One of the first things I do when I scope out a new country to visit is to check out the visa requirements. I head on over to the handy Visa HQ, select my country of choice from the list, and ‘voila!’ — I have an idea of the visa requirements and cost.
Recently, I’ve been planning my upcoming adventure through Central Asia. I’ve got most of my route planned, you can check it out here. However, my decision to travel to Iran with Intrepid Travel has been a source of many complications; one of which was, ‘How can I enter Iran without breaking my already strained budget?’ Flights to Tehran from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan all seem expensive and require a minimum of one transfer. A land border crossing isn’t feasible, due to the fact that I’m American and must be part of a tour at all times. I have to start my Iranian adventure in Tehran; there’s no way around it.
On a whim, I checked flight prices to Tehran from cities in the region I thought might be good connection hubs. Luckily, one of the locations I tried was Istanbul. The price displayed was a mere $86 dollars. I blinked, looked, then blinked and looked again. Nice! A quick check showed relatively cheap flights from Turkmenistan to Turkey, so I breathed a sigh of relief. That left one more thing to check…
As you may know, Turkey requires a visa for Americans. A fairly simple affair (as visas go), visitors would show up at the airport, pay a small fee, and get a visa stamp in their passport. That has recently changed, and it’s even simpler!
Turkey has debuted an e-Visa system that provides the most simple, seamless visa experience I’ve had in my life. Going to the Republic of Turkey e-Visa homepage let me research the Turkish e-Visa a bit and, when I was ready, proceed directly to the application.
Once I hit ‘Apply Now’, I came to a page where I chose my nationality and identification type. The list of countries seemed to be comprehensive, so I assume that means the e-Visa system will be useful for more than just Americans. Let me know your experiences!
The next page lets you pick your arrival dates. The page contains very precise information about the visa validity period, the maximum length of each stay, the number of entries you would get, and the cost of the visa itself. I picked a date that comfortably encompassed the window of time during which I plan to enter Turkey, then hit ‘Save and Continue’.
On the right-hand side, there are little pencils by each of the completed pages. The application makes it very easy to go back and correct any mistakes which may have been made, just in case!
The next step was to verify the information put in so far; once I did so, an email was sent to the address I provided. Opening the email revealed the next step: clicking the ‘Approve’ button to continue the e-Visa application.
All that remained was to provide my payment information. I entered the information required and was rewarded with a mood-lifting ‘Download’ button. That was it! Seriously. I was looking at my Turkish visa. Welcome to the 21st century, immigration!
So what do you think? Is this new, convenient approach the future for visa processing? Or do you prefer the old way of getting a stamp in your passport? I certainly feel a slight twinge of regret at not getting a stamp in my passport from Turkey; I’m hoping they still do entry and exit stamps, at least.
Leave your thoughts and comments below, thanks for reading!
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This would be FANTASTIC if everywhere did this. We’ll still get entry/exit stamps so I don’t mind this AT ALL. If I had known this was so easy I might have got my act together and visited my friend in Turkey while she lived there!
Let this be an example to other nations. Why make obtaining a visa more of a hassle than necessary? I think it’s great. The old system was easy enough, but this is even better. Go Turkey!
If Central Asian countries were on board with this it would’ve made my trip planning so much easier!
I’d love to know about the details of Uzbek & Krgyz visas.
Americans don’t need one for Kyrgyzstan (score!), but we do for Uzbekistan. I’ve found http://www.caravanistan.com to be extremely helpful with visa info. Great resource 😉