cost is around US$120 for US citizens.

Here are the details you’d need to complete the older Uzbekistan Visa form online, prior to printing and sending to your embassy:

These are the details you’ll need for the form:

  1. You’ll need a passport photo to upload, and hard copies to send with the form.
  2. In ‘accompanied’ persons, leave this blank – it is for dependents e.g. children
  3. Period of visit – give yourself a couple of days leeway on each side of your visit
  4. Duration of stay –  include the leeway mentioned.
  5. Number of entries – total border entries needed
  6. Duration of visa procedure – usual, unless you want to go for an express service
  7. Place of Visa issuance – please choose the most local to you.
  8. Route – select the major cities from the drop-down list.
  9. The local address in Uzbekistan : choose a hotel in one of the cities you’ll visit
  10. Purpose of visit – Tourism, visiting Silk Road sites
  11. Inviting Party – n/a
  12. Don’t click the button to add next person travelling together, just print the form (2 copies needed)
  13. Sign and date each copy
  14. Enclose 2 passport photos 35x45mm
  15. Enclose your physical passport
  16. Enclose a scan of your passport data pages plus a scan of any used pages.
  17. Send payment or payment details as per the request on your local embassy website.
  18. For the Uzbek Embassy in London, payments need to be made to a UK bank account via BACS payment. We will furnish you with details on this process if required.

It is worth noting that Uzbekistan has some very strict laws on the importation of medicines. Some of the medicines you routinely use and gain prescriptions for at home may be illegal and carry fines (or worse) if found on your person or luggage at the border. If in doubt, do please contact us or look here for a list of the affected medicines.