Dateline: Wroclaw, Poland
It’s been a few years now since I wrote one of our most popular articles on which countries offer dual citizenship. Since then, we’ve updated the article and added new countries.
However, one thing remains the same: even with dual citizenship and the ability to travel on multiple passports, there are still countries that require you to have a visa. Some countries simply require visas from many travelers.
Sometimes, these visa requirements are out of reciprocity (ie: Brazilian citizens need a visa to visit the United States, so Brazil will make US citizens go through hell to get a Brazilian visa). Other times, they are merely an indication that the country is difficult. Other times still, it is merely out of desire to collect a fee.
The good news is that more countries are liberalizing their visa rules to allow more people, including many “Tier B” passport citizens, to travel to more countries. One of the first steps along this easing of visa-free travel is often an electronic visa.
Many countries realize that staffing embassies around the world to handle visa applications from tourists is a waste. More importantly, they realize it’s costing them tourist dollars. The average US citizen might love to visit the Taj Mahal, but if it means waiting in a visa queue at some ugly embassy or simply boarding a flight for somewhere more friendly, they’ll choose the latter.
As a result, e visa countries are increasing, which allows tourists to apply for a visa online without ever speaking with a consular officer. It’s all done remotely.
In many cases, the e visa countries’ process is simple or even a total joke. Countries like Cambodia offer so many visas on arrival and electronic visa options that it’s become clear they basically just want the $42 fee.
Other e visa countries, however, still impose some sort of requirements ranging from something silly like booking a tour to apply online, to merely moving the entire web of bureaucracy onto the internet but without much improvement.
Seeing that I have expressed interest in using my “Tier A” United States passport as little as possible in the next year, the idea of getting an electronic visa interested me.
E Visa Countries for Tourists
Before we dive in, note that I excluded countries with web-based visa applications that either still require sending stacks of paperwork in, or that are reviewed by a consular officer. Sure, Australia offers an e600 online visa application similar to those offered by Canada, the UK, and Ireland, but these are merely the beginning of the same grueling process of going to an embassy. Actually, I think I’d prefer to go to the embassy than deal with those applications.
In addition, I excluded “pre-approval” confirmations like ESTA in the United States and ETA in Australia, which are not visa applications per se, even if they feel like as much work as the process of other e visa countries.
So here is a list of real e visa countries, as well as my personal feedback on those I have used.
While most western citizens can visit Armenia without a visa for a full 180 days (second only to nearby Georgia’s 365 days), some countries, including Canada, need a visa on arrival or electronic visa. When presented with the option, I prefer the evisa just in case, as sometimes smaller countries’ immigration officers will pretend you don’t qualify for a visa on arrival. As someone who applied for a real visa to Armenia in my “Tier C” passport, which was one of the easiest passports to get, I don’t recommend the consular process, but I hear the electronic visa option is easier. You can visit the website here.
Azerbaijan requires visas from just about everyone, except for 12 countries that get visa-free access and another thirteen Asian and Gulf countries that get visa(s) on arrival. Everyone else needs to apply before arrival, and for years Azerbaijan’s e-visa process wasn’t easy. I tried it once and gave up. However, as of 2017, they have made the visa process much easier. Now, tourists may easily apply through various tour operators so long as they book some type of tour, such as a Baku day tour or their hotel stay through the e-visa portal.
Bahrain has substantially eased its visa policy, being one of the more liberal Gulf states toward westerners. Their e-visa program used to be open to only 38 nationalities, but was recently expanded to a more substantial 209. Most “Tier A” passports can obtain a visa on arrival or an e-visa, while a smattering of African and poorer Asian countries must go the e-visa route. That said, the e-visa process requires you to upload multiple forms and isn’t so straightforward. Their friendly-looking website is here.
I’ve received several Cambodia e-visas, and the process is about as easy as it gets. The hardest part is having a passport photo on hand to scan and upload (which is why I keep about ten passport photos on me at any given time).
Once you have that, the form filling takes all of five minutes, and approval is almost instantaneous. Cambodia has raised its e-visa fee over the years, always adding another $2 here or $5 there, but the total fee now should not exceed $42. While many western citizens, such as Americans, can obtain a visa on arrival, the immigration authority can’t seem to give a straight answer as to who qualifies.
The long-troubled west African country formerly known as Ivory Coast has its own online visa process that’s recently been adjusted to accept payments. Do I know how it works? Heck no; I don’t spend a lot of time in Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire is not on my “trending African countries” list. The program’s website, which is based in French but also in English, is here. Sadly, unless you’re from one of 21 African countries or are stateless, you’ll need a visa that costs around $110 for stays up to 90 days. I doubt the nearest embassy is any easier.
Egypt is one of the oldest and culturally richest civilizations known till today, with popular beach destinations amongst other attractions. It’s no wonder the country has always been a tourist hub, it seems natural that they have hopped on the e visa countries list. Nationals of over 78 countries must create their e-visa application from the country’s e-visa portal at least 7 days before arrival. The single entry visa is at $25 with the multiple entries visa at $60. The country’s website is, unlike many African counterparts, pretty straightforward and easy to use.
The African nation of Gabon makes things a bit more straightforward, even if it allows a grand total of four nationalities to visit without a visa (in case you were wondering, they are Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, and South Africa… so you probably want to keep reading). Gabon actually gives you the option to select a single entry of around $100 or double entry visa, and to determine how long you want to stay. From experience, it’s generally easier and cheaper to select the most conservative visa you need. The process seems straightforward, although you do need to upload some documents on the website here.
Georgia is one of the most open e visa countries in the world, perhaps second to only Ecuador. Even countries that face a lot of problems traveling, such as Thailand, have easy access. If you aren’t from the laundry list of countries that get a one-year stamp upon arrival, you’ll need to go through the easy e-visa process. Nationals of a few countries – Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and a number of Caribbean islands – can apply for 90 days, while all others – such as Chinese and Indians – can apply for 30 days. I live in Georgia so can’t comment much on the process, but if it’s like anything else the government does, it should be very efficient. The website is here.
India was smart to introduce the e-visa program a few years back, and to open it up to everyone more recently. The problem is that getting an Indian e-visa represents everything you might expect from the Indian government: bureaucracy, ineptitude, and inefficiency.
The first time I applied online, my application was accepted and the only step left was to pay. However, the e-visa website makes the odd choice to give you TWO payment options (as if you care which Indian bank processes your payment), and the bank I chose happened to be out of commission for some time. That meant that my application was lost and I had to start over again. The Indian visa process is rather intense and involves a lot of questions as well as a few uploads, so plan to spend an hour or two really focusing on it.
Iran now joined the list of e visa countries that have easier access, compared to previous times. Your electronic visa application can be processed within as little as 10 working days. The process is simple and straightforward, you can get started with it here.
Kenya conjures up images of African safaris and great plains teaming with wildlife, but Kenya is quickly working to make itself the financial hub of east Africa, with everything from co-working spaces to venture funds opening. Kenya offers 90-day visa-free access to nationals of 45 countries, only three of which are western: St. Kitts and Nevis, Cyprus, and San Marino. (Singaporeans get visa-free access, too.)
My experience visiting Kuwait involved getting a visa on arrival, which seemed easiest as a US citizen (who gets special treatment), but is available to a growing number of countries in Europe and even Georgia. The process is straightforward, although it requires you to answer a number of questions. The fee is about $10 upon arrival. Unfortunately, the biggest limitation is that Kuwait’s e-visa is only available to a limited number of countries. Details on the website here.
Open to a staggering 159 countries through e-visa, Laos is one of the most open countries on this list. The processing time of the e visa is usually a mere 3 working days at some $50 excluding bank charge for US citizens. You can find the website here and a visa fee calculator that’s based on your nationality here.
Not only is Malaysiaone of the one of the cheapest and safest countries in the world, making it one of the best Asian countries to live in amongst other reasons, but it’s also one of the world’s easiest countries to visit. 66 countries’ citizens get 90-day visa-free, another 94 countries receive 30-day visa-free travel, and two countries receive 14 days without a visa.
Combine that with Malaysia’s easy visa run policy and it is one of the easiest countries to visit as a tourist. However, there are currently 34 countries which require an e-visa including Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Serbia, and Sri Lanka. (I have no idea what Serbia and Montenegro did to irritate Malaysia’s immigration officials.)
A thirty-day e-visa may be applied for online provided the applicant is outside of Malaysia and Singapore, a status they do seem to check diligently. The visa is good for three months from date of issue but the thirty-day stay only applies to single-entry visas; multiple entry visas offer only 14 days in Malaysia.
Since 2007, citizens of 101 countries including every single European country, as well as most other western countries, can enjoy Moldova visa-free. The challenge for those who don’t get visa-free access is that the e-visa process is rather limited, being available only to citizens of most Central and South American countries. Everyone else needs an invitation letter which involves more than the typical online visa process. The government website is here.
I recently applied for a Myanmar e-visa on their website and was surprised by the progress they have made from just a few years ago. When I lived in Malaysia, the online visa process involved hiring someone (usually an inefficient and unhelpful tourist operator) to obtain the visa for you. There was also a lot of confusion among airport gate agents about who needed what visa or invitation letter. Now, the process has been streamlined and costs about $50 for just about any nationality to apply. The government website is here.
New Zealand not only jumped on the list of e visa countries quickly, but it also allowed the process to be easier and more readily available. They even made an app through which you can acquire the electronic travel authorization. The process takes roughly 3 days for processing, but it could take as little as 10 minutes. It even costs less than $10 USD. Visiting the country known for being one of the safest countries in the world hasn’t been easier.
Rwanda is also on my list of African countries to watch, which makes sense since countries with friendly visa policies are generally friendly to foreign investors. While only 24 countries(including Singapore again) can visit visa-free, citizens of the most well-known western countries like the United States can obtain a $50 visa on arrival. Everyone else needs an online visa. The website is a bit dated, but the process is straightforward enough and can be found here.
Sao Tome and Principe
The tiny Atlantic Ocean nation of Sao Tome and Principe naturally doesn’t have many embassies, so it makes sense that they take visa applications online. US, Canadian, Brazilian and all EU members join the 55 citizens whodon’t need a visa at all, but everyone else needs an e-visa. Either way, you will need a yellow fever certificate upon arrival. E-visas must be used within 30 days after issue, and the only option is to apply for a 30 day tourist or business visa. In addition to any online fees, there is a stamping fee of €20 or €30 eurosat the airport.
The highly advanced city-state of Singapore does many things well, and for a nomad capitalist like me, I’m impressed with its 20g network, making it amongst the top countries with the fastest internet speed in the world.
Like many countries, South Sudan embraced online platforms following the pandemic and begun offering a new eVisa. No more traveling to an embassy to apply and be interviewed! Citizens from almost all countries, 207 countries to be specific, can now apply online for an eVisa for a fee that starts from $50. In fact, most are required to do so.
Only citizens of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Egypt have visa-free access to South Sudan – and the four other countries that have visa-on-arrival access would benefit from applying for the eVisa anyway. You can apply through their official site here.
St. Kitts and Nevis
As a country that derives income from its economic citizenship program and tourism, St. Kitts is a pretty open place to visit. Even Indians, who generally have a hard time traveling, can show up without an advance visa. For the southeast Asians, central Asians, and Africans who need a visa, the process is all done online. Most Caribbean countries have about six embassies, so there is little other way to handle the process and it’s really more of an online visa application than a standard e-visa. Still, the process seems easy and can be found here.
Sri Lanka’s government websites give me privacy errors, so I can’t say much about this program, other than it appears that citizens of all countries other than Sri Lanka require an ETA (similar, perhaps, to what is required by the US of western citizens) to visit. With the exception of a few war-torn and African countries, most everyone is eligible to visit for 30 days with one of these, obtainable online if you can figure it out.
69 countries don’t need a visa to travel to Tanzania, and the ones who need to have a pretty straightforward website to use, unlike a lot of other countries on this list. The Tanzania single entry visa costs $50 with the multiple entry one costing $100, the application is said to be processed within ten days.
Turkey’s visa policy is actually more confusing than the European Union’s. When I first visited in 2012, there was no e-visa process, but you could instead obtain a visa on arrival by standing in line and paying $20 in US dollars.
Now, most westerners have the option. The Turkey e-visa process is astonishingly easy and can cost a mere $20 plus a small bank fee, but of course the fee depends on your country of travel document and type of said travel document. If you carry certain “Tier C” passports, you can only get an e-visa if you meet certain criteria such as arriving on a Turkish airline, so make sure to check. The official website is here.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has started offering visa on arrival status to more citizens, but most non-western foreigners still need a visa. Fortunately, the country offers an e-visa process to all nationalities. Getting the e-visa itself is pretty easy, and allows for payment via any number of options through channelers. Expect to pay about $115 for a basic tourist visa, although you’ll have the option to upgrade to longer stay visas (up to 90 days) or add multiple entries.
Uganda’s e-visa process is built in the same way as Gabon’s, and the e-visa process is replacing the formerly available visa on arrival process. Good for them for deciding that a website could do a better job than inefficient government workers selling visas at the airport.
The online process is simple and costs $50, but as this is sub-Saharan Africa, you are required to upload a yellow fever vaccination certificate along with your passport data page and a passport photo. All nationalities may apply online, unless you’re lucky enough to be from Cyprus or Singapore, or have Comoros economic citizenship, in which case you only need to turn up (yellow fever rules still apply). The government website is here.
Uzbekistan greatly opened itself to tourism with the introduction of two new visa regimes on July 15, 2018. Previously, the country was mostly only open to citizens of eastern European countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey.
A new e-visa program now allows citizens of most western countries – including the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia – to visit Uzbekistan for up to thirty days with a single-entry e-visa that costs $20.
The visa must be applied for at least three days before travel, and is open to nationals of 132 countries. Citizens of 102 countries are eligible for a five-day transit visa on arrival provided they have an onward ticket. That means most travellers can now enter Uzbekistan without getting a visa at the embassy, and even five days in the country should be enough to get a taste of cities like Tashkent and Samarkand.
Zambia is one of the more open countries in Africa, but their visa policy is still somewhat restrictive. Some westerners, such as Irish and Maltese, can merely show up, but most of us require a visa on arrival. Visa on arrival is available to over 90 countries, and e-visa is available to all of those plus the remaining Tier C countries. While Zambia is on my list of trending African markets to invest in, I haven’t been there yet but the e-visa website seems friendly and is located here.
Zimbabwe, the place many Zambians have left, has one of the best-looking websites. However, not everyone may apply for an e-visa. In addition to the forty-some nationalities that can arrive visa-free, another 100+ countries may apply for an e-visa, but often with conditions.
Do you have any experience with any of these electronic visa programs? Leave a comment below and let us know your experience.
The good news is that those of us seeking Tier B second passports through economic citizenship or other means have an increasing number of options for traveling without hassle.