The United States passport is one of the strongest in the world. That being said, however, US citizens looking to travel to certain countries will be required to acquire a tourist visa.
The visa application process can be confusing for those who have never done it before. And, for those who were unaware they needed a visa, it can be more than a little overwhelming.
For this reason, those planning to travel internationally should ensure they have all their documents in order long before heading out. If you don’t know where to start in that regard, don’t worry.
We’re here to help.
Below, we outline how to acquire tourist visas for three of the most popular tourist destinations in the world: Australia, China, and Cuba. Let’s take a look at the visa application process for each of these countries in turn.
Those looking to acquire a tourist visa to Australia must meet certain requirements.
The general travel visa for Americans looking to go to Australia is known as the “Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).” The ETA comes electronically linked to the passports of those individuals who are approved for it.
Keep in mind the following information regarding the ETA:
- It has a maximum duration of stay (for one visit) of up to 90 days
- It does not authorize an individual to work in Australia in any capacity
- It includes multiple entries within a twelve-month period
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the requirements that need to be met in order to acquire an ETA.
Applying for an ETA is quick and painless and can be done online. Users must simply fill out their important sensitive information, including their passport information. Of note, anyone who has been charged with a crime and who has served at least twelve months for it will not be eligible for an ETA.
For everyone else, however, after applying for the visa and paying a small 20 Australian dollar fee, an ETA is relatively easy to get. And you should be able to head to Australia for your fun trip without any hassles.
Getting a tourist visa in China isn’t quite so easy. Instead, those looking to visit this ancient land must go through a rigorous visa application process. This process will be conducted and approved or denied through the Chinese consulate.
Depending on the state where you live, your embassy location may be different than you think. Be sure to look up where your appropriate Chinese consulate is so that you can later accurately send in all required documents.
With this in mind, let’s examine the Chinese tourist visa in more detail.
- For US citizens, it now typically comes with 10-year validity
- It allows for multiple entries
- The maximum duration of stay can range from 30-60-90 days
Getting a Chinese Tourist Visa
Applying for a Chinese tourist visa isn’t as simple as getting an ETA. For this reason, we’ve broken down additional information that you’ll need to know about getting a tourist visa to China.
- You must complete a visa application
- You must take two passport style photos
- Provide proof that you are a US citizen—including having your license/birth certificate
- Show the Chinese consulate an itinerary plan for your trip
Additionally, keep in mind that because you have to buy a flight ticket before you can get the visa to China, you’ll want to be extra careful that you’re making the right move. By ensuring that foreigners first purchase a round-trip ticket to enter the country, the Chinese government can cut down on illegal overstays and visa fraud.
Pro-Tip: If you’re not in the position to spend money on a flight, consider finding a booking service that will refund your money within a certain number of hours of your purchase. In this way, you’ll be able to get the itinerary proof you need without really risking buying a ticket that you might not be able to use (assuming your visa is denied).
Also, keep in mind that if you don’t live near the Chinese embassy, you may need to pay more money to have a registered agent deliver your documents. Otherwise, you’ll have to travel there in person.
American citizens looking to travel in Cuba must first obtain a tourist-visa card. This visa allows citizens to participate in leisurely and recreational activities in Cuba while not engaging in any moneymaking activities—such as work.
Keep in mind that this tourist card has a duration of stay of only 30 days in Cuba—and this can only be extended in some cases by another 30 days. Additionally, this tourist card is good only as a single entry visa that must be used within 180 days of issuance.
Acquiring a tourist card isn’t difficult—but it will require that you have a passport with at least six months’ validity left. If you meet this requirement, you can purchase a tourist card online, on your cruise, or even at your airport at the ticket counter.
The Bottom Line
If you’re planning on traveling to any of the above countries, be sure to keep this information in mind. By having the right visa ahead of time, you can reduce headaches and enjoy smoother travels.