How to get a last minute travel visa


THE V SIGN

First things first, with last minute vacations: check your passport is valid. If you need to send it off for renewal, you are taking a big risk with booking at the last minute. If you go through our customer service desk, and also then get to deal directly with one of our tour operators, they will tell you if there are any last minute visa details that may prevent you from plumping for late availability in that country. They might also have to give you a letter to confirm that you are traveling, a requirement for many visas. And remember, you sometimes need to submit your passport to get a visa, and it often needs to have six months left on it before it expires. So, these are all things to take into account when opting for last minute vacations. However, if you are booking as a UK citizen there are, thankfully, not too many tricky destinations if you are working out how to get a last minute travel visa. Your first port of call for entry requirements should be the FCO. (If you are visiting from the USA, check out visa requirements here). Here are some destinations that will involve a little more time, money and energy.
You can use companies that will help you gain a visa, but for a service charge. Usually between £50-£150, depending on the actual visa fee. They can be very useful, especially in the case of late availability. Two recommended companies include Travcour and Visa Central. You can lose a morning waiting for information with some embassies, so sometimes paying a company to help ease the pain is a good way to go when choosing how to get a last minute travel visa.

India


The visa application process was made simpler (and cheaper) in August 2015. British citizens are among one of 113 nationalities able to apply for the “e-Tourist visa”. Apply and pay online for vacations of 30 days max, make sure your passport has six months’ validity from the date of your arrival, has at least two blank pages and apply minimum four days before you travel.

Russia


The ideal amount of time to get a visa is 1-2 months before you travel. The processing time is on average eight days. And you also need an ‘invitation letter’ which your tour operator will organise for you. It is for single entry only, so if you are planning a trip with double entry, you need to specify this.

China


Chinese authorities require documents with details of accommodation and flights. Tour operators will be able to provide these, so it’s worth booking your flight through them if possible to avoid extra admin. You need to apply 4-6 weeks before you travel and give it a week to be processed.

Burma


You need to give yourself eight weeks before you travel to get a Burmese visa and it takes 5-10 working days to process.

Vietnam


Best to get your application in six weeks before travel, with an administrative period of between 5- 14 working days.
Tip: Holders of UK, Australian, New Zealand and most EU country passports can travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows you to stay for up to 90 days. You do need to apply online for this, however, from the oval via the US Embassy website's Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)
Photo credits: [Top box - passport: King Huang] [Visa image: Jon Rawlinson]
Written by Catherine Mack
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