Although your passport takes you to 174 of the 195 countries in the world, what do you do when you want to visit one that doesn’t meet the mark? Apply for a visa!
When I first started traveling it was easy to select places to go that required only a passport, I mean 174 countries should be easy. And, I’ll be honest I’ve feared booking a trip and then finding out at the airport you’re denied access. Come to find out when you book your flights it will tell you before you checkout if a visa is required, and that’s what happened when booking for China.
Some of the countries that require a tourist (“holiday”) visa no matter how long the stay include the following:
Before planning your next visit, check out this link to see if the country you’re visiting requires a tourist visa. Also! There are some countries that require a visa is staying an extended time, so be mindful of that as well.
Know, that that you have to have your itinerary complete, with flight and hotels booked before applying for a visa. Sounds odd that you’re investing in a trip before granted access, but it’s true. I have some recommendations:
- Pay the extra $10 when booking your hotels for the cancellation insurance
- Purchase flight insurance
- Plan ahead! For me this was somewhat difficult because I like to plan tours, etc. as I near a trip when I’ve done more research, but this becomes pivotal because planning logistics will become important for presenting your itinerary. Essentially, the embassy is looking to be able to find you and know that you have accommodations in advance of approving you.
What I didn’t know when deciding on China is how much a holiday visa costs! And, it’s not cheap. Especially considering that everything needs to be booked in advance. Prices for visas ranged from $250-600 depending how quickly you needed your visa, and depending on which company.
After doing some research I chose Passport & Visas.
The company had good reviews that mentioned two key words for me… “reliable” & “responsive.” As a frequent traveler, these two words become pivotal in making big decisions. I placed my order 12/2 and received 12/28. There were some questions back from the company during the interim regarding our accommodations and letter of referral (required if you’re not a part of a tour group). The company had very quick response times when following up on my order, and had a good tracker on their website to let you know where my application was in the process (similar to when you order a pizza). Was really quite impressive.
After you’re approved they return your passport with the visa sticker in your passport. Just like that!
Other random facts:
There’s an expansive list of things you have to have before you even start the application process. I recommend acquiring all the documentation you need before you purchase your order, so that the estimated return time is actual. I found it taking me a half day in getting everything situated to submit for ordering, they included:
- Small passport photo taken within 6 months– you can get this done at Walgreens or CVS for $20
- Have to provide your passport, & they will return back after approved or denied access (Passport has to be valid and not expire within 12 months of your visit)
- Copy of your drivers license
- Itinerary of where you’ll be on what days and where you’re sleeping
- Proof of accommodations (that it has been paid, or booked)
- Completed electronic visa application for the country you’re going (be mindful of what color your ink has to be)
*Some of the requirements may be different based on where you’re going
I will report an update to this post when I return from China, on experience through customs using a visa. But, assume you just have to show evidence of what was presented for visa application!