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Article Words : Alexandra Gregg | 26 April

Visa costs: How much is too much?

How much would you be prepared to pay for a travel visa - and would the price ever influence your trip?

Do you think about visas before you book a trip? How much do you let visa costs change your travel plans? Will you worry about when and how to apply? With travellers from more than 80 countries – including Britain, USA and Canada – having to now obtain an e-Visa online to visit Turkey (you can apply for the permit online; the transition period runs to the end of 2014), it’s time to talk visas.

One traveller told us although visa costs may not change his plans completely, they could impact on short breaks and stopovers: “My wife and I were planning to spend a few days in Mumbai after our trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but changed our minds because of the £92 visa.”

However, according to the experts from companies that help travellers organise visas, the expense (and sometimes hassle) of obtaining one rarely puts most people off. Edward Carnell, of Visa Swift, says: “When people need to travel, these documents are seen as a need-to-have purchase.” Visa Machine’s Jenny Hunter agrees, pointing out that costs are minimal compared to the trips: “It’s the zeal to see the world that drives where people go rather than the cost of visas.”

So which lucky nationalities need visas the least? Brits, Finns and Swedes according to the Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index (October 2013). These passport-holders can visit 173 of 219 territories visa-free. US residents rank second (172 countries), while Canada (170), New Zealand (168) and Australia (167) follow. Worst off are Afghan nationals, who can visit just 28 places without a permit. Residents of Iraq (31), Somalia (32) and Pakistan (32) don’t fare much better; South Africans (94) get a raw deal too. Often it’s a case of tit-for-tat says Jenny: “If one country eases or tightens its regulations towards another, the same is echoed back.”

Visa fees vary according to differing admin costs within each country. Usually there are several price brackets according to nationality: “This is probably driven by a whole range of factors, from wanting to encourage/discourage a specific tourist demographic, through to needing to account for inflation in paying staff,” Jenny adds.

Wanderlust readers get £5 off every visa they apply for through The Visa Machine - click here for more details...

Online reader poll

How much are you prepared to pay for a visa? - we asked the myWanderlust community...

Up to £20: 8%
£20-60: 18%
£60-100: 8%
Whatever I have to pay in order to go where I want: 66%