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Visas and Passports

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Updated July 2007
While Libya is supposed to open up for tourism, and the embargo is lifted, things seem to move slowly in terms of visa regulations.
The general rule is that you need to obtain your visa through a Libyan contact. This will in most cases be a travel agent, or in some cases a hotel. Should have contacts in Libya, locals are entitled to ask for visas being issued.
Why this? Libya may be interested in a gradual growth in tourist traffic, allowing the development of facilities to meet full-scale tourism. Also, travel agents, who will provide you with visa in return for you using their services, are not keen on giving up their lucrative position.
Yet, there are cases of Westerners obtaining visas individually. The closer you get to the border, the more likely you seem to be to get the necessary permissions. The temper of the official at the consulate will be of more importance than fx. your political background. Still, most travellers have to return without getting one. And don't even think about trying to get one at the airport in Tripoli.
A visa lasts for one month, and it costs around US$30-40, but this varies a bit between the different embassies, as well as depending on the applicants nationality. It is normally needed that an application for a visa is followed by a translation of your passport in Arabic, and all papers should be handed over to the Libyan officials no later than 2 weeks in advance of your planned arrival in Libya.
People from most Arab countries or from Malta can enter Libya with a passport only. If you're from Israel, or have a passport showing that you have been there, getting a visa is impossible.

Make sure you have

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months
  • 2 recent passport-sized color photographs
  • 2 copies of the application form to be completed by the Libyan consulate
  • 2 copies of the confirmation of payment for your tour, or 2 copies of the invitation letter, signed by the Libyan citizen who invited you
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (around US$500)
  • Return airline or ferry ticket (not applicable when traveling overland)
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate (only applicable for travelers from certain high risk regions, check with the consulate)

Processing and Validity
Allow at least 2 weeks for processing. A visa will have to be used within 45 days after issuing. It allows visits for up to 3 months, but this information is unconfirmed.
Once in Libya, you will have to register within the first week with the authorities. Ask at your hotel for procedures and offices.

By Tore Kjeilen