What is a Visa on Arrival?

A visa on arrival is an important travel document you need to enter some countries around the world.

Depending on your nationality, you may have to get a visa on arrival for purposes such as tourism or business when visiting a country abroad.

Read on below to find out more about how visas on arrival are used and what you will have to do to get one.

What Does a Visa on Arrival Mean?

A visa on arrival is simply a visa that is granted when you arrive in a foreign country.

It is issued to foreign nationals who need a visa to enter the country but does not require them to apply in advance of travel. This is made available to travelers visiting for short-term visits.

How Does a Visa on Arrival Work?

A visa on arrival allows foreign travelers to securely enter another country without having to get a visa approved before arrival.

This helps national authorities regulate their borders properly. 

It also gives you flexibility in your travel plans by not having to arrange your travel authorization at a foreign embassy before you leave on your trip.

In some cases, an online visa will be used instead of a visa on arrival. The main difference with these is that you will need to register for authorization online before you travel.

What Does a Visa on Arrival Look Like?

A visa on arrival is usually marked in your passport when it is issued. How this is done depends on the country you travel to.

In some countries, this will be shown as a stamp detailing the date of entry and the type of visa issued.

Many nations, however, use stickers that take up a full page of your passport.

It is therefore essential to make sure that you have enough free pages in your travel document before arriving in a country requiring a visa on arrival.

What Can’t You Do With A Visa on Arrival?

A visa on arrival grants passengers a temporary stay in a foreign country. This means that there are many things holders can’t do when they visit.

With a visa on arrival you will be able to visit your destination of choice, but will not be able to:

  • Reside in the country long term
  • Work full time or take up employment
  • Register for government services and benefits

Additionally, you will normally need to apply for a new visa if you leave the country and re-enter later. Some countries provide the option for a multiple entry visa for this purpose.

How to Get a Visa on Arrival

When you arrive in a country with a visa on arrival as a requirement, you will need to apply for your visa when you get to the border.

Usually, this will require filling in some paperwork provided at a point of entry and some document checks.

The process can take as little as 10 minutes to complete but could take 30 minutes or more if the border crossing is particularly busy or is short-staffed.

Documents Required for a Visa on Arrival

To get a visa on arrival you will need to provide evidence that you fit the requirements of entry to the country in question.

Each country has its own rules on visa requirements. These also vary based on your nationality.

On a visit to a foreign nation, you may need the following documents if you need a visa on arrival:

  • National passport, with 6-12 months validity remaining
  • Completed visa application form
  • Hotel reservation
  • Proof of onward travel
  • Health insurance
  • Evidence of sufficient funds

Additionally, you will need to pay a visa processing fee. In some countries, you may also need to provide up to three passport-sized photographs.

Can an Application for a Visa On Arrival Be Rejected?

Whilst this is uncommon, there is a risk that a visa on arrival application could be rejected.

This might happen for one of the following reasons:

  • You don’t meet the requirements for entry
  • Your application wasn’t correctly completed
  • The border officials have a suspicion about your application

Border officers have the final say over whether you may enter a country or not. They have the right to deny entry to you even if you meet the right requirements for a visa on arrival.