Friday, 3 April 2015

Visas: General Guide

It seems sensible to give you an overview of visas, requirements, deadlines etc, especially as we write more and more 'how to guides'.

Below is a list that will summarise different visas for the rally, costs, and other details. We can't complete this for all the countries that you may encounter, so at the moment this is just for our route. We've listed them in order of when we will encounter that country, and have started with those outside of the European Union.

Note: these brief guides are all written from the viewpoint of a British passport holder living in the UK.


For British passport holders this visa can be applied for online, up to one day before entry to the country. It cannot be applied for any early than 3 months before travel. Payment and application is online, and costs 20 USD (watch out for your own bank charges for currency conversion). You get an email with a confirmation that you should print out and present at the border, in return for a stamp in your passport. Key points: super easy, 20 USD (~16 GBP), online.


No visa required for UK and EU citizens. Show up at the border and get let in. You can spend up to 90 days (in a 180 day window) in Georgia as a tourist without having to fill out any paperwork.


No visa required for UK  and EU citizens. Show up at the border and get let in. You can spend up to 90 days (in a 180 day window) in Armenia as a tourist.


This one is complicated. Very complicated. UK/USA/Canadian visitors need a guide. UK citizens will need to pick up their visa stamp from a different country as the London Iranian Embassy is closed for consular services. Full and detailed explanation about how to do it is coming soon. 


Expect lots of beaurocracy. Easiest (ish) thing to do is get the LOI through the Visa Machine, then get your visa at the border control (by presenting the LOI). At the border, or embassy in Baku, you will need to pay 55 USD (based on research) for the visa stamp. There is also a 12 USD tourist fee at the border. One piece of good news is that on a transit visa you do not need to register with the migration police during your stay. Key points: Visa Machine LOI deadline of 1st April. Full explanation found here.
Update: a variety of people had incorrect LOIs from the Visa Machine. If you are going through Iran and know your Turkmenistan entry date then it is possible to get a free LOI from the embassy in London, I'm not up to date on all the details, but definitely research it.


Easy peasy for British passport holders. Do this one yourself, apply up to 6 months before entry, should possibly be the first one you should do. Doesn't require any booked hotels, or even definitive entry/exit dates. The only really important point seems to be to make sure you register at a hotel once up to three days into your arrival. Key points: easy, ~70 GBP, by post. A full guide explaining how to apply can be found here


Another relatively easy one, definitely do this one yourself as you can apply up to 6 months before entry. If you are planning on taking the Pamir Highway then you need to specifically mention this in your application so that you can obtain a GBAO permit. Requires at least one hotel booking, but dates can be flexible, just explain your situation in your cover letter. Key points: easy, ~77 GBP, by post. A full guide explaining how to apply can be found here


The kind people of Kyrgyzstan have introduced a visa waiver scheme for British passport holders. You can spend up to 60 days as a tourist in their country and not have to fill out any paperwork or pay any money!


To wait, or not to wait? Kazakhstan currently has a visa waiver scheme for British passport holders. Unfortunately the trial of this scheme expires on the 15th July 2015. It is still uncertain as to whether this will be extended or not. Therefore, there are two options: wait and see, or apply for a tourist visa. We are currently in the 'wait and see' category. Reports suggest that the turn around time for processing a tourist visa is very quick (roughly five days), so we can afford to wait a bit longer (we'll make a decision around the start of June).
Update: they extended the visa free regime, so you can just show up at the border and get let in.


Another bureaucratic nation? In the past the Russian visa was tricky for UK citizens, but doable. Therefore, just to make things interesting, the Russians change the rules so that from December 2014 visa applicants are required to have their fingerprints scanned at one of their centres in London or Edinburgh. There are also several different options for this visa, but one thing is for certain, you will need at least a double entry visa. In order to do this you will need a LOI (with itinerary) that can be obtained relatively easily through a number of online merchants. I'll be applying for the Russian visa by the end of April, so expect a full guide then, for the moment you can find an overview here.


The country we've all been waiting for. Another kindly country, a visa waiver scheme was introduced for British passport holders recently, with the scheme running until 31st December 2015. Simply show up at the border and get let in.

*If this guide has been helpful (and saved you some time and worry), and you would like to say thank you then feel free to donate a couple of quid to our charity, Anthony Nolan, through our Just Giving link.

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