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4 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On visas—take your wallet and be patient

Azerbaijan—the most expensive visa.

You can’t just drive from London to Sydney without having a mitt full of visas in your passport. The challenges for everyone were the visas for Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Almost all other visas can be acquired along the way.

About half of our fellow passengers are from the UK or Ireland, so they got their challenging visas through London. Some took them to the relevant embassy in person, some had friends do it for them, some posted theirs and some used an agency.

None of these countries have embassies in Australia. We looked into using an agency, but the cost seemed high for the services offered and the number of visas we needed, so we decided to take ourselves to Germany six weeks before the trip began, and pursue the visas in Frankfurt and Berlin.

Now you might think that’s not a cost-effective approach compared to using an agency, but we had lots of friends and past exchange students we wanted to catch up with, so it was a mixed trip—with lots of pleasure and a little bit of business.

We started in Frankfurt on a Monday morning in mid-May. Kyrgyzstan was first and easiest. After pressing the security button to be let in, we met with the consul who issued our visas on the spot—for about 50 euros each. Uzbekistan took a week, Turkmenistan took three days, I can’t remember for Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan took two weeks (although there was a dearer express service).

Uzbekistan's visa.

Now don’t go asking me how much each visa cost. Frankly, I don’t remember and I didn’t save receipts. Over the course of the trip, a few have been free—Armenia and Thailand, for example. Some have cost as little as US$20. Azerbaijan was the most expensive at almost 100 euros—because of new rules, we were obliged to use an agency to get that visa (service fee almost 30 euros each).

Some nationalities have to get more visas upfront—namely they couldn’t get a visa at the border, while others of us could. For example, our two south African travellers had to get visas in advance for Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The rest of us just got stamped in at the border.

Some nationalities pay more for visas than others. That usually depends on how much your country makes residents of that country pay for a visa. You know, tit for tat. If you are really concerned about price, check the embassy website in the country in which you plan to apply. And note that an embassy often will not accept a cash payment—must be one way to keep their fingers out of the till. In these cases, you need to bank the fee into their account and bring the receipt back to the embassy. And be prepared to have their bank branch be located no where near the embassy itself. And be prepared too, for the cagey and cheeky banks that charge 5 euros per person for the privilege of making a deposit in someone else’s account.

Before we left Australia

We got four visas in Australia—China, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We didn’t have to—they are all freely available at the borders, but those countries have embassies in Canberra where we live, so we got them out of the way. At one border, it actually caused a problem. We were leaving Laos, but they wanted to know where Canberra was and why our visa came from a different place than the others and blah, blah, blah. In the end they had to call head office, and the woman there told them to stop be ridiculous—or words to that effect.

It was like being Svetlana all over again. Remember her?


Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Nov 4 2011 11:54 pm

    I can see this being a fun exercise (Only time I have ever worried bout visas was when I go on holiday, before that, the places I went to I never needed a visa, I gues the Army sorted that)

    I’m thinking I might contact UKtoOZ to find out what they can do, and what I HAVE to do

    I’m hoping I can get them on route, rather than traipsing over Europe to get Visa’s

    I know using an agency can work out expensive


    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2011 11:19 am

      If you are going through the Stans, you will need to get those visas before setting out. UK to OZ can help by getting any Letters of Invitation that might be needed, but they can’t organise any of the visas. If you are going through India/ and Nepal, you may be able to get those visas on the way.
      A few of our fellow travellers didn’t have their visas for Azerbaijan when we set out. They managed to get them in Georgia, but they had to travel back to the consulate in a place called Batumi (at their own expense) to collect the visas.
      Keep in mind, too, that the process to get a country’s visa and the price can change. So be prepared to be frustrated. But try to stay cool. The person at the counter is only doing their job—they don’t set the policy. 🙂


      • Derrick / Nov 5 2011 9:18 pm

        I know what you mean about people just doing their job, bit like when you make a complaint to anyone on the phone, the poor bugger who picks up the phone, usually get the brunt of it, I usually tell them, its not them I am having a go at and ask to speak to the person I want to have a go at (that person is usually unavailble, out of the office or I just cant speak to them

        I have a Uk passport,(sent off to get a new jumbo sized one)

        I have fired off an email to Karen about getting some of these Visa’s, see what advice she can offer

        (I know I dont go till April next year, but may as well find out as much as I can, fore warned is fore armed)


  2. Derick / Nov 7 2011 7:36 pm

    I got a reply from Karen of Uk to Oz

    I dont have to worry until Febuary 2012, then they will sort out Visa’s for Iran, Pakinstan/India (apparently they are time sensative)

    She has told me the rest will be got on route, I’m on the Odyssey trip, which is 2 weeks longer than the Explorer, so I think its a case of sit back and wait now then, she never made any recommendations about getting any others before I go


  3. Lavelle Sappington / Mar 15 2016 7:30 pm

    Nice blog post , I was enlightened by the specifics , Does anyone know if I would be able to get a fillable IRS W-3 form to edit ?


    • leggypeggy / Mar 15 2016 7:35 pm

      I have no idea about the IRS W-3 form. Hope someone else does.


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