When Do You Need A Travel Visa: The Complete Guide To Visa Requirements By Country
When do you need a travel visa is not an easy question to answer; it’s a complex one. And, there are so many sources on the internet which are not up to date or correct. Different country governments require that visitors for business, studies, or tourism obtain travel visas to travel to enter their county. These requirements consistently change, and unless you are booking your travel through a tour operator or travel agent, you will need to determine the visa requirements by country for yourself.
Figuring out the visa requirements by country can be a challenge. If if you get it wrong, you will not be able to board your flight, and it will be a costly mistake.
I recently came back from a trip that was planned to include Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Part of my standard process is to research visa requirements by country and apply for the travel visa if required. I have a double challenge in that I travel on a British Passport, and Brian goes on an American one. What this means is the visa requirements are different for both of us for each country. Of the four countries planned, the information I researched was only correct for one location of the four counties. A first for me, and I’ll share the impact of this below.
This recent experience fuelled my drive to find a one-stop-shop tool that will do all the work and determine when do you need a travel visa, the requirements by country, and the visa requirements by passport-type held – aka citizenship.
iVisa – The Complete Guide To Visa Requirements By Country
I’m familiar with some tools and services that I’ve used before, and I researched many new tools. What you will find when you research travel visa tools or services is that most of them will give you a long list of county requirements that you need to read. Few have an easy to use search portal like this:
Simply enter in the country you are from (where your issued passport is from) and where you are going then hit Apply Now. It’s that easy.
What’s cool about this tool beyond the convenience is that even if you still prefer to apply for a visa yourself, this tool will give you up to date and accurate visa requirements by country to citizenship.
If you decide that the visa process is overwhelming and you don’t want to apply for yourself, iVisa can process the visa for a nominal fee (typically between $20 and $35). iVisa’s tool will also show you all the costs for self-application or application through them:
If you’ve ever used a visa or concierge service, you’ll know that a $20 fee is ridiculously cheap. I paid an $89 service for Brian’s visa for Brazil through Visa Express. We had to use a service for this one because the closest consulate is in Miami, and at the time, we could not apply online, and it had to be in person. Paying $89 for a service to handle it was better than a trip to Miami.
Now that I’ve given you the secret weapon, let’s get into the details around what travel visas are, the different types of travel visas, and what happens when it goes wrong!
What is a Travel Visa?
A travel visa is a conditional and temporary authorization that a country grants to a foreigner that is planning to visit a country for any reason. All visas stipulate terms and conditions on length of stay, type of rest, and exit criteria. All visas are subject to inspection by an immigration official at the time of actual entry. It’s important to note that a travel visa can be revoked at any time by the issuing country.
Types of Travel Visas
The Most Common Types of Travel Visas:
Business or work visa
Less Common Types of Travel Visas:
Exchange visitor visa
Single and double-entry visas
Ship crew visa
Religious worker visa
Media or journalist visa
Visa on Arrival (VOP) or On-Arrival Travel Visas
I think this is the most confusing or complicated visa concept to research and comprehend. For example, the visa on arrival in Cambodia is as implied. You land and apply for the visa there are then. Visa on arrival for Vietnam is not as indicated; you must apply first and be approved. Following this, you can then collect “upon” arrival.
Even if a country issues visas upon arrival, you need to know if you must apply in advance. In the case of Vietnam, an American needs to have secured their visa before arrival.
Which Countries Require Travel Visas?
There are 196 counties in the world, and of those, only four are visa-free. Meaning that citizens of every country can enter without a travel visa. They are;
Federated States of Micronesia
What this means that the other 192 countries have visa requirements. These requirements vary based on your citizenship. Check here to determine if you need a travel visa:
When Do You Need To Apply for a Travel Visa?
In almost all cases, you will need to apply for a travel visa before your trip begins. The processing time for travel visas varies wildly from a few days to a couple of months. Ideally, you will determine the travel visa requirements before you book your flights. And, this is an easy one to accomplish if you use iVisa.
If you decide not to use iVisa, then you will need to visit the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. This is a time-consuming process that is not foolproof. For example, when you search for topics like Vietnam visa, most of the results that come up are visa service sites and not the embassy or consulate for Vietnam. I’ve found this to be the case for many countries.
Travel visas are not guaranteed, and in some cases, they are not granted electronically. Some Embassies may ask you to come in for an interview. Other times, they may require more documentation. Lastly, any fees you pay are none refundable regardless of approved or not.
What is Required for a Travel Visa?
All countries have different requirements, but almost all require that you have six months left on your passport post-travel date and two free pages within your passport.
Here are some other things that may be required:
Proof of funds
Onward travel or exit flight documentation
Evidence of where you are staying while in the country
A copy of your medical insurance
What Happens When You Get it Wrong?
There are essentially two things that can happen:
The airline will deny you boarding
You somehow get on the plane and are denied entry to the county
I don’t know which is worse, but I’ve experienced number one firsthand.
The trip that I just returned from was to include Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Vietnam was our first leg, and it was not meant to be.
The research said not needed for UK passport and upon arrival for US passport.
Reality: Upon arrival for the US passport is only “upon arrival” if you have applied in advance and have been approved.
As a result, we did not travel to Vietnam. We adjusted our plan to go directly to Bali, which was destination two. A situation that might freak some people out. I’ll admit being hit with this as you are checking in is a nightmare. It took some on the spot creative planning that is not for the faint of heart. In addition to having to get a new flight route sorted out quickly, I also had to cancel the hotel in Vietnam and book a new hotel for the additional time in Bali.
For what it’s worth, I think this was meant to be. I’m a massive believer in fate; we were not destined to be in Vietnam this year. Plus, this gave us eleven nights in Bali vs. six, which turned out to be fabulous. We explored three regions and had plenty of relaxation. However, this could have been avoided if I had used iVisa:
Indonesia – Bali
The research said visa on arrival and $25 for all passports.
Reality: 30-day visa granted on-site – free – zero cost.
Cambodia – Siem Reap
The research said visa on arrival, $30 for all passports, and two passport photos required.
Reality: visa on arrival, $30 for all passports and no passport photos needed, they take the pictures on site.
Malaysia – Singapore
The research said visa granted on-site – free – zero cost.
Reality: visa granted on-site – free – zero cost.
In short, the only one that was 100% correct was Malaysia – Singapore.
So Why Use iVisa to Get Your Travel Visa?
If my recent Vietnam blunder did not convince you, here are some other reasons that should:
Your time is valuable, and iVisa’s information if free to you. You are only charged a service fee if you use their service to obtain a travel visa.
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.