Visa Information for Australia and Asia
- Sri Lanka
- The Phillipines
- New Zealand
- Further Information
What visa do I need? When will my visa run out? Where can I cross the border? Why do I need a visa? How much is it going to cost?
What, when, where, why, how.
These are all questions we've heard before. There's so much information about visas that it can be pretty confusing at times. Hopefully this article on visas will clear up a little of that confusion.
If you're planning a trip through central Asia to New Zealand then you're going to want to know about certain visas. Let's look at a specific trip:
India >> Nepal >> Sri Lanka >> Thailand >> Cambodia >> Vietnam >> China >> Laos >> Malaysia >> Singapore >> Indonesia >> Philippines >> Australia >> Fiji >> New Zealand
Now that's some trip! To avoid complication we're just going to be dealing with tourist visas. There are going to be no working holiday visas here... just good times backpacking and travelling around...
You'll need a visa before travelling to India; without one you'll be refused entry. You can obtain an Indian visa from a number of online companies, but by far the best is VFS Global. They have the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office stamp of approval - they're also the cheapest too...
As a foreign national you are entitled to two tourist visas:
- Up to six months (US$68 including administration fee)
- Up to one year (US$100 including administration fee)
They can either be single-entry or multiple-entry. If you're thinking of popping over to border into Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka then you're going to want a multiple-entry visa.
Most visas will take up anywhere between 10-14 working days to process. You may be asked to attend an interview at the Indian High Commission, but it's unlikely.
You can apply online, fill out the relevant forms, and then send your passport with your application form via Royal Mail. A recorded delivery costs approximately £8, so add that onto the above fee. Make sure you send via recorder delivery - you don't want your passport getting lost in the post!
You can apply for a visa in person by going to the India High Commission, but there isn't much point. It's rarely quick, costs the same amount and you can spend all day queuing. The only benefit is that it's a fun day out.
An important note to remember is that the validity of a visa starts from the date of issue and not from the date of arrival. Because of this it's a wise idea to get your visa a few days before you leave - there's nothing worse than having a ticket booked and no visa...
Tourists leaving India will receive a stamp in their passport indicating that they may not re-enter India for two months, regardless of their length of stay. It's lucky that not many other countries do this, but dem's the rules.
A lot of travellers congregate in Varanasi (north India) and decide to cross the border into Nepal. There are tourist buses from Varanasi to Sunauli (the border crossing), or alternatively you can catch a train from Varanasi to Gorakhpur, and then catch a bus to Sunauli.
From Sunauli you can catch a bus either to Kathmandu or Pokhara. Pokhara is nearer...
Another route into Nepal is by crossing from Darjeeling (a north-east India) into Siliguri.
You can get a visa at the border, or if you're flying into Nepal, at the airport. You don't need to apply for a visa before you arrive!
As a foreign national you are entitled to three tourist visas:
- Up to 15 days (US$25)
- Up to 30 days (US$40)
- Up to three months (US$90)
All visas are multiple-entry. You can apply for a visa extension for US$30 for 30 days.
As a tourist you are entitled to a free 30 day visa in Sri Lanka.
Visas are issued on arrival.
Tourists wishing to stay for over 30 days should apply at their nearest embassy for a 90 day visa. A single-entry visa up to three months costs approximately US$62 and can be applied for online or at the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy.
Thailand is a travellers dream in more ways than one, and it certainly is when it comes to visas.
If you fly into Thailand you are entitled to a free 30 day visa. No charge, no hassle - just rock up, get stamped and you're good to go.
If you enter Thailand overland then you are entitled to a free 15 day visa.
The old system used to entitle you at a free 30 days via land crossings, but the Thai government felt tourists were abusing the system too much, which of course is true. There have been cries for the old system to return so watch this space.
Bangkok is one of the biggest tourist hubs in the world. If you're passing through Asia then in all likelihood you'll pass through Bangkok. Air Asia fly to most places in South East Asia from Bangkok, but if you're an overland traveller, then you can easily get into Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia.
If you overstay you visa you will be charged 500 baht (£10) a day. Don't overstay your visa...
The border crossing into Cambodia is the first time you can encounter some aggravation. You'll often hear Thai's telling you that you'll need a visa before you arrive. You don't... You can get a visa quite easily on the border.
For example - I caught the bus from Bangkok (Thailand) to Poi Pet (Cambodia). There were approximately 30 people on the bus. We pulled into a little restaurant for a 'rest' a few miles short of the Cambodian border. All of a sudden a couple of Thai's told everyone to fill out a Cambodian visa application and to pay US$25. Because people didn't know what they were doing they filled out the form and paid up. Out of those 30 people, 28 paid. Me and a friend stood firm, abstinent that we could get a visa on the border. We did and it cost us US$20. You maybe be thinking “big whoop. You saved five bucks.” Yes, I saved five bucks, and that bought me five beers. It's all relative...
A 30 day tourist visa costs US$20 and you can extend your visa for another month, again at US$20.
The Vietnamese visa can be a little tricky, certainly one of the trickiest in South East Asia. To enter Vietnam you'll need a visa before you arrive. Now, you can get this in one of three places, either in Cambodia, Laos or Thailand.
It all depends on the route you do, but getting the visa in Cambodia is by far and away the easiest of the three. You can apply for a visa at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh. A one month visa costs US$35 and it takes a day to process the application.
In Bangkok it can take up to eight days to process and in Laos it can take up to four days.
You can also apply for a visa online at the Vietnam Embassy, fill out the relevant forms, and then send your passport with your application form via Royal Mail. A recorded delivery costs approximately £8, so add that onto the above fee. Make sure you send via recorder delivery - you don't want your passport getting lost in the post!
Your visa will take up to seven days to process.
As a foreign national you are entitled to:
- Up to 30 days (US$36 including administration fee)
- Up to three months (US$65 including administration fee)
They can either be single-entry or multiple-entry, though multiple-entry is more expensive.
You can now get a visa on arrival. This is the quickest and easiest way of getting a visa. You just need to fill in an online application form, pay the service fee, get your visa approval letter, and pick up your visa at the airport you fly into.
If you're travelling to mainland China then you need a visa, but not if you're visiting Hong Kong or Macao.
The tourist and family visit visa is known as an L-visa.
If you're crossing overland into China you can pick up a visa in either Laos or Vietnam. This can vary in cost as you'll inevitably have to go through a visa application service.
For example - I tried to pick up a visa in Hanoi (Vietnam) at the Chinese Embassy. They wouldn't issue you me a visa directly. The only way I could get a visa was to go through a visa application service. A one month visa cost US$48, including fee, and took eight days to process.
If you're flying direct then you can apply for a visa online at the Visa for China website or visit your nearest Chinese Embassy.
As a foreign national you're entitled to:
- Up to 30 days - single-entry (US$50)
- Up to 30 days - double-entry (US$74)
- Up to six months - multiple-entry (US$147)
- Up to one year - multiple-entry (US$295)
You can apply for a visa at the Chinese Embassy in person or through a travel agent. You have to fill out all of the relevant paper work, drop it off with your visa, and pick it up either three days later (+ a US$78 administration fee) or four days later (+ a US$59 administration fee). The administration fees are on top of the visa costs, so if you are applying for a 30 day, single-entry visa, it's going to cost US$109 - not exactly cheap.
If you're lazy then you can apply by post, but it costs a further US$88 administration fee and can take anywhere between 5-14 days to process.
If you visit Hong Kong from the mainland of China and wish to return to the mainland, you'll need a valid visa for the return journey, i.e. you'll need to ensure your visa application shows that you'll make two entries to the mainland.
Travelling to Laos isn't a problem when it comes to visas. You can either pick up a visa at the border or at the airport.
There are a number of border crossings:
- At Thailand the most popular overland border crossings to / from Thailand are at Nong Khai / Vientiane and Chiang Khong / Huay Xai.
- At Vietnam the most popular crossing is at Nam Phao / Cau Treo.
- At China the most popular crossing is at Boten / Mengla
A Laos visa on arrival is available at all these crossings.
A 30 day tourist visa costs US$35 and you can extend your visa for another month, again at US$35 (it is worth noting that different nationalities are charged different rates, for example, a Canadian national will be charged US$42 whereas a US national will be charged US$35).
There have been reports of a visa scam where travel agents are supplying 5-day or 15-day visas to customers who pay for 30-day permits. Check the visa validity and conditions carefully.
When you enter Laos, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport. Fines for not having a legitimate stamp can be high.
Another milk run. As a tourist you are entitled to a free three month visa in Malaysia.
You can either pick up a visa at the border or at the airport.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the biggest tourist hubs in the world. If you're passing through Asia then in all likelihood you'll pass through Kuala Lumpur. Air Asia fly to most places in SE Asia from Kuala Lumpur, but if you're an overland traveller, then you can easily get Thailand and Singapore.
As a tourist you're entitled to a free 30 day visa in Singapore.
You can either pick up a visa at the border or at the airport.
You can apply for a visa on arrival at all major international airports in Indonesia. The two main airports that you will probably fly into is either Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta) or Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport).
A 30 day tourist visa costs US$25 and you can extend your visa for another month, again at US$25.
You don't need separate visas for visiting other islands in Indonesia.
Seven day visas are no longer available.
Israeli passports are not recognised by the Indonesian Government and Israeli nationals must obtain a travel affidavit issued by an Indonesian representation abroad.
As a tourist you're entitled to a free 21 day visa on arrival to the Philippines.
You can apply for a free 59 day tourist visa from the nearest Philippine Embassy, either in your own country or in the Philippines.
Visas are required for all travel to Australia.
If you're visiting purely as a tourist for three months or less, you'll need to apply for a visitor visa (subclass 651) which won't exactly break the bank as it's free. You can apply online at the Australian Government website.
If you apply through a travel agent or airline then it is known as an Electronic Travel Authority or ETA and a AU$20 administration fee is charged. Save the money and do it yourself.
If you decide once you're there that you want to stay a bit longer, you should be able to extend your ETA to last you an extra three months. To do this, go to an immigration office in Australia.
If you want to visit Australia for three to six months, you'll need to apply for a long-term tourist visa (subclass 676). To do this, you'll have to the download and fill in a form, and send it to your nearest Australian High Commission. You'll also need to pay AU$50, and send various documents, including proof that you can support yourself in Oz (for example, a bank statement, letters from a bank concerning your financial position, air tickets that have been purchased).
You may be asked to undergo a health examination before you arrive, for example, if you have travelled in a country with a high level of TB then you may require a chest x-ray.
Fiji wins the award for granting the 'longest free visa'. As a tourist you're entitled to a free four month visa.
You can get a visa extension on the condition that you hold an outward ticket and sufficient funds to support yourself while in Fiji.
A visa is required for visits of longer than four months. Applications for visas can be made at the Fiji High Commission in London.
As a visitor you must have an onward or return ticket and a valid visa for the next country of disembarkation.
Those entering Fiji by boat are subject to the same visa requirements as those travelling to Fiji by plane. Yachts can only enter through Suva, Lautoka, Savusavu and Levuka.
As a tourist you're entitled to a free three month visa, and if you're a British national, then you're entitled to a free six month visa.
A visitor visa for New Zealand is pleasantly easy to sort out if you're a permanent UK resident. Just turn up at the airport in Christchurch, Auckland or Wellington and hand over your passport, and you'll get a six-month visitor visa absolutely free! No forms, no hassle, no worries.
It's also possible to extend the length of your stay in New Zealand to up to nine months by contacting the New Zealand Immigration services. This can also be done online, although you will need a valid VISA or Mastercard to pay the NZ$80 fee for the extension. They will also require proof of onward travel at the end of your ninth months.
- Most countries you visit will require you have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date you enter the country.
- Most visas require you to have at least two blank pages in your passport.
- You should always have at least two passport photos on you for border crossing and visa applications.
- For border crossings, make sure you have plenty of US$ - it is easier and cheaper to pay in US$ than local currency (hence why all prices are quoted in US$).
- A lot of countries will not allow entry if you don't have a yellow fever vaccination certificate check first.
- A lot of countries will not allow entry if you don't have an onward or return air ticket.
- US$1 = £0.61
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