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The rise of the electronic visa

What is an electronic visa?

An electronic visa, otherwise known as an electronic entry visa or electronic travel authorisation/electronic travel authority (ETA), is a travel permit in an electronic form. It is often required in addition to a valid passport whn you are travelling to different countries.

When did they start being issued?

Many countries introduced e-visas and electronic travel authorisations (ETAs) in the early 2000s as an alternative to traditional visas.

An ETA is a kind of pre-arrival registration, which may or may not be officially classified as a visa depending on the issuing copuntry, required for foreign travellers who are exempted from obtaining a full visa.

In contrast to the procedures that typically apply in regard to proper visas, per which the traveller normally has no recourse if rejected, if an ETA is rejected the traveller can choose to apply for a visa instead. In contrast, an e-visa is simply a visa that travellers can apply for and receive online without visiting the issuing state’s consular mission or visa agency.

How much do they cost?

Although the e-visa fee varies by country, some countries do not charge fees from their partner countries. For example; Turkey does not charge Mexico and Qatar citizens (2018). Citizens of these countries can get a free visa online.

How easily are they recognised?

About 60 countries are now issuing e-visas. Some of these have universal eligibility, which means that they can be granted to all nationalities. These countries include Antigua, Ascension Island, Benin, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Montserrat, Qatar, Rwanda, St Helena, St Kitts and NEvis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How would I get one?

You can apply online to the official websites of countries but these procedures can be unnecessarily complicated and designed to confuse. Alternatively you can visit the website of a company such as iVisa who arrange visas for countries such as Tanzania.

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