Visas are hard. Loads of paperwork and hours of waiting may leave you with a bitter taste about your destination. So, what can you do to survive the process? Prepare. A lot. And when you think you’re done preparing, prepare a little more.
Even if you’re traveling with an American passport, which allows you to visit many countries without a tourist visa, there are still many others that require it. Brazil, China, India, Vietnam, and Australia to name a few.
The process itself varies greatly from one country to another, but there are a few steps that have helped me get through it in one piece.
1 - Download the application from the web.
My first instinct is usually to wait until arriving at the Consulate or Embassy to find and fill out the forms. Instead, the thing to do is go online. Most Consulates have the applications on their websites. Download, fill it out and print. It will save you tons of time. And help you with step #2.
2 - Read the instructions. Then read them again.
This may seem straightforward, but visa forms can be very specific as to how you should fill them out. One time I was turned away from a Consulate after hours of waiting in line outside because the application had to be typed and I filled it out by hand. I had to come back the next day. There is no arguing when the instructions specifically dictate it on the top of the page. So read them.
3 - Make copies of everything.
Keeping a copy of all the paperwork is always a good idea. It’s also good to leave a copy at home or with a friend while you’re away, in case your passport gets lost or stolen.
4 - Verify the accepted forms of payment.
Visas are not cheap and the fees may vary depending on your nationality. Check on the Consulate/Embassy’s website how much and how to pay. You may be allowed to pay with your card or you may need to bring a check.
5 - Meditate. Bring a book. Breath.
There’s always a lot of waiting involved and there’s no way around it. So be ready. Bring a good book. Better yet, bring a travel guide and start daydreaming about your awesome vacation. You’re halfway there.
Do you have any useful tips? Share them in the comment section.