DIY visas for Istanbul, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan
20.08.2010 - 05.09.2010 23 °C
In-contrast to popular belief that owning the ‘Afrique Du Suid’ (South African) ordinary travel document has limitations, I have discovered that the benefits outweights the limitations. It opens to the world of gratis visas, exemption from visas etc. Due to this I decided to DIY my Middle East visas, great experience indeed. No travel agent was involved in this and no visa specialist was contacted either, I did it all by myself. It was cheap and worth it, it was certainly better than putting together a desk from a DIY shop. So how did I go about it, I initially outline the route I wanted to take and then started obtaining the visa(s) for each country. My proposed route: Fly into Istanbul (Turkey), travel by road to Damascus (Syria), Beirut (Lebanon) and Amman (Jordan). How did I DIY my visas, my advise is to start this process at least two months before your planned trip, it will take time to obtain all these visas.
Turkey visa, as a South African citizen you do not need to obtain a pre-approved visa to enter Turkey, you can obtain a visa at the port of entry. I was advised to carry euros’ with me since they take only certain currencies for the visa. When I arrived in Turkey I had to pay £10.00 for my visa. I noticed that other nationals were charged in other currencies as well e.g an American girl was charged in Euros. With Turkey visa not needing pre-approval I then decided to obtain my next visa.
Lebanese visa, when investigating how to obtain the visa online I found that South Africa citizens can obtain a visa gratis. I submitted my form to the embassy gratis and hmmmmmm. Two weeks passed after submitting my visa and still no news and no passport back. I decided to call the Lebanese embassy to inquire about my passport. They then informed me that I need to pay visa fees. For a single entry £25.00 and multiple entry £50.00. Apparently they have been trying to get hold of me without any success, I am not sure how could that have happened since I always have my mobile phone with me and I do return miscalls sometimes. They also requested an employee’s letter to confirm employment since they were under the impression that I am travelling as a charity worker. After much discussions I decided to pay for a single entry visa I.e. I paid £25.00. Supporting documents needed are : passport , confirmation of employment, hotel reservation and one passport photo. If planning to travel to Lebanon I will advise you to visit the embassy as you might save yourself paying for a visa which is gratis.
Syrian visa, you will need to search for the Syrian embassy online, you then find a link to fill in your details. After filling in your details you then submit and print the form. When you check online there are no fees outlined for South African’s. I decided to call the embassy to find out how much I need to pay. The embassy informed me that I needed to pay £27.00 for either a single or multiple entry visa. Supporting documents are: Proof of employment, hotel reservation, one passport photo and your payment. I then wrote a note explaining why I needed a multiple entry visa for Syria (I was planning to use Damascus as my base). a few days after submitting my visa application I received a call from the embassy informing me that they can’t offer me a multiple entry visa but a single entry visa. I gave consent on this without any argument, so I had a single entry visa for Syria. Please note that if you need to obtain another visa for Syria you can visit the immigrations office in Damascus and they can give you another entry visa i.e. if you are planning to leave Syria and return again.
Jordanian visa, it is gratis for South African’s. You can obtain your visa at the port of entry. If you have enough time you can obtain it via the embassy prior to travelling. This will save you the long cues and delays at the entry port. I did not arrange the visa for Jordan since I didn’t have a need to. I will let you know what happens when you reach the border post presenting your green Afrique de Suid passport.
Latvia visa, on my return I will be flying from Beirut into Latvia for my connection flight .As a South African you will need a Schengen visa if you are planning to enter Latvia i.e. if you intend to leave the airport and enter Latvia, if you are just connecting you are not required to obtain a Schengen visa. I currently hold a Schengen visa so I might just go for a drink in Latvia while awaiting my flight.
So if you have time and want to save money for your holiday instead of paying travel agents to process your visa on your behalf remember it is easier than putting up an Ikea desk ..DIY your visas