Friday, April 19, 2013


Since moving to Euroland in July 2009, I've been to 37 countries.  So far I've been fortunate that I haven't really had to deal with obtaining visas.  A visa is a common requirement, depending on your citizenship, to be able to visit a particular country.  There are tourist visas, transit visas, business visas, student visas, residence visas, etc., and each visa is good only for a specific period of time.  Visas can be for a single entry, double entry or multiple entries.  Visas usually take up one whole passport page which is a downer.  We're talking prime passport real estate.

Visas fees are all over the place.  There's this reciprocity thing where countries tend to charge tit-for-tat.  For example, the USA charges Uzbeks $180 for an American tourist visa so Uzbeks turn right around and require Americans to pay $160 for a visa to Uzbekistan whereas they only charge $60 to someone with a Danish passport and $4 for someone from Tajikistan.

Sometimes the more obscure the country the higher the visa fees.  It seems to me that lower visa fees would encourage more tourists to visit Country X and spend their money there. 

Henley & Partners is a law firm that publishes an annual list ranking the ease of travel by citizenship.  The higher the score then the more countries one can visit without needing a visa.  In 2012, Denmark came in 1st place.  If you hold a Danish passport then you can visit 169 countries without needing a visa.  The USA tied for 4th place with Italy and Luxembourg at 166 countries.  The Czech Republic came in 15th place with 152 countries not requiring visas for Czech citizens.  Afghanistan scored the lowest with only 26 countries not requiring visas.

Arrival visa stamps for UAE & Oman
Now these numbers are for countries that do not require visas.  This does not include the "visa on arrival".  The UAE requires Americans to have a visa but it is given as you pass through immigration.  And it was free so for me I still consider this as a non-issue.

Turkish on arrival visa sticker

Americans need a visa for Turkey, but it too is available on arrival.  It only costs €15 and I didn't have to apply in advance at the nearest embassy.

This is what's so nice about the Schengen area.  Once you're in, you can travel around and not have to deal with visas and passport control as you cross borders.

Full page Czech residency visa
Most times the visa application process can be extremely complicated and time consuming.  I decided against going to Belarus because the application process was more than I was willing to deal with this year.  I've been told by many of my Eurocrew that getting a visa to visit the USA is super difficult and often requires an in-person interview at the embassy.

Traditionally, applying for a Russian tourist visa was a pain in the arse.  A single entry visa is $180.  However, as of last year, Americans can now apply for a 3-year, multiple entry visa, for only $235.  Hmmm...I might need to start planning some trips to Russia.

My Armenian E-Visa
Nest week I'm off to the Caucasus.  I don't need a visa for Georgia.  Americans do need a visa for Armenia but they have this nifty e-visa.  You apply on-line and the visa is e-mailed to you.  I just have to print it out and take it with me.  The e-visa costs $40 but the cool thing is that it won't take up a full page in my passport.  The trick will be getting an Azeri visa.  Apparently, it order to visit Azerbaijan, there's a requirement for foreigners to jump through bureaucratic hoops like trained circus poodles.

Update: In 2019, Uzbekistan implemented an e-visa, and for an American, a single-entry visa for 30 days is only $20.

1 comment:

  1. I wish that I had your issue with extremely complicated and time consuming visa applications.

    But the information is really very interesting.

    Getting a visa to the USA is relatively difficult and relatively expensive (for the same money you can buy a return flight Prague- Geneva with Czech Airline) + the humiliation on arrival in the US with the fingerprints taking. I hope that it is not as humiliating as when arriving at Oliver Tambo Airport, but quandmeme.

    I am now "saving" money for a trip to NZ. I hope to make it next year.