I get so many emails about common travel questions that rather than email each of you back individually, I thought I would start a new section on the blog about frequently asked questions that many new travelers may have. Up today? How to get a visa and how to find out if you need one.
Getting a visa can be a daunting process. For those who may not know what it is, a travel visa is a document that shows you’re allowed to enter a specific country, for a specific length of time, to do a specific thing such as tour or study or work. Unless they submit a waiver, the U.S. government requires visitors from other countries to get a visa before visiting the U.S. Here’s a video I did to determine how to know if you need a visa for your upcoming trip.
To determine whether you need a visa you’ll want to visit the U.S. State Department website to see if the country you’re visiting requires a visa. You can also contact the US embassy or consulate for that specific country via phone by looking it up online.
Your next move will be to find the appropriate visa applications. You’ll want to start at the embassy or consulate website for the nation you’re visiting. Typically, you’ll fill out visa application forms online, print and mail them in, or hand deliver them to the nation’s local consulate. This differs of course by country so be sure to check this out for the destination you plan to visit.
After processing your documents, the consulate will mail you a visa that attaches into your passport. On average, the process takes anywhere from two weeks to two months.
It’s important to note that you’ll need a passport to receive a visa. Some countries require you have had the passport for a certain time before applying so be sure to check this out. I’ve seen some countries require up to 6 months so that’s why it’s important to plan in advance. Here is my advice for how to get a Visa.
Visas also of course cost money. You’ll usually have to send a money order or check along with your visa application. Visas range in cost from $50 to $200. If you’re in a rush there are of course agencies that can expedite the process sometimes even overnight but these services of course come with a fee of up to a few hundred dollars per visa so you should try to avoid this if possible.
The last thing you want to do is reach your dream destination and be turned away for not having planned in advance and gotten the proper documentation.
Katie is a luxury lifestyle expert. She runs luxury lifestyle sites, KatieLara.com and Smartypanties.com. But she's not only a luxury lifestyle blogger, she's also a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Forbes, Pursuitist, Just Luxe and She Knows. She's also a professional photographer and her photos often appear alongside her writing.