Something you might not normally think about when travelling is: What are the Visa requirements for each country on the Menu? Some countries require that you apply for and purchase Visas in advance.
Based on the menu of countries we put together, we needed to apply in advance for Visas to China, India and Russia. The visa for Russia is only good for 6 months and we don’t plan to visit there until the summer of 2014. So, we’ll have to figure out how to obtain that one while we’re on the road.
Rich has a Business Visa that’s still valid for India. Thus, we both needed to apply for a Visa to China and Elizabeth needed one for India. India outsources their Visa processing to “Travisa”.
Here are the China requirements:
- An itinerary showing our travel to China and our return to the U.S.
- Hotel reservations while in China.
Here are the India requirements:
- Complete an extensive application online before submitting your application. (We filled out the India application for Elizabeth and booked a Hotel in Beijing, where we’re starting our trip, and provided our itinerary to China along with our travel leaving the country and heading to Japan.)
We submitted all of our documentation and Passports to Travisa only to find out that China wouldn’t issue our Visas unless we had an itinerary showing that we would “Go Back Home” to the U.S.. But wait, we still had a problem in that Elizabeth’s name wasn’t on the Hotel reservation in Bejiing. Thus, we’d have to submit a copy of our marriage license to show that we’re married, which we subsequently did. Argghhhh.
We also had to rebook our travel to return to the U.S. just so we could get our Visas. Our frequent filer miles have come in handy to adjust our travel itineraries without incurring airline change fees.
We were also informed that the India Visa application was unacceptable as we hadn’t provided a zip code for Elizabeth’s parents address as our contact in the U.S. So we refiled an India Visa application starting from the beginning and providing a zip code for Columbia, MO.
Once we reworked everything, and paid our fees to obtain the Visas, they were processed without incident and we were only without our passports for about 3 weeks. Oh yeah, one other thing, you need to make sure you have enough blank pages in your passport to capture the visa stamps for the countries you’ve visited. Rich didn’t, and so he had to ante up some more money and send his passport into the National Passport Processing center to have 24 more pages added and bound into the original Passport. Now, we’re good to go on advance Visas until we want to go to Russia next year.