30 September 2008

6 months remaining on the passport

Woe is the traveller-to-be with only five and a half months validity left on their nearly-empty passport.
The standard requirement of countries around the world is for you to have at least 6 months vaility remaining in in your passport after you leave their country.
This means if you are going to be in Egypt or China or Russia (oe anywhere else)until the end of January, then your passport can expire no earlier than the beginning of the following August.
And yes, visa offices do catch this a lot. Visa applications will be rejected for the simple matter of a passport with not enough months of validity remaining. Do you really want to lose hundreds of dolalrs in visa fees just because your passport was too near expiry?
Also, with machines reading passports at airports and borders, expiry dates are checked and flashed to the border agent without that person having to do the math to figure out the expiry. And you do not want to be turned back at the airport once you are already in the country!
The good news is Passport Canada is likely to change the Canadian passport system to one more like the UK and USA. This means as of 2011 at the earliest, Canadians will probably be able to get 10 year passports.
Right now the best we can do is buy an extra 24 pages of space in the five year passport.

19 September 2008


There is bad news in Visaville.
Yesterday the Chinese embassy in Canada announced to its closest suppliers the bad news about fast visa service: it was over.
In a flash there is no longer one day or three day service on Chinese visas. All visas are being processed in five days.
The fee remains the same at $50 for a single entry visa, and $75 for a double entry visa. Multi-entry visas remain unavailable for the foreseeable future.
So click here to get your Chinese visa from VSC: Canada's best and most trusted visa provider.
The lesson to all of us is to plan ahead and be prepared.

World cruise opportunity, and visa nightmare

The 2010 Crystal World Cruise on the MV Serenity is a dream itinerary, covering 41 ports in 37 countries in 108 days. The combination of Crystal's service and the ports will be a once in a lifetime experience for virtually any traveller. This is the opportunity.
Now for the nightmare.
As the itinerary calls for stops at many new and unusual ports, there are onerous visa requirements. This world cruise will be stopping in the following visa countries: Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Oman, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Russia, and Turkey.
Oman will give Canadians a visa upon arrival. Bahrain will issue a tourist visa valid for two weeks at the port of entry without pre-arrangement. Kuwait grants visas upon arrival to Canadians for $35. And the UAE issues visas upon arrival to Canadians, valid for a thirty day stay.
The two most interesting of the stops, for visa puposes, are Iran and Saudi Arabia. Technically, Saudi Arabia does not offer a tourist visa at all, and certainly not to non-Muslims. Iranian visa processing can sometimes take months.
We at Visa Services Canada sincerely hope Crystal is arranging group visas for the entire passenger list.

Bizarre travel issues

There is a story making the rounds right now, which although probably untrue, is a funny and cautionary tale.
A senior United States senator called an airline reservation office regarding a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, the agent reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." So the agent checked again, and confirmed the politician needed a visa to enter China. The befuddled politician angrily responded "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express card!"
Moral of the story: you need a visa to go to China.
Other moral of the story: there are no intelligent politicians.