There are currently 195 countries all over the world, and many people want to have the opportunity to visit and travel across all of these countries. However, because of visa requirements, not everyone can move freely when they travel.

Some countries have a more lenient visa policy, while others are harder to visit. There are several reasons why it’s almost impossible to visit a few countries which include the following:

  • Several countries do not issue tourist visas due to safety and political reasons.
  • Some visa applications are difficult to navigate through and put off the visa applicant from applying.
  • Some countries are under a totalitarian regime and are closed off to the rest of the world.

What are the Hardest Countries to Get a Visa To?

Here is a list of 10 of the hardest countries to visit:

  1. Russia.
  2. Cuba.
  3. Iran.
  4. Turkmenistan.
  5. Chad.
  6. Bhutan.
  7. Saudi Arabia.
  8. Afghanistan.
  9. Somalia.
  10. North Korea.

Russia

kremlin in moscow

One thing that makes the visa application process to Russia challenging is the many questions in the application form- especially if you are an American citizen since you have to answer double the number of questions.

To get your Russian visa approved, you must also list every single trip you took in the last ten years, with details where you went, when, and how long you stayed. If you’ve traveled often, this part may be the most difficult for you. However, if you fill in the visa application correctly and provide all the required information you can get a visa to visit Russia.

Cuba

This country is particularly difficult to visit for American citizens. If you are American, you cannot enter the country for tourist purposes, you must belong to one of the 11 categories of authorized travel.

If you do get permission to enter the country, you will receive a pink Tourist Card– different from the Green Tourist Card that is issued to other nationalities.

Iran 

mosque in iran

Visas to Iran are hard to get mostly because you need to have a verification code before you apply for a visa. This authorization code is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran, but an official Iranian travel agency has to apply for the code on your behalf.

However, due to the usage of eVisas, the process for a tourist visa for Iran has become much easier. Additionally, several countries can now apply for a visa on arrival (with pre-approval), but, if you are from the following countries, a visa on arrival is not available for you- especially if you visited Israel during the last 6 months:

  • The US
  • The UK
  • Canada
  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka

Also, if you are from the US and Canada, you still cannot walk around as a tourist without a government-approved guide escorting you at all times.

Turkmenistan

castle in turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world due to having a rigid visa policy. It’s particularly difficult to get a visa mostly because it requires everyone to apply for a visa, the only exception includes visitors from some specific parts of Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan and some visitors with diplomatic passports.

If you want to apply for a visa to Turkmenistan, you need many documents including three copies of the filled-in visa application form and a letter of invitation from the Turkmen State Migration Service. You must have a sponsor in Turkmenistan who can procure the LOI (letter of invitation) for you and it may take up to 20 days to get the letter.

Chad

ndjamena chad

Only 14 countries have visa-free access to Chad, the rest of the world has to apply for a visa to enter the country. However, getting a visa can be challenging. One of the most complicated parts of the visa process is getting an invitation letter- to get the letter you need to have a sponsor or a hotel in the country’s capital, N’Djamena, who will write it for you.

To secure this invitation letter, you have to book a room at a hotel (if you have no other sponsor), and for the reservation, you have to pay the full fee which is non-refundable. This means that if your visa application is rejected your money is lost.

Another difficult aspect of getting a visa for Chad is finding a consular office close to you, for example, if you are from the UK you have to apply for a visa in Paris. Even if you do get a visa after you enter you have 72 hours to register with the Police, and some people have reported in online forums that extra payments were required to enter the country.

Bhutan

houses in bhutan

Bhutan does not approve individual visas unless you’re visiting the country as a part of a tour package. You can only apply for an individual visa to Bhutan if you are from:

  • India
  • Bangladesh
  • The Maldives

To get a visa for Bhutan, you have to find a tourist agency organizing a trip there and pay the visa fee in advance along with the rest of the tour package. Visa applications for Bhutan are processed online and they have to be approved by the Tourism Council in Bhutan.

You are also be required to pay a sustainability fee of $65. However, the visa fee and the sustainability fee may be included in the package price- check with the traveling agency beforehand.

Saudi Arabia

saudi arabia at night

Getting a visa to Saudi Arabia was much more difficult a few years ago, particularly if you were an unaccompanied woman. Now, with the introduction of an eVisa for tourists, you can visit the country if you meet the requirements for the electronic visa. However, keep in mind that as a tourist you still have to follow certain rules. For example, even if you have a tourist visa, if you are a non-Muslim, you cannot enter Mecca or Medina.

Before 2019, visitors who had an Israeli stamp on their passports were not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia, but with the introduction of eVisas, this is no longer valid. However, Israeli citizens are still not allowed to enter the country.

Another reason why Saudi Arabia has a strict visa policy is because of yearly Muslim pilgrims who visit the country to complete the Hajj, and so there is a limited number of tourists who can enter as to not overcrowd the country.

Afghanistan

kabul afghanistan

The recent political situation has made it hard to enter Afghanistan. Currently, all governments are strongly advising to not attempt to enter the country. However, even prior to the overthrowing of the government getting a visa for Afghanistan was a difficult feat.

To enter the country, everyone has to apply for a visa. You are exempt from applying for a visa if you have a diplomatic passport issued from one of these countries:

  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey

Somalia

mogadishu somalia

Entering Somalia as a tourist is not only difficult but highly advised against. According to the Global Peace Index, Somalia is ranked 6th as one of the most dangerous places to visit. As a result, not many consulates or embassies issue visitor visas as to not risk their visitors. If you manage to visit Somalia, you need to have a security detail accompanying you so you can remain safe. 

North Korea

North Korea is by far the most difficult country to visit as a tourist. To get a visa to North Korea, you have to apply for the visa through a tourist agency that has state-approved tours. If you hold an American passport, or you are from South Korea you are not eligible for a North Korean visa.

If you do get a visa, you cannot explore the country as you would other places. For example, you are not allowed to communicate with the locals, speak ill of the North Korean leader, you cannot walk around on your own, and you cannot leave the hotel after the tour guide has finished for the day.