Iraq abolishes visa requirements for 37 countries

EU, US, UK, China and Russia nationals will no longer have the apply in advance for visas. The move which is designed to boost business and reconstruction by cutting out a long document-filled process.

Monday 19/04/2021
Passengers wearing protective masks check-in after the reopening of Baghdad International Airport. (REUTERS)
Passengers wearing protective masks check-in after the reopening of Baghdad International Airport. (REUTERS)

BAGHDAD - Iraqi premier Mustafa al-Kadhimi has announced that citizens from 37 countries, including the EU, US, UK, China and Russia will no longer have the apply in advance for visas.

For $75, 60-days visas will be issued on arrival.

The move is designed to boost business and reconstruction by cutting out a long document-filled process. Until now, this has been best negotiated by using a middleman, for additional fees often substantially in excess of the basic visa cost.

Though that Pope spent three untroubled days in Iraq at the beginning of March, he was surrounded by massive security. Only the hardiest tourists are likely to want to risk an impromptu trip to the country to view its extraordinary archaeological remains and historic cities. These are still recovering from the iconoclastic ravages of ISIS terrorists and the conflict that led to their defeat on the battlefield, if not yet in the shadows.

However, the UK’s Economist magazine has noted that not all Iraqi consulates have moved to the new system, with one envoy saying they had not yet been informed officially of the change. The magazine also reported that not all Iraqis are welcoming what they see as an open door to Western influence,  with one Najaf cleric complaining that the visa-free arrivals does not apply to most foreign pilgrims to local Shia shrines .

The other countries whose citizens can now buy their visa when they reach Iraq are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Switzerland.

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government is also allowing similar visa-exempt arrivals from these countries. However the visa they are issuing are for 30 days only and are not good for travel elsewhere in Iraq.

All arrivals in Iraq must have proof that they have tested negative for the Corona virus no more than 72 hours before departure.  Visitors from Iran are currently banned because of the surge in the virus.