Visa Applications

To help any fellow travellers looking to do a similar journey, we thought we would share some of the visa application processes that we have experienced.


Contents:

  • Disclaimer
  • Some Advice
  • Planning
  • Visa applications made in the UK
    • Russia
    • China
    • Pakistan
    • India
  • Visas on arrival
    • Nepal
  • E-Visas
    • Myanmar

Initial Disclaimer:

This is what happened with/for us, at the time that we made our visa application. Everything and anything could have changed between when this happened, and when you are reading this.


Some Advice:

Do not leave your visa application to the night before you want to go to the application centre! We did this every single time, and regretted it every single time. It was stressful, and resulted in us having many a late night, taking extra days off work, spending more money than we needed to, and delaying our whole trip by a few weeks.

Some More Advice:

When budgeting for a trip, don’t forget to take into account the complete cost of visa applications – not just the cost of the visa itself, but also things like the travel to the centre (most likely in London), printing lots and lots of papers, passport photos, the cost of getting your passport posted back afterwards etc.

Yet More Advice:

Make sure to re-check visa requirements before entering a country, as they can (and do) change. For example, when I did our initial research, we needed to get an e-visa for Uzbekistan, however by the time it got around to us actually arriving into Uzbekistan, this had changed and we no longer needed a visa to enter.


Planning:

Firstly I researched which countries (out of our list of 39) required visa applications before we could enter. For British citizens, information can be found on gov.uk foreign travel advice. This information is largely aimed at people flying into countries, so sometimes you have to do a bit more digging for the restrictions at land borders. I am a spreadsheet nerd, so naturally I made a spreadsheet for this – colour coded obviously.

Most of the countries that we planned to visit either did not require a visa (green on the spreadsheet), or a visa application could be made online or at the border (orange). The only countries that this wasn’t the case for were Russia, Turkmenistan, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. For these countries, the visa application process involved sending off your passports to get the visa – meaning that we needed to apply for the visa before we left the UK (red). After a bit more research, we decided that the cost and effort of the visa application for Turkmenistan and Bangladesh just was not worth it, so agreed to bypass these countries and save them for another time. That left us with three applications: Russia, China, and Pakistan.

Once we had set off on our journey, we discovered via Facebook that we could not enter India via a land border with an e-visa. So we needed to apply for an Indian visa too. This is possible to do outside of your home country – it can be done in Islamabad in Pakistan amongst other places. However, I had a planned visit home for two weeks in July, so applied for both of our visas in London during that time.


Visa applications made in the UK:

Click here for information on our Russian visa application

Click here for information on our Chinese visa application

Click here for information on our Pakistan visa application

Click here for information on our Indian visa application


Visas on arrival:

Nepal: At the time of writing, a visa for Nepal can be obtained on arrival at the following Nepal-India land entry points: Kakadvitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, and Gaddachowki. It is possible to purchase a 15, 30, and 90 day visa. They prefer the visa to be paid for in crisp US dollars, however the guy in front of us did not have enough dollars, and they accepted Indian rupees (at a very poor rate). You also need a passport photo. The fees are as follows: 15 day $30, 30 day $50, 90 day $125. It is also possible to get a 15 day visa extension in Kathmandu (and probably some other places). This costs $45, and an additional $3 per day for extra days after the initial 15 day extension.


E-Visas:

Myanmar: An e-visa for Myanmar must be obtained prior to arrival. Once approved, the visa must be used within 90 days, so do not apply for the e-visa more than three months before you intend to enter Myanmar. The application is made through their website and is pretty straightforward. A standard 28 day tourists visa costs $50 (USD). You can also pay an additional $6 (USD) for an express service. We opted for the standard service and our visas came through within 48 hours.

When applying, you have to upload a passport style photo. They also ask if you are booked with a travel agency, although this is not a “required field” on the form. As said, our visa was approved within 48 hours. We received an email confirming this with an attachment that they say you need to print prior to arrival. We did not have access to a printer between receiving the visa and arriving at the border, this was not an issue and they just scanned the bar code of the visa from our phones.

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