The Law Shop is now closed. Please click here to find out more.

Getting-in trouble - the countries with the strictest entry requirements

Stephen Hunt - Law on the Web

  1. 29 June 2015
  2. Travel
  3. 0 comments

If you are an aspiring globetrotter, you are likely to find entering certain countries more difficult and time-consuming than others. We look at the various obstacles and extra obligations that might be ahead of you.


As you probably know, a document known as a visa is required to enter certain countries. Different countries vary with regard to how long the application process takes and the likelihood of applications actually being successful. Things can also be further complicated when you have to choose from a wide array of different types of visa – those travelling to Russia, for example, have the choice between tourist, private, student, work, transit and business visas, to name but a few.

One example of a country with unusual rules with regard to visas is the South Asian nation of Bhutan, where applications are made by local tour operators and the total cost of a trip must be paid before travelling.

To find out more about visa requirements for the country you are visiting, it is strongly recommended to consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice as you will need to be aware of certain matters such as local laws and safety advice.

Letters of invitation

In addition to applying for a visa, to visit a number of former Soviet Union nations such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and indeed Russia, you will need a letter of invitation, or a ‘tourist voucher’ in some cases. This can, however, usually be obtained from the hotel you are staying in or the travel agent you booked through.

Registering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Some countries, including North Korea, will also require you to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in the case of North Korea, if your stay lasts for more than 24 hours).  Once tourists have entered the country, they are escorted by two local guides at all times.

Proof of funds

With a few exceptions, when travelling to Russia as self-employed, unemployed, a company director or a home worker, you need to prove you have £100 in your bank account for each day of your trip. You will be asked to provide bank statements for the preceding three months. The African country of Angola will also ask for a photocopy of a recent bank statement.

Other restrictions

A visa waiver programme exists between the UK and the United States, which allows most UK citizens to travel to the US without a visa. Those with criminal convictions, however, in the words of the US embassy in London may be “permanently ineligible” to travel there.

If you are a woman travelling to Saudi Arabia, you will need to be accompanied by a male relative or a sponsor to be granted entry.

Are you planning to travel and need information on your rights? Then why not check out our Travel Law section?

Share your experiences

Please note: The views expressed in community areas of this site do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Law on the Web, its owners, its staff or contributors. All comments are moderated prior to publication.

comments powered by Disqus