As a tour company, we follow Pakistan government guidelines while assisting travelers. To receive an invitation letter (LOI) from us, it's necessary to utilize our tour services. We suggest booking multiple Lahore short tours, multi-day Punjab or Gilgit area tours, or custom trips for LOI issuance. Feel free to contact us to discuss your travel plans, and we'll recommend suitable options. Our commitment lies in transparency and honesty throughout our services.
What's Required and How to Obtain it:
Destination Pakistan assists travelers from various global locations, both within and outside their countries, in securing visas for Pakistan.
Our services include providing travelers with a letter of invitation, our company's tourism license, and ongoing advice and assistance throughout the visa application.
All visa applications are now processed digitally through the NADRA online system. However, visa assessments usually take place at the nearest embassy, creating challenges in following up with specific processing staff in case of issues.
While basic document requirements remain consistent across countries, the application processes may differ significantly. Checking the Embassy or Pakistan High Commission's website is vital to understand specific prerequisites, alongside information available on the Nadra Evisa system.
Unfortunately, the visa process can be laborious and stressful for some. Drawing from our experiences, we compile information to ease this process and regularly update to provide the latest insights. Below, find a compilation of frequently asked questions to address common concerns across various situations.
The Pakistan E-Visa and Visa on Arrival:
In March 2019, the Ministry of Interior introduced the Pakistan E-Visa and Visa On Arrival online system, which has become a reliable and stable process. While the initial requirements appear flexible, accepting hotel bookings as proof of travel, the process can be more complex. Some travelers have experienced swift approval within 24/48 hours via the E-Visa system, while others faced requests for additional information or were asked to provide an invitation letter before approval. The process remains somewhat unpredictable.
Destination Pakistan has received numerous inquiries from travelers who attempted the online system with only hotel bookings and encountered challenges. Many were advised to submit an invitation letter from a tour company. Interestingly, this trend is observed across various countries and is not specific to any particular embassy. The process remains variable and unpredictable, reflecting the nature of travel to Pakistan
Frequently Asked QuestionsUPDATED (February 2023)
Do I need a letter of invitation for visiting Pakistan?
In most cases, approximately 70% of the time, yes. While the Pakistan Evisa system allows applying without an invitation letter, many travelers who attempted this approach were later asked by the Pakistani government to provide one. Not having an invitation might slow down the process. Some embassies consistently require an invitation from a Pakistan Registered Tour Company.
When unsure, having a Letter of Invitation (LOI) is advisable; it often expedites the visa process and adds assurance.
Where to Obtain the Letter of Invitation?
Destination Pakistan offers a tailored, professional Letter of Invitation specifically aligned with your travel plans and itinerary. However, please note that we don't issue an LOI separately; it's available to those participating in our short or extended tours or utilizing our travel services. Contact us to discuss your Pakistan travel plans, and we'll guide you through the most straightforward options.
For independent travelers, we provide short Lahore or Gilgit area day tours along with customizable options.
Destination Pakistan is a fully registered company accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). We're a licensed tour operator approved by the Pakistan Government Department of Tourism Services.
What Additional Documents Do You Provide?
Alongside our visa applications, we furnish a copy of our Tourism License and the Pakistani Director's ID card. Embassies frequently request these documents as supplementary proof of support.
Can My Friend Write an Invitation Letter?
Typically, for a Pakistan Tourism Visa, the invitation letter should ideally come from a registered tour company. While sometimes a friend's invitation might suffice, it's often not accepted. If you're applying for a family or business visit, it's more appropriate for the family member or business partner to extend the invitation. However, it's crucial to note that despite the temptation to have any "friend" write the letter, there's a significant security responsibility attached to this. The inviting person must be prepared to answer questions regarding your travel, know details about your visit, activities, and have a clear explanation of their relationship with you.
Can a Hotel Provide an Invitation Letter?
Occasionally, travelers have attempted to obtain invitations from hotels, but it's not a guaranteed process. Hotels, unlike registered tour operators, lack the licensing to issue invitations. While some hotels may oblige, others might refuse or have limitations due to language barriers, particularly with understanding the visa process. If you opt for a hotel invitation, NADRA might request additional documentation to support your application.
Invitation Letter Cost and Services
Our service is priced at $100 USD. This encompasses the crafting of your invitation letter, personalized discussions to ensure its efficacy, continuous support throughout the visa application process
Do I need to be in my home country to apply for the visa?
Traditionally, applicants were required to apply from their home country or show evidence of residence when applying outside their home country. However, this requirement seems to have shifted. While the NADRA website may still state this condition, Destination Pakistan has successfully aided travelers with their invitation while they were already traveling.
In rare cases where interviews are required, travelers on our invitation letter to Pakistan were able to attend the nearest embassy for the interview without needing to return to their home country.
Do I need specific travel dates in my itinerary?
We require your anticipated earliest entry date and intended duration of stay to tailor an invitation that aligns with your plans.
Visas typically cover a travel window, usually 3 or 6 months from the date of issue, allowing entry at any point within this period. Within this window, visas commonly offer a 30-day travel allowance.
How long can I travel in Pakistan with the visa?
Normally, the visa permits 30 or 45 days of travel within a 3 or 6-month window. However, the duration might vary based on the consulate's discretion. If you wish to extend your stay, extensions can be applied for within Pakistan.
Can I change my travel dates from what's on my LOI?
If you enter Pakistan within the specified travel window on the visa, you can adjust your dates later.
Is there a penalty for overstaying my visa?
You have a 14-day overstay window without penalties. However, if your visa has expired, technically, you'll require an exit permit. Border officials might request an exit permit even within these 14 days of overstay. If you plan to stay longer than your initially issued days, it's advisable to apply for an extension within Pakistan before the expiration date. Both exit permits and extensions can be processed through the Nadra system, similar to the original visa application.
Can I explore areas beyond my itinerary in Pakistan?
Yes and no. Once in Pakistan, you're free to explore areas beyond your set itinerary. However, it's essential to note that the Pakistani government has access to all information provided during the visa application. They may monitor foreign travelers, especially if they venture into regions outside designated "safe" zones. Certain areas should be avoided entirely. For instance, traveling through Swat, Peshawar, or Chitral areas without a guide can potentially create issues. Destination Pakistan advises travelers to adhere to their planned itinerary mentioned in the LOI and avoid random or spontaneous exploration in Pakistan.
Is it easy to travel anywhere in Pakistan on my visa?
While most areas are safe and accessible, it's crucial to note that certain regions, especially military containment zones and border lines of control, are restricted. Restricted zones and some parts of the Karakoram National Park might necessitate permits. Additionally, trekking in these areas, especially above 6000 meters, requires a special permit.
Though technically you can travel to various areas, it's advisable to discuss your interests with us to arrange any necessary permissions or guidance. There are limitations in Balochistan, Tribal Administered Area, Azad Kashmir, and in specific cases around Peshawar, Swat, and Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For instance, it's recommended to have a guide or companion while traveling through Swat and Chitral.
Previously, travelers entering Chitral and Kalash were requested to obtain an NOC. As of 2019, an NOC was not required based on available information, but travelers were required to register with the police and issued an entry card upon arrival. Entry requirements in Gilgit Baltistan have become more relaxed, currently not requiring an entry card. However, these regulations are subject to change, and we closely monitor updates regularly.
Embassy insisting on a guided tour for a lone female traveler?
In some instances, embassies have requested solo female travelers to be accompanied by a guided tour throughout their Pakistan visit. While this has occurred due to overprotective measures, it's essential to note that many solo female travelers explore Pakistan safely and independently. If an embassy mandates this requirement, we can meet you at the airport or border to offer additional support and satisfy embassy officials. Please don't let this deter you if you're a female traveler eager to explore Pakistan.
What if the visa application requires flight details, but I'm arriving by road?
Embassies occasionally request flight details, which can be challenging if you're uncertain about receiving your visa, especially if arriving via a land border. Rest assured, there's no obligatory need for booked plane tickets. Providing an explanation letter outlining your plan to cross the border is usually sufficient.
Is a hotel booking necessary to ensure my visa?
Having a booking for the first night at a hotel is advisable. You can opt for a no-deposit booking and cancel it later if needed. While some embassies require a hotel booking, others may not have this stipulation.
Is a tourism company tour mandatory for obtaining my visa?
Certain embassies require a detailed tour arrangement with a registered company, while others don't. We can organize a customized tour that allows for a relaxed, low-key experience with ample freedom. While not all embassies demand a tour booking, many do request at least an itinerary, so it's wise to plan ahead regarding the places you wish to visit.
If my itinerary includes red zone or higher-risk areas, will it affect my visa application?
Crossing from Iran through Balochistan and Quetta is a necessary route, but it's essential not to express an intent to explore these areas as it might raise concerns. Travelers receive a police escort and the stay is heavily monitored; exploration isn't allowed. An NOC is issued on arrival in Quetta for transit purposes. Typically, we avoid mentioning this area as exploration isn't permitted.
Currently, the route from Islamabad to Gilgit and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are marked as red zones on various international travel advisories. Despite this, these areas are safe for travel (we await updated travel warnings). It's acceptable to mention Gilgit and the Karakoram Highway in your itinerary.
What is the price of the visa?
The visa cost differs from country to country. For the specific fees, kindly verify with the embassy located in your country of residence.
How much time does it take to obtain my visa?
The processing duration for Pakistan visa approval ranges from a few days to approximately a month, generally proceeding smoothly when all necessary documentation is provided either at the embassy or through the Pakistan Evisa portal. We recommend initiating the process at least a month in advance to accommodate any potential inquiries.
On rare occasions, an application might take longer due to unclear paperwork or unique circumstances, such as unconventional travel plans like traversing Balochistan in a private vehicle, independent bicycle travel without tour company support, travelers of Indian heritage born in a different country, having citizenship other than India, or requests for stays exceeding 2 months. Please note, once the application goes to the Ministry of Interior, we have no capability to expedite the process, though we can follow up with embassies, not the Ministry of Interior.
How soon can I expect to receive the Letter of Invitation?
Upon receiving all necessary details and payment, we aim to provide the letter within 24 to 48 hours, frequently delivering it even sooner than expected.
I’m pressed for time and need to enter Pakistan in 3 days, can you assist?
Typically, it's challenging to accommodate such urgent requests. The process of drafting the letter and the embassy/online system's visa processing may require a reasonable timeframe. While we've experienced the entire process, from requesting the Letter of Invitation to receiving the visa, completed within a day to a week, it's strongly advised to allow at least 1 month whenever feasible. Please note, Destination Pakistan cannot be held accountable if insufficient time is allocated for processing your application.
Will it be an issue if I'm not returning to the country I'm arriving from?
It's typically not a problem, but you might be questioned about it. Many travelers visit Pakistan as part of a broader travel plan. You might simply need to provide a brief explanation in a letter detailing how Pakistan fits into your travel itinerary. While some embassies may inquire about this, others may not.
Is it possible to extend my visa while I'm in Pakistan?
Yes, visa extensions for durations of 1 month or 3 months can be obtained at the Ministry of Interior - Immigration and Passports in Lahore and Islamabad. Please note that visa extensions are presently not available at the department in Gilgit. To apply for an extension, you'll need to complete a visa extension request and provide two current passport-sized photos.
For Evisa holders, visa extensions can be processed through the online portal.
Where and when is a trekking permit necessary?
Certain embassies might incorrectly assume that mentioning places like Gilgit or Skardu requires a trekking permit, which isn't accurate. Numerous accessible treks in open zones don't necessitate any special permits.
However, a permit is mandatory for entry into the Karakoram National Park. This encompasses areas such as K2 and its surroundings from Skardu, as well as the central Karakoram National Park, including Rush Lake and other treks from Nagar. This information might not be widely recognized by many embassies.
Several treks, including Rakaposhi and Diran basecamps, Haramosh Valley, Fairy Meadows, and Patandas, are situated in open zones and do not require permits.
A trekking permit is always essential if the trek surpasses the altitude of 6000 meters.
Permit applications are handled directly through the Ministry of Interior via a registered tourism company post the visa approval. Destination Pakistan can assist with this process, which might take up to 2 months to complete.
Am I permitted to visit border areas?
In general, border areas fall within zones of remote military containment and are not accessible for general travel.
However, crossing points such as Khunjerab from China, Taftan from Iran, and Wagah from India are permissible for border crossing purposes.
Is an NOC (No Objection Certificate) necessary?
Presently, there is no requirement for an NOC to visit Gilgit (Hunza Skardu) with a standard tourist visa. However, areas closer to the borders of Afghanistan, Iran, and India, such as Balochistan, Quetta, Azad Kashmir, and Wakhan Corridor, might require an NOC.
If arriving from Iran, you'll be provided an NOC in Quetta without the need for prior application. It's advisable to arrive at the Taftan border between Monday and Wednesday to allow officials to process the NOC. For travel by road to Iran from the Lahore side, applying for the NOC to cross will be necessary in Islamabad.