These days, not every visa requires that your passport takes a trip to the consulate. Many countries now offer electronic visas, commonly referred to as eVisas. An eVisa is a visa that is issued completely online. Your eVisa is an electronic record that is associated with your passport number, instead of a physical stamp or sticker in your passport book.
Today, we’ll learn more about how to get an eVisa and look at how they are different from traditional visas. We’ll also cover some of the most popular destination countries that now offer eVisas to US citizens.
eVisas vs. Consular Visas
When you think about visas, you probably are imagining a consular visa, also sometimes called a “sticker visa.” Consular visas are issued at embassies and consulates, just as the name implies! These visas are affixed to your passport book. In order to get a consular visa, you have to submit your physical passport book to the consulate, along with a signed visa application and other hard copy document requirements, such as passport-size photos, invitation letters, and flight itineraries.
On the other hand, an eVisa does not require you to send your passport book anywhere. Instead, you will apply for your visa online, and it will be issued electronically. You will get a confirmation when your eVisa is issued. Usually, the confirmation is sent to you as an email, but some countries also have confirmations available on their websites.
Online Visa Application or eVisa?
Traveler, beware: not every online visa application is an eVisa!
Many countries now have online visa applications that are meant to be used to apply for consular visas. You will type in your answers on the application website, and at the end, you will print out your completed application to sign and submit to the consulate. (Sound familiar? It’s just like the online application for US passports.) Your visa will be issued at the consulate and stamped into your passport book.
Some countries that have online visa applications include:
Just to make it even more interesting, India has both an online visa application and an eVisa option! More on that below.
How to Apply for an eVisa
Heading to a destination that offers eVisas to US citizens? You have two options to get your eVisa. You can use the service of a reputable visa expediting company like G3 Global Services, or you can apply on your own.
If you choose to apply on your own, make sure you are applying on the official government website for your destination country. Be wary; some unscrupulous websites exist that try to look like the official eVisa website.
In order to apply for an eVisa, you’re going to need:
- A valid passport book with at least one blank page marked “Visas.” Yes, you still need blank pages – even though you aren’t getting a sticker visa, you will be getting stamps on your passport when you arrive.
- A computer with an internet connection. Not all eVisa applications will work on your phone or tablet, so we recommend applying from a desktop or laptop computer.
- A credit card. You will have to pay for your eVisa online. If possible, use a credit card that does not have foreign transaction fees, as your payment will likely be made to a bank overseas.
- A printer. When your eVisa is issued, print out a copy of your confirmation and carry it with you when you travel.
You may also need to upload supporting documents, like:
- A scan or clear photo of the information page of your passport.
- A digital version of a passport-style photo. You can either scan a photo — not the one printed in your passport, though! — or use a smartphone app like Passport Photo Booth to take a new photo with your phone.
- Your invitation or tour itinerary.
- Your flight itinerary.
Which Countries Offer eVisas?
Below, you’ll find information on some of the most popular destinations that offer eVisas for US citizens. This isn’t a complete list… make sure to double check your destination’s visa requirements before you travel!
Australia has a wide array of electronic visa options. What most US travelers need is called an ETA, short for “Electronic Travel Authority.” Once your ETA is issued, it will be valid for a full year. You can make multiple tourist or business visits to Australia, staying up to 90 days at a time.
Cambodia offers eVisas for tourists only. If you are traveling for business, you should get your visa through the Embassy of Cambodia instead! eVisas for Cambodia are valid for one entry of up to 30 days, and you must enter Cambodia through the airports in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, or via the land crossings at Bavet, Cham Yeam, or Poi Pet.
India just updated their eVisa program at the beginning of April. They now offer three different varieties of eVisas: eTourist, eBusiness, and eMedical visas. eTourist and eBusiness visas are valid for two entries over a 90 day period, and eMedical visas allow three entries. You must use your eVisa within five months of the time it is issued. India eVisas are accepted at 24 airports, including those at Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, and now can also be used to enter India by sea at the ports of Goa, Mangalore, and Cochin.
Applying online for a Kenya eVisa? Be prepared with the many documents you’ll need to upload. You’ll need to post your passport scan, a passport-style photo, your flight itinerary, and your hotel reservations! If you are applying for a business eVisa, you will also need a scanned letter from your employer, explaining the reason for your visit to Kenya.
Myanmar eVisas are valid for a single entry with a stay of up to 28 days. Once your eVisa has been issued, you must enter Myanmar within 90 days or it will be cancelled. You may only enter Myanmar through certain approved airports or land border crossings, including the airports in Yangon and Mandalay.
Like Australia, Sri Lanka’s electronic visa is also called an ETA. You can use them for business or tourist visits. You can enter Sri Lanka twice in a three month period, but you can only stay no more than 30 days combined on both visits.
Turkey offers a generous eVisa program to citizens of the US and many other nations. Once your eVisa is granted, you can use it for multiple trips to Turkey over the next six months, and you can stay for up to 90 days at a time. You can enter Turkey via any airport, seaport, or land crossing using your Turkey eVisa.
Uganda is one of the newest nations to start offering eVisas. Uganda eVisas are valid for a single entry only, so if you want a multiple entry Uganda visa, you’ll need to apply at the Embassy of Uganda. However, you can apply for a multiple entry East Africa Tourist Visa through the Uganda eVisa website! East Africa Tourist Visas allow you to visit Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda using the same visa. To get your Uganda eVisa, you will need to upload quite a few documents to your application, including a scan of your International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever.