Visas are one of the most annoying things for a traveller! I've written the following from our experiences of travelling between May 2011 - Febuary 2012. This is important for you to know in case any entry agreements have changed since my time of writing.
Note that the following information relates to the holder of a UK passport only.
Visa conditions vary, not only by country of entry, but also the nationality of the person entering. We learn't this the hard way... Radka's Czech and I'm English, we always have to check twice! Every country has different policies about visa entry.
Ok, so visas can be a breeze or a nightmare and most information you read on the internet is contradictory, bringing me to the first rule... 'always speak to a representative from the embassy of which you intend to collect your visa'. I like to write down my findings from the internet and then confirm them with a quick phone call to the embassy.
I've written the following list of questions that you should be able to answer when considering your next visa
Things to consider
- Does the visa activate upon issue or arrival in the country?
Important for long tours
- Do I need to get a visa before hand or can I get one at the border?
Some countries allow this, others don't. Also the visa length may vary if you get it before or upon arrival. e.g. Thailand only gives you 15 days overland, but 30days if you arrive by plane
- Can I get my a visa from a country along the way or must it be obtained from my home country?
Sometimes it's actually easier to get your visa from a neighbouring country rather than trekking to the embassy in your own country.
- How long do I need?
Visa's mostly range from 1-3-6 months or a year. Some only offer days! Check before spending too much time planning your route
- Should I get a multiple or single entry visa?
Ask yourself how many times you'll be crossing between borders based on your intended route.
- What type of visa?
Working, Holiday, Student etc
- Do I need an outbound flight?
Yes, sometimes you need to have the outbound flight booked, e.g. Philippines. Book a fully refundable flight, cancel it once in the country and have it refunded once you're out of the country. Check the conditions with a fine tooth comb!
- Do I need a letter of invitation?
Some countries ask for a letter from the government before you go. I think it's just money making.
- Is it easier/cheaper for me to pay an agency to process my application?
Consider that the agency could get you the visa or application number which would speed up your waiting time whilst in the country. The cost of the agency fee may be less than 5 days in a hotel!
Always take with you...
- Your passport
- 3x Photocopy of your passport: I carry two b&w and one colour
- At least 6x passport sized photos
- Funds: Physical money from the country you're in: Some embassys don't accept credit cards. I also carry dollars and euros should i need them
- Proof of funding for the time you're in the country: A statement from the bank should do
- Letter of invitation (if required)
- Outbound flight ticket (if required)
If you travel with someone of different nationality, there's always the chance that one of you may be granted a visa and the other denied, this would be pretty annoying after spending all of the money and time applying only to be told one can't go! But hey, it adds to the excitement right???
Countries: Based on UK passport
- Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria: No visa required.
- Serbia: On arrival, free of charge, 90days.
- Turkey: On arrival, £10, 90days (Czech's don't need a Turkish visa).
- India: Obtain before entering the country. Can get at embassy in different country. I got mine in Ankara. 6month, double entry cost 58 USD.
- Malaysia: On arrival. Free for 90days.
- Thailand: On arrival. 15days if crossing overland, 30days if entering via plane. I got a single entry, 3month in Penang (Malaysia) for around £30. It's very easy, there are many guesthouses in Penang that will get the visa for you. You simply give them your passport, photos and money in the morning. They return it to you in the evening, ready to go!
- Vietnam: I've heard it's as easy as Thailand e.g. You can get a Vietnamese visa in 1 day from many guesthouse's in Phnom Pehn (Cambodia). I've never tried.
- Cambodia: Easy! You can get an eVisa online www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/
- Philippines: On arrival. Free but you must have an outbound ticket! This is important or you'll have to purchase one from the booth of the airline you're flying with. You can refund it but they'll charge you a fair whack! Around 20% of the ticket price. I found out the hard way, they wouldn't let me check in unless I had a ticket!
We've come to the conclusion that you should be aware of the visa requirements for your immediate route only. Focus on the next two/three ahead, there's no point in worrying further than that because the visa rules may change by the time you get there, the political situation could change or you may simply realise that you no longer want to go to the country. Saying this, I found out that I could only get a Pakistan visa from my home country, this changed our route completely!
A good, up-to-date website for visa information is www.fco.gov.uk. Email me via the 'contact' link in the navigation above for more info, i'd love to help.
This is by no means a definitive list, i'm afraid you're just gonna have to give it time!... Visa's can be complicated!