Entering Jordan is straightforward whether by air, land or sea, with visas and money exchange facilities available at all borders.
Always carry your passport with you when travelling around sensitive areas, such as near the border of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, along the Dead Sea Highway and roads linking the Dead Sea Highway to interior towns. Checkpoints and passport checks are common in all these areas.
It is important to remember that you may have difficulty entering some Middle Eastern countries from Jordan if you have a visa stamp in your passport from Israel, although generally visitors are given a loose-leaf Israeli entry card not a stamp.
- 1L of alcoholic spirits or two bottles of wine
- 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco
- A ‘reasonable amount of perfume for personal use’
- Gifts up to the value of JD50 or the equivalent of US$150
- Prohibitions include drugs, weapons, and pornographic films and magazines
- Exporting anything more than 100 years old is illegal, so don’t buy any souvenir (including ‘ancient’ coins or oil lamps) that is deemed to be ‘antique’. If you’re unsure about an item’s provenance, contact the Customs Department (www.customs.gov.jo).
Visas, required by all visitors, are available (JD40 for most nationalities) at the international airports and most of Jordan’s land borders. Buying a Jordan Pass (www.jordanpass.jo) online before entering gives free access to many sites in Jordan, including Petra, and waives the visa fee.
At the Airport
Visas are issued on arrival at the immigration desks in the airport in Amman. There’s no form filling involved. Payment must be made in Jordanian dinars.
At Land Borders
Visas for Jordan are issued on arrival at Sheikh Hussein Bridge or Wadi Araba from Israel, but not at King Hussein Bridge. The Jordan Pass (www.jordanpass.jo) is recognised at all land borders. Borders with Iraq and Syria are open but are considered unsafe.
Check the latest status of Jordan's border crossings on the Jordan Tourism Board website (http://international.visitjordan.com/GeneralInformation/GettingAround/Bordercrossings.aspx).
Via the Aqaba Economic Zone
If you arrive in Jordan’s southern city of Aqaba by air on an international flight or by sea from Nuweiba in Egypt, you are entitled to a free visa as part of the free-trade agreement with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Area (ASEZA).
Multiple-entry visas (from JD60) must be obtained in advance from Jordanian consulates or embassies outside the country. In the Middle East, you can find Jordanian embassies in all the neighbouring states, including Israel and the Palestinian Territories. You may want to avoid getting a Jordanian multiple-entry visa from the latter, however, if you intend to travel elsewhere in the region because many Arab countries refuse entry to those who have Israeli stamps or documentation in their passports.
In Amman and Aqaba visas can easily be extended, for a charge of JD40, for stays of up to three months. The process is simple but involves a little running around, although you’re unlikely to spend more than 30 minutes in each office.
- Ask staff at your hotel to write a short letter confirming where you are staying.
- Ask them to fill out two copies of a small card (or photocopy) that states all the hotel details.
- Fill out the application form for an extension on the back of this card (it’s in Arabic but staff at your hotel can help you read it and answers can be in English).
- Take the form, letter, photocopies of the front pages of your passport and the Jordanian visa page, and your passport to the relevant police station.
- Plan to arrive at the police station between 10am and 3pm Saturday to Thursday (best to go early).
- Wait for the extension (usually granted on the spot).
After assembling the necessary paperwork, it takes about 30 minutes to complete the registration process at a police station. You may be required to have an HIV test, which usually takes 24 hours to process. The maximum stay allowed on an extended tourist visa is six months. Failure to register results in a fine of JD1.500 for every day you have overstayed. This is payable when you extend, or on departure from Jordan at a counter just before immigration at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.
In Amman, you can start the process of lodging your visa extension paperwork at Al Madeenah Police Station, opposite the Arab Bank.
Visiting Arab Countries with an Israeli Passport Stamp
Given historic tensions between Arab countries and Israel, any evidence of a visit to Israel in your passport (such as an entry or exit stamp from a Jordanian border crossing) can potentially bar you from entering a number of countries in the region in the future, so if you’re combining your stay in Jordan with a trip to Israel, there are a few things to bear mind.
- When you enter or leave Israel, immigration officials issue you with a separate immigration form instead of stamping your passport. Keep this safe, as losing it can cause big problems.
- If you’re crossing into Israel from Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge, you can ask the Jordanian officials to stamp a piece of paper instead of your passport. Alternatively, you can fly into and out of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (there are direct flights from Amman).
- Proof of having visited Israel isn’t a problem for every Arab or Middle Eastern country. It’s fine for Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Oman, Tunisia and Morocco. Officially, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will refuse you entry if you have evidence of a visit to Israel in your passport, but in reality they don’t always look for an offending stamp. Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria will all automatically refuse you entry.
It makes sense for most travellers to buy a Jordan Pass (www.jordanpass.jo) online before entering the country: this waives the cost of a visa in addition to giving free access to many sites in Jordan, including Petra.