Our RTW Trip » Research & Tips » Visas

From The Personal Experience of A Canadian

If it is any comfort to anyone contemplating this kind of long-term travel, we did not have an difficulty in obtaining the visas we needed while enroute. Of course, it involved some work filling out forms and supplying the correct supporting documentation and/or pictures and visiting consulates with exact change and within visa proceesing hours.

However, on the plus side, we discovered that consulates for different countries will often be grouped together in one or two parts in a city and, where that is the case, one can often find good ex-pat food in the vicinity. We found this phenomenon to hold especially true in Beijing and in Seoul.

Before we left, I would’ve been more at ease knowing someone else had travelled smoothly without having obtained all their visas in advance. I guess the best that I can do here is to offer a few tips that made it easier for us to get what we needed enroute.

  • If possible, ask for a 48-page passport when you apply for a new one.  Most countries require one full blank page available in the passport to which they adhere a full-page sized visa.  They (Canada) don’t add extra pages to passports anymore.  Lesson: we ran out of pages and, therefore, could not visit Brazil.
  • Before departing, make about 10 passport-sized photos, each, both in colour and black and white.  They were useful not only for visas, which always seem to require them, but for other unexpected things such as, an international driver’s license and a tourist pass for Angkor Wat.
  • Pay cash whenever possible; exact cash was best.  Some embassies (ahem, Russia) don’t make change at all.
  • Check the hours that an embassy accepts visa applications and the hours that they allow visa pick-up.  Sometimes, these are not the same hours and/or days of the week.
  • Expect the unexpected and pad the timeframe for visa processing.  (At the Indian embassy in Istanbul, we were told we needed to obtain a “consulate letter” from the Canadian consulate in Ankara, 12 hrs. away.  Luckily, we were able to pay $50 to get it done in Istanbul but it was a requirement completely unknown to us until we walked in the embassy’s door.)
  • Some embassies require proof of payment of the application fee before they will accept and application for processing (ahem, Mongolia).   This necessitates a trip to a specific bank with a specific form filled out and some cash in order to deposit the fee into their account.  Bizarre but easily accomplished.
  • If possible, look forward a few stops on your itinerary to see if any of the upcoming cities have embassies for upcoming countries you plan to visit that require visas.  We were able to get both Russian and Mongolian visas while in Seoul, instead of China, and it was a much  smoother process.
  • As soon as you walk into the door of an embassy, look for and take a number.  Doesn’t matter what it’s for, just take a number and figure out what it’s for later.  There’s a reason it’s there and chances are good that you’ll need it for something.

Visa Requirements (Consular Affairs) An alphabetized list of countries for which a Canadian citizen requires a visa in order to visit.