The Visa Changes You Need to Know About
Planning your travels can be as stressful as it is enjoyable and keeping up with all the visa changes for various countries can be hard going. Here's all the latest and biggest adjustments you'll want to know about when booking your next trip:
Tourists have often bemoaned India's lengthy and arduous visa application process, but since last August it has been simplified to help save visitors both time and cash. A total of 113 nationalities – including the UK – are now eligible to apply for India's new tourist e-visa. Instead of tediously waiting months for a visa, you can upload all of your documents and track your application online and it typically takes 5-6 working days to gain approval.
The cost of the visa has been trimmed from £89.44 to £57, plus a small booking fee. Once obtained, the visa will allow you entry into the country within a month of it being granted, allowing you a stay for up to one month. However, it cannot be extended and can be only used twice every 12 months. This is a far cry from a government announcement in February 2015, which suggested fingerprints and facial recognition would be needed to enter the country.
Currently, Britons do not need a visa of any kind to enter Canada. However, from 15th March 2016, travellers flying from the UK will need to apply online for Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA), tapping biographic, passport and other personal information in, before being allowed to visit the country. However, don't worry if you think it's costly or time consuming: the eTA will only set you back C$7 (roughly £3.40) and most applications will be approved within minutes of being submitted. There’s need to apply for an eTA if you're entering Canada by land.
UK nationals have previously been able to enjoy up to 90 days in Mongolia without needing prior authorisation but all that changed last month. Now you need to apply for a visa to enter the country. It costs roughly £19, lasts for 30 days and is applicable to both tourists and businesspeople.
If you're looking to book a last-minute getaway to Vietnam, then now might be the time to do it – you won't need to add a visa to your shopping list if you're visiting before 30th June 2016. Since July last year, Britons haven't needed a visa to enter the country for up to 15 days, with this exemption period ending in June. If you're planning to visit there after the above date, or will still be in the country after the period has elapsed, you will need to apply for one – a 90-day pass costs £75.
Looking to take the kids for a safari trip in South Africa this year? Make sure you take their birth certificates with you, as since June 2015, those travelling with their children have to provide proof of parenthood or guardianship – a change which aims to tackle child trafficking in the country. Also, if you're a lone parent bringing your children to South Africa, you'll also need written consent from your non-travelling partner. Despite this recent change, keep tabs on any updates as the government is already considering reversing this highly unpopular change, due to unhappy airlines and ailing tourist numbers.
If you're heading to Southeast Asia in 2016, then travelling to Indonesia will be a whole lot easier. Since June 2015, British nationals have been able to enter the country visa free at five airports – the capital Jakarta, Medan, Batam, Surabaya and Bali. The Indonesian government has waived the normal £23 visa fee in a bid to boost its tourist numbers (currently 11 million per year) and catch up with neighbouring Malaysia, which boasted 27m visitors in 2014. The visas only last for 30 days though, and the penalties harsh for those who overstay.
The visa requirements in China haven’t changed, only the cost has. A three-month tourist visa has jumped from £96 to £151 for the standard service. If you're feeling flush, you could even plump for the express service (takes about three working days and costs a helluva lot more!).
Need helping with visas and planning your trip? See our Before you Travel advice on Visas and Passports.