This year has been full of changes in travel rules, and one of the feared changes is the threat of requiring US citizens to obtain visas to travel through all 28 countries in the EU. Right now, American citizens can travel freely between the US and Europe, but that could of course change at any time.
No changes have gone into effect yet, but it does beg the question, what other countries can American citizens visit without a visa? Some may seem pretty obvious, but here are a few you may not realize you can travel to - in some instances - without obtaining a special visa.
There was a temporary lifting of the Argentina visa fee around the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the lift became permanent in August 2016. Now, US citizens can visit Argentina without having to pay the $160 US reciprocity fee and show proof-of-visa printout.
This year, Belarus’ visa policy also got an update. However, you need to pay close attention to the rules, as it’s not a complete visa waiver. As an American citizen wanting to enter Belarus without a visa, you will need to have a valid passport, certain sum of money (equivalent to two basic amounts or 42 Belarusian rubles, for each day of your stay), and medical insurance valid in Belarus. In addition, you can only stay five days max, enter to and from Minsk National airport, and cannot be flying in from Russia or intending to fly to Russia afterwards.
There is a 24-hour visa-free transit rule covering passengers who are transiting within 24 hours at some airports. These airports are Shenzhen, Yanji, Mudanjiang, and Fuzhou. If you plan to leave the airport, apply for a Temporary Stay Permit upon arrival. If you’re transiting through China multiple times on the same itinerary, then the total time must be less than 24 hours.
Another option is to obtain either a 72-hour or 144-hour visa-free transit. These are only valid for arrival into certain airports and cities. For example, as a US Citizen, you can obtain a 72-hour visa free transit pass for Beijing or a 144-hour visa-free transit for Shanghai. There are specific rules though that you can’t be transiting to and from the same airport. For example, you can’t fly round-trip from LAX to Shanghai to take advantage of this deal. If you were traveling from LAX to Shanghai and then on to Tokyo and back to Los Angeles you can.
US Citizens can also travel to Ukraine visa-free if the intended stay is less than 90 days within a 180-day period. Visitors must also show proof of valid health insurance and sufficient funds for the duration of their stay.
Obviously Ukraine has some disputed areas and those should be avoided if possible. Travelers interested in visiting the Crimean Peninsula should note that the US Embassy encourages citizens to avoid this region. If you do travel to Crimea, it does count against your 90-days of visa-free travel in Ukraine.
Have you ever had to obtain a visa for your travels?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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