Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Visa

How do you get a visa for the US? What about getting a visa to go to Sri Lanka? It's always the last thing on the to do list but without it, you're not going anywhere

Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Visa

by Sarah Graham |
Published on

If you're anything like me, the absolute best bit about travelling outside of Europe is collecting passport stamps from each new country you visit. Sadly though, the flip side of that is remembering to check entry requirements and sort out visas before you fly – and who hasn't had that last minute, 'shit, visa!' panic three hours before leaving for the airport? To make sure you're organised and prepared well in advance of your travels, here's our guide to getting a visa for some of the most popular holiday destinations.

Australian visa cost

If you're visiting Oz for a holiday of up to three months, getting a visa is really straightforward. Before you travel you can apply online for a freeeVisitor. It's a tourist visa that's stored electronically, so you don't need to worry about paperwork on your travels, and most applications are processed within a day or two.

If you're planning a longer trip, you'll need a Working Holiday visa, which is valid for 18-30-year-olds who want to travel and work down under for up to 12 months. The application process is a bit more involved and will cost you 440 Aussie dollars, but can also be done online. You'll also need to leave yourself a bit more time for this one to go through – Working Holiday visas typically take 10-36 days to be processed.

Cost of visa for Turkey

Like Australia, you can apply online for an e-Visa for Turkey before you travel. Apply at least 48 hours before your flight, and make sure you use the official website where you'll pay 20 US dollars for the application. It is possible to get a visa for £20 on arrival, but you're better off sorting it out in advance. Turkish e-Visas are valid for 180 days from your arrival date, but your stay in Turkey shouldn't be more than 90 days during that period.

Sri Lanka visa cost

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka require an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) – basically anothereVisa, which you apply for online. For an ETA, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your planned arrival date. You'll pay US$20, and the visa is valid for up to 30 days.

Indian visa fees

Likewise, British passport holders can apply online for an e-Tourist Visa to India. You'll pay $60 and, as of April this year, e-TVs are valid for up to 60 days. Again, be aware of unauthorised visa companies – make sure you apply using the official Indian visa website.

How much is a visa for America?

US border control is notoriously stringent, but most British citizens are eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme providing you have anePassport and haven't been arrested for certain crimes. Thanks to President Trump's travel ban, you're no longer eligible if you're a dual national of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, or if you've travelled to Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011.

Providing you meet all the criteria, you should apply online for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least 72 hours before you fly. You'll pay a $14 fee, and the application's a little intense – you'll have to include your employer's details and, bizarrely, there's also an optional section for your social media accounts, should you want to share those with the US government. The ESTA is valid for two years, but you can't visit for more than 90 days at a time.

If you're not eligible for the VWP, you'll have to apply for a visa at your nearest US Embassy or Consulate.


Currently, anyone travelling with a British passport has free movement in and out of European Union countries. Obviously, with Brexit on the horizon, there are still some unanswered questions about how exactly travel between the UK and Europe will work after 2019. Will we need a visa for a day trip to Paris, or a wild weekend in Amsterdam? Hopefully not – but we'll stop being eligible for the EU passport queue at border control, which could mean longer waiting times on arrival.

Remember that the following European countries are also not members of the EU: Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine. With the exception of Turkey, most of these can still be accessed without a visa, but do check out the individual country requirements before you travel.

Mexico visa cost

There's no visa requirement for visiting Mexico, but you'll need to complete an immigration form to show both when you arrive and again when you leave. You can either pick one up on arrival or, if your passport's valid for at least the next six months, you can get one online before you travel.

Make sure you hang on to your immigration form once you arrive in Mexico, as you'll need to show it again in order to leave. You can stay up to 180 days, and you'll have to pay 295 Mexican Pesos for a replacement form if you lose yours.

If you're planning on taking part in any voluntary work or eco-tourism while you're in Mexico, you'll need to speak to the Mexican Embassy to check visa requirements.

Cost of a visa for China

China is a tricky one and – I say this from intensely stressful personal experience – it's worth leaving yourself plenty of time and applying for your visa the recommended 1-3 months before you travel. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, forget about it until two weeks before you're due to fly!

To apply, you'll need to download the application form, make sure you've got all the relevant supporting documents, and either make an appointment at the Visa Centre in London or send your application by post. If your job title is "journalist" or similar, be prepared to answer further questions or provide written statements about your intentions during the trip and who you work for.

Make sure you factor visa fees into your travel budget too, as it's not cheap. The standard tourist visa is valid for 90 days, and you'll pay £151 for a standard visa, £178 for the express service, or £175 for postal applications – PLUS the application service fee of £66 (standard), £78 (express) or £90 (postal). You can find all the information about applying here.

Remember that British citizens don't need a visa to enter Hong Kong or Macao.

Anywhere else in the world

Check the Foreign Office's travel advice, including entry requirements, for each country before you jet off.

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Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahGraham7

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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