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:: visa information ::

The information on this page is relevant to people applying for visas using a British passport.  I'm sure some of the processes will be very similar, if not the same, for other passport holders.  Rules and regulations change all the time, so please check with the relevant country's consulates wherever you applying from.
 
PLEASE NOTE - We used our South African passports to travel in Africa (from Egypt onwards).  Rules and costs may be different for other nationalities.
 
South Korea - info correct at June 2008

British passport holders do not require a visa for the entry purpose of a short term visit (e.g. Tourism, Visiting friends or relatives, Attending business meetings) up to 90 days.

Russian Federation - info correct at June 2008

Here is a brief outline of our visa application process for a multi-entry business visa.

A few things to note:

- We have never been to Russia before, we've heard a few rumours of not being able to get a multi-entry business visa if it is the first time you are applying for a multi-entry business visa.
- We applied at the Russian consulate in Sydney.

We used
Stantours to apply for our Russian letter of Invitation. Their service was excellent and we did not have any trouble receiving the original LOI via DHL.  You need the original LOI when applying for the business visa in Australia.  I'm not sure if this is the case for a tourist or any other visa class.

The Russian Foreign Ministry will not issue the LOI more than 45 days in advance of intended date of entry.

We used the 28 days service from Stantours for our LOI, but got the LOI in about 22 days.  They do have quicker services, but this will cost you a bit more.  We paid approximately US$ 110 per person for the LOI.

I asked the question regarding not being able to get a multi entry visa if it is the first time you apply for the visa. Their response was that generally speaking if the LOI is issued, then the consulate will process the application and issue according to the LOI. We decided to go ahead and applied for the LOI for the multi-entry visa even though there could be a chance that it might not be issued. We did however receive the multi-entry business visa LOI.

We paid AU$ 350 per application at the consulate in Sydney. Processing time was 15 working days. The process was really very easy and straight forward. Fill in the application form with one passport photo, ensure you have 6 months left on your passport after the visa expires. It does say on the consulate website that you need a HIV certificate. We did have this, but the guy processing our application never looked at it.  All in all, it took about 15 mins.  10 of those 15 minutes were spent waiting in line for someone to help us.

Finally, there is a limitation on the visa that you can only be in Russia for 90 out of 180 days.  Our visa is valid for a total of 12 months.

Mongolia - info correct at June 2008

We applied for our Mongolian visa in Australia.  The process was really quick and easy.  We applied for the visa by post.  We applied for a single entry tourist visa.  The cost per person for the visa is AU$ 65.  Published processing time on their website is 7 - 10 days.  We received our passports back within 6 days.  The visa is valid for 90 days before you have to enter Mongolia.

The documents we supplied were the application forms, passport photos, money order for the visa fee and a very short letter stating that we will enter Mongolia with our own vehicle and at what border crossing we will enter with a rough estimate of intended date of entry. 

Kazakhstan - info correct at August 2008

We need to enter Kazakhstan twice.  We were going to use a double entry tourist visa for this (for which you need a LOI, Stantours can supply the LOI), but decided that we will apply for a single entry tourist visa in Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia, and then get a second visa in Uzbekistan.

The Kazakh consulate moved from the location listed in the Lonely Planet guidebook. 

The GPS co-ordinaates for the embassy is N47 53.552 E106 54.603

The opening times are also different to what the Lonely Planet says.  The opening times are as follow.

10:00 - 12:00 and 16:00 - 18:00.  They are not open on a Wednesday. 

The cost for the visa itself is US$ 30 per person.  Processing time is at least 5 working days.  You can have a quicker service which is 2 working days for an additional US$ 50 per application.

There are 2 application forms to complete and you need a copy of your passport.  You need to have a brief outline of places you want to go to, and you need 1 passport photo.

The US$ 30 needs to be paid into the bank account of the embassy here in Ulaan Bataar.  Once you have proof of the deposit, you take it back to the embassy.  The additional US$ 50 per application for a quicker service can be paid in local currency (US$ 1 = 1,150 Mongol Togrog).  You do not get any kind of receipt for the additional fee, and you pay it directly to the person taking the application (probably going straight to their pockets...)

Second Kazakhstan visa application in Bishkek, Kyrgystan - info correct at October 2008

We had to apply for a second tourist visa for Kazakhstan because we didn’t apply for a multi-entry visa the first time.  We decided to apply for the second visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for various reasons, of which one is to get it out the way and not have to worry about visas until Africa.

Kazakhstan Consulate in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan waypoint - N 42 50.081 E 74 35.114

It was a fairly easy to apply for the visa in Bishkek.  The opening times of the consulate are Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri (closed on Wednesdays) from 09:00am until 12:00 noon.  We were told to pick our visa up at 18:30. 

You need to complete an application form (you get this from the consulate), have one passport photo, a copy of your passport and also a copy of your Kyrgyzstan visa, complete an immigration card for Kazakhstan (get this from the consulate) and in our case, because we never had an inviting organization, we had to hand write a letter to the Consular General asking to issue us the tourist visa.  You have to list some personal passport details on the letter as well as the type of visa you require and for what period.

Payment is made at a local bank and the cost is US$30 per application.  The bank did not want to accept local currency and they will not accept any dollars with any marks on them.  Best to have brand new dollars.  The bank is a few km away from the embassy.  There are taxis that will take you there for 300 Som return.  The bank is the KazCommercial Bank and the waypoint is N42 51.995 E74 36.670.

Processing time is 3 – 5 working days.  They don’t have an express service.  We applied on the Friday and were told to pick it up on the following Thursday.  After a bit of begging, we managed to arrange to pick it up on the Tuesday.

Uzbekistan - info correct at September 2008

GPS position for embassy in Almaty:  N 43 15.616 E 76 57.792

We applied for a one-month tourist, single-entry visa for Uzbekistan.  We again used Stantours for our letter of invitation for Uzbek.  (I'm not sure if all nationalities need a LOI).  The cost for the Uzbek LOI was US$35 per person.  This price was correct at January 2008 when we started to arrange for the letters with David.

We had to supply some personal information to David, and also a rough itinerary etc.  The LOI took about 1 month.  The dates you supply for your visa are set, so if you think that you want to be there for 21 days, then it might be a good idea to ask for 30 days for example (in case something happens with your vehicle or what ever).  You have to specify where (which country/city) you want to collect your visa from.  This information needs to be on the LOI.  We opted to collect our visa in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The Lonely Planet states that the Uzbek consulate is open Mon - Thurs 14:00 - 16:30.  We got there on a Thursday at 15:30 and it was closed.  The guards told us to come back on Friday.  The signs on the doors say that it is open Mon - Wed and also on Fridays.  Opening times are advertised as 14:30 - 17:00, but the consulate remained open until 19:00 the Friday we were there.  I'm not sure if it was a one-off or not.

We arrived at the consulate at 13:30 on the Friday.  There were already some people there with forms completed.  We asked the guards for some forms and he said they didn't have any.  A few minutes later, someone who arrived after us managed to get a handful of forms from the same guard.  They must've miracously appeared from somewhere.  You need a completed application form, 1 passport photo and it was US$75 per person for the visa.

There is some kind of book you need to get your name into before you are allowed to go into the small visa section.  This is the tricky part.  They only let 5 people in at a time, and when they get a phone call from the inside somewhere, they can let another 5 people in.  The easiest way for you to get your name on the list as quickly as possible is to pay the policeman a bribe.  I think the standard bribe was about Tenge 1,500.  We refused to pay this though (the policeman never asked for a bribe though, but you could see it happening and we spoke to an Afghan guy who said that is how it works).  We thought that if we can't get in, then we would rather pay an agency to apply on our behalf.  If the agent decides to bribe them, then it is up to them.  A lot of pushing and shoving takes place to be in the front of the queue.  Mandy had to stand towards the back to avoid being pushed over by all the men.  In the end (about 17:30), there were 3 people left in the line.  Myself, Mandy and another British guy who didn't pay a bribe either.  At about 18:00 someone appeared out of nowhere from the guard's office and asked if we were British.  An unanimous yes went up and he simply said 'come with me'.  The guards unlocked the gate, we went in, and about 10 minutes later we had our visas in our passports.  We're not sure why he came out to ask us.  Maybe we got lucky...who knows.

In my personal opinion, I don't think the little book the policeman have where you need to get your name into means anything.  I think it is purely a means for them to control the people and the bribes.  We never ended up putting our names in the book.

Uzbek Update - September 2008

We had to go back to the Uzbek consulate because they made a mistake on my visa.  It was a completely different story this time with the people and guards.  There was one other person in the line, my name and passport details did actually go into the little book this time, and I was in and out in about 15 minutes.  I think we may have been unlucky on the Friday.  I think it was the end of Ramadam and/or Ede or something to do with that, and that was the reason it was so busy.  They may have stayed open longer hours for that as well on the Friday.

Kyrgyzstan - info correct at September 2008 

GPS position for embassy in Almaty:  N 43 14.359 E 76 57.681

We applied for a single entry 30-day tourist visa.  The consulate accepts applications in the morning between 10am and 13:00.  We collected our passport the same day at 4pm. 

We did not need a LOI (I believe this can change at times, so please check for recent updates).  We picked up the froms to complete at the consulate.  You need one passport photo and a copy of your passport (I think the copy just saves them from making one).

The cost for the visa is US$ 45 for the normal processing time of 4 - 10 working days.  The express processing is US$90 per person and you collect the passport with visa on the same day.

Payment for the visas must be made at one of the local bank.  You have to deposit the money into the consulate account and bring back the deposit slip as proof of payment.  You can make the deposit in local currency or in US $.  We paid in local currency and the cost was Tenge 10820 per person.

Tajikistan - info correct at September 2008

GPS co-ordinates for embassy in Almaty:  N 43 12.127 E 76 54.818

The Tajik embassy is not on the Lonely Planet map and a little bit trickier to find.  Will be easy enough if you have a GPS.

We applied for a single entry 30-day tourist visa.  The consulate accepts applications in the morning between 10am and 13:00.  Collection is between 3pm and 5pm.

We did not need a LOI (I believe this can change at times, so please check for recent updates).  We picked up the froms to complete at the consulate. 

They have express processing which will have it ready the next day at US$100 per person.  Normal processing is 3-5 working days.  We submitted our application for normal processing on the Monday and picked it up on the Friday.  Cost for normal processing is US$50 per person.

You need to complete 2 application forms per person and have 2 passport photos each.  We also had to write a brief letter while we were there to ask for them to issue the visas to us.  You also need a copy of your passport.
 
Temporary vehicle importation - After speaking to David at Stantours about Tajikistan, he informed us that you are only allowed to temporarily import your vehicle for 2 weeks.  Our visa is valid for 30 days, but this does not mean a thing for the importation.  He said that it might be possible to extend the importation for another 2 weeks in Dushanbe, but this could prove tricky and costly.  We therefore had to cut our planned trip to Tajikistan short by 1 week.
 
Temporary vehicle importation for Tajikistan update (info correct at 15 November 2008) - David from Stantours suggested that we should limit our stay in Tajikistan to no more that 2 weeks to avoid possible problems with the temporary vehicle importation docs when we leave. We did stick to the 2 weeks, but think it might be ok to bring a vehicle in for more than 2 weeks, because our documents we received from the custom guys stated that the vehicle could be in the country for the whole period of our visa. I think we had about 3 weeks left on our 30-day visa by the time we entered Tajik. So, the choice is yours, but maybe try and do a bit of research beforehand to avoid possible lengthy delays and problems.
GBAO Permit for the Pamir Highway - we tried to apply for this permit when we applied for our visas at the Tajik consulate here in Almaty.  We were told that they don't issue the permits anymore, and we should obtain these from travel agencies in Tajikistan.  We contacted David at Stantours regarding the GBAO permits.  He said that it is possible to obtain the permit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  He also said that the chances are about 80% for obtaining it at the Tajik consulate in Kyrgyzstan.  We therefore decided to use Stantours again to arrange our permits for us.  The cost is US$50 per person.  You need to provide David a copy of your passport and a copy of your Tajik visa to enable him to arrange the permit.  The permit takes approximately 2 weeks to obtain.  We will travel with a copy of the permit, which David emails to us once issued.
 
Turkey - info correct at March 2009
 
You can obtain your visa at the border for US $ 30 for a 90 day tourist visa.
 
Syria - info correct at March 2009
 
We applied for our visa in London.  It took 2 days to issue the visa.  You need to have 2 passports photos, an application form (you can complete this at the consulate using their computer) and it cost GBP 32 for a single entry visa. We requested a 30 day visa, but they only issue visas for 15 days.  You can lodge applications between 09:00 - 12:00.
 
Jordan - info correct at April 2009
 
You can obtain your visa at the border.  A 30-day single-entry tourist visa cost Jordan Dinar 10 per person.  There is no fee for the visa if you enter Jordan with a South African passport.
 
Egypt – info correct at March 2009

We planned to travel through Africa on our South African passports, and Egypt was the first realistic place for us to change over from our British passports.  We applied for a 6-month multi-entry tourist visa when we were in London.  The visa is free for South Africans passports.  The procedure is very easy.  Complete the visa application form (you can get it on the Egyptian consulate website) and attach 2 passport photos.  You can apply for it in person at the embassy, or you can do it by post.  Applying in person will take 3 working days and applying by post will take about 5 working days.  If you apply by post, then you have to include a stamped (registered mail) self-addressed envelope for the return.  I’m not sure if you can get the visa at the border, but I would expect that it is possible, because you can get a visa at the border if you travel on a British passport.
 
Ethiopia – info correct at April 2009

The Ethiopian embassy in Cairo is located at N30 02 412 E 031 12 276.
We applied for our Ethiopian visa in Cairo.  There are 2 options (probably a lot more, but for our needs 2 options), a 30-day tourist visa or a 90-day tourist visa.  The 30-day visa cost US$20 and the 90-day visa cost US$30.  You need to complete the very easy application form and have one passport photo with the application.  You can normally collect your visa the following working day in the afternoon, but we managed to arrange to pick it up in the morning because we had to go to the Sudanese embassy.  The visa is valid from the day they issue it.  In other words, if today is 20 April and you want to enter Ethiopia on 30 May, then a 30-day visa will not allow you to do this.  You have to apply for the 90-day visa instead. 

Sudan – info correct at April 2009

The Sudanese embassy in Cairo is located at N30 02 348 E031 14 059.
We also applied for our Sudanese visa in Cairo.  We applied for a 30-day tourist visa and it is super expensive at US$100 per person.  You need to have a ‘Letter of Recommendation’ from you embassy.  The British embassy is almost across the road from the Sudanese embassy and will issue the letter immediately at Egyptian pound 250 per letter.  Fortunately for us, it didn’t cost us anything for our letters from the South African embassy, but they have moved to a location a bit out of town in the suburb of Ma’adi.  The GPS location for the SA embassy in Cairo is N29 57 899 E031 15 851.    They issued the letter in a few hours for us.
For the visa, you need to complete the application form (you get this from the embassy), have two passport photos, and copies of all the forms and passport and Egyptian visa as well as the US$100 per person.  There is a guy in the consulate that can do this for you at a cost of LE5.  You submit the application in the morning, and generally, you can pick it up the next morning.  We managed to get ours on the same day because we had to come back a second time after we received our ‘Recommendation letter’ because the visa section was already closed when we got back.  After a bit of negotiation, the man said that we can get it the same day when we hand everything the next day.  You will receive your visa on the same day if you apply on a Thursday, because they are closed on a Friday and Saturday.
 
Kenya – info correct at July 2009

We entered Kenya at Moyale from Ethiopia.  You can get your visa at the border.  British passport holders pay US $ 25 for a 30 day tourist visa.  British passport holders can also get a 7 day transit visa at the border for US $ 10.
 
Travellers on South African passports can get a 30 day tourist visa free of charge.  Anything longer than a 30 day visa will also cost  US $25.