Travel Visa Requirements for US Citizens

Last updated: March 28, 2017
Scroll this

When traveling abroad from the U.S., it’s essential to have the proper documentation in order for smooth processing through security. Some countries allow you to obtain a travel Visa upon arrival, or do not require one at all. For others, a Visa must be obtained before your departure, and other requirements may exist as well.

What Is a Travel Visa?

A passport authenticates your citizenship in your country of origin; a travel Visa allows you to enter the country of your destination. The travel Visa will usually be approved by the proper embassy in the form of a stamp inside your passport. Your reason for the visit – tourist, business or transitory – will also be specified.

It’s recommended that you send in your Visa application a minimum of 1-2 months before travel. Expedited approval may be requested in cases of emergency, but in all cases your actual passport (or a copy of it, depending on the country), proof of travel arrangements and photograph must be submitted with your application. Here are the countries which require a Visa no matter your length of stay or reason for your visit.

Country Passport Must Be Valid for: Currency Restrictions Other notes
Afghanistan Six months prior to entry $20,000 or more must be declared upon entry and exit
  • State Dept. has an active travel warning, citing instability in area and likelihood of being targeted as U.S. citizen by terrorist groups.
  • Polio vaccination required.
  • Fingerprinted upon arrival.
Algeria Six months prior to entry. Cannot expire for at least six months prior to entry. All U.S. currency must be declared. Algerian dinars cannot be taken out of the country.
  • Those holding an Israeli passport may be denied entry.
  • Travel warning for remote areas of southern and eastern Algeria.
Angola Cannot expire for at least six months prior to entry. Amounts over $10,000 upon entry and exit.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • Fingerprint scan must be provided on application.
Benin At time of entry N/A
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • $40 fee.
Bhutan Valid for at least six months N/A
  • Individual tourists are currently not permitted entry. You must be a part of a travel group approved by the Bhutan government.
  • $250 per day tariff.
Brazil Not expire for six months 10,000 or more BR upon entry and exit.
  • $160 fee.
  • Zika virus is a threat here.
Burundi Duration of stay N/A
  • Travel warning due to civil unrest and violence.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • Fingerprinted upon arrival.
Cameroon Six months N/A
  • Travel warning due to high risk of violent crime and terrorist threats.
  • Current immunization records required.
Chad Six months $10,800 or more upon arrival. Not allowed to take CFA (local currency) upon exit.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • Registration required upon entry.
China Six months beyond length of requested Visa (e.g., if requesting a six month visa your passport must be valid for the next 12 months. $2,896.79 (20,000 RMB) upon entry and exit.
  • Registration within 24 hours.
  • All visitors between ages of 14-70 fingerprinted upon arrival.
  • Visas valid up to 10 years.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Six months $5,400 (5 million CDF) upon arrival. CDF now allowed to be taken.
  • Registration required.
  • $50 airport exit fee.
  • Travel warning due to instability and threat of violence.
Republic of the Congo Six months $8,100 (5 million CFA) upon arrival. 1 million CFA ($1,636) upon exit.
  • Letter of invitation or written proof of hotel reservation required.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Cuba Upon arrival $5,000 upon entry and exit. Cuba charges 10 percent fee for all conversions.
  • Tourist travel still prohibited, your reason for visit must fall within one of 12 State Dept. approved categories.
Eritrea Six months $10,000 upon entry and exit.
  • Travel warning due to amassing of troops. Avoid Ethiopian and Djibouti border, and Southern Red Sea region.
  • $20 airport departure tax.
Ghana Six months $5,000 upon entry and exit.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Guinea Six months 100,000 FG or $5,000 U.S. upon exit.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • Single-entry valid for three months.
Iran Six months $10,000 upon entry and exit.
  • Travel warning due to U.S. citizens being detained or prevented from leaving.
  • Visitors are fingerprinted and photographed.
  • Must be accompanied by authorized guide at all times.
Iraq Six months remaining upon entry. $10,000 upon exit.
  • Travel warning due to high risk of kidnapping and terrorist violence.
  • Vaccinations recommended by CDC.
  • Some visitors must obtain exit stamp.
North Korea Six months minimum upon arrival. Not allowed to take Korean money out of country.
  • Travel warning due to serious risk of arrest and long-term detention.
  • Tourist card is required.
Liberia Valid at time of entry $10,000 upon entry, $7,500 upon exit.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Libya Valid at time of entry N/A
  • Visitors with an Israeli entry/exit stamp on their passport are not permitted entry.
  • Travel warning due to U.S. Embassy suspending operations.
Mali Valid at time of entry N/A
  • Travel warning due to threat of terrorist attacks and criminal violence.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
  • Letter of invitation required.
Nauru Three months 10,000 AUD ($7,733) upon entry.
  • Visas are valid for 30 days.
Niger Valid at time of entry N/A
  • Travel warning, particularly for Lake Chad and Diffa region, due to activities by extremist group Boko Haram.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Nigeria Six months N/A
  • Travel warning, especially for northeast Nigeria, due to Boko Haram.
  • Polio and yellow fever vaccinations.
  • Visa can be obtained online.
Pakistan Six months beyond date of arrival $5,000 upon exit.
  • Travel warning due to terrorist violence and sectarian attacks.
  • Polio vaccination within one year of visit.
Russia Six months beyond intended stay $10,000 upon entry, $3,000 upon exit.
  • Registration required after seven days.
  • Can be Visa free for 72 hours if passing through on cruise ship or with organized tour and accompanied at all times by operator.
Saudi Arabia Valid for six months prior to entry, will be valid for 2-6 months prior to exit. $16,000 prior to entry and exit.
  • Travel warning due to ISIL or al-Qaeda activities.
  • All visitors are fingerprinted.
  • No tourist visas available.
Sierra Leone Six months $10,000 upon entry.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Somalia Duration of stay N/A
  • Travel warning due to al-Qaeda and no embassy presence.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
South Sudan Six months N/A
  • Travel warning due to ongoing fighting and intercommunal violence.
  • Yellow fever vaccination.
Sudan Six months beyond date of departure N/A
  • Travel warning due to threat of terrorism and kidnapping.
  • MMR, diphtheria, chicken pox, Hep. A, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera vaccinations.
  • Passports with Israeli entry/exit stamps not permitted.
  • Registration within three days.
Syria Valid at time of entry N/A
  • Travel warning due to government and anti-government group violence.
  • Registration within 15 days.
  • Departure tax at all borders.
Turkmenistan Six months $10,000 upon exit
  • $25 departure fee.
  • Dual citizenship not recognized; dual nationals are often denied departure from country.
Uzbekistan Valid at time of entry N/A
  • Registration within three days.
  • Vaccinations recommended by CDC.
Venezuela Six months $10,000 upon entry and exit
  • Travel warning due to violent crime and social unrest.
  • All Visa applications must be made in person, and will be interviewed at Venezuelan embassy or consulate.
Yemen Six months at time of entry Unknown
  • Travel warning due to ongoing conflict and terrorist activities.
  • Registration mandatory.

Stays longer than 30-90 days (or as little as three days; specific length will depend on the country) will usually require a travel Visa as well. Countries which allow a travel Visa to be electronically authorized or obtained upon arrival include: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cot’e d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Papa New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Travel regulations can change daily, so it’s crucial to check the U.S. State Department page for updated information. This is particularly important if going to a country with a heightened security risk.

*Featured Image By Steve Jurvetson licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *