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How to Get a Travel Visa & Best Visa Services

Holders of a United States passport can currently travel to 183 countries and territories without a travel visa, or with a visa on arrival according to Wikipedia.org. Even so, the list of countries that require visas for Americans includes some travel hot-spots, including; Australia, China, India, Kenya, and Russia.

When you are planning your next vacation, make sure to research to see if the country you plan to visit requires a visa of any sort and which visa services are quickest and cheapest. 

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Travel Visa Information & Visa Services

U.S. passport owners have the privilege of being able to visit various countries—among them Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Belize, Iceland, and more—without needing a visa. However, a number of international destinations do require that travelers with U.S. passports purchase tourist visas before entering the country. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the more frequently visited countries that require visas from U.S. citizens upon arrival.

One of the last things you might think about is visa requirements when planning your next vacation. 

Visa Requirements

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Knowing which countries require a travel visa for U.S. citizens and understanding specific travel visa requirements for the country you plan to visit is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, there is not a set of travel visa rules that apply across the board. Each country that requires a travel visa will have its own requirements, so make sure to do your research and acquire all the documents needed prior to your visit. 

While there are many countries that don’t require a visa for a short stay (usually between 30-90 days), they may require a visa for a longer visit.  

How to Apply for a Travel Visa

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For short-term travel, there are a couple of ways to secure a visa. For some countries, you can obtain a visa upon arrival by paying a fee at the airport, which is called “visa on arrival.” Some nations, however, require a visa application and approval before travel. For either scenario, the safest and smartest decision is to secure your visa in advance! There are many services that offer help with securing a travel visa and knowing how to get a visa for any country can be a long process, so my suggestion is to start early! 

Visa Application Form

Each country has different requirements and their own visa application form. Some visas can be obtained on arrival at the airport, while some visas must be applied for in advance. 

Some visas take just a few days to receive after submission, while others can take several weeks. Again, begin your visa process as early as possible to assure you have no hiccups in your vacation plans.

Check specific entry requirements by country, including Visa requirements on the U.S. State Department’s website for more details.

Online Visa Application Form

Check the visa requirements for your nationality for every country in the world and discover the visa information you need for your chosen destination and then simply apply for an online visa directly with the country embassy or a company such as onlinevisa.com

All the Countries That Require Visas for Americans 

For a full list of countries requiring tourist visas from U.S. citizens, including China, India, Russia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya and more click here.

Indian Visa

You need a Visa to travel to India from the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia (as well as many other countries). Check the rules for your country, but U.S. citizens who want to travel to India for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 60 days, may apply for a visa electronically. When I applied for my visa, the system was fairly clunky and I needed to upload a photo and a copy of my passport. I received my Indian visa within two days of applying.

Note, that India’s visa application process changes frequently, so the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. suggests travelers to their website for updates before planning a trip. As things can change, do up to date research, but as of the writing of this article; a U.S. citizen can apply online for an electronic travel authorization referred to as an “e-Visa” up to four days before arrival in India, but no more than 30 days before travel. The e-Visa costs $100 and is valid for 60 days upon entry to India. (Be prepared to present a printed copy at customs in the international airport.)

Australian Visa

To apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) you must have a valid passport and apply for your ETA with the passport and passport number you will be traveling to Australia with. You can purchase an Australian ETA no later than 24 hours in advance of your departure. Electronic tourist visas are valid for one year and permit multiple stays of up to 90 days in Australia. They currently cost $20 per person.

China Visa

To apply for a China visa, you need to complete an application form and include a recently-taken color photo, have a valid passport (with at least six months’ validity remaining), and submit them along with other supporting documents to the Chinese embassy or consulate. China is very strict with their rules and if you don’t follow all the steps, it can result in a fine and immediate deportation. 

Russian Visa

To enter Russia, residents of most countries, including the US are required to obtain a visa in advance. In order to get a Russian visa, the first thing you need is an invitation (also known as visa support letter). After that, you can apply for the visa at a Russian consulate, a travel agent or with a visa service company. U.S. citizens can apply for as long as 36 months with a tourist visa.  

Additional Required Paperwork

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If you’re planning an international trip with a U.S. passport, be prepared with all of your paperwork. Although each country has different requirements, there are some general rules to observe when planning an international trip:

  • Your Passport must be valid for at least 6 months to travel to most international locations and must have at least two blank pages available in your passport.
  • You may be asked for proof of onward travel, which is not a problem if you have a return ticket. If you plan on country-hopping, you’ll need to have proof of your travel plans. You may be refused to board on a flight if you cannot satisfy immigration that you plan on leaving their country. If you’re not sure when you plan on leaving, you can buy an onward flight that is refundable and re-book later.
  • Some countries require that you have adequate medical insurance to cover your stay. Regardless of whether it is mandatory, we highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance.  
  • It is rare, but you may be asked for proof of funds and will need to satisfy immigration that you can support your travels. This can catch you off guard, and trying to log in to your internet bank on airport Wi-Fi can be a bit frantic. To be prepared, make sure you have a copy of a bank statement or a screenshot on your phone.
  • Regardless of whether a country has visa-free access, there are still requirements that need to be met if you’re going to travel abroad. We recommend that you confirm with the relevant embassy before making any travel plans.
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