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Visas and Permissions

 

One of the biggest hazzles when travelling for an extended time is to get your visas when you need them and where you need them and for some countries or provinces to get additional permits, diesel cards, insurances or documents you never heard of before.

 

Most of that info can be found on government web-sites but still it is intriguing how embassies issue different visas for 2 people that applied exactly for the same thing. What can or can not be done outside of your home country, what can be extended or not extended, where to get permits, all these are questions that you might encounter. We only put things here that we found strange or can not be found on the official government pages. Again, these are just our experiences (viewed from a Turkish and an Austrian citizen)!

 

  • Iran: Visas for 30 days are issued by the embassy within a few weeks, don't forget the registration number that you will obtain from an agency before hand. Visas can be easily extended at the passport section of any major police station for another 30 days. Currently there is no need for a diesel tax or card! So don't believe anyone at the border trying to help you with that. We also travelled through Iran without Iranian number plates or insurance, some claim you need them if you stay longer then 10 days. From Zahedan towards the Pakistan border a police escort might be required.
    Queshm island: this is a special tax zone so you need to get some sort of permit before getting on the ferry. It is free but requires a copy of your CDP.

 

  • Pakistan: The embassy in Vienna does currently not issue visa for land travel. So better bring a flight reservation. My visa got the remark "valid for Islamabad only" but this was simply ignored upon arrival in Taftan. Istanbul issues visas for Turkish citizens only within 24 hours. We had to get an NOC (no objection certificate) from the Department of Home & Tribal Affairs in Quetta in order to leave Quetta (see picture). It should ensure your saftey by guranteeing escorts and informing almost each and every ministry and police and military department of your travel. We had ours issued within less than 3 hours.

 

  • Myanmar: Visa can be obtained in Delhi at the embassy within 2 working days. Don't mention you will travel overland but bring a flight reservation that you can easily get from one of the travel agencies around Connaught Place.

 

  • Thailand: G7 countries get 30 days on land entry at the border (most others only 15 days). If you want to stay longer get a visa in advance. We heard that the embassy in Delhi asks for flight and hotel reservations. We got ours in Chennai via VFS-Global within 2 working days, no flight or hotel reservations, just a cover letter explaining what you plan to do.
    For your vehicle you have to fill in plenty of forms and you will obtain a "simplified customs form" (no CDP necessary) stating how long your car is allowed to stay in Thailand. Unfortunately some border posts will only give you 30 days that can be extended at any customs house within Thailand at no cost.
    The visa situation in Thailand is currently very fluid, be sure to check with the embassy or foreign police what is possible and what not.

 

  • Laos: For citizens of most countries visa can be obtained at the border. Not so for Turkish citizens and other members of the "black list" (countries that don't get visa on arrival for Laos). If your country is on that list be sure to get your visa before you show up at the border in either Bangkok or Khon Kaen (for Thailand, there is no Laos consulate in Chiang Mai!!) or Kunming for China. If you are in either of these cities and have a few hours left it might anyways be a good investment to get the visa there and avoid the sometimes reported hazzle at the border. You can do visa runs on the same day and get a new visa on arrival (we haven't heard of any limitation on how many times you might do it), or alternatively extend your visa at a visa extension office of the police (e.g. in Thakek) for USD 2.50/day (maximum of 30 days).
    No CDP is required for your car. You will get a green customs form and pay depending on your type of vehicle (4 wheel truck is 25'000 KIP). "Custom extensions" are only granted when you have a valid visa for the period but we didn't have to leave Laos to get a new green form valid for another 30 days by just showing up at the border post and paying the same fee again.