Hi, I am a nice Canadian, let me see your country.
September 9, 2011 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Visasfilter: for which countries can I obtain a visa for while traveling, as opposed to in my own country? Difficulty: Canadian.

I'm planning an extended trip, and I want flexibility. I suppose I also have issues with planning.

My ideal itinerary takes me from Europe into Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, across the Caspian sea to Central Asia and China, and then, hopefully, taking the trans-siberian back.

Thus, I want to ask for experiences with obtaining visas during traveling for: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. Russia appears particularly annoying. I've seen that one can get a visa for China in Ulan-Bataar, and thus I am hoping such a thing is also possible from Bishkek or Dushanbe. The Chinese embassies websites for these cities are 1) Russian/Chinese and despite Gtranslate 2) quite uninformative.

Any help appreciated! Thanks.

(P.S. I am aware that Russian will be helpful and am considering doing the trip the other way around, allowing for a few months of Russian classes in St-Petersburg or somesuch first)

(And let's finish with a funfact: residents of San Marino can go to China without a visa)
posted by StoneSpace to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total)
Oh dear, please ignore the double preposition in the opening line, I swear I can English.
posted by StoneSpace at 3:50 AM on September 9, 2011

Hey StoneSpace,

I can't say for sure, but I can recommend the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forums as a great place to find visa info, and probably a good place to post this question. The forums there really helped us line up Iranian visas in Turkey, for instance. Good luck!
posted by hamandcheese at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2011

It would be very surprising to me if it were easier to get a visa while traveling for Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is very hard to get a visa for these countries in general. Processing time in the US for a US citizen is a decent amount of time for all of these. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are not exactly the most open states, and are wary when giving give visas.

Keep in mind that you will have to give up your passport for processing, but you may be legally required to carry your passport. (I think you must carry your passport while in Russia, for example, and the police will not hesitate to extort you if you aren't.)

Your only authority will be to contact those embassies directly or contact a visa expeditor. Note that contacting the Azerbaijan Embassy in Canada to ask about the Azerbaijan Emb in China, for example, will most likely not be very helpful. I have found that embassies often have no idea what their other embassies are doing. Also, embassy people in different countries will probably not speak English and will likely not respond to your email. If you call them, they will probably not speak English, and they will probably not give you an answer, or ever call you back. (The Azerbaijan Embassy in DC has lately taken to yelling at me, not in English, and then hanging up. I'm still not sure why that's happening.)

Thorn Tree forums can be helpful - you definitely need someone with boots on the ground. But unfortunately these situations can change. I had a Canadian stuck in South Africa because the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa had stopped giving visas to anyone based on some political issues. This wasn't official policy nor was it reported; this was just an informal bureaucratic run-around that fucked up everything. ARRRGH.

The best case scenario if you don't pre-apply is that you are in [city] trying to get a visa, but there's an insurmountable language barrier, you have to give up your passport, and there will be delays. If you're less of a control freak than I am, that might be fine. But if you do want to make sure you get to the right place when you want to go there, pre-apply. Here's my advice: get a long-term visa for all of these countries before you leave. Multiple entry visas are often longer-term than single entry (though more expensive). That way, you're not limited regarding flexibility.

(I spend way too much of my time on visas.)
posted by quadrilaterals at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

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