Visas are probably without exception the most frustrating and vexing part of organising a trip. Especially if you have a passport that isn’t granted the same level of trust as others. If you possess a British, US, Canadian or passport from an EU country, things will be a little easier for travelling generally. However, there are some guidelines that apply to all when a visa is necessary.
- Check to see if the Embassy has a website applicable for your country of residence. This is very important because some embassies have different forms for different nationalities that are applying to visit.
- Phone the embassy directly for information relating to the visa requirements. Visa companies are good, but there is no more reliable authority than the embassy of the country being visited.
- Provide all the paperwork required, if three month’s bank statements are requested to show proof of sufficient funds, they are not going to accept one month’s statement because you only just opened an account a month ago, for example.
- Photo specifications. If you are visiting an EU country or the USA and need a visa, there are definite set specifications for the photo requirements, ensure that the place you are having your photos done is aware of these. Just to be certain, take the spec sheet with you for this purpose.
- Always provide as much information as possible. It is better for them to say, ‘we don’t need that’ as opposed to ‘come back when you have this’ which causes you time loss and frustration.
- Countries’ visa rules change regularly depending on diplomatic changes in relationships between countries and other factors, so if you planned a holiday a year ago and checked the visa regulations then, do a re-check that what was required is still required. It could be that you may no longer require a visa to travel to your chosen destination or that rules have been made stricter.
- Finally, if the embassy states that no ticket should be bought until the visa is approved, it is best to stick to that. In fact, if you are applying for a US visa for some countries the US actively prohibits you from doing so. How? Well, if the travel agent has not put your US visa information in the airline booking, the ticket will not issue. This is not applicable to all countries. For example, if you are from an EU country or hold a British passport, then you can obtain an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) online.
Visas can be more hassle-free if a methodical and practical approach is taken to acquiring the necessary documentation and doing it in time. Emergency visas are often not entertained at all by some countries. For others you will pay a premium, so check the processing times and bear that it in mind when setting your departure date.
These are some basic guidelines that are usually of assistance.
Two important things to check in relation to your passport.
- The validity. Is it valid for enough time from your return from holiday as stipulated by your government. For example in some countries it needs to be valid six months beyond the date of return. The country being visited will also have rules on this.
- Blank pages. If you travel frequently, be sure to check that you have enough blank pages to satisfy your border control on departure, and immigration on arrival at your destination. There should generally be two or three blank pages available, but this differs from one nation to another.
If you arrive at passport control at your destination then, unless it is a country that permits travellers from your country to purchase a visa on arrival, you are going to be sent back ignominiously to your country.