Pakistan is a beautiful country with much to offer those who visit. Wild landscapes, delicious food, and world-class hospitality are just a few of the reasons you’ll love fall in love with Pakistan. But to visit this wonderful country, you will need a Pakistan visa.
I’ve gone through the Pakistan visa application process and created this post to help guide you. It will go over the Pakistan visa requirements and application form, as well as tips for getting to and planning your trip in Pakistan.
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You will more than likely need a visa to travel to Pakistan – there are only five citizenships that do not require one. Thankfully, obtaining a Pakistan visa has become much easier with the introduction of the online visa application. As of writing, 175 countries are eligible to apply for the visa online, and Canada is one of them. You can check if your country is included on this list here.
Pakistan has also recently introduced a tourist visa on arrival for 50 countries. This is currently not applicable for Canada, but you can check if your country is included here. This means you only need to apply 48-72 hours before your trip to Pakistan to receive the electronic travel authorization. Even easier!
Pakistan visa requirements
To apply for the online Pakistan visa, you will need to have some documents ready to upload. These include a copy of your passport, a passport-sized photograph for the visa, and a letter of invitation.
Letter of invitation (LOI)
One of the Pakistan visa requirements is a letter of invitation. The letter can be from a host sponsor (if you are staying with a local) or from your tour operator. In my case, I was traveling Pakistan as a participant on the IESS program with IBA Karachi. Once I was accepted into the program, they quickly provided me with a letter of invitation that I used to apply for the visa with.
If you are booking your trip to Pakistan with a tour operator, they will be able to provide you with the letter.
From my research, it seems that it is possible to book a tour with a company for some of your time in Pakistan to get an LOI, and still travel independently on your own for the rest. But in order to obtain the LOI from a tour operator, you will need to at least book some tour while there. In other words, there is no tour company providing letters for independent backpackers without booking something from them. You can read further about this on Karakoram Bikers website, who are a registered tour operator in Pakistan.
I also found this website, which states that they sell LOI for a $75 fee. I haven’t personally used this, but it seems to have good reviews.
It is also possible to obtain a letter of invitation from a local in Pakistan. The locals are so nice, and I’ve had multiple offers from people I met there to sponsor me next time I come back, or anyone I know that may want to visit. If you really need help with a sponsorship letter for your visit to Pakistan, reach out to me and I can try and help you.
Pakistan Visa Application Form
Once you have the required documentation to upload, you can start the Pakistan visa application form.
This was the longest visa application form I’ve had to fill out so far on my travels. Mainly because it asked me to list every country I’ve ever traveled too, with the exact dates and reason for visiting. I’d travelled to over 50 countries at this point, so you can imagine this took me a long time, and a big glass wine.
Aside from your traveling history, you will need to provide your personal information including blood type, religion, and marital status, contact details, basic details of your mother/father/spouse, and employment information. It’s a lengthy and detailed application. It took me a few hours to complete.
You can save the Pakistan visa application through the website, and return to finish it later if you want to take a break. I highly recommend saving it as you go. I made the mistake of not saving it along the way. I was almost finished, only to have my computer freeze and have to restart it from scratch. So frustrating!
Apply through iVisa
Alternatively, you could apply for your Pakistan visa through iVisa, a 3rd party service that can help you get your Pakistan visa. The benefit of using iVisa is that they eliminate the frustrations with complex bureaucratic websites and government forms. Plus, you have access to customer support so that if you have any questions or concerns during the visa application process, you can easily get an answer.
Pakistan Visa Processing Times
The Pakistan visa processing times are listed as followed on the website:
- Entry (Up to 3 Months) : 7-10 days (Working Days)
- Extension (Up to 6 Months) : 7-10 days (Working Days)
- Extension (Greater than 6 Months) : 4 Weeks (Working days)
I was relieved to get my visa granted in just two business days after submitting the application online. However, I still recommend applying as soon as you know your travel dates. These things can sometimes get held up in bureaucracy, and you don’t want to be stuck missing your flight because your visa didn’t arrive on time.
Once the visa has been granted, you will get a notification in your e-mail. You can then log back onto the online portal to print if off.
Remember: Print a paper copy to bring when you travel to Pakistan! You will need this when going through immigration at the airport.
Previously, in addition to your visa, tourists were required to obtain a No Objective Certificate to visit certain areas in Pakistan. However, in March 2019 the government abolished the NOC requirements. This, along with the introduction of the e-visas, are all initiatives the government has announced to encourage tourism in the country.
Planning your trip to Pakistan
Getting to Pakistan: How to find cheap tickets
You will likely be flying into Pakistan and finding cheap flights there can be a bit tricky, as the tourism industry is still developing. But – it’s not impossible. There are two major hubs which I recommend flying to Pakistan from: Istanbul and Dubai.
Looking quickly on SkyScanner, I see flights from Istanbul to Karachi for as low as $250 next month. Even cheaper, from Dubai you can get flights for as low as $100 USD. These are both major airport hubs that can connect you with flights from just about anywhere in the world. Plus, they are both cool cities you can explore afterward!
Arriving in Pakistan
I found arriving at the airport in Karachi chaotic, and this was at 4am. Expect there to be a big line going through immigration, and make sure you have your visa documents printed with you to present to the border officer. You will also need to have proof of departure from Pakistan (i.e. a plane ticket out of the country).
There is no wifi at the airport in Karachi, so it’s best to print these documents beforehand. You won’t be able to look them up on your phone unless they are downloaded. Speaking from personal experience – learn from my mistakes!
While getting into Pakistan does require a bit more work than the average country, it’s certainly worth it. The landscapes throughout the country are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen – and there are hardly any other tourists there.
The government has been making great efforts to increase tourism in the country, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become a backpacker hotspot in the coming years. So there’s no better time than now to visit Pakistan and enjoy the beauty to yourself!
I hope this post has helped you with the Pakistan visa process. If you have any questions about the application or visiting Pakistan in general, let me know in the comments below!