How to Get a Travel Visa

When visiting some countries a US passport won’t be enough for entry. Instead, you’ll also have to apply for a visa. In most cases, you can obtain a visa by writing to the country’s embassy or consular offices here in the United States. Consult the US State Department’s website for information on travel to different countries. Some countries require visitors to have a return ticket home before they’ll allow you entry. Some charge an entrance or exit fee. Some countries allow visitors to obtain a visa at the airport while others will arrest travelers attempting to enter without a visa.

Here are a list of countries that require visas from US citizens traveling as tourists. The rules may be different for US citizens traveling to other countries to work.

Afghanistan requires visitors to have a visa, details here.

Algeria requires visas from US citizens. The Algerian visa application must be typed. For more information, contact the Embassy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria at 2137 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, or call 202-265-2800.

Angola requires visitors to obtain visas before traveling. An International Certificate of Vaccination is also required. Write to the Embassy of Angola at 2100-2108 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, or call 202-785-1156 for more information.

Armenia requires U.S. citizens to purchase visas. Visas for a stay of up to 21 days may be purchases online here for $60 or upon arrival at the port of entry for $30. Visas for up to 120 days may be purchased at the Armenian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate General in Los Angeles. For further information, or visit the Embassy of Armenia’s website.

Australia requires US citizens to apply for a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority, which allows for visits as long as three months. Visit the Australian Embassy website for more information.

Laos allows visitors to purchase a visa at the airport upon arrival. More information can be obtained by writing the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2222 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008.

Bolivia requires US citizens to get visas before entry. For more information, visit the website of the Bolivian Embassy.

Azerbaijan requires a valid passport and visa for entry. Travelers may obtain single-entry visas for $100 by mail or in person from the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, D.C. Travelers may also obtain single-entry, 30-day visas at the airport upon arrival for $100.

Bahrain requires US citizens to obtain a visa before traveling there. You can apply for a two-week visa at the Bahraini government website. For more information, visit the Bahrain Embassy website.

Bangladesh requires US citizens to obtain a visa prior to arriving. See the Bangladesh Embassy website for more information.

Belarus requires visitors to obtain both an entry and an exit visa before traveling there. See the Belarus Embassy website for more information.

Benin requires US visitors to have a valid WHO Yellow Card indicating that they have been vaccinated for yellow fever in addition to a visa. Contact the embassy at 2124 Kalorama Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more information.

Bhutan does not permit foreigners to travel independently within its borders. Visas are generally available through the travel agent that books the tour. Contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue, New York, NY 10017 for more information.

Bolivia requires US citizens to obtain a visa before entry. Visit the Bolivian Embassy website for more information.

Brazil requires US visitors to obtain a visa before visiting. Visit the Brazilian Embassy online for details.

Brunei requires a visa. More information is available here.

Burkina Faso allows visitors to obtain entry visas for seven days at land borders and for 21 days at the airport. Longer-term visas are available through the Embassy of Burkina Faso.

Burma/Myanmar requires visas for all foreigners. See the Embassy of the Union of Myanmar for more details.

Burundi requires a passport, visa, and evidence of immunization against yellow fever prior to entry. Write to the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, Suite 212, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007 for more details.

Cambodia offers visa processing online. Visitors may also get visas at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings.

Cameroon requires a valid passport, visa, evidence of yellow-fever vaccination, and current immunization records before entry. Visit the Embassy of Cameroon’s website for the most current visa information.

Cape Verde requires visitors to obtain a visa before entry. Visit the embassy website for more information.

The Central African Republic requires proof of immunization for yellow fever in addition to a passport and visa. Contact the Embassy of the Central African Republic, 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more details.

Chad generally limits travel by foreigners. Write to the Embassy of the Republic of Chad, 2002 R St. N.W., Washington D.C. 20009 for more information.

Chile allows visitors to obtain visas for a fee at the port of entry. Visit the embassy website for more details.

China has been clamping down on American travelers recently, according to the state department. For more information, visit the Chinese Embassy website.

Information on obtaining a visa for entry into the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be found here.

For information on visiting the Republic of the Congo, write the embassy at 891 Colorado Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20011.

A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required before traveling to Djibouti. Write to the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005 for more details.

Travelers to Egypt can obtain a renewable 30-day tourist visa on arrival at an Egyptian Airport for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. dollars. ravelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing must have a visa prior to their arrival, otherwise they are granted a no-fee 14-day visa valid for travel within Sinai only, or they may buy a 30-day tourist visa for $15 upon submission of a travel agency support letter. More information is available at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

El salvador requires US citizens to present a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card upon entry. You can buy the tourist card for $10 from immigration officials upon arrival. Visit the embassy’s website for more details on visas.

Eritrea requires all visitors to present a visa and valid passport upon entry. Write to the Embassy of Eritrea, 1708 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009 for more information.

Would be travelers to Ethiopia can visit the Ethipian Embassy website for information on obtaining a visa. Tourist visas are also available at Bole International Airport, Ethiopia’s main airport in Addis Ababa, but they must be paid for in Ethiopian currency so the State Department advises US citizens to purchase their visas ahead of time.

Gabon requires travelers to obtain visas prior to departure. Write to the Embassy of Gabon, 2034 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 for more information.

A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required to enter Gambia. A two-year visa costs Americans $100. See the Gambian Embassy website for more details.

Ghana requires a visa as well as evidence of immunization for yellow fever. Visit the embassy website for more information.

Guinea requires visitors to have a visa and an international immunization card prior to entry. Write to the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea , 2112 Leroy Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more information.

Guinea-Bissau visas are obtainable from their embassies in Dakar, Senegal or Lisbon, Portugal. The country’s US embassy is temporarily closed and the embassy does not maintain a website.

India requires US citizens to obtain a visa prior to travel there. Visit the Indian Embassy website for more details.

US travelers to Indonesia may apply for a visa upon arrival at the airports in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Medan, and a few other major cities. You can also obtain a visa from the Indonesian Embassy in advance.

Iran is the subject of a State Department travel warning. Visas can be obtained to visit Iran at the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan located at 2209 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC. 20007.

Iraq requires visas of all private American visitors. They can be obtained at the Embassy website. A residency stamp and an exit stamp are also required.

Israel may impose special restrictions on some American travelers. Visit the Israeli Embassy website for more information.

Jordan issues visas for a fee at most international ports of entry upon arrival, and at most international border crossings, except at the crossing known in Jordan as the King Hussein Bridge (this same crossing is known in Israel as the Allenby Bridge). To cross into Jordan at the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge, U.S. citizens must already have either a visa for Jordan in their passports or have an entry permit from the Ministry of Interior. For more information, visit the embassy website.

Contact the Embassy of Kazakhstan at 140 1 1 6th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 to obtain a visa.

Kenya requires American travelers to obtain a visit. Write to the Embassy of Kenya, 2249 R Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20008 to obtain one.

Travel to North Korea by US citizens is extremely limited. U.S. citizens planning to visit North Korea should register prior to departing the United States with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, if entering North Korea from China, or with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. U.S. citizens and residents planning travel to North Korea must obtain DPRK visas in third countries, such as China. For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations in New York: The Permanent Representative of the Democratic/People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations/820 Second Avenue/New York, NY 10017.

Kuwait allows US visitors to purchase visas at the airport upon arrival. For more information, contact the Embassy of Kuwait at 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008.

Lebanon will likely refuse entry to travelers with Israeli stamps on their passport. Write to the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more information.

Liberia requires US citizens to obtain visas prior to entry. More information is available here.

Libya requires that US citizens have an Arabic translation of their personal biographic data added to their passport in order to apply for a Libyan visa. American citizens who intend to apply for a visa should contact the nearest Libyan embassy or consulate for information on how to obtain an acceptable translation. American citizens may also contact the Consular Section at the U.S. embassy or consulate for additional information. Travelers with passports with an Israeli visa or stamp will not be allowed to enter the country. For tourists, the visa application procedure in most cases requires a letter of invitation from an accredited tour company in Libya.

Although travelers can buy visas to Madagascar at the airport, the State Department advises travelers to obtain their visas in advance, Visit the Madagascar Embassy for more details.

Visitors to Malawi can obtain a vasa for 30 days at the airport.Contact the Embassy of Malawi at 1029 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005 for more information.

Mali requires a visa and an international vaccination card. See the Embassy website for more details.

Mauritania requires US citizens to have a visa. Write the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more information.

Mozambique requires a visa. Visit the Mozambique Embassy website for more details.

Nepal requires a visa. Travelers may obtain visas prior to travel or purchase two-month, single-entry visas or two-month, multiple-entry visas upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Write the Embassy of Nepal at 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 for more information.

Niger requires a visa and proof of yellow fever inoculation. For more information see the Embassy of Niger website.

Pakistan requires US citizens to have Pakistani-issued visas. Contact the Pakistani Embassy for more information.

Papua New Guinea allows travelers to obtain visas at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby upon arrival. See the embassy website for more details.

Paraguay requires US citizens to obtain a visa in advance. More information is available at the embassy website.

Qatar allows travelers to purchase visas at the airport, but the State Department warns that obtaining a visa in advance may get you through immigration more quickly. See the Qatari Embassy website for more details.

Russia requires travelers to obtain visas in advance of traveling there. The rules are complex and seemingly vary from case to case. Contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Consular Section, 2641 Tunlaw Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20007 for details.

Saudi Arabia issues tourist visas only to approved tour groups following organized itineraries. All visas require a sponsor, can take several months to process, and must be obtained prior to arrival. See the Saudi Arabian Embassy website for more details.

Sierra Leone requires proof of inoculation for yellow fever in addition to a visa. Write to the Embassy of Sierra Leone 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 for more information.

There is no established universal authority for granting visas to visitors to Somalia. Contact the Permanent Representative of the Somali Republic to the United Nations, at 212-688-9410/5046, or at 425 East 61st Street, Suite 702, New York, NY 10021 for information.

South Africa requires a visa. In addition the passports of all travelers must contain at least two blank visa pages in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport. Otherwise, the traveler may be refused entry. For more information visit the embassy website.

Sudan requires visas and will routinely deny visas to travelers whose passports contain Israeli stamps. For more information contact the Embassy of Sudan, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008.

Suriname requires a visa and return ticket for travelers. More information can be obtained by writing the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008.

Visitors to Syria must obtain a visa in advance from a Syrian diplomatic mission located in the traveler’s country of residence. Syrian immigration authorities will not admit travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports, Jordanian entry cachets or cachets from other countries that suggest prior travel to Israel. Visit the Syrian Embassy’s homepage for more details.

Turkey allows tourists to purchase a $20 90-day visa sticker at the port of entry. For more information, visit the Embassy of Turkey website.

Turkmenistan requires American travelers to complete an application and have a letter of invitation approved by the State Service for the Registration of Foreigners prior to entry. Applications for a visa can be submitted to the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington, D.C., or directly to the SSRF in Ashgabat. More information is available at the embassy website.

Although visas are available to visitors to Uganda at Entebbe airport, some airlines require travelers to have visas prior to departure. Visit the website of the Ugandan embassy for more details.

Uzbekistan requires visitors to obtain visas and to register with authorities if they’ll be staying for more than three days. More information is available here.

Vietnam requires that visitors obtain visas prior to departure. More information is available at the Vietnamese Embassy website.

Zambia allows visitors to obtain visas at the embassy or upon arrival.

Zimbabwe has declared that Americans with proper documentation will be allowed entry without difficulty. But the governemt has refused entry to Americans who are deemed to have a bias against the Zimbabwean government. Contact the the Embassy of Zimbabwe at 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009 for more information.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/MikeBehnken

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