Except for passport holders of a few nations, everyone needs a visa to visit Pakistan. Applying for a tourist visa for Pakistan is confusing, though. Every embassy has its own rules. Some require you to go through an intermediary, others need an invitation letter. We are in need of embassy reports to fill you in here. Let us know if you had any recent experiences.
What is for certain, is that you need to apply at the Pakistan embassy in your home country or country of residence. All applications lodged outside your home country are refused unless there is no embassy in your home country (as with all other things in Pakistan, there are always exceptions if you are adamant or know the right people).
If you are already abroad, you need to mail in your passport to your home embassy. One exception in Tehran, which is willing to give a 15-day transit visa (see below).
In India it is illegal to send your passport away. You always have to keep it with you. In Sri Lanka it is not illegal.
If your country is embassy-less, find out which is the nearest and double-check to make sure they are responsible for your passport.
Processing times reported have varied wildly, from a few days to 6 weeks. Start on time.
Embassy issues: the Pakistani government does not like to issue visas for single female travellers, even sometimes solo individual males. On the other hand, some embassies are very flexible: Germany, France, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium and Poland have all been reported as easy.
Citizens from Iceland (90 days), Maldives (90 days), Nepal (30 days), Samoa (30 days), Tonga (unlimited) and Trinidad & Tobago (unlimited) can enter visa-free. In addition, visa is not required for holders of a Pakistan Origin Card (POC) or a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistani (NICOP).
Visa on arrival
The website of the MFA has some outdated info on it. It says the following:
Nationals of Turkey with a valid visa of Schengen Area, United Kingdom or the United States already in their passport can obtain a visa on arrival. This is no longer true.
Business visa on arrival
It is possible to get a business visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, provided you have a local sponsor who must first obtain an approval from the immigration authorities at the intended port of arrival. You need one of the following documents: recommendation letter from Chamber of Commerce & Industries (CC&I) in country of residence, invitation letter from business organization recommended by the concerned trade organization/association in Pakistan, or recommendation letter by Investor Consular of Board of Investment posted at Pakistan missions abroad.
Tour group visa
Citizens from the following 24 countries may obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, if they are travelling as part of a group through a designated tour operator. The designated tour operator list, however, has not been updated since 1997.
In short, you can use any Pakistani tour operator, as long as they have a license. A group has a minimum of 4 people. Independent travel is not allowed: this is a group tour, your trip must be pre-booked and pre-arranged.
Israeli passport (stamps) and Indian/Afghan passports
Entry will be refused to travelers with an Israeli passport. However, other passports containing Israeli stamps or visas were previously not problematic for entry. Recently, we have heard of at least one person who was refused a tourist visa in Lisbon because the embassy knew he was on a flight to Tel Aviv. He later did manage to obtain a transit visa in Tehran.
There have been exceptions in which nationals of Israel have been admitted to Pakistan after obtaining an NOC from the Ministry of Interior in Islamabad beforehand, which they then submitted along with application for Pakistani visa.
Citizens of India are granted 30-day tourist visas but must travel in a group through an authorised tour operator. Visitor visas to meet relatives or friends are more easy to obtain, and come with some restrictions. Religious visas are granted for groups of 10 or more for 15 days.
Nationals of Afghanistan are refused entry if their passports or tickets show evidence of transit or boarding in India.
Pakistan tourist visa validity: 3 months from the day you get the visa (exceptions are common, 4 and 5 months is known). This means you can enter Pakistan one day before the visa expires and still stay the duration of your visa. If you have a double entry visa, you cannot enter Pakistan a second time if your visa validity has expired. You can enter after the visa entry date and leave before the exit date.
Single or double entry: Both are available. Multi-entry visa might have 6 month validity.
Pakistan tourist visa duration: 30 days, 45 days or 90 days are available. You might not get the 90 days you requested. All up to the discretion of your embassy official.
Special trick to stay longer: If you have a double entry 90-day visa, and you leave and re-enter Pakistan before the expiry of your visa’s validity, you get an extra 90 days. Example: You have a double entry 90 day visa valid from 1 January to 31 March. You enter Pakistan 15 January, leave 30 March and re-enter 31 March. You then can stay in Pakistan until 29 June.
There is no information on the transit visa on the official pages of the MFA of Pakistan. All we know is that the embassy of Tehran hands out transit visas for 14 days, and that these are extendable once in Pakistan with another 2 weeks.
In Glasgow, no invitation letter was required in March 2018 for a transit visa, only flight tickets, and in the end, a 15-day tourist visa was given (?) after 5 days processing time. Fees vary by nationality.
Letter of invitation (LOI)
Most embassies require a letter of invitation from a Pakistani tour company. You can get in touch with our super-speedy-does-he-ever-sleep guy in Pakistan through the form on this page. Cost is 55 euros.
Since we started offering LOIs, rules have continuously gotten stricter; tour operators are under a lot of pressure from a government that looks increasingly suspicous upon foreigners of all stripes. This means independent travel in Pakistan is still possible, but more hassle is involved.
See the Pakistan LOI page for the latest details.
Only travelers from certain countries need to register with the police upon arrival. These are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, Palestine, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda & Uzbekistan. Reports about the process are more than welcome.
A Pakistan visa extension is possible, but only with considerable hassle. You can extend in any provincial or even district capital. In Islamabad the place to be is the Pak Secretariat (GPS 33°44’10.04”N 73°05’34.19”E). Better yet, avoid Pak Secretariat and go directly to Passports and Visa Office at G8 (Kashmir Highway metrobus stop).
A maximum of 2 extra months extension can be asked for, although some have said a maximum of 1 month. The visa extension fee depends on your citizenship. E.g. for Russians it costs 80$, but for citizens of Austria, Ukraine and Belarus it’s free.
- a letter of invitation on paper with letterhead. You can ask your hotel to do it for you.
- Copy of first page of your passport
- Copy of the Pakistan visa page and stamps
- 3 ID pictures
- Americans need a letter from the MOI as well
We collect reports in the Pakistan visa extension forum topic.
January 2018: Applied in Lahore: The visa office is at 4A Sher Shah Block Near Barkat Market. Got a new single entry visa valid for 6 months for 3300 rupees. Next-day pick-up. Office is closed on Saturday and Sunday. Friends applied visa extension in Islamabad. Seems to be more complicated and takes 10-14 days.
December 2017: Extended mine in Chitral through the Deputy Commissioners Office (DCO), anyone in the city can tell you where it is. Took a few days.
December 2017: in Islamabad it takes longer (7-15 days), than in Gilgit or Lahore (3-4 days).
October 2015: The office where you need to be is in the entry hall of the complex, recognizable by 3 desks and a waiting room. Opens at 10:00 but nobody showed up before 10:30. After we dropped our documents there we were given a letter of approval of the Ministry of Interior the next day in the same place. We had the assistance of a local.
Once we had this paper we went to Passports and Visa Office G8, open from 10 to 12. We came early with all our papers, then asked for the form for extension of 4 pages and filled it in. Got in line and played the foreigner card so as to not have to come back next day. Pingponged between the reception desk and the immigration officer a few times. Finally, you leave your passport and get a paper with your passport number and are told to come back between 7 and 15 days (even the same day is possible if you know people).
Don’t forget to make copies of your passport and visa page with stamp, as well as the letter from the Ministry, especially if you go to the North where many checkpoints will ask you for these papers. For these checkpoints, also prepare a paper with your name, visa validity, visa number, nationality and the license plate of your vehicle if you have one. Copy this 20 times. This will save you hours filling in forms.
To recover your passport, return to the passport office between 14 and 16 with your little paper and play the foreigner card once more.
Overstaying your visa in Pakistan is cheap: less than 2 weeks is free, after that charges from 20$ up to 100$ for overstaying 1 year. But there’s an important detail. If you overstayed and you want to leave, all problems can be solved on the border. But if you have already extended your visa and you then overstayed your extension, you should return to the Passport Office and extend your visa one more time.
We have a forum topic where we collect reports of overstays.
May 2013: US citizen with Turkish residence. The guy behind the desk kept going back and forth as to if he would even consider my application, but I was ultimately refused on the grounds that 1) I had to apply at the Istanbul consulate where my residency permit was based, 2) I couldn’t apply for a trip 6 months in advance, 3) my plan to enter by road (by bus, not bike) from China to Pakistan wasn’t allowed, 4) I hadn’t made any reservations yet etc etc. Ended with him looking me in the eye and saying, “my dear.”
Berlin embassy, Germany
October 2016: We could easily get a visa that allows us to enter Pakistan between April and June 2017, well over 6 months from our date of application!
Got: 30 days within a 3 month period of our choice (5-8 months in the future)
Processing time: 7 days
Price: 36 Euros
- Duly filled in 5 page application form (website states 2 copies needed, but were not)
- Passport Copy
- Two 3.5×4.5 passport pictures with light blue(!) background
- New requirement: Invitation, Flight Booking or Hotel Booking (choose at least one, booking.com ok)
Could not reach anyone by phone or mail, got *very* different answers from different members of staff. Passport photos need the light blue background, edit at home and print them at any dm/drugstore instant photo printer.
Payment was another problem, as they only accept some ec-cards (no cash) and their machine did not like mine. That meant running off to a nearby bank, doing a bank deposit and returning with the payment slip.
Bern embassy, Switzerland
August 2016: Chinese passport holders resident in Switzerland need LOI. 1 month processing time.
So far, only locals have managed to apply. Bishkek updates posted here.
June 2016: 6 months validity appears to be the norm here (upon entry you get 30 days). We also managed to talk our way around getting a LOI. 40 euros per person in total. 2 week turnaround.
May 2016: LOI was needed. They do not get many overlanders and were very cautious about giving us visas….in fact they made me sign an acknowledgement that we are going through a dangerous area and take full responsibilities for ourselves. My new friend in the embassy in Dublin steared me through and we had quite an email dialogue before. I made an appointment with my friend on a Thursday and received my visa by mail on the following Monday. Cost was 128 euro.
Unfortunately they made a mistake with a 3 month visa from date of issue. As a British passport holder requiring a Pakistan visa before applying for an Iran visa I needed a 5 month visa from date of issue. I returned the passport by post and within days I received the amended visa back by post.
Updates welcome in the Pakistan consulate of Glasgow forum topic.
January 2018: First got refused, perhaps because we said we were going overland. We applied via post and they told us to come in person. Applied again without mentioning overlanding, and got our visas in the mail 2 weeks later.
August 2016: We applied via post. At that time we were already in Georgia, so we had our application sent to the consulate, rigorously following the requirements on the consulate’s website. The light blue background was photoshopped into our photos in a Tbilisian photo shop. We did not submit any flight or hotel booking. Our passports arrived back 11 days after submitting them to the post. Visa are valid 3 months from the date they were issued and allow a 30 days stay. In total, it was a pretty quick and easy way to obtain a Pakistan visa for German travelers.
Hong Kong embassy
Full reports are posted in the Hong Kong Pakistan embassy forum topic.
October 2017: 30-day, single entry, valid for 3 months. The website said 6 months of your personal bank statement but 3 months is fine. Just make sure it gets stamped by the bank. Showed a flight reservation to Pakistan, but not a return flight. If you hand in all the proper documents with nothing missing, you can get the visa on the same day. Apply in the morning and get it back in the afternoon. No interviews or anything else.
I hold both the Hong Kong SAR passport and US passport.
Visa application hours 10:00 – 11:30
November 2013: It is not easy to get it. I went several times and talked to a guy who doesn’t want to give visa. If you succesfully deal with the guy you will pay 70 usd to a Habibi bank in Çağlayan. They dont take the money in the embassy. To make them agree to give the visa is not so easy. I went 6 times to the embassy, in the end they agreed. 3 months validity, 30 days duration.
April 2013: Trying to get a visa through Gerry’s… They say only a 5 day wait. Lots of documentation needed: 3 months bank statements, LOI and itinerary, Letter of employment, driving licence or recent bill with relevant address….
December 2012: You now need to go through a middle-man called Gerry. After 3 weeks, still no reply from the embassy.
So far, only locals have managed to apply. Updates posted here.
January 2018: 4 days turnaround for 2-week transit visa, later extended in Islamabad for another 2 weeks.
November 2017: A 2-week transit visa is possible, if you have a visa for the country after Pakistan and a letter of no objection from your embassy.
September 2017: Tourist visa can be done here only if you will be going to Pakistan immediately after Iran. Will take a long time (over a month) to process apparently. Transit visa (15 days) is possible but expiry will be 1 month from date visa is processed. Must have visa of country you’re transiting to (and photocopy) to apply.
The Hague embassy
February 2016: If you have all the required documents, you will get the visa the same day. You need a letter of invitation, and filled in form, 2 passport size photos and air ticket confirmation. The price for the visa is €72 for most European citizens, but €130 for British citizens. We had to wait for about an hour and a half and walked away with a visa valid for 4 months before entering the country, and valid for 45 days once entering the country.
December 2017: I was already traveling in Central Asia so I sent my passport via DHL to a friend in Vienna. It seemed straightforward according to the information I found online on the embassy’s website, however, it wasn’t.
Note that you need to make an appointment first through their Online System. Apart from the documents mentioned on the website (filled out application form, 2 photos, passport & copy), you also need a proof of leaving the country (i.e. flight booking), hotel reservations, itinerary of your planned trip, and confirmation of your employer that you will have leave for the trip. Since I wasn’t there personally they also asked for a simple, formless, signed letter allowing my friend to apply for me (=Vollmacht). Austrians DO NOT need a letter of invitation.
For me some of this was tricky so I had to be creative. Initially I told them my actual plan (entering from China and leaving Pakistan to India overland), but they insisted on a proof of me leaving the country. So I booked a (fully refundable) flight to/from Islamabad and made up a 30-day long itinerary, basically doing all the touristy stuff in the safe parts of the country (it might be clever avoiding to mention critical areas like Gilgit-Baltistan, Baluchistan etc). I also made some hotel reservations on booking.com and cancelled them afterwards. Since I had quit my job a year earlier to go traveling I didn’t have an employer, so instead the embassy asked me for a bank statement showing sufficient funds – a simple copy of a current account statement will do.
Once I had all the documents together they gave my friend an appointment 10 working days later to pick up the visa. No problem there. Once you have got the visa you can enter/exit whichever way you like.
Comments are closed. If you have questions or embassy reports, head over to our forum’s visa section.