And they don’t take American Express

Today’s topic?  The visa.  Well, really, visas, plural.  Not very many countries require US citizens to prepare a visa in advance of arrival to gain entry.  But there are a few that do.  The ones I know about are Russia, China and India.  Oh, and maybe Indonesia, but it’s not so easy to tell.

So what to do?  Get ready for a high-security day trip into the city.  I am fortunate that I live so close to the pacific center for consulates; people who live in Oregon are expected to use the same consulate.

If you want to go to India, that’s good, but don’t expect to come and go on a whim.  Due to fairly recent security measures, you can only enter once every two months using your tourist visa.  That means if you plan to take a side trip to a neighboring country such as Nepal from within India after your initial arrival, well, you’d better apply for a special permit, in advance, to get back into India.  I am really glad I found out about this before leaving for Nepal – otherwise, I’d be held at immigration somewhere and definitely be missing some airplanes, possibly even the rest of my trip.  Many thanks to my clever friend for pointing me to this loophole.

I have an appointment on Friday at the company responsible for all Indian visas.  Ironically, the consulate has outsourced all their processing of visa applications!  The outsource promises a same-day turnaround in most cases, so maybe this is a good thing.

As for Indonesia, their consulate web site has its last update listed in 2008.  While they do graciously offer a Visa On Arrival (VOA), I could not find a list online of airports offering that VOA.  The guide book, while printed in 2010, does not list the airport in Bali as one of them (oh no…).  What to do?  Ask Google.  Turns out the most informative web sites on this matter are the resorts in Bali.  Makes sense, when you think about it.  The reports from the hotels include the latest changes from the Indonesia government in 2010, and the Canberra consulate confirms that VOAs can be had in Bali on arrival at the airport.  They say there’s even a well-organized system that takes credit cards.  Whew!

**Update**

The single entry visit per two months rule does not apply to clear itineraries for visiting neighboring countries.  A visit to Nepal, as long as all is clearly marked and reserved, is supposedly acceptable.  The folks at Travisa report that they have not heard of any problems with anyone they have advised this way, and they are asked this question every day.  So, fingers crossed, it’ll be fine.

I received my Indian visa yesterday, same day, along with lots of good travel advice from several tourists and some employees at the visa company. Thanks everyone!

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