We have a 14 hour transit coming up in Abu Dhabi, flying Etihad. That’s enough time to step out of the airport, see the town and probably even see a couple of other towns!
It was fairly straight forward to apply for the transit visa:
- Went to: https://www.ttsuaevisas.com/
- Started an individual online application for myself and a separate one for my wife
- Straightforward process – had to upload a bunch of documents in JPEG form only, including:
- Previous UAE visas
- Previous Schengen / USA / UK visas
- Air Tickets
- Hotel Bookings
- Passport Copies
- Only complication was the Hotel Bookings. Since we only have 14 hours during the day (not an overnight stop), we didn’t book any hotels. The system wouldn’t accept the transit visa application without a hotel booking. So I wrote a letter explaining why I don’t have a hotel booking and uploaded that in place of the hotel booking.
- Visa was processed and arrived via email in 2 working days.
One thing I didn’t know as it was not mentioned in any official communication – we need Etihad to do an “OK to Board” endorsement on our booking PNR. Luckily our travel agent (The Travel Partner) knew about this and told us on time. Process was simple – I sent an email to OTBUAEVisa@etihad.ae with visa and ticket copies for both me and my wife. They responded within 24 hours and did the OTB (OK to Board) as they call it.
Ran into the following requirement of the Russian Embassy when trying to apply for a tourist visa in New Delhi:
The original tourist/hotel voucher issued by a Russian tourist agency/hotel, which is registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Russian Federation containing the necessary data of a traveler (name, date of birth, etc.), period of stay (date of entry and departure), name of receiving Russian travel agency, list of services paid for (transportation, accommodation, sightseeing, etc.), signed by a representative of the tourist agency, stamped with the agency’s seal and bearing an official MFA reference number. Faxed and scanned copies are not accepted.
I consulted my trusted travel agent on this and learned that the voucher has to come from a registered travel agency in Russia. And these travel agencies demand INR 20,000 (USD 300 approx.) for issuing a letter for one traveller.
Ain’t nothing but an old fashioned shake-down. Needless to say, Russia trip postponed till their Ministry of Foreign Affairs becomes more tourist friendly.
Update: I wrote to 2 separate hotels (in Moscow and St. Petersburg). Both confirmed that they will send me the required letters in Scan copy via email. But there are some further complications:
- The local visa application centre here in Delhi refuses to accept scan copies – their website clearly says that the original must be couriered or mailed – impossible to predict how long that will take.
- The hotel gives the letter for free, but says that they will charge 2000-3500 roubles if I take the letter but then cancel my hotel reservation.
In short – it is way too complicated and potentially expensive for a short casual visit. Russia visit cancelled for now.