Travelling the world is not as simple as booking a flight ticket and boarding a plane. When planning a trip abroad, one of the most important and primary checklist items for most destinations is a VISA to visit that country. The Visa is a very important travel document that is needed to get both into and out of a country. And for travelers who have made it their life goal to visit every country in the world, applying for a travel visa forms a big part of the whole travel experience.

Many countries provide visas easily without any excessive paperwork or questioning. All you need to do is fill in the visa form, submit documents and then you’ll be granted a travel visa. However, you might be surprised to know that some countries are very strict when it comes to issuing visas. It can be next to impossible to get a visa, and often for ridiculous reasons. These countries keep tight control over who qualifies and who doesn’t, thus making the whole visa applying process exhausting, expensive, and tricky.

If you’re planning a visit to these countries, get ready for the most gruelling visa application of your life. Below is a list of the top countries with the most difficult visa processes:

North Korea

Needless to say, North Korea comes out straight up top in this list. The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) or as it is more commonly known, North Korea, is one of the most isolated countries in the world and also one of the most difficult countries to get a visa into. Apart from the obvious reason that the country does not have its Embassy in practically any part of the world, North Korea is quite difficult to visit as the visa application process is quite lengthy and complicated. In order to obtain the visa, you will need to book a tour package through a travel agency accredited by the Government of North Korea. Even those travelling alone on a private tour must be accompanied by tour guides. Also the only way to enter North Korea is through an organised tour from China. So along with a North Korea visa, you must also obtain a multiple-entry visa for China, because a valid Chinese visa is required to enter China for travel to North Korea and re-entry back into China at the conclusion of your North Korea visit.


The Russia visa process can be tricky and complicated, and travelers should prepare to wait for weeks; as the Russian government is notoriously strict when it comes to foreigners who want to visit or pass through the country. In order to apply for a Russia visa, you will need an official document called a “Visa Invitation” (also called as “Visa Support”) from an organization recognized by the Russian Foreign Ministry; typically, either from the private individual who is inviting you to visit, or, more likely, from a travel agency, tour group, tour guide, a company you work for, a company that works with your company, or volunteer organizations. Once issued, your visa may be subjected to additional scrutiny on arrival in Russia.

Saudi Arabia

There is no such thing as a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia. You can apply for a personal visit visa, if you are visiting friends or relatives, or a business or student visa, or a Hajj (pilgrimage) visa to get into the country. In order to apply for a Saudi Arabia visa, you will need a local sponsor, who will arrange for an Invitation letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). All applicants along with their local sponsor must comply with the needed requirements laid by the MOFA. The visa process involves several months of preparing for the application and waiting for it to be approved. On arrival, you may be refused entry to Saudi Arabia even if you have a valid reason and visa to be there. Women are not allowed to enter the country alone, unless they are met or accompanied by a sponsor or male relative, as a result of the kingdom’s strict laws concerning women.


The application process for an Iran visa is arguably the most complicated, long, and frustrating in existence due to the high wait time. In order to apply for the visa, you will need an authorization code, which must be obtained by an official Iranian travel agency from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and it can take up to a month to get one. The whole visa application takes notoriously long to be processed, so applicants are advised to apply much earlier. Additionally once granted entry, many travelers are detained by the Iranian government for interrogation and that too, for indefinite periods of time.


The Turkmenistan visa is renowned for its strictness. Just like Russia and Iran, the Turkmenistan visa process requires a letter of invitation facilitated by a friend or relative or a local tour operator during your stay in Turkmenistan. This requires booking a tour through an accredited travel agent. A Traveler’s best bet for a simpler visa application procedure, is to book a tour through a travel agency, who will apply to the State Migration Service (Ministry of Tourism) for the Letter of Invitation (LOI). The entire process takes about four or five weeks, and after that wait, the result still isn’t guaranteed, so ensure you apply long in advance.


All Nationals except Kenya and Uganda require a pre-requisite visa to enter Eritrea. There is no guarantee of being issued a visa, and some applicants may only succeed after multiple attempts at obtaining one. You will never know, if your visa application will be approved, or if it will be returned with a denial. Sometimes, there isn’t even a reason for denying a visa. The process is also extremely slow, taking between six to eight weeks or more. Your best option is to join an organised tour through an accredited travel agency whose involvement may simplify the visa process. You can technically also get a visa on arrival if there is no Embassy in your home country, but you will need a visa approval letter from the government which can again take weeks or months.


Angola has strict visa regulations. Applicants are required to get the visa in advance before travelling, the requirements for which include, among other documents, a valid international vaccination certificate and letter of invitation from Angola, which is near impossible or very expensive to get. The visa process can takes several weeks and even after waiting for such a long time, there is no guarantee that you will get the visa.


The country doesn’t issue tourist visas to foreigners for reasons that are still unclear. Business visas must be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Libya, so the wait time for a business visa can easily be weeks or even months. If you need to travel to Libya for business, be sure to get the visa process started well in advance. Also, the Libyan Government does not accept passports that has an endorsement or a visa for Israel, either valid or expired.


Visa application procedures for travel to Syria is very rigid, due to international circumstances. The application process is time consuming in any case and you may need a letter of recommendation from your Embassy, which is an expensive process and increases the time required for your visa approval. Also, it is not safe to travel to Syria.


Foreigners wishing to enter the country for any reason must have an official letter of introduction from a reliable source. Getting visa approval is difficult for pretty much every single passport holder out there. And to add to the disappointing visa process, if you have an Israeli visa stamp (valid or expired) in your passport, you can pretty much forget about even setting foot on their soil. The Sudanese are extremely relentless on this rule, and there’s literally no way around it.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Visa processes requires a lot of paperwork. In countries where organized visa requirements are very stiff or not in order, getting a visa can confuse and frustrate even the well-seasoned traveller. Be mindful that most of these countries are difficult to visit for a reason. Many of them have serious human rights issues, political unrest and extremely strict crime enforcement. The application process itself can be anything from quick and easy to horribly tedious and gut-wrenching,

No one likes facing a visa rejection or listening to the word ‘your visa application is denied’. If you choose to travel to any of these places, be sure to use services of a Travel Agent, who will guide you correctly and handle the complete paperwork for you.

Remember, wherever you’re planning to travel, we can help you get there and back again, with only happy memories. With Akbar Travels besides you, rest assured you are in very safe hands. We do absolutely everything for you, all you need to do is turn up at the airport with your travel documents and go! And we are here for you 24/7 if you need us for any reason during your trip.

Are there any other countries that you believe should be on the list of the hardest countries to visit? Please let us know in the comment below.

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