Immigration and Visas
Entering and Leaving Your Destination
A visa is an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. Every country, or sometimes just regions such as Schengen, will require a visa to enter via immigration. Many times immigration provides a "visa on arrival" that is stamped into your passport and doesn't require any messy paperwork, applications, fees, etc.
It's easier to get visas for some countries than for than others, and this will depend both on the country in which your passport was issued and the country you plan to visit. In general, if you have a US or EU passport, many countries will allow you to stay for up to 90 days without a special visa. Make to sure check the specific destination country's rules, however, as every tourist visa stay is different!
Search for "[your destination] visa for [your passport country] citizen" on Google, and click on the actual government website pages that instruct you on getting a visa. Make sure you're looking at an official website, which will have the most up-to-date information and requirements. Usually, the tourist visa is the simplest and most applicable option for long term travelers.
Note: A recent addition to our Nomad Toolkit is the website Passports.io, which makes visa requirement lookups super easy. However, given that non-government sites can become outdated (and they often do) we usually cross reference the official government page for the destinations we're less familiar with.
Once you've found the requirements, the government may recommend commercial visa services that expedite the process. Online nomad communities can recommend these visa services as well.
If you know you want to stay longer than the typical tourist visa, give yourself at least two months to apply for a longer visa, and plan to spend a little extra money. This is not always an option but in Thailand, for instance, we were able to mail our passports to an embassy in Oregon and spent $600 total for three six-month visas.
Once you are in-country, talk to other travelers about ways to extend your visa. There are often educational or volunteer visas of which you can take advantage.
Here are some of the most helpful articles we've found about obtaining visas and the immigration process for long term travelers:
- 8 Things You Need to Know About Visas by Nomadtopia
- The Easiest Countries for Perpetual Travelers to Visit Visa-Free by Andrew Henderson
- Can I Get Visas as I Travel, or In Advance? by Shannon O'Donnell