By Jim Ferri
There are 14 popular countries requiring visas for US citizens.
Many American travelers – especially those who have traveled widely in Europe and now want to venture further afield – are sometimes unaware of visa requirements that pertain to them in many countries around the world, especially in those where you’d least expect to encounter them, such as in Australia, for example.
Some visa requirements are fairly simple, only requiring the payment of a fee online or at the airport on arrival. (Be aware, however, that payment of visas fees on arrival at airports or land crossing is oftentimes a cash-only proposition and may require a passport-size photo).
Some Requirements Are Easy, Others Onerous
Some of the countries requiring visas for US citizens have requirements that can be tedious and time-consuming.
Regardless of whether the visa process is easy or onerous, there are two critical things every traveler, regardless of nationality, must keep in mind when traveling to a country that requires a visa: 1) your passport normally needs to be valid for more than six months from the time you enter a country, and 2) you usually must have at least two totally blank pages in your passport for each visa you are requesting. (U.S. citizens can have additional pages added to their passports at a local passport office).
To sort out this visa red tape, the following are the tourist-visa requirements for countries requiring visas for US citizens and the charge for the visa fee for Americans. This list does not include those countries that routinely issue a no-charge visa upon arrival.
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: AU$20 service charge (approximately US$15.50)
Many American travelers are surprised that Australia is one of the countries requiring visas for US citizens. You must apply online before entering Australia and have a valid U.S. passport and a visa to enter Australia. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Australia for tourism for less than 90 days can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), an electronic label-free visa that can be obtained for a small service fee (see above). Airlines and many travel agents in the United States are also able to apply for ETAs on behalf of travelers. If you overstay your ETA or any other visa, even for short periods, you may be subject to exclusion, detention, and removal by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
Additional information: Embassy of Australia; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $160.00 (if applied for at a Bolivian consulate in the U.S.); $135.00 if purchased at the airport or land borders in Bolivia.
You can apply for a Bolivian tourist visa at Bolivian ports of entry, such as at Bolivia’s international airports and at land border crossings, as well as by mail or in person at Bolivian consulates in the United States. Allow plenty of time for processing if you plan to apply at a Bolivian consulate. In the U.S. you can pay the fee in cash, by deposit to the Bolivian consulate’s bank account or by money order. If you pay upon your arrival to Bolivia, you must pay the $135.00 in cash.
Additional information: Embassy of Bolivia; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $40 plus an online service fee of $4.24.
You must obtain your Brazilian visa in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to your place of residence in the United States. Visas cannot be obtained at the airport.
Visas must be applied for in person (or through an agency) and take a minimum of two weeks to process. The fee, which Brazil charges “in reciprocity for an identical fee paid by Brazilian citizens who apply for a U.S. tourist visa,” can only be paid with a U.S. Post Office Money Order.
Foreign travelers must also fill out an immigration form on arrival that will be stamped and handed back by immigration officials at the airport. It is important to retain this form to hand back to immigration officials upon exit from the country.
Additional information: Embassy of Brazil; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $30 (valid for 1 month)
Cambodia offers on-line visa processing and at the Cambodian Embassy in Washington, DC. Tourists and business travelers may also obtain a visa upon arrival at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings.
Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstay of an expired visa. If the overstay is 30 or fewer days, the charge is USD $5.00 per day; for overstays of more than 30 days, the charge is USD $6.00 per day.
Additional information: Embassy of Cambodia; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $140
To enter China, you must obtain a visa prior to arrival, and must have a passport with at least six months’ validity remaining. U.S. citizens traveling to China may now apply for a ten-year multiple-entry visa. Check your U.S. passport before applying for a visa to make sure that it has six months or more validity remaining. A multiple-entry visa is essential if you plan to re-enter China, especially if you plan to visit either Hong Kong or Macau and return to China.
Additional information: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $160 (valid for 10 years)
Visas for India are now available on arrival for U.S. citizens, as well as those of many other countries. You may also apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to your arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian Embassy or Consulate.
Additional information: Embassy of India; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $35 (valid for 30 days)
Visas may be obtained either before you arrive in Indonesia or upon arrival.
Holders of a regular passport who are traveling for tourism may apply for a 30-day visitor Visa-on-Arrival at airports in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Banda Aceh, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Manado, Biak, Ambon, Balikpapan, Pontianak, Kupang, Batam, and South Sumatra.
Visa-on-Arrival is also available at a limited number of seaports, including the Batam and Bintan ferry terminals opposite Singapore, but they are unavailable at any land border crossing. A Visa-on-Arrival may be extended one time only for a period of 30 additional days.
Additional information: Embassy of Indonesia; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $200 (valid for 5 years)
Kenya is a popular safari destination. Visas may be obtained in advance, although airport visas are also available for U.S. citizens (the fee is the same for both). Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. Evidence of yellow fever immunization may also be requested, and some travelers have been turned around at immigration for not having sufficient proof of immunization.
Additional information: Embassy of Kenya; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $50 (valid for 28 days)
In 2014 the Government of Burma announced an eVisa program for tourists. The program allows you to apply for a visa online rather than physically applying at an embassy or consulate. Once tourists are approved for the visa, it needs to be used within a three-month period. You can also apply at a Burmese Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Note: In Burma, you will be required to show your passport with a valid visa at all airports, train stations, and hotels. Security checkpoints are common outside of tourist areas.
Additional information: Embassy of Burma; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $160
To enter Russia for any purpose other than short transit by air (less than 24 hours with no airport exit allowed) or some journeys by cruise ship or ferry (see below), you must possess a visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate. You cannot obtain a visa upon arrival.
Russia permits visitors to visit many Russian ports without a visa for a period of up to 72 hours. You may go ashore without a visa during port calls, but only if you are with an organized tour and accompanied at all times by a tour operator duly licensed by Russian authorities. Cruise ship and ferry lines offer shore tours that meet these requirements. If you want to do sightseeing on your own, you must have a visa.
Note: Russian authorities will not allow U.S. citizens to depart the country if their visa has expired; travelers must wait until a new visa is approved, which may take up to 20 days. Verify the expiration date of your Russian visa, and leave Russia before your visa expires. Travelers should keep their U.S. passport and Russian visa with them at all times.
Additional information: Embassy of Russian; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $35 (valid for 30 days if applied for in advance; $20 on arrival)
U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization, available online or at the port of entry, or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Visitors are strongly urged to use the online system to avoid lengthy delays at the port of entry.
Additional information: Embassy of Sri Lanka; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $20 (valid for 180 days)
At the end of 2014 on-arrival visas were phased out in Turkey and all foreigners must now obtain their Turkish visa from any Turkish Embassy or Consulate, or from the e-Visa application system, depending on eligibility. (U.S. citizens traveling to Turkey by cruise ship are allowed to enter Turkey without a visa for a maximum period of 72 hours.)
Additional information: Embassy of Turkey; U.S. Department of State
Visa Fee for U.S. Citizens: $25 (1 month, single entry); $135 (1 month, multiple entry)
To enter Vietnam, you need a Vietnamese visa, a visa exemption document, or a written approval letter for a visa upon arrival. You may obtain a visa or a visa exemption document from a Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling to Vietnam. The fees listed above are those for a visa issued by the Embassy of Vietnam and include the visa stamping fee, visa approval arrangement fee and processing fee. Payment is via money order. The Embassy strongly recommends you obtain a visa before you depart for Vietnam.
Additional information: Embassy of Vietnam; U.S. Department of State