Hassles and Expenses of Visas

One of the major pains about travel and especially about trying to break this record is when going to a lot of countries you have to get visas to enter certain countries before you go. While this process is usually not too complicated and can be straightforward in most cases, for certain countries it can be expensive and a real hassle.

The major problem is you have to deal with consulates and embassies. These places can be so bureaucratic that it can be gutwrenching to enter the place. The person behind the counter will not even acknowledge your presence and then will act like you’re paining them to actually do something other than suck up their countries money with their diplomatic status.

For example, I was in the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv to get my Jordanian visa because the border crossong I wanted to cross at didn’t give visas upon entry. So we went up to the embassy and presented out passports first thing in the morning and there was absolutely nobody in the office except for me and my cousin. We asked how long it would take and they told us to come back at 4pm. It was 9am and I was thinking, “Why? Just do it now.”

They insisted that they needed sufficient time to do it but we wanted to go to Jordan that morning so I decided that we should sit there and wait and annoy them until they did it. So we just sat there and carried on with loud conversation right in front of the counter lady and finally after 5 whole minutes she got fed up. She gave us a look of disdain, grabbed our passports that were just sitting next to the magazine she was reading, took 10 seconds to stamp the visa in and called us over and reluctantly gave them to us. I said to her, “now wasn’t that easy”. She wasn’t thrilled as you can imagine because we asked her to actually do her job and help us in a timely manner but we accomplished our goal and made it to Amman that morning and all the way to Petra by sundown.

Believe me, consulates and embassies in other countries are way worse and more hectic than embassies in the US or the UK, etc. Don’t even get me started on the Belarussian Embassy in Riga, Latvia. That aside, visas are also very expensive, sometimes adding $100-200 onto the cost of your trip. If you are going to most countries in Africa, the Middle East and a lot of Asia, expect to need visas for most of them

For instance, I just received my visa for a trip to Azerbaijan in a few weeks. The actual visa cost me $100 for a 1 month tourist visa as an American citizen. Note that they do offer transit visas for visits of less than 3 days which mine will be for $40 but you can’t get one of those if you don’t have a plane ticket out of the country. Which I don’t because I will be taking the train to Tbilisi, Georgia from Baku. So I had to pay the $100. Additionally, they needed two passport photos which in New York City run about $15. Also, there is no consulate or mission in New York, so I had to Fedex my passport and application, etc. to the embassy in Washington, DC. This added about another $40 to the total cost because you have to send priority overnight and pay for the return shipping as well.

So that brings the total on bureaucratic nonsense to about $155 for my 2 day stay in Azerbaijan on top of the time and hassle it takes to actually arrange everything and figure out what you have to do to even get the visa-which can often be the hardest part, especially if you have to get a letter of permission or invitation from someone in the country. Not that much money in the big scheme of things but an unecessary expense that you have no choice but to pay.

That is just the latest example because I just went through it. Many other times, I have been hassled significantly but again it is necessary if you want to travel. Sometimes other countries require visas as a result of the US charging the citizens of their country a fee…they call it reciprocity as in the case of Brazil where they charge us $100 to enter. We can thank the US government on that one.

For rogue countries such as North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, etc. you need special permission visas and generally have to jump through hoops to get them although it is possible. I haven’t been to any of those places yet but I have looked into the process and it looks awful. I’m saving those places for last so I can keep all the fun until the end and hopefully the wars and issues will be gone by then.

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  1. I had a similar experience for my Vietnam visa, $65 for the visa, had to Express Mail to DC and express return for $40, but I did the passport sized photos myself, very easy with a digital camera and a digital printing kiosk. On the other hand, for the Cambodia visa (yes, you can get it on entry but I didnt want to wait on the line), all I had to do was simply fill out an online form and attach a picture file and I got it returned about 2 days later. very little hassle.

  2. Both those countries I got on arrival and it wasn’t a hassle. It is also generally much much cheaper to get on arrival

  3. Whatever, at least I didnt spend $15 on passport pictures.

  4. Ouch! Hit me where it hurts Baumer, haha

  5. One less big blind raise.

  6. Sly as a fox says

    You haven’t lived until you’ve sat in the Indian embassy for 4 hours trying to get a visa in Bangladesh

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