Young Pioneer Tours

Getting Your Travel Visa: FAQs

Getting ready to take off on an adventure to the Cappadocia region of Turkey? Or heading off to see the bustling city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia? You may not be able to just hop over with your passport in your backpack – there’s a good chance you may need to apply for a visa, even if it’s just for a short stay.

What Is a Visa?

To start with, a visa is an official document that gives you permission to enter a country for a certain time period. There are many different types: student, tourist, business, and more. Here we’ll only be talking about tourist or travel visas — official authorisations that let you stay in a country for tourism purposes only. This means you can’t get a job while you’re there.

Each country has its own policy regarding who can enter without a visa and who needs one. These policies are usually based on political and diplomatic relations. Aside from policies, the visas themselves vary from country to country. This means there’s an endless variety in the length of time permitted, the costs, and whether the visa is single or multiple entry.

Why Do I Even Need a Visa in the First Place?

We know you probably have good intentions for your trip to, say, Cambodia. You just want to visit some ancient temples and get to know its history. However, each country’s immigration department needs to keep a record of who’s there and filter out people who may have different intentions, such as working illegally or conducting criminal activities. This is where visas come into play. They exist to ensure the country remains a safe place for its citizens and to control the number of people who come in and out, as well as how long they stay.

How Do I Know If I Have to Get a Visa?

Are you a British citizen headed to Saudi Arabia and need to know if you need a travel authorisation? Fortunately, with an internet connection it’s easy to find out. offers all the answers and a tool to help you check to see if visitors from your country need to get a visa for the country you want to visit.

Is It Possible to Get a Visa Online?

Many countries now offer the option to apply for an authorisation online, which is known as an eVisa. It’s a much more convenient way to apply since you don’t need to go to an embassy. You just need to upload digital copies of the required documents, such as a scanned copy of your passport information page and a digital passport photo. As long as you have all your documents ready to upload, it only takes a few minutes to complete the process. You usually pay the fees online with a bank card.  

Can’t I Just Show Up and Get a Visa in the Airport?

There is what’s called a Visa on Arrival in some countries. To get one, you present your passport and pay the fee at the immigration control area in the airport. This typically involves waiting in a queue, which can be time-consuming since everyone has to fill out the paperwork by hand. It’s also important to carry the exact amount of money to pay the fee, as some countries don’t allow you to pay by credit card.

You do need to check in advance whether the country you’re visiting offers a Visa on Arrival option, because many countries don’t allow it. Getting an eVisa beforehand is an efficient way to sidestep the paperwork and the queues.

Do I Need to Go to an Embassy?

Fortunately, in most cases it’s no longer necessary to go to an embassy to apply for a visa in person, as electronic visa systems now exist to make the process faster. It depends on your nationality, though. People from some countries, such as Iran or Syria, are often required to apply in person at an embassy due to political tensions and national security issues.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Get a Visa?

Getting an e-Visa is typically a quick process. Generally speaking, the processing time is less than 2 weeks. For some countries, you can get an answer in 1 or 2 business days by paying an extra fee to expedite your application. You don’t need to get it too far in advance, though. Many visas start being valid on the date of their issue, and you could limit the maximum time of your stay if you apply too early.

Once I Get My Visa, How Long Can I Stay in the Country?

Your visa, once it’s issued, will have a start date and an expiration date. Those are the dates you’re allowed to enter the country with that visa.  Another factor that varies from country to country is the maximum length of time you can stay. Sometimes the visa start and expiration dates are the same as the time period you can stay. However, sometimes you get, say, a 90-day window to enter the destination but once you’re there, you can only stay for up to 30 days. This is something to check carefully while doing your travel planning — and before buying any plane tickets!

What Kind of Photo Do I Need?

Careful with this one before you start snapping selfies with your smartphone – most of the time you’ll need a passport-quality photo. This means it’s taken against a white background and shows only your head and shoulders, with no head or face coverings or glasses. You upload the digital photo file in.JPG or .PNG format with your eVisa application.

Do I Have to Submit Extra Documents When I Apply for a Visa?

The only document that’s generally required is a scan of your passport information page. Many countries ask for a passport-quality photo as well. Other documents you may be asked for include a bank statement to prove you have enough money for your stay, and confirmation of your flight and hotel reservations to show that you have lodging and a confirmed departure date. If you’re travelling to a remote region, especially in Africa, you may need to show proof that you’ve gotten a yellow fever vaccination.

Is It Possible to Have My Visa Denied?

While we hope that won’t be the case, it is possible in some cases to have your application rejected. Every country has its own immigration policies and some are stricter than others. Of course, if your application data doesn’t match your passport, that’s one reason it could be denied. It may also depend on the country you’re travelling from and your destination, and if there’s any political tension between the two nations.

What Are Some Common Visa Mistakes People Make?

One small detail that trips people up on their application is not paying close attention to the date format. In the US, it’s a given that the date is written month/day/year. But in many countries the month and the day are switched to day/month/year. For example, your birthdate may be June 3, 1994. This could be either 06/03/1994 or 03/06/1994. Pay close attention to the small print on the application form.

Other mistakes include misspelling your name, not including any middle names or surnames, or not uploading the correct documentation.

Now that you know what to expect and what to avoid, you should be ready to jump in and get the visa you need for your next trip. Bon voyage!

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