Visas for the Caucasus

By Ada Green
This item appears on page 49 of the August 2015 issue.
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Looking forward to going on the tour “Discover the Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,” Aug. 29-Sept. 23, 2014, with Original World (San Rafael, CA; 888/367-6147, www.originalworld.com), I discovered that visas to Armenia and Azerbaijan had to be obtained in advance (July ’15, pg. 15).

An Armenian visa could be obtained online in advance for $10 at www.mfa.am/en/visa.

The government of Azerbaijan had outsourced their visa processing to an online service called Travisa Outsourcing (www.travisa
outsourcing.com)
, but the visa would need to be approved in Baku, which would take time. The usual visa fee was $180, but if one had a “travel voucher” the fee was only $40.

The visa service agency I used, Washington, DC-based Travel Document.com (www.traveldocument.com), considered the “letter of invitation” that Original World supplied from AL-Travel in Baku to be a “travel voucher,” so I paid only $40.

Georgia makes it easy. A US citizen staying a year or less does not need a visa.*

I flew Turkish Air from New York’s JFK Airport to Batumi, Georgia, and returned from Baku, Azerbaijan, to New York, with transfers in Istanbul, Turkey, in both directions.

Whichever airline you use, be sure to allow sufficient time to connect, even if it means spending four to five hours at the layover airport. In fact, it may be best to book your flight to arrive the day before a tour begins so you don’t chance missing any part of it.

ADA GREEN

New York, NY

* From Sept. 1, 2014, to May 31, 2015, US citizens could travel to Georgia visa-free for up to 90 days, anything over 90 days requiring a tourist visa. On June 1, Georgia enacted a law that extended the visa-free period to 365 days.

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Looking forward to going on the tour “Discover the Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,” Aug. 29-Sept. 23, 2014, with Original World (San Rafael, CA; 888/367-6147, www.originalworld.com), I discovered that visas to Armenia and Azerbaijan had to be obtained in advance (July ’15, pg. 15).

An Armenian visa could be obtained online in advance for $10 at www.mfa.am/en/visa.

The government of Azerbaijan had outsourced their visa processing to an online service called Travisa Outsourcing (www.travisa
outsourcing.com)
, but the visa would need to be approved in Baku, which would take time. The usual visa fee was $180, but if one had a “travel voucher” the fee was only $40.

The visa service agency I used, Washington, DC-based Travel Document.com (www.traveldocument.com), considered the “letter of invitation” that Original World supplied from AL-Travel in Baku to be a “travel voucher,” so I paid only $40.

Georgia makes it easy. A US citizen staying a year or less does not need a visa.*

I flew Turkish Air from New York’s JFK Airport to Batumi, Georgia, and returned from Baku, Azerbaijan, to New York, with transfers in Istanbul, Turkey, in both directions.

Whichever airline you use, be sure to allow sufficient time to connect, even if it means spending four to five hours at the layover airport. In fact, it may be best to book your flight to arrive the day before a tour begins so you don’t chance missing any part of it.

ADA GREEN

New York, NY

* From Sept. 1, 2014, to May 31, 2015, US citizens could travel to Georgia visa-free for up to 90 days, anything over 90 days requiring a tourist visa. On June 1, Georgia enacted a law that extended the visa-free period to 365 days.