Travel can be complicated. Between booking flights and accommodation, finding the best things to do at your destination, and coordinating everything logistically for your trip, the process might seem daunting. The last thing you want is to have to worry about visas, right? Luckily, we live in a time when securing visas to enter a foreign country is easier than ever.
There are many different kinds of visas out there, and if you read my post on visa application tips, you know that electronic visas are one of them. Electronic visas, or e-visas, are the perfect compromise between travelers and countries. Countries have a better handle on who is going to enter and exit their borders, while visitors get to skip the not-so-fun process of waiting in line at the consulate with stacks of important papers.
What Is an Electronic Visa?
An electronic visa, or e-visa, is a digital document that grants a traveler access to a country. All countries require visas for all travelers, but we often don’t realize it. This is because most countries have bilateral agreements that allow your passport to suffice as your visa. Where these agreements exist, you have nothing to worry about other than having a safe and comfortable flight. However, depending on where you are going or where you are from, you may need to secure a visa document before boarding your flight.
Electronic visas are a modern alternative to traditional visas. Traditional visas are stickers that are glued into a passport, and they provide a traveler written permission to enter a specific country for a specific amount of time until a specific date. Some visas last up to ten years, while others last just a month. Some allow unlimited entries, while others allow just a single entry. Each country has its own restrictions and offers its own set of visas.
Traditional visas are a hassle. While the sticker looks cool in your passport, the fees are usually well over $100, the exchange of paperwork and emails can take weeks, and the wait times at the consulate are usually not very fun. Electronic visas offer a scenario where travelers get to skip all of the hassles of consular processes while still securing a visa and receiving entry permission from their destination country. Instead of a sticker in your passport, your electronic visa will be a PDF document that is sent to you via email or simply stored in the country’s immigration database.
How Do You Get an Electronic Visa?
Electronic visas are significantly easier to get than traditional visas, as travelers can pretty much skip the entire consular visa application process. Electronic visas can be acquired by going to the destination country’s immigration control website and providing all of the information that they request. This information will include your passport details, details about your trip itinerary, and sometimes proof of certain aspects of your trip, including your flight itinerary, hotel booking, vaccination status, and financial solvency.
This will not be the case for every country and will vary, but most countries want to see proof that you have booked an exit flight, as they do not want to have to worry about illegal immigration or people overstaying their visas. Many countries have vaccination requirements for diseases like Yellow Fever and Covid-19, which are often more documentation requirements for electronic visas.
When you have all of your documentation ready, you simply fill out the online application form, upload digital copies of each document, pay the corresponding fee with a credit or debit card, and wait for the visa to be processed. Some visas are processed in minutes, while others can take a couple of weeks. You can usually expect to have your digital visa document in your email inbox within a few days.
Are Electronic Visas Better than Traditional Visas?
In most ways, I would be inclined to say that electronic visas are better than traditional visas. While traditional visas make for a great keepsake and are impossible to lose as long as you don’t lose your passport, the implementation of the electronic visa is the inevitable next step in international travel. They require much less effort on the behalf of the destination country and the traveler, they take a lot less time to issue, and they are easily accessible on your phone.
Being able to apply online for a visa a couple of weeks before your trip is an undeniable advantage over the traditional consular process, too. As long as your phone is charged when it’s time to go through immigration (or you have printed a copy of the electronic visa), there are really no drawbacks to electronic visas. Even if you lose your phone, the visa will still be in your email inbox to be accessed on another device!
Hopefully this post answered the question any questions you have about how electronic visas work. I really love the stickers in my passport, but the ease of electronic visas is undeniable. If you have any questions about electronic visas, let us know by dropping a comment below!