Unless you are an Afghan citizen, you will need a visa to visit Afghanistan. The only exemptions are travellers born in Afghanistan, born to Afghan parents or with parents born in Afghanistan, and people with service or diplomatic passports of select countries.
The Afghanistan tourist visa is valid for 30 days. It’s single entry. It is not date-specific, meaning the visa duration starts from the day you enter, which can be any day within a 3-month period stated on the visa.
Visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months from the date of arrival except for citizens of Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary,India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan as well as all foreigners of Afghan origin, whose passports only have to be valid on arrival.
Afghanistan visa requirements
Afghanistan visa requirements are standard:
- passport with 6 months validity after the expiry of the Afghan visa
- passport photo
- filled out Afghanistan visa application form
Certain embassies ask for a letter of invitation, while others don’t. Some embassies don’t issue tourist visas at all due to safety concerns. Who does and who does not changes often. Did the embassy not ask for a letter of invitation this week? Next week they might. There are no hard and fast rules as to the application process. Each ambassador decides for himself. And ambassadors, it turns out, are a fickle species.
Letter of invitation
If you need a letter of invitation, you can get one from a local in Afghanistan. Couchsurfing is full of helpful people. Tour operators do not want to give you a letter of invitation unless you go on a tour with them.
Foreigner Registration Card
Do you need to register when you arrive in Afghanistan? Yes and no. Officially yes, but enforcement is lax. Foreigners can get hassled though (and have to cough up a bribe) when they leave Afghanistan if they don’t have a foreigner registration card, or even on the street by police. So best to get one.
When you arrive, you are meant to register within 48h (preferably 12) and be given a foreigner registration card free of charge. Make sure you bring passport photos with you – take 2 to be sure. In Kabul airport, you get your registration card from a desk in the baggage area. If you arrive early or late or on the weekend, though, the desk will be closed. You can then opt to stop caring and say when you leave the country that the desk was closed when you arrived. Or, you can return to the airport later. Or, you can head to the police headquarters or the ministry of internal affairs.
October 2015: Airport registration closed, went to the police headquarters with the hotel receptionist.
2013: Went back to the airport later in the trip to register. The registration officials (who, this time, had bothered to turn up) gave me a hard time because I hadn’t registered within 48 hours of arriving. I just kept repeating that the office was closed when I arrived, ignored what I later realized were probably half-hearted attempts at a shakedown for some moolah, and eventually emerged with my registration card. As it turned out, I wasn’t asked to turn it over when I left the country.
July 2012: Crossed at Termez, no registration necessary.
Transit visa for Kabul airport
There is no transit area in Kabul airport. If you are transiting there, you will need to apply for a transit visa at the Afghan embassy.
There is no multiple-entry visa for Afghanistan. Questions and reports with regards to multiple entries to Afghanistan are welcome in the multiple-entry forum thread.
Wakhan corridor permit
If you want to visit the Wakhan corridor you need a special permit. All info in the Wakhan corridor travel guide.
Ishkashim border market on Tajik visa
It is possible to visit the Saturday border market of Ishkashim on a Tajik visa. You leave your passport with the Tajik border guards, and walk across a little bridge to get to the market. When you are done, you walk back and pick up your passport. No Afghan visa is required.
The border market closes when there are problems. In the past, these have included Taliban attacks, cholera outbreaks and mudslides. Updates on the Ishkashim border market are posted in this forum post.
Afghanistan visa extension
A tourist visa to Afghanistan can be extended only once, for 1 month. The cost for overstaying your visa is now $10 per day overstaying during the first month (instead of $2 per day previously), and $15 per day for the second month (previously $5 per day). If the delay is more than two months, in addition to the fine, you will be deported.
One traveler says the MFA info is false: “do NOT go to the border once your visa expired. Just get an extension if you want to stay more or get an exit visa to get out. Both ways are lengthy and obnoxious but the only way to make your stay LEGALLY.”
Extension Visa in Kabul
August 2015: It has become quite difficult to apply for a visa extension in Kabul due to security concerns. However, it’s still possible. First, go to the Ministry of Culture and Information, last floor, ask for a letter for extending your tourist visa, very friendly people. (Don’t go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it’s only for business visa) Then, go to the Afghan Tourism Organization (ATO), next to the National Gallery, a few hundred meters away, give them the letter, a color photocopy of your passport details and Afghan visa, one recent photo, and a reference letter from the guesthouse or hotel you’re staying in.They will give you an application form to fill in and ask you to come back the following day with your passport and $10 (I paid 650 Afghanis) in exchange for another letter (previously asked $20). You then need to go to the Passport and Visa Office (PVO), quite far away, better take a taxi, the following day with that letter in order to get your visa extension.
I went to the PVO and they asked me again for a letter from a guesthouse or hotel, a color photocopy of my passport details and Afghan visa, a recent photo, and the letter from the ATO. PVO is closed on Thursdays and Fridays. The same documents I already gave to the ATO. The cost of visa extension is $50.
IMPORTANT: I mentioned I was staying with an Afghan person in his house through CS. They asked me for a reference letter from that person signed by himself and the police chief, and the owner of the house. I went to the ATO three times, but they wouldn’t do anything without the letter, and started to become very upset and annoyed. Simply go to a guesthouse (I stayed at Salsal Guesthouse, very good location, very friendly staff, for 700 Afghanis a night (about $11.50), stay one night there, ask for a receipt, and give it to the ATO person. It should work.
Exit visa in Herat
- This type of visa can be obtained in Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, and Herat.
- Go to the ATO on Jada Walayat Rd.(The location is between Jada Shamali Rd. and Qumandani Amniya Rd. A little bit hard to find so try to ask people and show your passport.)
- Pay $10 and get a letter. Then, go to the police station in front of the Blue Mosque on Qumandani Amniya Rd.
- First,you need to get a stamp from one of the commanders. His office is in the building facing toward the extrance.Go to the second floor and ask staff where he is.
- Second, take your letter to the building next to it with dark blue windows. Also go to the second floor to obtain application. In this step, you’ll have to hand in the color copies of passport and visa. Then they’ll tell you to take another copy and filled in application to passport and visa office.
- PVO in Herat is still inside of the police station. Normally,there will be a long queue and lots of people but ignore that, try to find a soldier to help you get inside.
- In the first room on the right hand side, the officer inside will give you a payment slip for the fines of expiry or the fee for the visa. Just go back to the corner of Qumandani Amniya Rd. and Jada Walayat Rd.,there’s the only Da Afghanistan Bank in Herat.
- Bring another slip from bank back to the office and the officer would tell you to pick up next day.
*PS: It’s easy to be asked for bribe during the processes,just ignore them or if necessary, try to lower the price. I’m sure the letter from ATO is always $10, and extension visa is $50, and Exit visa for $15-20.(This time I got fines for Expiry included but it should be lower than this price.)
Afghanistan’s embassies…in short, very unpredictable. One week it’s this, next week it’s something else. The links below take you to our forum threads on the embassies.
Many people going to the Wakhan Valley via Tajikistan get their visa in Khorog.