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 $150 per person 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.

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 is currently providing outdated information.

Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, India and several other countries (see links above for details) must apply for a visa well in advance. Visa cost is around US$300 for these countries but under US$ for other countries on the visa-on-arrival scheme.

Our itineraries are developed in partnership with local operators and we will provide you with comprehensive details of the required process after booking and aim to make the application process as pain-free as possible regardless of your nationality.

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.

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.

As of July 2018 an e-visa scheme has been in place for many countries. 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 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$80 for UK/EU citizens and US$120 for US citizens. Some nationalities (e.g. Singapore) are part of a new visa-free regime, so do check the website links above for details.

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.