I wrote earlier this week about my desire to visit Venezuela and my failure to check entry requirements. Once I realized my mistake, I planned to quickly rectify it by following the instructions, finding a nearby consulate or the Embassy in Washington DC and expediting the process. I looked into how I would begin and here is your complete guide to filing for a tourist visa to Venezuela as an American passport holder.
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As clearly listed on their website, the following requirements exist for a tourist visa for American passport holders:
- A completed visa request form.
- Original passport with a minimum of six (6) months of validity remaining as of the expected travel date and at least two blank pages.
- Copies of the passport pages that show personal information, the expiration date and the photograph.
- Two (2) recent front-facing photographs with a white background, size 2×2 inches (without glasses or hats).
- Proof of employment issued by the applicant’s place of work, on official letterhead and indicating a contact person and address for verification. If the applicant is a student , he/she must submit a letter signed and sealed by the respective academic institution. If the applicant is a retiree ,he/she must submit a document to certify it .
- If the applicant is not a U.S. citizen, a copy of the green card or document that establishes residency in the country.
- Leasing contract for a residence or document demonstrating house ownership in the name of the applicant, or a document demonstrating ownership of a different type of property, including high value personal property (e.g. a vehicle or fine art), or commercial, business or industrial properties.
- Original latest bank statement or a letter issued by the bank which shows the current balance or a notarized letter of invitation of the person or institution in the U.S. or Venezuela who will cover the costs of the applicant’s stay.
- One (1) copy of the flight itinerary (which indicates the date of entry to and exit from Venezuela, the name of the airline and the flight number).
- A money order for $30 in the name of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
- The applicant must present the aforementioned documents in person at the Consular Section or Consulate.
- A pre-paid United States Postal Service Priority Mail envelope with a unique tracking number for the applicant’s documents to be returned.
- Any other document the Consular Section deems pertinent.
The Consular Section or Consulate may require an interview with the applicant.
The Consular Section or Consulate may request the applicant’s criminal record.
The tourist visa will be valid for one (1) years, including multiple entries. The duration of a visit will be limited to a maximum of ninety (90) days.
Many of their requirements are standard. The photos for the visa itself, a standard form, six months of validity left on your passport – this is part and parcel with traveling internationally. I would also state that providing a document on company letterhead and proof of residence or funds are not altogether out of the ordinary in some places (China, Russia, etc.) – even the UK and Canada may ask to see that you have sufficient funds to finance your trip.
The difficult part comes from the in-person interview. Venezuela holds consulates in eight US cities and one embassy:
- New Orleans
- New York
- San Francisco
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Washington DC (Embassy)
Like most countries that hold multiple consulates and an embassy, groups of states will send their passports for visa processing to one of their locations, regardless of how close or far that is from you personally. For example, Pennsylvanians like myself, need to work with the New York City Consulate-General, even though the Washington DC embassy is closer to me in Pittsburgh.
I reached out to the embassy regarding my preference for using the DC location due to proximity (I also have some work in the area) as New York is far more difficult for a number of reasons, more expensive to reach and takes longer.
Luckily, they replied back with welcome news that I could apply from any Venezuelan consulate or embassy:
“You can apply for a a visa in the Venezuelan Consulate of your preference”
Turn Around Time and Expediting
While that is some good news, the next part was disappointing and caused me to cancel a planned trip (it was my fault, I didn’t leave enough time):
“[I]f you need to apply for a tourist visa you need to apply in person, the evaluation time for visas take up to 4 weeks prior the travel date, no expedite service available and no same day services”
That would be a problem for me trying to complete the visa process with less than two weeks prior to travel. I contacted a few passport service agencies to try and find a work around but I was unsuccessful. It’s worth noting that one in particular, ItsEasy Passport and Visa Services shows on their website that they are unable to obtain the visa but doesn’t say why and the page looks broken.
I called in and received incorrect information with the agent stating that they don’t offer services for tourist visas to Venezuela because it is an “ETA” country, referring to an Electronic Travel Authorization or a visa you can get online and do yourself. This is not the case and while everyone makes mistakes (I obviously did), I was surprised that a visa and passport agency did when the answer they provided couldn’t be further from the process.
The application itself seems fairly straight forward, as does the process of obtaining a visa. There are two requirements that I find difficult, especially as someone who lives a considerable distance from their closest Venezuelan consulate/embassy.
The first is “any other document the Consular section deems pertinent” and “the consulate may request the applicants criminal record”. As you must apply in person, I am not really sure how one would know what to bring just in case the Consulate deems something important. Maybe this is a tax statement, company ownership if part of a corporation, high school yearbook – who knows? I’m just not sure how one should be prepared for a document they don’t outline. This likely means that certain candidates may need to re-appear with additional criteria.
The second is in regards to bringing your criminal record. Other countries do ask for this from time to time; Canada in particular often rejects travelers from the US with DUIs as the crime is much more severe in Canada. For most travelers, it would be difficult to obtain a criminal record if they don’t have any convictions, and if they do, how severe do they need to be to warrant bringing the document with you to the interview?
One positive aspect of the process is that in-person interviews are part of the process with daily open hours of 9AM-12:45PM. While it would be far easier to mail in an application, if you must do an in-person interview at least one can reasonably appear at a time convenient for them. Some consulates issue appointments for in-person interview but they can take months to secure a spot, I prefer the open approach – no appointment needed, but also no guarantees given.
The tourist visa is just $30 and if they would have allowed me to expedite the process for even as much as double the cost, I would have done it in a heartbeat. But they don’t, so how long should you expect to wait for your visa? According to the Embassy in Washington DC, visas are issued in about four weeks. For a nervous person like myself who never wants to be without his passport, that’s an eternity. However, if you have a second passport or no immediate plans, the fours weeks will probably fly by.
Can you do it prospectively?
The embassy specifically communicated with me that I should not book travel first and then come see them, however, listed in their requirements they indicate that they want to see travel documents to support your visa. So how do you both have the supporting document and not commit to travel? Here is what the embassy told me:
“We recommend do not purchase the airfare, but you need to present a [tentative] reservation with tentative travel dates.”
The simplest way to do this would be to secure a refundable hotel reservation. If you have the miles and can find the space, secure an award and refund or move your dates if they don’t fit your schedule once you receive your visa.
The Venezuelan tourist visa for US Passport holders is authorized for one year with 90-day limitations per visit. In theory you could enter and exit every 90 days with a one day period in between but in most countries this is frowned upon – if you intend to stay for an extended period of time you should consider another visa type. There is no listed limitation on entries outside of the 90-day period and one year term of the visa.
Am I going to apply?
Absolutely. I still have a high desire to visit Venezuela and despite the in-person visit requirement and the long hold of my passport, I will aim to complete it in the next few weeks. The only question is whether I get a second passport first so that my wings are not clipped until it is returned to me.
If you have never been and don’t have family in the other end you are playing with fire. I recommend you don’t leave your hotel once, and that’s if you make it to your hotel. You have no idea what your up against. We have family and stop going because it’s not worth the risk anymore.
Brian – Thanks for you comment and reading the bog. I have rescinded my immediate plans to visit Venezuela, but wanted to write the post because there were unanswered questions when I was pursuing a visa. I thought that sharing my findings and communications with the embassy would help other would-be travelers, regardless of the risk. I do appreciate your concern for my safety, it’s well-advised, and I am taking that advice and not going in the near future.
Getting anything done with the vz embassy is a nightmare. Wife is waiting 1 year for a new passport. Thak e s 9 months to get an appointment. I can’t stress how dangerous it is. The Road fromThe Airport To Caracas Is deadly. A lot of taxis are criminals and will rob kill or kidnap you if you are a solo American. I wouldn’t wish my worst friend a ride in a taxi alone. Such a beautiful country but the people are desperate. I have to mail toilet paper and soap rice deodorant aspirin underweare to family. And mailing includes bribes to get them the package. Stay home and go another day.
Brian, you need to bribe for a couple week passport. Best way to send money is via Bitcoin and local bitcoins dot com.
Its a shame how badly Venezuela has declined. My buddies and I went twice back in 2004-05 and had a blast. 36 pack of beer was ~$3USD and gas was government subsidized and about $0.10/Gallon. We were young and adventurous, but even we would have foregone the experience if it was anywhere near as bad as it is now. I hope the best for the people of that country, but I fear it will get worse for them before it can get better.
I concur. Today, the Miami Herald reported that the government was now seizing bakeries involved in a “broad ‘economic war'” and illegally producing certain baked goods. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article138964428.html
You are crazy risking your life to go to Venezuela. Cruise ships have stopped going there after a tourist was shot on Margarita Island. Another visitor was shot transiting between the international and domestic terminals in Caracas. You need to take your own toilet paper and soap. Gas is basically free though. You also posted some bad information since the Consulate in Miami has been closed for some time because the Government did not want the large anti-Chavista population there to vote in national elections. I was there 3 times in 2007-08, but now won’t permit my Venezuelan wife to visit.
Odojoe – I will correct and remove the Miami location from the list. Those that seek Venezuelan consulate services in the states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina can use the embassy or consulate of their choice.
I’m curious about when you said that US travelers can be turned back from Canada, how would the Canadians know if you had a DUI? There’s no visa process for US citizens to visit Canada, so no purpose for any background check.
Canada checks your background when they check your passport upon entry into their country- both by air or land, and possibly by sea though I’ve found that to be the most lax border crossing. I live somewhat near the Canadian border and the DUI difficulties are common knowledge. I have crossed the border many times and have a friend that has a legal record that appears if my friend tries to cross the border. He has to bring proof every time he crosses the border that the legal issues were cleared many years previously. Whatever system the Canadian border uses, it does not access local city or county records but some larger database; perhaps the same one that police officers use to background check if they pull you over. Furthermore, the system is not foolproof. Many times people get through (at least in the past) regardless of their record, yet some times they may be denied entry.
This information is completely false. I have 3 DUI’s in the States, and have never been denied entry into Canada. Hell, I have no problems renting a car there either… There’s no such thing as an international database that tracks your criminal history. All my DUI’s are in North and South Carolina, and when I get stopped in California, i have a completely clean record. Background checks are state by state. The only information that goes into the national/federal database are felonies(assault, rape, murder, theft). The national/federal database may be accessible by Canadian authorities, but I guarantee they have no access to records of those with misdemeanors, and state databases. Now, if someone is getting a felony DUI(3 DUI’s in one state), then the Canadian authorities may be able to see that. But I doubt many people with felony DUI’s are able to manage staying out of jail enough to have the privilege to leave their state, yet alone leave the country.
I’m from Detroit, and I think you are okay with one DUI. It’s the second one that sinks the ship, Canada-entrywise. Also, one guy here whose entry was rejected said he was told by Canada Immigration that if he attempted another entry he’d be subject to arrest. YMMV.
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I spent a few months in Colombia over the winter and encountered several Venezuelans, who are identifiable by their distinctive Spanish. I twice asked about good places to visit in their country. Both times the response was laughter.
That’s a shame. I still want to see it but safety concerns preclude me from heading there.
Hello! I just came back from there 7 days ago. My fiance lives there. I am a Hispanic American, but speak very little English. Had it not been for family I am not sure how I would’ve survived. Right now the price of the dollar is $5.7 and there are marches almost every day. I will say that I do love Venezuela and will most likely be going back within 1 year or so. I just hope by then the situation has improved.
Me too, I really want to get there when circumstances improve.
The son of bitches are deniying the visas tu us citizens they deny my visa which they gave me one last year…thinking us citizens whow knows thsese bastard what they thing.
Did you ever get the visa approved ?
What ended up happening ?
Omg you made me laugh why they deny you .. I live here I’m an American citezen you know what’s so funny like who from the states will want to come here it’s bad it was good but people make it to much I love here in venture in Valencia and. It’s not bad I’m mean tht bad I travel with my own car …but don’t know abt Caracas really ..my sister want to come visit me from New York and she’s trying to get visa but they give. Her hard time it’s so stupid why the Venezuela embassy’s giving us hard to get a visa why do we even need a visa when I came and before 2 years we didn’t need a visa really SO STUPID REALLY . The people coming to Venezuela don’t need visa
Some of the consulates require you to fill out your visa application online, such as mine in Chicago. Someone from that office gave me instructions over the phone in English about how to get to it online. Towards the end of the following the instructions, there is no button to push to get to an online application. Does anyone know how to locate it?
@Valerie – I certainly don’t. I hope someone else in the comments can assist.
I am an American living in Colombia. You can easily just walk into venezuela from Cucuta and noone asks you for documents. Only problem is you have to travel by bus around Venezuela.
I want to go to the East Coast of Venezuela to visit some friends I made in Colombia but a bus ride is way too long!
This means I will need to apply for a visa in order to grab a flight there.
I will be applying in Bogota (I have temporary residency in Colombia) and seeing how the process goes.
Great info by the way. Seems there is not too much info out there about Americans going into Venezuela. The first time I walked in there I had no idea that Americans do not receive the automatic tourist visa stamp like we do in the rest of the world. One of the Venezuelan officers at the border told me this and I verified it when i hopped online. He was kind of enough to tell me I can go into Venezuela but that they have the right to deport me at any time (although he didn’t care and let me pass through).
I don’t know if I want to go bad enough to be restricted to bus travel. Have you taken this route yet or are you planning to do so in the future? Feel free to come back and comment on your experience, I am sure tons of readers will want to know how it goes.
Yes, I took a bus to Barinas with a Colombian who had no issues with Venezuelan migration. It was about $ 10 total because we had to take a few buses to get there. Could have easily taken a bus to Caracas as there is more demand to go there from the locals and many people do that for $3 since it is a direct bus ride.
The Colombian Venezuelan border is literally an open border. Thousands of people walk through it everyday and noone stops you. You voluntarily are supposed to go to migration in order to get your visa stamp the first time you do it but that was not an option for me since Americans do not get the auto tourist visa.
Colombian migration will not give an American an exit stamp or an entry stamp if the American is traveling to or from Venezuela using Colombia . They also made it very clear that if I ran into trouble at the border on the way back with venezuelan migration that colombian migration would not help me and venezuelan migration would have the right to send me back to the united states instead of just letting me cross back into Colombia. Luckily, this did not happen and I am pretty sure that if it did, you would be better off paying your way out of it instead of paying for a flight to USA.
If I ever got questioned by a Venezuelan authority and asked for documentation, my plan was to say that I got robbed and they stole my Colombian passport (although I do not have a colombian passport) because the last thing you want to do is say you are American and show them your passport which does not have a Venezuelan visa!; however, if your spanish is not good this strategy might not work- perhaps say your canadian passport (or some other country who can get auto tourist visa?) was stolen.
Money is very powerful in this part of the world; as long as you know how to play your cards right, you can talk your way out of anything and it is a win-win for both parties.
Although crossing into Venezuela with the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who walk into or out of Colombia everyday was a cool experience, I definitely rather would have a Venezuelan tourist visa and be able to fly to wherever i want to go instead of taking those long bus rides. I am a guy who goes into VIP lounges at international airports though so I am a bit high maintenance when traveling. If you are a backpacker who doesn’t mind long bus rides and doesn’t have time to get the tourist visa, i think it is a good option. Just keep a low profile and try to blend in.
Saludos estimado Kyle Stewart quisiera saber si los ultimos meses del 2017 y este par de meses 2018 te has topado con algun americano que entre a Venezuela y haya hecho el proceso de la visa venezolana sin ningun inconveniente? hago la pregunta porque tengo amigos en Estados unidos que desean venir este año lo mas seguro que a final de año. Si tienes algun testimonio te lo agradesco saludos !
Bueno conocerte. Lamentablemente, no conozco ningún de los EEUU que se va a Venezuela. Buen suerte a su amigos.
Thank you for this information! I am in the process of getting my Venezuelan visa as a US citizen to visit my husband’s family in Venezuela and I just got off the phone with the Venezuelan consulate in New Orleans who verified all of the information you provided. I will be heading there on Friday to apply in person and potentially go through with the interview. I will let you know how the process is in case anyone needs the information.
Update: I went to the consulate in New Orleans and in about three hours had been interviewed and approved for my tourist visa. I had to leave my passport with them while they processed everything. I just got my passport back with my visa inside Monday of this week. All in all it took exactly 4 weeks of processing time and is valid for one year.
I am thrilled to hear it went well. Be safe on your trip and let me know how it went when you get back. I still want to get there, but it seems to dangerous for the time being.
Thanks to the Author of the post and to you too for sharing your experience. I’m interested in knowing if you bought a flight ticket before making the application. And if you have travelled, how did you find the place…in terms of safety. I’m in the UK and would love to visit and return by the end of June since my 6 month passport validity ends by then.
Molly did you have to purchase an airline ticket and show it to them at the consulate? Or where you able to purchase your airline ticket afterwards?
I married a Venezuelan, he is here now in the US., but I need to get a visa to go to Venezuela to meet his family on a trip to Los Roques. I can’t seem to get any VE embassy to answer a phone, at all!!! I’m in New Jersey and calling Nre York mostly, but none of the offices answer. Are they all closed, for good ?!!! Do you know what type of visa I would apply for, (should I get through to them)….tourist ? Even though I’m married to a VE? Any info you may have would be so helpful !
The embassy in NY is open and will remain open until further notice. You will have to apply there in person. It is also the easiest place to apply in the US. My recommendation is to apply for a Tourist Visa. You are required to have one even though you are married until you apply for dual citizenship which is not recognized by the US. I hope this helps.