Most people get their visas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stepanakert. You need to fill out a single-page form including every destination you’re heading to in Karabakh and attach two photos. A five-day visa is issued on the spot for AMD11, 000; a 21-day visa is AMD17, 250. Multiple-entry visas valid for up to 90 days are available. Consul staff will ask how you’re travelling to Karabakh and where you intend to stay. Note that you will not be permitted to enter Azerbaijan if you have a Karabakh visa on your passport, so if you plan to visit Azerbaijan request that the visa be left outside the passport. Be aware that entering Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia is considered illegal entry to Azerbaijan - and to do so is effectively committing a crime by Azeri law.
While no checks on your visa are likely to be made while travelling in Nagorno-Karabakh, the papers may be checked on departure at the checkpoint on the Aghavno River between Berdzor and Goris. This is especially true for travellers in a taxi or their own vehicle. Travellers in the back of a marshrutka are usually overlooked, but you should have the visa just in case. There are also checks if you are going into Kelbajar.
Visas are also available in Yerevan at the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (24 97 05; email@example.com; www.nkr.am; 17a Zaryan Poghots; 10am-1pm & 2-5pm Mon-Fri). The visa will be cheaper if you request that it be processed in five days – AMD7000 for a five-day visa and AMD10, 000 for a 21-day visa. If you can’t be bothered to wait, it’s just easier to get a visa in Stepanakert, as you need to register there anyway. Another reason to visit the consulate in Yerevan is to get familiarised with Karabakh – the consulate is very friendly and offers lots of great travel advice and tips on accommodation.
If you are travelling by taxi or private car into Karabakh consider getting the visa in Yerevan – it is by no means necessary, but it may simplify the process when you enter the country.
In Stepanakert you must register on arrival (or the next day if it’s after hours) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You must restate the places you want to visit, your passport is photocopied and you are issued a registration paper. All this bureaucracy might not happen if you have a 10-year Armenian residency pass. The registration paper might be asked for at the checkpoint on exit. The paper states that you can only travel on the internal roads, which are within the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, but not including roads around the front line.