As a tour company we have to meet certain obligations under the advice of Pakistan government when assisting travellers to Pakistan. We are true and honest in everything we do and believe in utmost transparency.
An invitation letter (LOI) can only be issued by us when you are undertaking our tour services. It is our preference that if you are wanting an LOI from us and are NOT on one of our longer set tours that you book into a minimum of a Lahore day tour, or short custom trips AND a stay at one of our homestays if possible. We can arrange custom trips or city transfers to suit your travel style.
Visas, Letters of Invitation, Permits and NOC...
What do I need and how do I get them??
- Karakoram Bikers helps travellers from many different countries all across the globe who are applying from within their own and outside their own countries for the visa to travel to Pakistan.
- We provide travellers who are using our services, with the letter of invitation as well as advice and support for the duration of the visa application process.
- From one country to the next the basic document requirements are the same, however the process in one country may not at all match the process in another. It’s important to check on the website of the Embassy or Pakistan High Commission in your country of residence and see the list of requirements as well as what may be listed on the new Nadra Evisa system.
- Unfortunately for some the process does seem to be laborious and very stressful. By putting together all the information we have garnered through our experiences we hope to help relieve some of the pain in the process. And of course we will update this page whenever new information comes to hand. Below is a general list of commonly asked questions that can relate to many situations.
Some commonly asked questions… (the list is long ~ people have lots of questions)
UPDATED (January 10th 2020)
Pakistan EVisa and Visa on Arrival.
In March 2019, the Ministry of Interior started rolling out the Pakistan Evisa and Visa On Arrival online system. This is a new process and is still in the early stages with some trouble shooting going on. On the surface the requirements seem to be more open with options of merely using a hotel booking as evidence of travel. However it is not always that easy. Some travellers have had great success with the new Evisa system and have received their tourist visa in as little as 48 hours without issues, while others have had requests for more information or were told to provide an invitation letter and were then approved. It is still an unpredicatable process.
Karakoram Bikers have been getting some requests from travellers who have tried to use the new system with just hotel bookings and failed. Many travellers were told to provide an invitation letter from a tour company. This has happened via a variety of different countries and does not seem to be restricted to any particular embassy. The process is still variable and unpredictable.
Evisa may seem on the surface to be a smoother simpler and more open way to apply for the visa to visit Pakistan however it is important to note that all the visas are still usually processed via the closest emabssy to your place of residence or sometimes another neighbouring embassy. The evisa system is merely a front end portal. This makes it very hard to track where the visa is being assessed should any issues arise. It may still be an option to visit your lcoal embassy if anything happens to go wrong in the process.
Our friend Marco at Monkey Rock World has written a step by step guide for the Evisa application process https://www.monkeyrockworld.com/how-to-get-pakistan-e-visa/
*The following information below is relevent whether applying for Pakistan Evisa or when applying directly to a Pakistan Embassy. We will update this page as regularly as possible. You can also find information directly from the Ministry of Interior NADRA website https://visa.nadra.gov.pk
Do I need a letter of invitation to visit Pakistan?
Yes, about 70% of the time. It is now easier to apply for the visa via the online Pakistan Evisa system and some people use hotel bookings only instead of an invitation letter... however we get many requests from travellers who have tried the Pakistan visa application without invitation letter and have had further requests from Pakistan government to supply the invitation letter anyway. If you choose to try without invitation that can potentially slow down the process. Thats fine to try but please allow yoruself plenty of time. Some embassies always ask for an invitation from a Pakistan Registered Tour Company.
When in doubt the LOI is certainly not going to hurt and will help to speed up the process.
Where can I get the letter of invitation?
Karakroam Bikers can write you a professional, clear, concise letter of invitation to suit your particuler travel and itinerary BUT we cannot just issue an LOI only. You must be on one of our short or long tours or using other travel services with us. Contact us and we will discuss your travel plans to Pakistan and advise on the simplest options available to you. For indpendent travellers we have short Lahore or Gilgit area day tours as well a custom options.
Karakoram Bikers is a fully registered company with Securities and Exchange Commision of Pakistan (SECP, a fully regsitered and licenced tour operator with the Pakistan Government Department of Tourism Services, members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and the Gilgit Baltistan Association of Tour operators.
What other documents do you provide that I might need.
With all our visa applications we also provide a copy of our Tourism Licence and Pakistani Directors ID card. Emabssies will often also ask for these extra proof of support.
Can I get a friend to write me an invitation letter.
This is possible for some embassies only. Most embassies that ask for an invitation letter for the Pakistan Tourism Visa require that letter to come from a regitered tour company. If you are applying for a family or business visit obviousy the relations or business partner would do the inviting. HOWEVER please keep in mind that even though it may be tempting to get any "friend" to write a letter for you, there is a very real security responsibity that goes with that. The person inviting you must be ready to answer all questions regarding your travel, know who you are, where you are visiting, what you are doing and be able to explain their relationship to you.
Can I get an hotel to write me an invitation letter.
Sometimes travellers have tried to get hotels to write the invitation. This may or may not work. It is not a guarantee. A hotel is not a regsitered tour operator and has no licence to be able to issue an invitation. Some hotels may refuse or have limtied English to understand the process.
How much does this letter cost.
We charge $105 Australian Dollars for this service. Not only do we write your letter but also take the time to discuss with you the best options to make sure your letter is fool proof. We also include ongoing support through the visa application process and assist you if any issues or follow up requests from the department may arise.
Do I need to be in my home country of residence to apply for the visa.
When the Evisa announcement was first made we were excited to think that maybe now travellers could get their visa while already out on the road travelling. It has been a major hurdle for some long term travellers as the requirement was that you must be in your home country or country of residence to apply for the visa. This seems to still be the case in some situations and indeed it specifically states on the NADRA website that you must be in your home country or have evidence of residence documents if applying outside of your home country. This is in case you are required for an interview. However Karakoram Bikers has had confirmed successful applications of citizens applying from outside their home country as well as travellers already on their cross world travellers where we were able to provide extra supporting evidence and avoid interviews.
What about my itinerary, do I need exact travel dates.
You need to advise us of your expected earliest date of entry and how long you are intending on staying.
Genreally a visa is given for a particular travel window (usually 3 or 6 months) from the date of issue. You can enter pakistan anytime in this travel window. This information helps us write a quailty inviation that suits your situation.
How many days will the visa allow me to travel in Pakistan.
Usually the visa will be for 30 or 45 days of travel within the travel window of 3 or 6 months. This can vary depending on the discretion of the issuing consulate. You cna extend yoru visa once in Pakistan if you would like to stay longer.
Can the travel dates change later from what is on my LOI?
As long as you enter Pakistan within the set travel window given on the visa then yes your dates can change.
Do I have to stick to the areas on my itinerary.
Yes and No. Once in Pakistan you can explore other areas outside of any set tours and what is listed on the itinerary. Keep in mind that Pakistan government has access to all data that is submitted at embassies and they can and do follow up on foreigner travellers especially if you attempt to go into areas outside of "safe" Zones. Certain areas you should not attempt to enter (more on this below). If you are travelling through Swat or Peshawar or Chitral areas without a guide then this can potentially cause an issue. Karakoram Bikers requests that you honour your itinerary as per the LOI and do not explore randomly or on a whim in Pakistan.
Can I easily go anywhere in Pakistan on my visa?
Most areas are safe and easy to travel through however keep in mind that some areas, mostly in military containment zones and border lines of control are no go zones and other areas may require an NOC. If you want to go into restricted zones and some areas of the Karakoram National Park you will need a permit and trekking in these areas and above 6000 metres requires a special permit.
Technically you can go to different areas it's a good idea to discuss with us where you're interested in and if we need to arrange anything to make it happen. You cannot travel freely in Balochistan, Tribal Administered Area, Azad Kashmir and in some cases Khyber Paktunkwa around Peshawar, Swat and Chitral. We advise having a guide or friend with you if going through Swat and Chitral. Some travellers have in the recent past been stopped at Chitral and Kalash and have been told they need an NOC. In 2019 NOC was not required as per our knowledge, however travellers were required to register with Police upon entering the region and were issued with an entry card. These things are still in a constant state of change and we monitor closely day by day. The entry requirements to Gilgit Blatistan seems to have become far more relaxed wit hthe ebtry card recently not be needed upon entering via Gilgit Aiport or through Chilas by road but it is stil lbeing issued when entering via Skardu aiport. The check points along the Karakoram Highway have also almost all stopped requiring check stops. We will update as often as possible.
Do I need to send the original copy of the LOI to the embassy or will the emailed scanned version be fine.
Usually you do not have to send in the original. The new Evisa system provides an oline portal to upload the supporting documents directly. An embassy request for the original version of the LOI did in previous years happen from time to time however with the new Evisa system we have not heard any recent requests for the original to be provided. International courier can be expensive and it usually takes a few days to a week for the original to reach you.
I’m a lone woman traveller and the visa agency/embassy says I must be with a guided tour for my whole visit in Pakistan.
This has actually happened to solo female traveller applicants in the past by over protective embassy staff. An embassy may insist a female traveller not be allowed to enter Pakistan as a solo traveller. From our perspective females are perfectly safe and able to travel in Pakistan without a chaperone and many do withiut any issues at all. However if an embassy insists then we can meet you at the airport or border and provide some extra support to satisfy embassy officials. Please do not let this over protective reaction put you off if you're a female traveller wanting to eplore Pakistan.
The visa application asks for flights but I’m arriving by road, what do I do?
For some bizarre reason we have had embassies insist that you have flights booked. This is of course daunting if you are not even sure that you will receive your visa(we do everything we can to make sure you do) And even more ridiculous if you're arriving via one of the land borders. There is no requirement to have plane tickets booked. An explanation letter detailing how you are intending to cross the border is often enough.
Do I need a hotel booking to guarantee my visa?
It is a good idea to have the first night hotel booking. You can use a no deposit booking and cancel it later if you don't actually want to stay there. Some Embassies ask for a hotel booking others do not.
Do I have to go on a tour with a tourism company to make sure I get my Visa?
Some Embassies insist on a detailed tour with a registered company others do not. We can arrange a custom tour to suit and have a very low key laid back freedom feel to it. Many embassies do seem to ask for an itinerary at the very least so it's a good idea to think in advance about the places you're wanting to visit.
If I have certain areas listed on my letter of invite or itinerary that are in red zone or higher risk travel warning areas will this change my chances of getting a visa?
If crossing from Iran you will have to cross Balochistan and Quetta. This is fine to mention but do not suggest you are wanting to travel there as this may raise questions. You are given a police escort to cross this area and where you stay is heavily monitored. You are expected to cross and leave, not explore. You will be issued an NOC on arrival in Quetta to get through this area. Usually we do not mention this area as you arent abel to explore it anyway.
Currently the route from Islamabad to Gilgit and areas of Khyber Paktunkwah are in the red zone on many international travel warning sites. These areas are actually safe to travel through (we are waiting for an upgrade to travel warnings) It is perfectly fine to mention Gilgit and the Karakoram Highway.
How much does the visa cost?
The cost of the visa varies from one country to another. Please check with the embassy in your country of residence for exact fees.
How long does it take to get my visa?
Pakistan Visa approval processing can take as little as a couple of days to as long as 1 month and is usually straightforward once submitted at the embassy or via the Pakistan Evisa if all paper work is provided. We advise starting the process at least a month in advance to allow for dealing with any possible questions that may arise.
Very occasionally an application may take a bit longer for processing and is usually due to not having clear paperwork, unclear plans (or some unusual situation like travelling with small children in own vehicle through Balochistan, travelling independently on bicycle without tour company support, travellers of Indian heritage despite being born in different country and having citizenship of the country other than India and longer stay requests greater than 2 months are some examples we have encountered) NOTE - We have no abiltiy to speed up a process once it goes to ministry of interior despite what an embassy may tell you. We can and do follow up with embassies but not with the ministry of interior.
How long does it take for you to send me the Letter of Invitation?
Once we have all the details clear for the letter and payment is recieved we will get the letter to you within 48 hours. Often much sooner.
I’m rushed and need to enter Pakistan in 3 days time can you help me?
Usually no. You need to allow a reasonable amount of time for the letter to be written and for the embassy/online system to process your application. We have had the process completed from point of LOI request to receiving visa done completely within a day to a week. But please allow at least 1 month wherever possible. Karakoram Bikers is not held responsible if you have not allowed enough time to process your application.
I’m not returning to the country from which I’m arriving from, is this a problem?
No it's not a problem but you may be asked about this. Obviously many travellers are visiting Pakistan as part of a larger travel itinerary. It might mean you just need to write a short letter detailing how Pakistan fits into your travels. Some embassies will ask, others will not.
I want to apply for my visa in Europe but I’m from Australia, is this possible. etc etc in various requests of country combinations…
Basically the rule of thumb is, you can only apply for a visa to Pakistan from the country you are a citizen of and also the country you are a resident of. If you are a resident of a country other than the passport you are holding you may apply in that country as well as your country of citizenship. Just inclue proof of residency or visa documents for that country.
Can I extend my visa once I’m in Pakistan?
Yes. You can extend your visa for 1 month or 3 months at the Ministry of Interior - Immigration and Passports, in both Lahore and Islamabad. Visas are currently not able to be extended at the department in Gilgit. For extension you need to fill out a request for visa extension and provide two current passport sized photos.
For Evisa holders the pakistan visa can be extended via the online portal.
When and where do I need a trekking permit?
Some embassies seem to think that mentioning the words Gilgit or Skardu implies you need a trekking permit. This is absolutely not true. There are many many treks that are easy to access, in open zones without the need for any special permits.
You DO need a permit to enter the Karakoram National park. This includes the areas of K2 and environs from Skardu side as well as central Karakoram National Park including Rush Lake and other treks departing from Nagar. Many embassies are not aware of the actual areas and the tourism requirements.
Many treks such as Rakaposhi and Diran basecamps, Haramosh Valley, Fairy Meadows, Patandas are all in oen zones without the need for permits.
A trekking permit is always required if the trek goes above 6000mtrs.
Permits are applied for directly to the Ministry of Intierior via a registered tourism company after the visa is granted. Karakoram Bikers can assist with the permit application process.
I want to go to border areas, can I do this?
For genreal travel no, border areas are in zones of remote military containment.
Border crossing points are fine, Khunjerab from China, Taftan from Iran and Wagah from India.
Do I need an NOC and what is all this panic about?
In the past there was a huge scare for foreign travellers and tour companies when the government decided to try to implement the need for an NOC to travel in Gilgit Baltistan. There was a huge uproar and this was never instigated. There is currently no requirement for an NOC to visit Gilgit (Hunza Skardu)on a standard tourist visa. Areas closer to Afghanistan, Iran and India borders do require an NOC, Such as Balochistan, Quetta, Azad Kashmir, Wakhan Corridor.
When arriving from Iran you will be given an NOC in Quetta, you do not apply for this in advance. Please arrive at the taftan border between Monday and Wednesday if you can to allow for the officials to process the NOC. If crossing by road to Iran from the Lahore side then you will need to go to Islamabad to apply for the NOC to cross.
In the end, the short answer is, if in doubt send Karakoram Bikers a message
and we will help however we can.