Surprising Countries Where U.S. Citizens Need an Advance Visa

If you’re planning an international trip with a U.S. passport, here’s where you’ll need to be extra prepared with your paperwork.

Surprising Countries Where U.S. Citizens Need an Advance Visa

Many countries require U.S. travelers to present entry visas on arrival.

Photo by Andrew S/Shutterstock

U.S. passport owners have the privilege of being able to visit various countries—among them Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Belize, and Iceland—without needing a visa. However, a number of international destinations do require that travelers with U.S. passports purchase tourist visas before entering the country. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the more frequently visited countries that require visas from U.S. citizens upon arrival.

Australia

Before heading to the Land Down Under, travelers with U.S. passports must apply for an electronic authorization from the Australian government known as the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). You can apply for an Australian ETA online up to—but no later than—24 hours in advance of your departure; as of April 2022, the ETA can be completed via the AustralianETA app, a product of the Australian government. Electronic tourist visas are valid for one year and permit multiple stays of up to 90 days in Australia. There is a processing fee of $20 (US$14).

Bolivia

Although U.S. passport holders can obtain visas on arrival at the Bolivian border, the extensive paperwork you need to have with you can complicate matters, which is why it can be better to apply for a Bolivian tourist visa online or at a consulate in advance. To enter Bolivia, U.S. citizens must provide a completed application form, passport-size headshot, evidence of hotel reservations (or a letter of invitation to stay at a private residence), proof of sufficient funds and departure tickets, photocopy of their passport—which must be valid for at least six months—plus a yellow fever vaccination certificate. All of this is in addition to a fee of $160, which is only accepted in cash at the border. With the visa, travelers are able to stay in Bolivia for up to 30 days at a time but can’t exceed 90 days per calendar year.

Related Everything You Need to Know About Getting a New U.S. Passport

Cuba

Cuba might be the least surprising country to appear on this list due to its complicated history of travel regulations with the United States. But U.S. passport holders can visit the Caribbean island nation—they just have to adhere to a few specific requirements for entry, the first of which includes applying for a Cuban Tourist Card (sometimes referred to as a Cuban visa). These tourist cards can be purchased online and grant visitors a maximum stay of 30 days on the island. They’re valid for 180 days after purchase, which means you will need to travel within six months of obtaining the document. (Learn more about the legwork required to visit Cuba here.)

Egypt

U.S. travelers hoping to visit Egypt can now apply for an e-Visa through the country’s electronic visa portal. To be eligible for a visa, travelers must have a passport with six months’ validity, travel itinerary, and proof of hotel bookings. Upon approval, travelers must print out their e-Visa and present it to Egyptian customs when they arrive in the country. Fees range from $25 for a single-entry visa to $60 for a multiple-entry visa.

India

India’s visa application process changes frequently, so the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. urges travelers to check its website for updates before planning a trip. At the moment, however, India’s tourist visa regulations are as follows: U.S. citizens can apply online for an electronic travel authorization referred to as an “e-Visa” up to four days before arrival in India, but no more than 30 days before travel. The e-Visa costs $40 and is valid for 60 days upon entry to India. Be prepared to present a printed copy at customs in the international airport, as well as proof of a return ticket and sufficient finances for your stay in India.

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Japan

Before closing its international borders in 2020 due to the pandemic, Japan had exempted U.S. travelers from the need to obtain a visa for entering the country for leisure travel, writes AFAR’s Michelle Baran. But that changed in June, when the exemption was suspended. As a result, U.S. travelers hoping to enter Japan require a visa issued by embassies, consulates, or a consular office of Japan. To apply, travelers must have a valid passport, visa application form, and photograph; they must then make an appointment at the closest Japanese embassy or consulate. Once the visa is granted, travelers must enter Japan within three months. (Note: As of June 2022, Japan has outlined new rules for foreign travelers hoping to visit.)

Kenya

As of January 2021, Kenya has fully automated its visa issuance system, which means U.S. citizens can apply online from anywhere in the world and receive a visa within 48 hours. For a single-entry visa—valid for travel within three months of issue—travelers must provide proof of a travel document with at least six months of validity, return ticket, proof of hotel bookings, and photograph. There is a fee of $51. Once approved, the eVisa will be sent as a PDF; travelers must print it out and present it upon arrival in Kenya. Note: For $101, travelers can apply for an East Africa Tourist Visa, which allows for travel between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda for tourism purposes.

Vietnam

U.S. citizens planning trips to Vietnam have the option to apply for an e-Visa online. Acquiring this e-Visa, which is valid for stays of up to 30 days, requires paying two fees: one “visa letter service fee” at the time of application and another “stamping fee” upon arrival in Vietnam. (The cost varies depending on length of travel and other factors—see more information here.) It’s important to note that Vietnam’s online visa approval process only applies to air travelers who arrive at one of the country’s international airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Da Nang; travelers arriving by land or sea must apply for a visa through a Vietnam embassy.

See the full list of countries requiring tourist visas from U.S. citizens, including Nepal and Tanzania.

This article originally appeared online in 2015; it was most recently updated on July 20, 2022, to include current information.

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