OUR TWO CENTS: The easier way to obtain a visa for Azerbaijan, September 2016.

By Alex    15/September/16    Georgia

There are numerous reports online detailing the often lengthy process of obtaining a tourist visa for Azerbaijan. Here is a summary of our experience applying at the Azerbaijan consulate in Batumi, Georgia during September 2016.

Anyone who has ever applied for a visa knows that the whole process can be a bit of a headache, especially when the countries in question belong to the former Soviet Union. Azerbaijan, of course, falls into this category and depending on your nationality, obtaining even a tourist visa can be time consuming, complex and expensive. As British passport holders, applying in London would have cost upwards of $200 and required the infamous 'letter of invitation', a costly procedure typical of this group of countries. We would like to share our success story at the Consulate of Azerbaijan in Batumi, on the Georgian Black Sea coast.

TUESDAY, 12pm:

We are in high spirits on the search for the consulate in Batumi, supposedly just minutes from Europe Square in the centre of town. After lots of asking around, we discover that the building has been relocated to Tavdadebuli Street on the corner of Pharnavaz Mepe Street. The building is currently under renovation and is very easy to walk past - no signs and only a very discrete flag at the rear. Outside the main door, there is a very small security booth with guards who speak a little English. They let the person in charge of the visas know that we were there and (from the pavement through a window) we made an appointment for the next day. This guy speaks fantastic English and in our experience does everything he can to make the process run smoothly.



We return to the consulate and join the back of a small queue. Everyone is instructed to leave their baggage outside and is shown inside one by one or in their respective groups. For your appointment you will need:

1) Completed application form. This is available to download from the consulate website and to be completed in block capitals. Very standard stuff, not too comprehensive.
2) One passport photo. Used for the top of the application form, also appears on the visa sticker which gets placed into your passport.
3) A photocopy of your passport. You DO NOT NEED YOUR ORIGINAL PASSPORT, but make sure that the biometric holograms do not obstruct your face on the photocopy.
4) A confirmed hotel reservation. A booking.com email confirmation was enough, we later cancelled this free of charge.

Most importantly no LOI! We were told to come back at 4pm on Friday with our actual passports, at which time we would be given receipts for our visas to make payment at the local bank. We would then receive our stickers. Yes, Azerbaijan visas in just 48hours. We had already planned a few days away from Batumi and asked if we could pick them up at 4pm on Monday instead. This was not a problem.

MONDAY, 4pm:

Returning to the consulate once again at 4pm on Monday, we found everything to be closed up and no security guards. After an hour or so of confusion and some help from nearby shop owners, we were finally back in contact with the visa guy at 4.55pm. By this time the bank was about to close, but he was happy for us just to pay him. Everything once again was done from the pavement through the consulate window. We handed him 100 GEL (about £30) in cash for the two applications and he handed us our passports, complete with visas.

IN SHORT: Early in the month, September 2016. Application made at the consulate's new location on a Wednesday at 10am, visas ready to pick up on Friday at 4pm. Payment made directly to the consulate. 50 GEL (£15) for one 30 day, single entry tourist visa in UK passports. No LOI required, only those items listed above.

We are pleased to report a very pleasant experience at the Azerbaijan consulate in Batumi. Our visas were issued pretty quickly and for a far lower price than any others we have read about online. It would seem that in 2016, Batumi is the place to go!