How to get an Afghanistan Visa
Updated April 2020, How to Get an Afghanistan Visa was originally written in September 2017
Wanting to trek the Afghan Wakhan and meet the extremely isolated and traditional Wakhi and Kyrgyz people scattered throughout Afghanistan’s frontier panhandle or see the countless highlights, stunning sceneries and experience the warm Afghan hospitality in the mainland of Afghanistan? Well, you’ll need a visa for that…
How To Get An Afghanistan Visa
Note that: The whole of Afghanistan has travel warnings against visiting by just about every country on Earth due to the ongoing war and Taliban presence. The Afghan Wakhan has remained peaceful and safe over the decades of war the country has seen. But at any time it could turn dangerous, like just about anywhere else. So, if you choose to go, you’re going at your own risk. If you want to read more about travel warnings for Afghanistan read here, and to read up on war zone safety check this out. Realistically the biggest concern I personally had was in the event the Ishkashim border was closed while I was in Afghanistan, as this has happened in the past. Travelers were then forced to travel overland to Kunduz to return to Tajikistan, which is not a good option because it is definitely unsafe. If there is any uncertainty from Taliban threats to cholera to civil unrest they can and will shut the border crossing.
Where To Apply For Your Afghanistan Visa
Theoretically, you can apply at any Afghan embassy or consulate. Many Afghan consulates and embassies don’t like to issue visas to travelers who aren’t applying in their home country (Example: A UK citizen applying for an Afghan visa in Kyrgyzstan), so they may make you jump through a few hoops, but if you’re persistent you usually can get one. Some will require a letter of invitation, others will not. I have experience applying at the consulate in Khorog and the consulate in Washington DC and can say both were both simple and painless processes. I would recommend getting your visa before you leave your home country for simplicity’s sake unless you want to visit the Wakhan in which I recommend just applying in person in Khorog.
The Afghan Consulate In Khorog
Great for those already traveling in the region and for those who come from countries that may not issue and Afghan Visa from their consulate or embassy at home.
The Afghan Consulate In Washington DC
Actually quite easy to apply for American citizens and foreigners residing in the USA. I have been issued an Afghan visa twice at the DC consulate in two different passports and have found it to be an easy process.
The Afghanistan Consulate In Khorog, Tajikistan
The consulate in Khorog is actually the closest consulate to the Afghan Wakhan and nearby Ishkashim will likely be your entry point into Afghanistan and onto the Wakhan. Since the summer of 2018 its been reported that the consulate in Khorog will tell you that you can only use the visa to enter into the Afghan Wakhan, but there is nothing marking this information on your passport. Travelers have reported getting the visa in Khorog and entering Afghanistan from Uzbekistan without issues.
*There were reports of solo women (as in not with a husband/boyfriend/man/dude-friend) being denied visas in Khorog in 2016. When I got my first visa and visited in 2017 I had no problem getting a visa as a solo female. Reports I’ve heard in 2018 have said that it is still possible to get a visa as solo woman.
What To Bring With You
Your passport, a passport photo, a copy of your passport and US dollars for payment (this cost will vary depending on nationality).
Afghanistan Visa Costs At The Khorog Consulate
This will vary depending on where your passport is from. But it’s a pretty safe bet that it will cost between $100 and $150 for a one month single entry visa for most nationalities. However, Americans get nailed with a $200-220 fee for a one month, single entry visa. In Afghanistan’s defense, the US makes it very difficult for Afghans to visit the USA.
Consulate Hours In Khorog
One thing I have discovered spending as much time as I have in Tajikistan is that things rarely happen, leave or open on time. Officially the hours are 8 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday. However, I really wouldn’t bother to show up until closer to 9 am. I arrived at 8:45 am and everyone was just starting to arrive at work. It’s not uncommon for the consulate to close by 12 pm or 1 pm. Also, look into any upcoming Tajik/Afghan/Islamic holidays because you can be guaranteed the consulate will not be open.
The Process In Khorog
Visiting the consulate is actually a straightforward and typically quick experience. I walked out with my Afghanistan visa in about 30 minutes, start to finish.
Step 1: You’ll first be brought back by the woman who will issue your visa. She will ask where and what you’re planning to do in Afghanistan. Then, likely, she will ask if you’re really sure you want to go because it’s such an expensive visa and that Afghanistan, of course, can be very dangerous.
Step 2: Hand over your passport, passport photo and passport copy and get the ball rolling. She’ll quickly start the process.
Step 3: Fill out your Afghanistan visa application. Do I need to give an explanation of this? Insha’Allah, I hope not. If you need further explanation on this step, I most emphatically recommend you not go to Afghanistan.
Step 4: Write your letter to the consulate. This is the step you’ve probably never experienced in all your travels. You have to write a letter stating you take full responsibility for any and everything that could, might, will or won’t happen to you along with personal details like name, passport number, date of birth, etc.
Step 5: Chit chat with the consulate lady. She’s actually really nice and speaks very good English in addition to her Russian and Tajik/Dari. Or stare at the wall in silence, weirdo.
Step 6: The visa will be printed. You’ll be asked to double check the info on it to verify it’s all correct. If it’s correct she’ll slap that bad boy onto one of the blank pages of your passport. She’ll then leave the room to get it signed.
Step 7: you’re now free to visit Afghanistan!
Looking for more info about the Ishkashim Border Crossing Between Tajikistan & Afghanistan? Click here
The Khorog Consulate usually issues 30 days single entry visas that are valid beginning the day they issue it to you. You can then enter Afghanistan at any time in the next 30 days. Even if you enter 29 days later you are still clear to stay 30 days.
Note About Being “Stamped” Into Tajikistan
When I exited Ishkashim on the Tajik side I was hassled about a missing stamp on my Tajik e-visa that should have been placed there when I entered the country. The two guards working insisted that I should have had a stamp on my visa paper when I entered the country. I explained that I flew into Khujand and did not receive a stamp. I expected to be asked for a bribe at this point. They kept insisting that the visa needed to have had a stamp on it. I pointed out the stamp from Khujand in my passport showing my entrance date to Tajikistan and pulled out my airline ticket from the Moscow-Khujand flight. Eventually, they accepted this in place of the missing stamp after a short lecture about making sure to get that paper stamped.
They remembered me when I returned back to the border to enter Tajikistan and stamped my new e-visa, and said ‘see we stamp at Ishkashim’.
The Afghanistan Consulate In Washington DC
Round II 2018 I applied at the Afghan Consulate in Washington DC. We did have a hiccup due to the consulate closing for the Eid Holiday, but we still managed to get out Afghan Visas in time to depart the USA, literally at the last moment possible.
The people at the Afghan consulate are very helpful and kind. Surprisingly the process to obtain an Afghan visa in the USA is actually very simple.
How To Apply At The DC Consulate
Now if you live in DC or close to it, you can walk in and apply in person. But I live pretty much as far from DC as you can possibly get and still live in a full-blown US state. So your other option is to apply online and mail in your documents, which is what I will be covering.
Step 1: Apply Online
Go to www.afgvisa.com. Fill out the entire application as prompted. You will also be able to pay online via the website.
Step 2: Write A Letter Stating The Purpose Of Your Visit
Similar to the letter required by the Khorog Consulate. You will need to state where you plan to visit, why you want to go to Afghanistan and that you take full responsibility for anything that may happen to you during your travels in the country.
Step 3: Mail In Your Documents
Next mail in your passport, printed application, the letter you wrote, passport photo, a prepaid return envelope addressed to yourself.
If you are not a US citizen but do reside in the USA you can still apply for an Afghan visa at the DC consulate. You will need to send in a copy of your Green card, valid alien registration card or valid U.S. resident visa.
If you are a dual citizen of the USA and another country you can apply for your Afghan visa on your other passport (likely cheaper than a visa for US citizens). Just send a scan of your US passport as well. My friend who went with me in 2018 is also an Irish citizen and this is what she did.
The DC Consulate usually issues 30 days single entry visas that are valid beginning the day they issue it to you. You can then enter Afghanistan at any time in the next 90 days. Even if you enter 89 days later you are still clear to stay 30 days.
Without asking we were issued 90 day single entry visas that were valid for entry for the next 180 days, so it is possible to get a longer visa- just make sure and ask if you really want to make sure you can get it.
Easy As That!
The Afghan Wakhan was an amazing and interesting place to travel. Oh, and did I mention I did it solo? Yeah, I did it solo. And in case you forgot, I’m a girl. Well actually a woman I guess, or we could say, female, whatever. Yes, a solo woman CAN visit Afghanistan! With the Wakhan being incredibly easy and fairly hassle-free for solo women. Of course, take usual precautions and conservative dress (hijab) and a headscarf will earn you bonus points with the locals.
Update for 2018 & 2019: I was able to visit the mainland of Afghanistan throughout the month of September 2018 and again for Nowruz in March of 2019, Afghanistan was even better than I would have ever imagined. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of problems and harsh realities you’ll face traveling there– but Afghanistan is still an amazing place.
And, I’ll Say It Again
You’re fully responsible for your own safety while you’re in Afghanistan. Read up on warnings and war zone safety that I linked at the beginning of this post.
Guides I Recommend
Wakhan Corridor: I recommend Malang Darya’s company Big Little Pamir Travel. Malang personally guided me on my 2017 trip into the Wakhan Corridor and was great. You can contact him through his new website Wakhan Adventure, or by phone at +93 794766067.
Mainland Afghanistan: While it is entirely possible to travel Afghanistan independently, I know many of you do not want to deal with the hassle of logistics, safety considerations, and transport. I recommend Let’s Be Friends Afghanistan. I know Noor, who runs and owns the company and guides tourists with his brother Mahdi who assists and guides tourists as well.
Other Helpful Resources
Here are helpful blog posts/books (that aren’t mine, of course)! I actually used some of these to help plan (recklessly) my own visit:
Trekking in the Pamirs by Jan Bakker: Jan’s new book covers many of Tajikistan’s popular treks as well as a 12-dayer in the Afghan Wakhan.
Want to see more from Afghanistan?
Check out my posts below for more tips on visiting Afghanistan.
Got Questions About Getting An Afghanistan Visa?
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