Where to get visas in central Asia
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Feb 5, 2013 6:13 AM Last Post By: emmeff
Dec 10, 2012 1:21 AM
Where to get visas in central AsiaNext year I'm planning a cycle tour across central asia, and I thought I'd share my visa plan here.
-Because I've spent hours trawling the interweb figuring this out, so it might help someone
-In case someone can point out any flaws in the plan (not much we can do about central Asian bureaucratic unpredictability)!
I haven't actually tested this plan out, so any information may be out of date, but it was mishmashed together from other travellors experience posted on the web. The route we're planning to take is through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia , Georgia, Azerbaijan , Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China. I've only been checking whether this applies to Australians, so you better do your own homework!
Turkey : We can get a visa on arrival.
*Georgia*-: We can get a visa on arrival at the land border with Turkey. It's 90 days, and valid from the date of issue. With luck we'll be able to get double entry as we're looping through Armenia.
*Armenia*- There are visas on arrival at all entry points (21-day tourist visas cost $30, and three-day transit visas cost $20.)
Azerbaijan- We plan to apply in Batumi, Georgia. It takes 3-5 days, some travellors have got it quicker. The visa is date specific, and I'm not sure how long it is valid for but I assume it's longer than 2 weeks which is about what we need. No LOI required. All reports I have read suggest this is a hassle free route to an Azeri visa (I am considering getting a LOI anyway, as in any other country you appear to need an LOI and without one it could take weeks if the consulates in Georgia suddenly change their mind about quick and easy processing). What do thorntree readers think? Should we bother with an LOI for Azerbaijin?
*Turkmenistan*- I have a question on another thread about this. Haven't quite figured it out yet. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2283010
Uzbekistan Apply in Istanbul. It costs $80 for 30 days. If you have a LOI, by one account it took "32.5 minutes", by another, they filled in a form on Monday, picked up visa on Friday, didn't have to leave their passports behind either. It seems to be easy to get there, pretty sure we'll get an LOI though. Date specific. So will have to lock in the dates for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
_Tajikistan_- Apply in Ankara or Istanbul (if possible). Seems to take 1-3 days, no LOI required. $54, pay double for same day? Around 30days date specific, you can also get double entry (35 days) but we won't be needing that. I am a bit unclear, it there an embassy in Istanbul?
Kyrgyzstan: NO VISA REQUIRED!!!
China: I had a stroke of genius with this one, as by all accounts it appears to be unreliable getting Chinese visas in Central Asia. It's very easy to get them in Sydney but they are only valid for 90 days from date of issue- and we'll be on the road for 4-5 months before arriving in China. Once you enter you then get 60days for the standard tourist visa.
HOWEVER: If you apply for a double entry tourist visa, which I have done earlier this year for a different trip, you get 180 days of validity. So both entries must be within 6 months, then after each entry you get 60 days. We don't actually need two entries and it costs an extra $30 to get the extra entry, but this is worth it for the lack of hassle on the road. So we will apply for our Chinese visas about 2 weeks before departure, (in Sydney the Chinese are very efficient as visa processing). We don't have to worry about what dates we'll arrive in China as long as we get there within 6 months, which we have to anyway as our entire trip can't go over 6 months.
Predeparture: LOI for Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, (Azeri?), Visa for China
On the road: Visa stops in Istanbul (Uzbek, Tajik), ?Ankara (?Turkmen), Batumi (Azeri), Baku (?For Turkmen?).
Any thoughts, alarm bells? Hope this helps someone in any case. I have found it useful to read other people's visa plans!
Edited by: lattesipper
Dec 10, 2012 4:57 AM
1Very helpful thank you! I'm beginning to think I want to do a similar trip next year so starting to look into it. Are your prices for visas in American dollars? Do you know anything abou getting a visa from china into India?
Dec 10, 2012 10:00 AM
2*Georgia*-: We can get a visa on arrival at the land border with Turkey. It's 90 days, and valid from the date of issue. With luck we'll be able to get double entry as we're looping through Armenia.
I don't know where you got that info but it doesn't agree with the info provided by the MFA of Georgia so you could consider to review/confirm it.
Dec 10, 2012 12:55 PM
3Thanks Anillos. The mfa says "In case if the ordinary visa is issued at the state border crossing points of Georgia visa fee is...60 GEL for Multiple ordinary VISA for 90 days" implying you can get visa's at the border.
Lonely Planet also suggests this is the case : www.lonelyplanet.com/georgia/practical-information/visas. But it also seems like at some stage Australia has been added to the list of countries which don't need a visa for Georgia, according to mfa, so maybe we won't need a visa at all! Yay!
Danielle_k, 4 years ago I got an Indian visa in Beijing, China. Was a straight forward process, drop off, pick up, pay- they have outsourced visa processing so it's not actually at the embassy. I got a 6 month multiple entry (the default it appears), from memory it took at least a week to process, I was in no hurry and I can't recall but I suspect you can pay to speed things up. (Also they keep your passport whilst processing).
Dec 11, 2012 4:52 AM
Dec 11, 2012 6:02 AM
Dec 11, 2012 7:30 AM
6But it also seems like at some stage Australia has been added to the list of countries which don't need a visa for Georgia, according to mfa, so maybe we won't need a visa at all!
That's exactly what I was trying to point out. I'm not Australian though so that's all what I can say.
Dec 11, 2012 7:38 AM
7Along with the Georgia for 360 days correction, EU citizens no longer require a visa for Armenia.
Dec 11, 2012 7:55 AM
Dec 11, 2012 4:49 PM
10Would be nice to skip another visa, but Armenia seems cheap and easy to get visa's anyway. Lucky Europeans!
I know you can get Chinese visa's in the stans, but our route won't go through Tashkent, and we'd like to spend most of our Tajik visa length cycling the pamirs, and not hanging out in Dushanbe! Getting the 180 day valid double entry Chinese visa from home saves time on the trip.
One more question. My passport is getting pretty full. I have 8 full blank pages left.
(well 10 if you count the first page but I am not sure if consulates would be happy sticking a visa there- I don't think you're technically supposed to but my friend had his not very full passport stamped on the first page once- the page adjacent your photo page.).
How much space does the Georgian non-visa take up?
What about Turkey, does anyone know how much a Turkish visa takes (whole page or just a stamp)?
And Kyrgyzstan? Used to be a whole page, with the visa requirements waived, is it just a stamp now?
I know China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan will all be a whole page. I assume Armenia will be too.
Perhaps I would be wise to get a new passport before I go? (I still have 1.5 years on this one.) (There is a part of me that things it would be cool to fill up all the pages, but then, I really don't want to get stuck with a full passport unable to get the visa's I need to continue onwards! I would have to be extra vigilant that border security don't stamp any of my blank pages with the entrance stamp!)
Dec 11, 2012 9:00 PM
11Georgia is generally very considerate with their stamp. They will take up a small corner on entry and stamp right next to it on departure. As for Turkey, there has been a lot of chatter that they will use a full page for their postage stamp. I've been many times and they didn't seem to care. There are also rumours that they will change to larger sticker. But i haven't seen anything official indicating this.
Dec 11, 2012 11:02 PM
12Get a new passport. There's no way you can oversee the stamping practices of border officials. Two spare pages (assuming you can keep the other six clear for full page visas) is not enough for the travel you plan. Both China and Azerbaijan will enter stamps on additional pages facing the visa stickers. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (probably also Turkmenistan) will overstamp their visas.
With the Tajik visa, double check to ensure that you receive the tourist visa, indicated with 'T'. Andy other sort will create further headaches involving registration with OVIR.
Jan 6, 2013 4:52 AM
Jan 6, 2013 4:53 PM
14Also, as of 19 December 2012, Turkey is still issuing $20 visa stickers that are approximately a third the size of a passport page. Australians (such as myself) applying at land borders need to buy three of them, but only one is used in the passport. You'll need additional space on the page for the exit stamp and subsequent stamps for re-entry end exit.
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