Applying for travel visas is not always a straight forward process; it can be time-consuming and confusing. We have come across some common challenges amongst businesses with frequent travel visa requirements that we have addressed here.

Making sure you are armed with as much information as possible can help limit potential frustrations. There are several aspects to consider and each one will help ensure a smooth process.

Application times

The most important thing to remember is to leave as much time as possible between applying for a visa and the departure date. Of course things come up last minute, but it is best to get the application started as quickly as possible. Average wait times cannot be guaranteed, and even when an Express service is offered, there is no assurance that delays won’t occur.

Most embassies require your passport be held with your application for as long as the process takes. As a result, frequent travellers often find themselves needing to make a trip abroad whilst their passport is being held. Once an embassy has your passport and visa application, it cannot easily be pulled out. Only in extreme circumstances should this be requested and you can never guarantee a speedy return of your passport – embassies have been known to refuse an early return request outright. You will also lose any fees and there is a chance of alienating yourself from the embassy, making future applications more difficult. A better solution for frequent travellers where long visa applications are common is to obtain two passports to allow travel in the meantime. Your dedicated Business Travel Consultant can assist in this process.

Business visas on arrival are sometimes possible to obtain, depending on the country, however, securing a visa before travel is more reliable and will ensure everything goes smoothly to help avoid unnecessary delays at the airport.

Check requirements

Be sure every form is filled in completely before you submit applications – missing information is a common cause of delays. Check that everything is signed, that every question is filled in and that appropriate passport photos are attached if required.

Some visas require that the applicant go to the embassy in person for a finger print scan. Even if your destination airport does not have the technology to check your fingerprints on arrival, if you are asked for information like this, you must provide it.

If you are not a British citizen but are living and working in the UK, make sure you have checked the visa requirements for the country of your passport as they often differ quite significantly.

Health & Safety – Duty of Care

Ensure you have researched any vaccinations you may need for your destination. Some countries require you also provide certificates in relation to inoculations such as yellow fever if you have travelled through an ‘at risk’ region. Check with your doctor for all vaccination requirements. Your Travel Consultant and your destination’s embassy can both advise on paperwork requirements.

Reason for travel

Something to always consider is the reason for travel: business or leisure. Tourist and business visas have different allowances and sometimes different application times, so make sure you know what is required.

Conducting any legally binding business on a tourist visa is illegal and could lead to far more problems down the road.

Some countries require a letter from your company, even if you’re a tourist, confirming that you are not conducting business whilst abroad. For instance, this applies to several professions including lawyers and media professionals if travelling to India.

Always Check

The rules for visa applications are always changing. Even if you have previously visited a destination, there is a chance that the process has changed. Make yourself aware of all requirements as soon as you know you need to travel.

Embassies and consulates often close during the national holidays of their own country, not their country of residence. So be aware of any cultural holidays that may affect your application time. Sometimes they can also be affected by conflict or disruptions, or even just a severe backlog of work. The more time you give yourself before you travel, the less effect these types of disruptions will have on your trip.

Reed & Mackay provides an in-house travel visa service for all clients that need assistance. If you need further advice on your own requirements to ensure you are prepared, speak to your dedicated Business Travel Consultant.