MAKE IT TO MONGOLIA
How does one go about getting a visa for Mongolia? Recently, I heard that if one visits for less than 30 days one can obtain a visa on arrival. Is that true? — Cath Schorr
Mongolia has no consulate or embassy in SA, so your best bet for getting a visa is to go through the Mongolian Embassy in London. Their website at embassyofmongolia.co.uk says applications via e-mail or post are not accepted, and that you must apply in person or “through an authorised subject”.
It goes on to name two approved visa agencies: Real Russia (realrussia.co.uk) and Almont (almonttravel.co.uk).
I found Real Russia, based in London, to be extremely helpful. They have a detailed website and an online chat facility, through which I learnt the following.
The good news is they can do the application for you — but it will take both time and money. Their “standard service” takes six working days and costs £94.86 (about R1,850) and their express service takes two days and costs £130.56 (R2,520). The consultant pointed out, however, that “working days” in Mongolia are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The greater problem for you is that Real Russia will need your passport to make the application. Therefore, you will have to send it — the consultant said they had found DHL and Fedex to be safe — along with the signed visa application form (they will send you a link); and a recent colour photo. You will also need confirmation of both inbound and outbound flight or train bookings, hotel reservations and travel insurance. Real Russia can also help with these arrangements, if you like.
Once approved, they will send the passport back to you, for which you will also have to pay. She quoted me £46 (about R900) to send it to Parktown, Johannesburg.
It appears you can get a tourist visa on arrival at the airport in Ulaanbaatar, but this has to have been prearranged by someone in Mongolia (such as your tour operator or hotel). You’ll also need 108,000 MTN (about R625) and two passport photos. Most crucially, you need the pre-approval letter.
Since you have to arrange accommodation beforehand anyway, I would check with my chosen hotel or tour company to see if they can assist with getting the pre-approval letter. If not, be safe and apply through Real Russia.
We can help with your destination dilemmas, visa puzzles and itinerary ideas. E-mail travel[email protected]daytimes.co.za
CAPITAL A panoramic view of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.