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Should I Get a Visa on Arrival?

San Blas Island
Waiting to Get Entry Visa by Paha_L on DepositPhotos

Many countries around the world allow U.S. travelers to visit for a limited stay visa-free by just presenting a valid passport. Some countries insist you obtain a visa from their embassy before traveling to their country. These nine destinations meet you in the middle by offering visas on arrival, which means you can show up at their port of entry and they'll issue a travel visa to you on the spot. As you will begin to see, just because a country offers VOA, doesn't mean they will make it easy for you to visit. Each of these VOA destinations has its own set of rules.

Bahrain

You can apply online for a 14-day eVisa that is valid for 30 days. The Bahraini government prefers you choose this option; eVisas are usually available. You can also just show up at the border for a VOA, but Bahrain has refused to allow some U.S. citizens to enter, so it is a risk. Visa in hand or VOA, prepare to be grilled upon entry. A 14-day tourist VOA is around $77USD. You must have a passport with six months validity and an onward or return ticket. U.S. citizens do not have to declare their HIV status when applying for a visa, but will be deported if discovered to be HIV positive.

Bangladesh

A travel visa is required for U.S. citizens to enter Bangladesh. Visas on arrival are available to U.S. citizens but the State Department strongly recommends securing a visa prior to travel. A Bangladeshi VOA costs $50USD. Your passport must be valid 6 more months after exit and have at least 1 blank visa page for stamps. An onward or return ticket is also required.

Belarus

The government of Belarus requires U.S. citizens to have a passport that is valid for 3 months beyond their planned departure and a visa attached to it. Visas can be obtained in advance of travel at a Belarusian Embassy in Washington D.C. or Consulate in New York City. Visas on arrival are also available at the Minsk International Airport. Visa support documents must be submitted to the Division for the Administration of Foreigners (DAF) at the airport no later than 2 business days prior to arrival. Applicants need to submit a 35X45 mm size photo and present proof of international health insurance. A Belarusian VOA costs $420 for short term stays (90 days, single/double/multiple entries) or $300 for transit. If you are arriving on a flight from the Russian Federation, you are not eligible for a Belarusian VOA.

Bolivia

U.S. citizens need a valid visa to enter Bolivia. Visas can be obtained prior to travel or upon arrival at ports of entry/land borders. Visitor visas allow for a stay of 30 days. In case of a lost passport, visitors who obtained a VOA need to pay for a new visa by paying $160USD. Visitors who obtained visas prior to travel need not pay for the visa fee in case of passport loss. Passports need to be valid for at least 6 months and have one blank visa page.

Burkina Faso

U.S. passport holders need a visa in order to enter Burkina Faso. A visa can be applied for via mail or in person at the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington, D.C. A visa obtained prior to travel is valid for five years (multiple-entry) and costs $140. Visas on arrival are also available at ports of entry for $190 (single entry, 3 months validity) or $245 (multiple-entry, 3 months validity). A valid WHO Internation Certificate of Vaccination is also required of all visitors over 9 months old.


Cabo Verde


A valid passport and Cabo Verdean visa are required for entry into the country. Visas are available at the Cabo Verdean Embassy or Consulate General. These can be single-entry valid for 90 days or multiple-entry valid for 5 years. Visas on arrival are also available at any one of the country's international airports: Nelson Mandela/Praia, Cesaria Evora /Mindelo, Amilcar Cabral/Sal, and Aristides Pereira/Boa Vista. A Cabo Verdean VOA costs 2500 CVE or its equivalent in U.S. dollars. Paying in cash is highy recommended as intermittent power outages are known to occur in airport terminals.

Cambodia

A passport with at least six months remaining validity and a visa are required for U.S. citizens to enter Cambodia. Visas can be obtained online or in person at the Cambodian Embassy. Visas are also available upon arrival at airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings. The cost for a Cambodian VOA is $35. Visas are valid for one month starting from the date of entry; extensions are allowed.

Comoros

U.S. travelers to Comoros need a valid passport, an onward or return ticket, and a visa to visit. Visas can be obtained at the Comoran Mission to the U.N. in New York in advance of travel. Visas on arrival cost U.S. citizens around $65USD. Getting a VOA is a viable, low-risk option.

Côte d'Ivoire

You must have a U.S. passport that is valid for six months beyond your visit, a visa, an onward or return ticket, and a health certificate verifying that you have had a yellow fever immunization, to visit the Ivory Coast. Visas on arrival are now available at the airport, but you must request yours online before you arrive. You can do that at http://www.snedai.com/fr/. The cost to get a VOA at the airport is around $150USD.


Djibouti


A U.S. passpiort valid for at least 6 months, evidence of yellow fever vaccination and a visa are required to enter Djibouti. Although it is recommended to obtain a visa in advance of travel whenever possible, visas on arrival are also available at Ambouli International Airport. You need to pay $60 for a 3-day visa, $90 for 30 days, $110 for a year. Visas obtained prior to arrival are valid for one year with multiple entries.


Egypt

U.S. travelers arriving by air in Egypt are required to present a valid passport, visa, and proof of onward or return travel when entering Egypt. You can purchase a visa on arrival at the airport for $25USD. The tourist visa is for 30 days and is renewable. A multiple-entry visa, also available at Egyptian ports of entry is $35USD. U.S. tourists arriving at a land border should get a visa before traveling to Egypt. Travelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing will receive a no-fee 14-day visa that can only be used for the Sinai Peninsula. To purchase a $25 30-day tourist visa, you would need a travel agency support letter. That service is also available at the border for a fee. The Rafah border crossing with Gaza is often closed and visa requests require prior special permission.


Ethiopia


A visa and passport valid for at least six months are required to enter Ethiopia. Obtaining a visa in advance of traveling but visas on arrival are available at the Bole International Airport for $70. Visas are valid for 2 years and allows single or multiple entries.


Gambia, The


The Gambia requires U.S. citizens to have a valid passport and visa in order to enter the country. In addition, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if traveling from a country where infection is common. Visas can be obtained in advance of traveling or within 2 working days of arriving. The Gambian VOA must be secured from the Department of Immigration in downtown Banjul.


Jordan

You are required to have a passport with at least six months validity and a visa to enter Jordan. Visas on arrival are available to U.S. citizens at most international ports of entry for around $56USD. The single-entry tourist visa is issued for 30 days. You can purchase a 90-day two-entry visa for $85USD, or 180-day, multiple entry visa for $170USD. You cannot get a VOA at the Allenby Bridge border crossing. Travelers known to have HIV may be denied entry.


Kenya


U.S. passport holders need a valid visa in order to enter Kenya. Although visas on arrival are available at Kenyan airports, Kenyan Immigration plans to discontinue this service. A Kenyan VOA is allows single entry. It is strongly recommended that travelers obtain a visa in advance of their trip via the new e-visa system.


Laos

American citizens traveling to Laos need to present a visa and a passport with at least six months remaining validity in order to gain entry. A visa obtain from a Lao Embassy or Consulate in advance of travel allows visits of up to 60 days. Visas on arrival are available at the following ports of entry: Wattay Airport, Vientiane; Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang Airports; Friendship Bridge, Vientiane and Savannakhet; Nam Heuang Friendship Bridge, Sayabouly Province; and border crossings at Boten-Mohan, Dansavan-Lao Bao, Houaysay-Chiang Khong, Thakhek-Nakhon Phanom, Nong Haet-Nam Kan, Nam Phao-Kao Cheo, Veun Kham-Dong Calor and Vangtao-Chong Mek. You can also get a visa on arrival at the Tha Naleng train station in Vientiane, which connects to the train station in Nongkhai, Thailand. If you obtain a visa from a Lao embassy or consulate prior to your travel to Laos, you may also enter at the following international entry points: Napao-Chalo, Taichang-Sophoun, Pakxan-Bungkan, and Xiengkok.


To apply for a Lao VOA, you need to submit 2 passport photos and pay $35. VOAs allow you to stay in Laos for 30 days. This period can be extended for 60 days more for a fee of $2 per day paid to the Department of Immigration in Vientiane.


Lebanon


Passports with 3 months remaining validity and with no Israeli stamps or visas are required to enter Lebanon. Visas are also necessary and these can be obtained at the Lebanese Embassy or upon arrival at the Beirut International Airport. Visas cost $35 (single entry) or $70 (multiple entries). A Lebanese VOA allows a stay for 30 days, a period that can be extended for another 30 days via the Security General's local office.


Madagascar


The government of Madagascar requires U.S. citizens to have a passport and visa to enter the country. Passports need to have at least six months remaining validity and three blank visa pages. Visas can be obtained in advance of travel to save time. If you're planning to stay less than 90 days, you can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport. A VOA costs 33.26. In order to be issed a VOA, you need to present a return or onward ticket.


Maldives


A passport, onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required to enter Maldives. A visa on arrival is available for free at the Male International Airport. This VOA entitles the visitor to a stay of up to 30 days, a period which can be extended for 60 more days through the Department of Immigration and Emigration. The Embassy of Maldives does not issue visas under any circumstances.


Mali


The Malian government requires that U.S. citizens be in possession of a valid passport with one blank visa page, a visa and proof of yellow fever vaccination. Although visas on arrival are available at the airport, the State Department strongly recommends securing a visa in advance. Obtaining a VOA might entail excessive fees and restrictions. All visas (except for diplomatic and official visas) cost $131 and must be paid in cashier's check or money order. Cash or personal checks will not be accepted.


Mauritius


A valid passport, onward/return tickets and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. A visa can be obtained from the Embassy of Mauritius in Washington D.C. or at ports of entry for $10. Travelers who have been to developing countries may be subjected to blood tests by the Ministry of Health. Moreover, evidence of yellow fever vaccination is required if traveling from an infected country.


Mozambique

U.S. tourists must present a passport with six months validity from the date of entry and at least three blank visa pages, a visa, and valid certification of yellow fever vaccination to enter Mozambique. Sometimes U.S. citizens are allowed to obtain single-entry visas on arrival, other times they are denied entry if they don't possess advanced visas. Travelers who cannot present proof of vaccination against yellow fever will be required to get the vaccination at the port of entry at their own expense


Namibia


Bearers of U.S. passports visiting Namibia do not need to obtain a visa in advance of travel. Visas on arrival are available at ports of entry for visitors staying for less than 90 days for tourism purposes. Those who are traveling to Namibia with intentions of studying or working need a visa in advance. If coming from South Africa, it is recommended that your passports have at least six blank visa pages. Evidence of yellow fever vaccination is also required.


Nepal

A passport with at least six months remaining validity and one blank visa page, and a visa are required to enter Nepal. Visas can be obtained in advance at the Nepalese Embassy or Consulate or upon arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. VOAs can also be obtained at the following points of entry: Kakarvitta, Jhapa District (Eastern Nepal), Birgunj, Parsa District (Central Nepal), Kodari, Sindhupalchowk District (Northern Border– for group tourists only), Belahia, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi District, Western Nepal), Jamunaha, Nepalgunj (Banke District, Mid-Western Nepal), Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali District, Far Western Nepal) and Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur District, Far Western Nepal). 


You may request a Nepalese VOA for $25 (15 days), $40 (30 days) or $100 (90 days). Visas allow multiple entries but tourists may not stay more than 150 days in any given calendar year.

Oman

For entry to Oman, U.S. travelers need a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry and a visa; proof of onward or return ticket and adequate funds for travel are not required, but strongly encouraged. You may obtain a 10-day VOA at any port of entry, air, land, or sea, for 10 Omani Riyals, or a 30-day VOA for 20 Omani Riyals. You may obtain extensions for similar period for the same cost. Yellow fever immunizations are only required if you are traveling from an infected area. You can obtain a visa prior to visiting Oman from an Omani embassy for multiple entries, valid up to two years. Omani immigration determines the length of stay at the port of entry based on purpose.


Papua New Guinea

A passport valid for six months with at least one blank visa page is required for entry to Papua New Guinea. Onward/return tickets as well as proof of adequate funds are required. A visa on arrival is available for tourism and business travelers. A tourist VOA is available for a stay of up to 60 days with a one-month extension) and a business VOA allows stays of up to 30 days. Travelers visiting for purposes other than business or tourism must obtain a visa in advance.


Paraguay


The republic of Paraguay requires that U.S. citizens be in possession of a valid passport with at least one blank visa page. If you are flying in to Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion, a visa on arrival is available for $160. This VOA allows multiple entries and is valid for 10 years. If arriving through other point of entries, you must secure a visa from the Paraguayan Embassy or Consulate in advance of travel. Traveling minors must attach a notarized consent with their visa application.


Qatar


U.S. citizens traveling to Qatar need a passport with at least 6 months validity and a visa to enter the country. If arriving at the Doha International Airport, you can purchase a VOA that allows a stay of up to 30 days. If you're entering Qatar from other points of entry, you need to secure a visa ahead of time at the Qatari Embassy or Consulate or via their government website.


Rwanda


Effective November 1, 2014, Rwanda requires that U.S citizens be in possession of a visa and a passport with at least six months remaining validity and one blank visa page. You can obtain a visa on arrival at Kigali International Airport or at Rwanda’s land borders. A VOA costs $30 which can be paid using U.S. notes printed after 2006 or a Visa credit card. The VOA allows you to stay in Rwanda for up to 30 days, a period which can be extended at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali. Extensions must be applied for within 15 days of arrrival.

 

Seychelles

U.S. travelers need a passport valid for their length of stay, proof of onward or return travel, proof of adequate funds, and proof of accommodation to enter Seychelles. A no-fee 30-day visa on arrival is issued once the documentation is presented. It may be renewed up to three months at a time for a total of 12 months. After the initial no-fee 30-day visa, subsequent visas carry fees. Yellow fever vaccinations are only required if you've visited an infected area within six days prior to entry.


Somalia


A passport valid for at least another 6 months and with one blank visa page is required of U.S. citizens traveling to Somalia. Both the Somaliland and Puntland regions of Somalia issue their own visas at their respective ports of entry. If you are traveling to other parts of Somalia including Mogadishu, you need to present a visa. Visas may be obtained at the Somali Embassies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nairobi, Kenya. A visa on arrival is also available at Mogadishu for $50. The VOA allows single entry valid for 7 days.


Suriname


U.S. citizens visiting Suriname need a visa and a passport valid for 6 months and with one blank visa page to enter. Visas may be obtained at the Embassy of Suriname or upon arrival at the airport. The VOA or "tourist card" costs $35 and is good for 90 days, single entry. For visits with purposes other than tourism, a visa must be obtained in advance of travel.


Tanzania


The government of Tanzania requires U.S. citizens to have a valid passport and visa to enter the country. The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania recommends that visas be secured in advance of travel but visas on arrival are also available at ports of entry. Passport need to be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry and must have one blank page for the visa and entry stamp.


Timor-Leste


U.S. citizens need a visa and a passport for at least six months and with one blank visa page to enter East Timor. A visa on arrival is available at the airport for $30. The VOA allows you to stay for 30 days. If you are arriving by land, you need to secure a visa in advance. VOAs are no longer available at Timor-Leste's land border with Indonesia.


Togo


The Togolese Republic requires that U.S. citizens be in possession of a valid visa and passport upon entry. Visas on arrival may be obtained at airports and land borders for about $30. These only allow you to stay for seven days. Travelers who wish to extend the period allowed by the VOA may apply for an extension at no cost but will have to surrender their passports for several days. Additionally, there may be delays in the extension and low-traffic land border crossings may not issue VOAs. Visas obtained in advance of travel at a Togolese Embassy or Consulate are issued with longer validity.


United Arab Emirates (UAE)


U.S. citizens need a passport valid for six months beyond their date of arrival and with at least one blank visa page. Visas can be obtained upon arrival at no cost. The VOA allows a visitor to stay for up to 30 days. An extension may be granted at the discretion of immigration officials. If you are planning to stay longer than 30 days, you need to secure a visa in advance of travel.


Vietnam


U.S. citizens traveling to Vietnam need to be in possession of a passport with six months remaining validity and a visa or pre-approval for a visa on arrival to enter the country. It is recommended that a visa be secured in advance of travel as there have been reports of issues with VOAs. Some businesses and travel agencies are authorized to arrange pre-approval for visas on arrival but there are warnings in place against possible fraud. Also, travelers have reported being unexpectedly charged with exhorbitant fees upon arrival.


Zambia


In order to enter Zambia, U.S. citizens need to have a passport valid for at least six months and at least two blannk visa pages. A visa is also required. A single-entry visa on arrival may be obtained at a port of entry for $50. This VOA is valid for 90 days. A day-trip VOA is also available for $20 for those who wish to visit for a day from a neighboring country. Visas secured in advance at the Zambian Embassy allows multiple entries valid for 3 years and costs $80.

Overall, it may be better to plan ahead and obtain your travel visa to these countries before you leave. Destinations like Comoros, Jordan, Oman and the Seychelles are the best destinations for just showing up and feeling secure that you will get a visa on arrival, because you are pretty much guaranteed entry with a little documentation. The Ivory Coast will issue a VOA if you request it online first, Egypt issues visas on arrival as long as long as you aren’t coming from Israel. Bahrain, Israel, and Mozambique are unpredictable at their ports of entry, so you should probably get those visas from their embassies or through a reliable expedited visa courier service before you go.

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