How To Reach Pakistan
The easiest and most convenient way to reach Pakistan is, of course, by air. There is a limited number of direct flights from Europe to Pakistan, so you will need to transit via Turkey, UAE or Qatar. Budget-wise, and depending on your departing point, Turkey and UAE seem to be the most affordable options.
The land borders with Afghanistan, China, Iran and India (outside recent pandemic restrictions) are generally open. Yet, beware of various entry complications on the Afghan and Iran ones. The Chinese border (Khunjerab Pass) is a very popular landmark for visitors of Northern Pakistan. However, I am not sure how convenient it would be as a country crossing, being so extremely far from the main Chinese cities.
- For visiting Pakistan, you need to acquire your Travel Visa beforehand. Previously, the visa application process was followed through the respective Embassy/Consulate in the country of your permanent residence. Nowadays, Pakistan has introduced an eVisa service which makes your life much easier!
- Your passport must have validity for a minimum period of 6 months beyond the date of your arrival.
- You must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to your (final) flight to Pakistan. This is a requirement not only for entering Pakistan, but also for boarding your flight.
- You must pre-fill your entry application form through the PassTrack mobile app. Here you need to upload both your Visa and Negative PCR test for further screening and clearance in entering Pakistan.
You can read more information about eligibility, required documents, application process, and fees here.
Visa Application Process
The first step is to create your personal account on the Pakistan Online Visa System.
For the purposes of the Visa Application process, you need to have a clear understanding of your travel dates, as well as your itinerary while in Pakistan.
The Application Form is quite detailed and you will be requested to fill in all following sections:
- Application Info (Visa Category, Type, Duration, expected Arrival/Departure dates and Entry/Exit points)
- Personal Info
- Family Info
- Employment Info
- Travel History Info (I propose that you fill in only the travels for which you carry stamps on your passport)
- Visit Info (Travel plan, Stay details)
- Document/Photo Upload (Passport, Photograph, Letter By Sponsor/Hotel/Operator, Other)
- Payment (you can pay with Credit Card)
The tricky part is that there is a certain requirement (on an ad-hoc basis) for an Invitation Letter. Normally, if your application and travel plan clearly indicate that you will be visiting Pakistan for tourism purposes, you will not be requested for an Invitation letter. If your application is vague or incomplete, then your Embassy/Consulate might additionally ask for a personal interview or an Invitation Letter to ensure that someone guarantees against the intention of your visit. Do bear in mind, however, that such a document is chargeable (prepared by local travel agencies) at a somewhat high price of around 70-100 USD.
I highly recommend that you contact your Embassy/Consulate and inform them about your visit prior to submitting your application. In this way, they will anticipate for it and can contact you directly for further clarifications. At the same time, do make sure that you submit your application early in advance so as to allow sufficient processing time. To be on the safe side, estimate 7-10 days for getting a single entry visa application processed.
The Visa Fees vary according to the requested number of entries, as well as the country of your origin. You can find the most up-to-date Visa Fees here.
Indicative Fees (for Greek citizens):
- Single Entry (for short duration up to 3 months): 35 USD
- Multiple Entry (up to 1 year): 52.50 USD
- Multiple Entry (more than 1 year): 70 USD
Travel Insurance | Must Have or Nice-to-Have?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many countries have introduced an entry requirement of comprehensive Travel Insurance including COVID-19 coverage. Even if Pakistan was not one of those countries at the time of our visit, we decided not to take the risk.
Our initial decision was made due to the lengthy duration of our trip (around 1 month). We felt that securing medical coverage in case we contracted COVID-19 while traveling should be our top priority. Soon we came to realize that there were more dangers out there we had hardly foreseen… The difficult access in the Northern part of the country (which, by the way, is the most touristic) should not be disregarded. Numerous accidents are regularly recorded, and from what we have seen ourselves the risk in those areas is extremely high. So, even if most of the time when we travel nothing goes wrong, travel insurance is the only thing that can guard us against the unexpected!
After extensive research, both my co-traveler and I opted for Mondial Assistance. My preferred program was the Globy Annual for unlimited multi trips over the course of a full year and up to 60 days per trip. The insurance program of my choice included medical, hospitalization, and repatriation expenses (including those incurred due to COVID-19), compensation due to loss or damage of luggage, and additional compensation in case of a personal accident. My co-traveler selected a similar insurance program, yet for a single trip, with the exact same coverages. Even if we did not have to use it, we feel happy about our decision and we highly urge you to do the same. Better safe than sorry!