Azerbaijan isn’t such a popular touristic destination (yet) so here’s some practical information on how to apply for a visa, how to get registered and what you should know when you enter Azerbaijan by land.
Visa regulations of Azerbaijan
It used to be a pain to apply for a visa to visit Azerbaijan but since January 10th 2017 the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry opened up the country by introducing the E-visa which is now available for the citizens of these 93 countries. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to get a visa for Azerbaijan.
It’s date-specific, which means you have to set an entry date and you have to leave before the expiry date, which is 90 days later. However, you’re only allowed to stay 30 days in total and you can opt for a single or a double entry. Don’t worry if you travel by land like us and you’re not sure on which specific date you’ll enter the country. You’re allowed in Azerbaijan anytime after the start date of the visa.
All visitors need a visa except for the citizens of Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They can stay up to 90 days visa-free.
Citizens of Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates can obtain a visa on arrival for 30 days at any international airport.
Only citizens of Armenia are banned from entering (due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict).
How to apply for an e-visa
The e-visa costs $23 and the standard processing time takes 1-3 business days (we received ours within 2 days). You only need a passport copy to apply for the visa. We scanned our passports through the Google Drive Scan and used those copies. This is such a handy app!
1. Go to the Official Republic of Azerbaijan Electronic Visa Portal. Make sure you go to the website ending with .gov.az. The other websites will charge you an additional fee of $30.
2. Make sure your country is on this list before you apply.
3. From here on it’s pretty easy. Type in the information, select your arrival date, check the box that you promise you don’t have any weird diseases and that you’re not planning to kill anyone, accept the terms and conditions, enter your passport and personal information and attach the copy of your passport photo page. Whatever you do, select NO when they ask if you’ve ever visited the Nagorno-Karabakh and other regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan occupied by the Republic of Armenia. Otherwise, you can definitely count on a rejection!
4. In the section where you have to fill in an address in Azerbaijan, use the address of the hotel or hostel that you booked. If you haven’t made any bookings, just use the address of a random hostel. They don’t ask for booking confirmations so don’t worry if you don’t have any proof of your actual stay there.
5. Confirm your submission and the system will ask you to verify your email address. Click on ‘Confirm’ in the email that you’ll receive.
6. Then it’s time for paying the visa. Payments can be made directly on the website by using a credit/debit card.
7. After 1 – 3 business days the e-visa will be sent directly to your e-mail address. Make sure to print it out and have it with you at the passport control.
That’s it! Now you’re ready to travel to Azerbaijan!
Check out our budget-friendly guide to Baku!
Registration in Azerbaijan
There’s a law that says that travelers who want to stay for a period of 10 days or longer, need to be registered within 10 days of arrival in Azerbaijan. You can get registered with your hotel, at the migration service center, via an email from your host to the migration service center or online (although we read that the latter hasn’t been very successful yet).
We were a little nervous about it because we heard some stories that it’s a bit of a pain and a hassle to get the registration done. If you don’t have the registration slip upon your departure, you risk a fine (around $220) or even a 2-year ban from the country (and we want to avoid that this time…).
If you enter Azerbaijan by airplane in Baku, you can ask your hotel/hostel to do the registration for you. Unfortunately not all the hotels will know what you’re talking about or know what they have to do.
While we were staying at Mister Hostel Baku we noticed that the girls at the reception have experience with this matter. They successfully registered other travelers and they also give a printed document of the registration. Keep this document with you when you leave Azerbaijan! If you decide to stay in another hotel or hostel where they know how to do the registration for you, make sure to ask for the printed document!
We entered Azerbaijan by land and did our registration at the migration service in Balakan. This is the first town you’ll pass if you enter Azerbaijan by the Matsimi border (read more about the different borders in the next section).
Normally you need evidence that you’re staying at a hotel/guesthouse/hostel. We didn’t make any bookings in advance– we mainly camp – and we were planning to quickly make a booking on booking.com which we could easily cancel afterwards.
We didn’t count on not having any mobile internet – as a foreigner you can’t get a SIM card in Azerbaijan and we didn’t find any places with free wi-fi. So we were just hoping for the best when we entered the little office.
We got the best because the officer just asked for our visas and passports, did all the paperwork and handed us the registration slip in exchange for 5 AZN per person (about $3). That was it! No hustle or bustle, we got registered within 15 minutes and we could continue our journey with a clear conscience.
If you enter Azerbaijan from Georgia by land, we would definitely recommend you to take the Matsimi border (Lagodekhi – Balakan) and do the registration upon your arrival. The only challenge for us was finding the registration office. I took some photos to help you out. The registration office is right in the center of Balakan. You can find it at the second set of traffic lights in this town, coming from the border.
This is how the office looks like:
These are the shops opposite the office:
This is the bank across the street:
If you see this monument, you’ve passed the registration office. Go back one block:
If your first stop in Azerbaijan is Baku, we recommend you stay in a hostel that goes by the name of Mr. Hostel. We stayed there when we were in Baku and we saw how the receptionists successfully registered travelers. They will give you a printed slip of your registration.
Azerbaijan – Georgia Border Crossings
Azerbaijan has borders with Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran.
Since Armenia and Azerbaijan are having some serious conflicts, there are no open borders between the two countries. You’ll always get asked at the passport control in Azerbaijan if you’ve been to Armenia.
There should be no problem if you have an Armenian stamp in your passport (just expect a long waiting time with annoying questions) but you will be denied entry if you have a Nagorno-Karabakh stamp. This is a disputed region between the two countries.
Georgia and Azerbaijan have two borders.
1. The most popular border is the one in Krasniy Most – Shikhli. This border connects Rustavi (Georgia) with Qazax (Azerbaijan). If you take public transportation, you can take a mashrutka (mini-bus) to the border, cross it and take another min-bus that will bring you further into Azerbaijan.
2. We crossed the border in Matsimi, which is 4km from Lagodekhi (Georgia). There is no public transport that will bring you from Lagodekhi to the border itself. You can walk the remaining 4km, take a taxi or try to hitch a ride. We were walking this distance when a woman offered us a free ride in her chariot. What a way to leave a country!
It’s a very small border with not much traffic. On the Georgian side you can find a little duty-free shop, cafe and money-exchange (tip: never exchange money at a border, you’ll get less value). There’s nothing except for yelling taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan side and a little kiosk where you can buy cigarettes (in case the border crossing was stressful). The nearest town in Azerbaijan is Balakan, where you can also get your registration (see the previous section) sorted.
The border crossing happened very smoothly. First, we had to pass the passport control of Georgia, then we had to walk for 5 minutes to the Azeri passport control. We had to show our passports and printed e-visas (see first section above) and were asked if we’ve been in Armenia (we haven’t).
After a quick check of our passports for any suspicious-looking stamps, we were allowed in the country. Our bags got scanned and that was it. Everything happened in a very relaxed way. We started walking and were planning on hitchhiking a bit further down the road so we would be left alone by the yelling taxi drivers when a taxi stopped for us. The driver offered us a free ride to the next town (Balakan)! Great way to start our journey in Azerbaijan!
For Azerbaijan – Russia border crossings and Azerbaijan – Iran border crossing I’d like to refer you to this page on Caravanistan for more information.
If you have any additional information or remarks, please let us know in the comments below. We also like to hear your experiences concerning the visa, the registration and border crossing in Azerbaijan!
Watch our videos about traveling and hitchhiking in Azerbaijan here!