Azerbaijan is probably one of the most underrated tourist destinations. It is a country where east literally meets the west because it is nestled in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Baku, the capital, is surrounded by the wonderful view of the Caspian Sea. The skyscrapers and the old walls sit idly in contrast with Caspian Sea’s blue waters.
The beautiful Mosques around are fitting for the eyes. It’s bedazzling and intriguing. The Heydar Mosque and the Juma Mosque is a must-see. If you love skiing, then you should visit the Tufandag Winter Summer Complex. Take the cable car and you’ll see how lovely it is especially when you’re in level 4 where you’ll see clouds right below your feet if you’re lucky. :p
But then again, as Filipinos, we need to have a visa to visit Azerbaijan. To get your visa, you need to have an Authorized Azerbaijan Travel Agency who can apply for an e-visa on your behalf. There are two ways of applying for visas by tourist companies: 1. Electronic form (via internet); or by 2. Sending the documents of foreign tourists by post.
WHEN AND WHERE TO APPLY FOR AZERBAIJAN TOURIST VISA
The only way you can apply is via an agency, you can contact ivisa.com to help you with this or you can go directly and check the list of Authorized Azerbaijan Travel Agency according to Azerbaijan Embassy in London (this is the only Embassy I found with the complete list but I think it's applicable for any nationalities). Visa processing takes about 10 calendar days from receipt of the application but it is highly suggested that you submit your documents at least 5 weeks before your intended flight.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
The visa rules in Azerbaijan is quite different compared to the other 2 Caucasus countries (Armenia and Georgia), there are two options on getting the visa – from the Embassy or from the accredited inbound tourist agency! We chose the latter; I had to contact the company via email and Skype – sent them our passport copies and paid $55 money via western union. I was a bit hesitant at the beginning, but that’s how they work, I finally got a 10-day single entry visa which was sent electronically. The cost of the visa would depend on the processing period; we chose the 8- 9 days waiting time, you can get an urgent visa for up to $200! Oops!
For others: Citizens (and their family members) of the following countries are able to enter Azerbaijan visa-free: Albania, Austria, Argentine, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Hong Kong, Columbia, Croatia, Cuba, Estonia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Republic of Korea, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Uruguay with any type of valid passport are entitled to diplomatic, service, (official/special) and ordinary visa free travel for a maximum of 90 days.
Unfortunately, neither of our nationalities (UK and Philippines) offers us visa-free entry so we used an agency and each paid $55, receiving our visas 9 days after application.
REQUIREMENTS ON HOW TO APPLY FOR AZERBAIJAN TOURIST VISA
The tourist companies have to present the documents mentioned below in electronic form to the embassies and consulates of the Republic of Azerbaijan to obtain visas:
1. Online application form. Fill this out completely and truthfully and click submit. They’ll ask you for your Personal Details, Passport Details, Visa Details, Inviting Party, Contact Details, Address in Azerbaijan, Employment Details, Migration Details and Details of the Person/s you’re traveling with. Print this on an A4-size paper when you’re done and sign at the bottom page.
2. Scanned Copy of Passport. This shall be valid for 6 months.
3. Scanned Copy of Photo. Passport size in the white background which should be taken within the last 6 months.
4. Scanned Copy of Receipt of State Fee.
5. Scanned copy of documents confirming the touristic purpose of visit. This shall include: a) tourist voucher or a document confirming the payment for tourist services planned in the program of visit; b) passenger’s ticket; c) the document, confirming the reservation at a hotel, camping sites, tourist bases, etc.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE ON HOW TO APPLY FOR AZERBAIJAN TOURIST VISA
STEP 1: Find an Authorized Azerbaijan Travel Agency from this list then contact each one of them or contact ivisa.com, go straight to their contact form and state your nationality they will respond to your concern immediately!
STEP 2: Gather all the documents stated above. Your travel agency may require more documents so it is important to ask them.
STEP 3: From there, your chosen travel agency will tell you what to do. Good luck! :)
For more information on this process check their official government website.
FAQS ABOUT AZERBAIJAN TOURIST VISA
1) How much is the visa fee?
Since you’re applying with a travel agency, the amount varies depending on what type of visa you’re taking and their charges.
2) Where should payment be made?
To your chosen travel agent.
3) Can I apply for a Multiple Entry Visa?
Yes but only in certain cases such as:
If you are working at diplomatic and other representative offices of foreign countries in the Republic of Azerbaijan or for consulates and branch offices of international organizations. In this case, your family member can apply for a long-term visa too.
Those traveling to Azerbaijan to receive education or attend courses for raising qualifications or other foreigners traveling to the country in connection with its interests on the basis of a list approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
4) How long can I stay on a Tourist Visa?
Not more than 30 days.
5) Do I need to stick my e-visa on my passport?
No! Don’t do that.
6) How will I know if my visa is approved or rejected?
Your chosen travel agency will definitely let you know. If your visa is rejected, they will state the justification for the decision.