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As international travel restrictions begin to ease and we all look to go on a much needed holiday, it’s important to remember that many countries around the world require you to obtain a visa.

Each country has its own unique visa requirements, and whether or not you will need a visa will largely depend on where you are travelling and what nationality you are. A travel visa will allow you to pass through or remain in a country for a set amount of time and for a specific purpose.

The different visas available to travellers include those designed specifically for tourists, journalists, students, doctors, volunteers, and diplomats. Should you wish to work in a foreign country, you will need to make sure your visa allows you to do so.

Whether you need a transit visa or a longer tourist/migration visa, it’s vital to understand the visa process, as you’re not getting into a foreign country without one!

So, let’s take a look at where you can get your visa, when you should get your visa, and what you may need to successfully obtain your required visa.

Things You’ll Need When Applying for a Travel Visa

Where to Get a Travel Visa

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There are a number of ways you can obtain a required travel visa. There are on-arrival visa, e-visas, and physical passport sticker visas or travel documents that may be issued. Visa fees can vary in price, some being rather economical while others can cost hundreds of dollars.

When searching for visa information online, you have several options. You can visit your home country’s government website for information or search the website of the embassy or consulate of the country which you are planning to travel to.

There are also special visa services and agencies that can make getting your visa a much easier and quicker process. This may be the best option if you have never travelled before or if you have left planning your visa until the last minute.

That said, it’s important to be watchful for illegal visa agencies that run scams to steal your cash and deliver you fake visas. Obtaining your visa through a reputable company like allows travellers to legitimately get an e-visa for roughly 60 different countries worldwide.

This can save you a trip to the embassy and potentially a lot of stress, since you can secure your visa from the comfort of your own home. You can apply for a visa in just minutes and have it conveniently emailed to you long before your trip.

What You May Need for your Visa Application

Personal Documents

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Before applying for a travel visa, the first step to international travel is getting a passport. If you already have a passport, you will want to make sure it has at least six months validity from your planned date of return.

Your passport must also be undamaged otherwise you may risk having your visa denied. Unacceptable passport damage may include water damage, ripped pages, or unwarranted markings in your passport.

When applying for a visa, you may be required to submit your actual passport or provide notarised copies of all your passport pages including the bio data page along with passport stamp pages that show where you have travelled.

Other docs you may need include are two recent passport-sized photographs (check for dimensions as this can vary depending on the country), a second form of identification, and your full travel itinerary. The type of visa you’re after and what country it is for will determine what personal documents you will be required to submit.

Make sure that your visa application is filled out correctly and that you haven’t missed any questions. Incomplete visa applications may be denied, forcing you to reapply and possibly pay additional application fees.

Documents that Prove Purpose of Your Trip

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You may need to provide evidence that you are travelling for the reason you say you are on your visa application. For example, if you are planning to visit a country solely as a tourist, you should be able to provide your list of hotel reservations, booked activities, and return flights home.

Other circumstances that may require you to travel internationally include medical needs in which you should be able to show doctor’s letters, international schooling in which you should be able to provide correspondence from your host school, employment whereby you would most likely have evidence of an employment contract, or visiting family which you can then provide evidence of your relationship and contact details.

It’s a good idea to have available a well-documented travel itinerary which shows all of your ticket for visa purposes, booked accommodation, and planned activities. 

Financial Documents

You will also need to show that you can support yourself financially during your overseas travels. It can look suspicious if you are travelling internationally but can’t prove you have enough money which would allow you to fund the full duration of your travels.

You need to be able to prove that you can afford the length of your travel and that you really do intend to return to your home country. You can do this by having bank statements available which prove a consistent savings history or through recent tax documents.

In some cases your travel costs may be paid by a family member or business. If this is the case, you may need to provide bank statements or tax documents of the person that has agreed to fund your travels.

Your family member or friend may also need to sign a statutory declaration that confirms they plan on funding your overseas stay.

Employment or Education Documents

You may also be asked to provide documents that relate to your employment in your home country or the country you are travelling to if you plan on working overseas on a valid work visa.

You may need to ask your boss for a letter that confirms your employment, leave of absence, salary, and position. You can provide a business registration if you are self-employed or evidence of retirement if you are no longer employed. Provide contact information and or an employment contract if you have a job lined up overseas.

If you are a student travelling overseas, you may be asked to provide evidence of enrollment from your school.

Health and Character Documents

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Countries don’t like to allow criminals or unhealthy people into their borders. You will often need to meet a series of health and character requirements to be able to obtain a visa.

You may be asked to provide character and penal clearance that shows you do not have a substantial criminal record which could make you a risk to society.

The list of offences which can deem you ineligible includes having committed a felony, escaping immigration detention, or having belonged to a group that is conducive to violence or terrorism. You need to prove that you are unlikely to commit a crime or incite crime during your overseas stay.

When it comes to health requirements, you may be required to get a medical examination which includes x-rays. Depending on your age and nationality, you may also need to prove you have international health insurance or travel insurance that provides unlimited overseas medical treatment for the duration of your stay.

The purpose of this is to prove you don’t have any illnesses which could endanger the public health of other citizens or a medical condition that would require a demand on healthcare services that are in short supply.

Host countries also don’t want to be forced into a position where they need to cover your health costs or for local hospitals to not receive payment for treatment they have provided, and for this reason many make travel insurance a mandatory visa condition.

Be sure to answer all questions truthfully and declare all of your criminal activity and pre-existing medical conditions.

When Should You Apply for Your Visa?

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While you may be able to obtain certain visas almost immediately online or on arrival in your chosen travel destination, others can take weeks or even months.

You should always research well before your travel dates what the current wait times are for the visa you are after, whether you are travelling to Australia, India, Canada, China, or elsewhere.

It may be smart to look into getting your visa around two months before your planned departure date. You may want to add a week or two if you are in need of visas from several different countries which may be the case for backpackers visiting Europe/Asia or travellers engaging in an around-the-world journey.

It’s important to note that there may be specific timeframes you are allowed to apply for a visa depending on the country you are visiting. Some nations may only allow you to apply for a visa when you are within a set amount of days before your planned arrival and no sooner.

Once You Have Your Visa

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It is crucial that you obtain the correct type of visa for the duration and purpose of your travel. Travelling on the wrong type of visa can lead to severe consequences that may include hefty fines, jail time, deportation, and a possible future ban on travel to a specific country.

Never breach the conditions of your visa. If your visa does not allow you to work or study and you engage in either, you could be in for some deep trouble. Whether you purposely breached your visa conditions or did so inadvertently often does not matter to foreign governments.

It is your own responsibility to adhere to international laws and this includes following the guidelines attached to your visa.

Your home government may not be able to always assist you if you get into visa trouble overseas, so it is up to you to fully understand how long you can stay in a country and what activities you can legally engage in.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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