Applying for a tourist visa-on-arrival for travel in Pakistan is an easy online process. Although it’s not truly a visa-ON-arrival as you first need to fill out a quite lengthy form and pay a fee before you fly.
I’ll walk you through the entire process and what happens when you arrive at an airport in Pakistan with your “approval to travel” document (I’ve done it twice now!).
Many people don’t even know visa-on-arrival exists for Pakistan. It was introduced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019.
If you’re Indian and want to visit Pakistan, I’ve written an article about how you can, or more likely, can’t.
Visa-on-arrival length & extensions vs Tourist Visa
Pakistan visa-on-arrival has a maximum stay of 30 days and cannot be extended.
If you want to stay longer in Pakistan, you must apply for a normal tourist visa which can be granted for up to 3 months with up to 6 months extension. But it’s more difficult to get, and you may have to go for an interview at your local Pakistani consulate.
How to apply for a Pakistani tourist visa-on-arrival aka “tourist visa in your inbox”
Since applying for my two visas-on-arrival, they’ve changed the name to “Tourist Visa in Your Inbox,” which is confusing but a more appropriate name.
First of all, it’s not a true visa-on-arrival where you land at an airport and are issued the visa on arrival. You first have to head over to Pakistan’s Official Visa Portal (https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/) and apply to be eligible to travel to Pakistan and receive a visa-on-arrival when you land.
You can’t just turn up in Pakistan for a visa-on-arrival. Hence the name change to “Tourist Visa in Your Inbox”, I guess. Select this option when applying for your tourist visa.
You have to provide a ton of information, including family info and everywhere you’ll be going and staying in Pakistan. But most importantly you need a hotel booking or invitation letter.
If you’re travelling without a tour guide or alone, submit your hotel booking.
If you’re travelling on an organised tour, the company will provide you with an invitation letter and their Govt. approved tourism dept. ID.
Once you’d submitted your application and paid the visa fee, then within 48 hours, you’ll get three emails. Mine both came within 2 hours of applying.
Note: Some readers’ visas have taken longer than 48 – 72 hours because the immigration official wanted more documents from them. So do apply at least two weeks before your flight.
The first is a payment confirmation with the subject: “e-Visa Application Fee Submission.”
The second is an application confirmation with the subject: “Pak-Visa Successful Application Submission.”
The third is your approval to travel to Pakistan. It looks like this:
Subject: Pak-Visa TRAVEL INTIMATION.
ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization)
Thank you for intimating your intention to get Visa on Arrival under Tourist Category. We are pleased to inform that you are Authorised to Travel to Pakistan and seek Visa on Arrival through the concerned Immigration Authority Counter at the Airport.This is your approval to travel to Pakistan. The email contains your Visa Tracking ID too.
Print this email and carry it with you to Pakistan.
The Electronic Travel Authorization is all you need to travel to Pakistan.
They’ll then issue you a visa on arrival at the airport and a copy is emailed to you for your records with the email subject: “NOTIFICATION OF VISA APPROVAL.”
How long is a Pakistani valid for?
All visas are valid for entry into Pakistan for 6 months from the date of issue. If the visa has not been used during this period, it becomes invalid.
What is the ‘Visa End Date’? (Important!)
This only applies if you applied for a normal tourist visa (individual) (not a visa in your inbox). Be aware that the “Visa End Date” on your ETA / Visa Grant Notice is the last day you can be in Pakistan.
Don’t enter 2 days before the visa end date thinking they’ll give you the full 30 or 90 days. You’ll only have 2 days left on your visa. You have to leave before the “Visa End Date.” I found this out the hard way!
Can you apply for a tourist visa in your inbox from India?
If you’re travelling in India and want to go to Pakistan next, for some reason, the visa portal is blocking internet connections from India.
To bypass that, you’ll need to get someone overseas to access the site for you. VPNs will work for filling out the form, but you won’t be able to make the payment with the VPN connected (it’ll fail).
What arrival forms do foreigners have to fill out before landing in Pakistan?
There are two forms, a Disembarkation Card and a Personal Declaration of Origin and Health. Both will be given to you during the flight, so keep a pen with you.
What happens when you arrive at the airport in Pakistan with your approval form?
I’ve covered travelling from India to Pakistan in one of my YouTube videos, but I’ll go in-depth for you here.
When you arrive at immigration, they’ll be a booth labelled “Visa-on-Arrival.” Go there.
Present the above email, and they’ll take it from you and feed that paper into their printer and print your visa onto the backside! Weird, I know.
They’ll stamp both your passport and your visa paper.
I take a photo of that paper right away. But don’t worry if you lose it; you’ll be emailed a “Subject: NOTIFICATION OF VISA APPROVAL” with the information.
It usually takes 10-15 minutes at the visa-on-arrival booth. It seems they do some real-time analysis there on the spot before issuing you your visa. It’s not instant.
You may have to have a Rapid Antigen Test on arrival
As of 5/01/2022, you may have to do a rapid antigen test upon arrival. I did it, and it was a very quick process. If you test positive, you’ll have to quarantine in a hotel.
Update: COVID testing is finished now.
That’s it. Get your bags, and welcome to Pakistan. Enjoy your trip!