Pakistan is portrayed as a dangerous destination, but tourism has been on the rise there for the last few years, receiving as many as 1.9 million visitors in 2018. Although it is not the safest country to visit and certainly there are dangerous areas, people are heading to Pakistan to enjoy the breathtaking natural landscapes, the hiking trails, and beautiful historic and religious monuments.
To travel to Pakistan, everyone needs a visa or an electronic authorization. This article will detail the Pakistan visa policy and how to apply for one.
Pakistan Visa Policy
Everyone who intends to travel to Pakistan has to apply for a Pakistan visa. However, most people can receive a visa entirely online and a large number of nationalities are also eligible for a visa on arrival, either for tourism or business purposes.
As such, you can apply for a Pakistani visa in one of the following ways:
- Online (Pakistan eVisa)
- On Arrival (for Tourism or Business)
- At an Embassy/Consulate of Pakistan Abroad
To apply for a Pakistan e Visa, you have to complete the online application form on the official website. After you submit the form, you have to wait between 48-72 working hours until you receive the notification on your email.
In the meantime, you may have to go to the Pakistani Embassy or Consulate in your country for an interview (but only if requested).
Citizens from all countries, excluding the ones listed below, can apply for a Pakistan eVisa:
- DR Congo
- North Korea
Pakistan eVisa application procedure:
- Register on the official eVisa website by clicking “Apply Now”.
- You will receive a Confirmation Code on your email. Click on the attached link to proceed with the application for a Pakistan eVisa.
- Log in and start the application.
- Select the type of visa you need and enter the required information (passport number, purpose and duration of visit, entry point, etc.)
- Select the nearest Pakistani Embassy/Consulate. You may have to appear there for a visa interview if required.
- There are about six sections of questions before you have to attach the required documents. Answer all the questions truthfully:
- Application information
- Personal information
- Family information
- Finances and employment
- Travel history
- Visit information
- Depending on the type of visa, a list of the required documents will appear on the screen. You must make electronic copies of them and attach them.
- Pay the Pakistan eVisa fee via a credit or debit card.
Pakistan Visa on Arrival
You can get a Pakistan Visa on Arrival for two purposes: tourism and business. Before travelling, you need an online authorization:
- You must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization 48-72 working hours before you travel. You have to apply for the Pakistan ETA on the official Pakistan Visa Portal, in a similar application method as you would apply for an eVisa.
- If the ETA application outcome is positive, you can travel to Pakistan where you have to submit the required documents to the FIA counter before you get the Visa on Arrival.
Eligibility criteria are different depending on the type of VOA requested (tourism or business).
Pakistan Visa on Arrival (Tourism)
You can apply for a Pakistan Visa on Arrival for Tourism purposes if you are a citizen of one of these countries:
- Costa Rica
- Korea (South)
- New Zealand
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Western Samoa
To apply for the Visa on Arrival for tourism, you need the following documents:
- Your passport
- Passport-size picture
- Proof of accommodation in Pakistan: An invitation letter from a Pakistan national or a hotel reservation
- If travelling as part of an organized tour: Invitation Letter
Pakistan Visa on Arrival (Business)
You can apply for a Pakistan Visa on Arrival for business purposes if you are from one of the following countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- The Gambia
- Ivory Coast
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Documents required for a Pakistan Visa on Arrival for Business are:
- Your passport
- Passport-size picture
- Proof of registration from the host company (the SECP/ Chamber of Commerce Certificate)
- One of the following, as applicable:
- An Invitation Letter from the organization duly recommended by the relevant trade organization in Pakistan
- Recommendation letter from the CC&I of the respective foreign country
- Recommendation letter by the honorary investment counsellor of BOI/Commercial Attaché
What If You Are Not Eligible for a Pakistan eVisa?
If you are not eligible for an eVisa or a Visa on Arrival, you have to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Pakistan to arrange a visa.
Find the diplomatic missions of Pakistan listed here.
Duration and Extension of Pakistan Visas
Pakistan Tourist eVisas are issued for up to three months, for a single entry. They can be extended for up to six months. Pakistan Visas on Arrival (tourism and business) are issued for a single entry of up to 30 days. They are not extendable.
Other visa types have different durations, depending on the purpose of travel.
Types of Visas for Pakistan
The types of Pakistan visas you can apply for include:
- Pakistan Tourist Visa. This is the type of visa issued to foreign nationals travelling to Pakistan for tourism. It is divided into the Tourist eVisa and Tourist Visa on Arrival.
- Pakistan Business Visa on Arrival. This is a short-term visa (up to 30 days) issued to businessmen seeking to promote investment in Pakistan.
- Pakistan Business Visa. This is a 5-year multiple-entry visa issued to businessmen seeking to promote investment in Pakistan.
- Pakistan Work Visa. This type of visa is issued to foreigners who want to work and live in Pakistan.
- Pakistan Family Visit Visa. This visa is issued to the family members of Pakistan citizens. It is multiple-entry, valid for up to five years with a maximum of 1 year per entry.
- Pakistan Student Visa. For international students. This visa is valid for 2 years.
- Pakistan Journalist Visa. International journalists, travelling for work can apply for this visa, which allows them to enter Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Valid for up to three months, or until the end of the assignment for Pakistan-based media houses.
- Pakistan Talighb Visa. For Muslim foreign nationals who wish to participate in Tabligh activities. It is granted for up to 45 days.
- Pakistan Pilgrim Tourism Visa. For foreign nationals who wish to enter Pakistan to visit places which carry religious importance to them.
Pakistan Visa Fees
The visa fees for Pakistan visas change depending on your nationality and the type of visa you apply for. Most single-entry tourist visas are USD 20 to USD 60.
Pakistan Visa Requirements
Although the requirements to apply for a Pakistan visa change depending on the visa type, the standard set of documents usually includes the following:
- Scan of your passport’s personal information page.
- A picture of yourself with the following requirements:
- Plain white background
- Maximum of 350 KB
- You must be staring ahead with a neutral face expression
- No glasses are allowed
- Head coverings are allowed only if they do not obstruct your face.
- Travel itinerary.
- Copies of your travel tickets.
- Proof of sufficient funds, such as bank statements.
- Proof of accommodation, such as a hotel reservation or letter of invitation.
- Copy of any previous Pakistan visas.
The documents need to be in JPEG, JPG, or PNG format and with a maximum size of 500 KB.
Is Pakistan Safe to Visit?
Most countries’ travel advisories caution against travelling to Pakistan due to an increased risk of terrorism. However, security measures have been getting stronger in recent years, and some areas such as the capital Islamabad present a relatively low risk.
But although tourism in Pakistan has been increasing in the last few years, it is still not a destination where you can travel entirely risk-free.
You are advised to avoid all travel to the following locations in Pakistan:
- Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province (previously known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas)
- Balochistan province including the city of Quetta
- The part of the Karakoram Highway spanning Mansehra to Chilas, via Battagram, Besham City, Dasu and Sazin
- Areas immediately surrounding the Line of Control
- The districts of Charsadda, Kohat, Tank, Bannu, Lakki, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Buner and Lower Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
- The city of Peshawar and its southern districts
In other areas, you should still avoid large gatherings and locations which present a higher risk of attacks such as places of worship and government facilities.
Always consult with the travel advisory issued by your country before undertaking any trips to Pakistan or other destinations that present increased risk.