Visas for Foreigners Entering or Departing Iraq
A foreign national is any person who does not possess Iraqi citizenship or has Iraqi nationality. To enter into Federal Iraq (outside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq), a foreign national would need the Iraqi Ministry of Interior’s permission. If a person is only visiting the Kurdistan Region and arrives at either Erbil or Sulaimaneyah airports, it is expected that the Kurdish Regional Authorities will issue a visa on entry to American, European, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand nationals. The visa issued by the Kurdish Regional Government only allows access to the Kurdish Region of Iraq and not to the remainder of the country. When Erbil and Soulaimaneyah airports are closed to international flights access to the region is limited to internal flights with Iraqi airways from Baghdad or other Iraqi cities, in which case an Iraqi visa is required to enter Iraq in the first place. Alternatively one can travel overland crossing the border from one of the neighbouring countries in which case no Iraqi visa is required. Entry rules can change without notice so it is best to check before travelling.
How to Obtain a Business Visa
For those wanting to explore investment opportunities in Federal Iraq, it is possible to obtain a visa without a pre-existing government contract. Business visas are ordinarily issued to potential investors after the Iraqi National Investment Commission (NIC) sends a letter of sponsorship to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
Investors are encouraged to write a letter of introduction addressed to the Chairman of the NIC. This letter should briefly introduce the investor, the company he/she represents, and the investor’s specific business interest in Iraq. The letter should include a copy of picture/signature page of the investor’s passport, and the proposed itinerary for his/her trip to Iraq. The letter should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the company has already been in contact with an Iraqi company or one of the Provincial Investment Commissions, they can write an additional letter of introduction to the NIC in support of the investor. This can be helpful for smaller businesses without a history of foreign investment.
The NIC will determine the merit of the company’s interest in Iraq. If approved, the NIC will sponsor the investor for a visa and notify both the applicant and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
Once the visa application has been approved, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior will notify the NIC and the port of entry (indicated in the application) of the approval. The NIC will email the investor the visa approval letter.
Applicants need to print a copy of the visa approval letter and present it at the port of entry to obtain visa on their travel document. Visitors to Iraq should ensure that they have at least two blank pages in their passport, and the expiry date of the passport is at least 6 months from the date of expected departure from Iraq.
It is recommended that the investor contacts the NIC prior to leaving to Iraq in order to confirm that the visa approval letter has reached the port of entry. When arriving at the port of entry, travellers should proceed to the visa counter and present a copy of the visa approval form with their passport to receive the visa.
When they receive their passports back, travellers should pay USD 82 as visa fees and they should receive a receipt. If they do not receive a receipt, they should request one. Travellers are advised to have exact change available.
Investors intending to stay in Iraq for more than ten days must obtain an arrival note at the residency office. These investors should contact the NIC for guidance on how to complete this process once they arrive. This process includes a blood test. There are also visa agencies in Iraq that can help investors with obtaining multiple entry visa to Iraq valid for up to 6 months for regular visits.
For more details on visas in Iraq, please click on the following link: www.mofamission.gov.iq
Visas for Iraqis Visiting the United Kingdom
The Iraq Britain Business Council played a campaigning role to make it easier for Iraqi investors to enter the United Kingdom (UK). This resulted in the UK Border Agency opening a visa office at the British Embassy in Baghdad. As a result, Iraqis no longer have to travel and wait in cities like Amman or Beirut to obtain their visas.
But, passports still need to be sent to Amman for stamping; therefore, once the paperwork has been accepted, there may still be a 15 day wait until the visa is issued and the passport is returned.
For further guidance, please download Guide to supporting documentation and UKVI Photo Guidance