Advice on visas (dreamstime_s_10201209)
Article 09 March

Advice on visas: 5 things to remember

Depending on how you look at them, visas can be an exciting stamp in your passport or a bureaucratic blight. Here’s some advice to remember

We asked our friends at the Visa Machine to give us some advice to remember when applying for these little bits of travel gold.

You don’t have a ‘Right’ to a visa

It's worth remembering that when you apply for a visa, you're doing just that – there's no guarantee that an Embassy will grant you the visa, and you're paying them to consider your application. Rejection is rare, but it helps to make sure you present a neat and tidy application! We once had a customer whose application had been rejected on the basis of there being a faint watermark on his application form.

Check your entry and exit dates!

Having crossed out of Kazakhstan, a Mongol Rally team were refused entry into Russia on account of their Russian visa entry dates starting five days after their Kazakh visa exit dates. Five days is a long time with no supplies, no facilities (not even a toilet) and some very unimpressed border officials. When you're going overland across a number of countries, this is the sort of detail you need to check!

Check your paperwork and keep calm

The worst experience that we've heard of is a chap spending a night in the border cells having appeared at the border with only a letter of invitation and no visa. After the border guards refused to sort a visa out for him, he lost his temper and was arrested for trying to enter illegally. Panic stricken and suffering the consequences of a major visa misunderstanding, his loss of calm is understandable. But if there's one thing to avoid in situations like that, it's being rude, raising your voice, and losing your perspective. Once he'd had a night in a windowless cell to calm down, the border guards spoke to him again and he was eventually allowed into the country for a limited time.

Just because you've been once before doesn't mean it’s the same this time

Visa regulations change all the time and can be inconsistent with one source claiming one regulation and another claiming a completely different one. If you're going it alone, double checking the regulation before you leave is a must and the timing has to be right so that if it turns out you do need a visa, you have time to get it!

Don’t mess with border officials

Deep in Africa a group of adventurers clad in tweed and pith helmets were crossing the border into Chad. Their visas in this case were fine, and 3 went through without issue. But the last person to go through thought it would be funny to put his occupation as bee-keeper/philosopher. Combined with the tweed suit, this infuriated the border guard enough to refuse him entry.  His friends having already crossed the border, weren't allowed back and he had to walk/hitchhike to the nearest town and fly across the country to meet them at the other side.  Don't mess with immigration officials - they don't have to let you in...

Wanderlust readers can save £5 off every visa through the Visa Machine