Before we go any further, sit down, take a deep breath and prepare yourself to enter the labyrinth and endlessly time-consuming world of Algerian visas.

Customs Regulations

Export regulations are fairly standard with up to 4L of wine allowed and 200 cigarettes.

Passports

A valid passport with at least six months left before expiry is required by all visitors. Nationals of Israel are not allowed into the country, and if you have a stamp in your passport from Israel your application may be rejected.

Visas

Everyone except nationals of Morocco, Tunisia and Malaysia needs a visa, and getting one can be a frustrating experience. Visas are not available on arrival.

Obtaining a Visa

The exact list of papers you will be required to submit alongside the visa application depends upon your nationality and the embassy or consulate you're applying through. For tourist visas, though, you will always require an 'invitation' to visit the country from an Algerian contact or tourist agency. This can take the form of a signed and stamped letter from a local or international tour operator confirming a booking on an organised tour of Algeria. This letter will need to include a list of places to be visited in Algeria, complete with dates. If you're travelling independently then you will need to provide hotel bookings certified by the local authorities in Algeria (normally the town hall where the hotel is located). Actually getting these certified bookings is no easy task as many cheaper hotels don't respond to emails. If you're on an organised tour, then hotel bookings aren't always required, or if they are and you're booking your own hotels, then you normally don't need to have the booking certified by local authorities. Most embassies also require proof of flight bookings, travel insurance, proof of employment and/or proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay in Algeria.

Currently applications can only be made from your own country of residence. Citizens and residents of France have to apply at their nearest Algerian consulate (there are around a dozen consulates in France) and exact requirements vary on a consulate by consulate basis.

A 30-day visa costs anywhere between US$50 and US$110, depending on the embassy and your nationality. Allow plenty of time for your application to be issued. Waits of up to eight weeks are not unknown if you're planning on heading to the southern desert regions. Almost all Algerian embassies take at least two weeks to process the visas and there are no fast track services. For people applying through regional consulates in France the processing time can sometimes be quicker.

Visa Extensions

Visa extensions can be applied for in Algiers from the Department des Etrangers, but they are not easy to obtain.