The Perfect Armenia Visa Guide: Crossing The Georgia-Armenia Border
By DAN FORTEZA
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Crossing the border from Georgia to Armenia was one of the best road trips of my life. Traveling between these two countries is bursting with untouched nature and offers breathtaking views. Since these countries lie next to each other with a distance of only 290 km (180 mi.) between their respective capital cities (Tbilisi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia), it was reasonable why a lot of travelers and backpackers usually prefer to do land trips including myself.
So in this blog, I’ll share with you my experience when I recently crossed the Georgia-Armenia border in October 2019 as well as the visa-on-arrival guide to Armenia.
DO YOU NEED A VISA FOR ARMENIA?
Depending on your nationality, you may or may not need a visa. See information below which category you fall in.
Holders of all types of passports from the following countries are not required to obtain a visa for entry to Armenia for a 180-day period within any year period (unless otherwise noted):
All European Union citizens
Iran (up to 90 days)
Tajikistan (up to 90 days)
United Arab Emirates
Visitors traveling as tourists (except the countries listed below***) can obtain a visa on arrival (either 21 days at a cost of 3,000 AMD or 120 days at a cost of 15,000 AMD. They may also apply for an e-visa in advance (at least 3 business days before the trip.)
All African countries (including St. Helena) except South Africa
Visa on arrival can be granted at following immigration checkpoints:
I. International airports and railway station:
1. Zvartnots International Airport (Yerevan)
2. Shirak Airport (Gyumri, Shirak Province)
3. Ayrum railway station (Ayrum, Tavush Province, border with Georgia)
II. Land checkpoints:
1. Bagratashen, Tavush Province (border with Georgia)
2. Bavra, Shirak Province (border with Georgia)
3. Gogavan, Lori Province (border with Georgia)
4. Meghri, Syunik Province (border with Iran)
Nationals of the following countries can only apply for a visa at Armenian diplomatic or consular posts
All African countries (including St. Helena) except South Africa
WHICH IS BETTER: eVISA OR VISA ON ARRIVAL?
In my experience, it would be better if you go by visa-on-arrival. Getting a visa on arrival was quick and straightforward compared to an evisa wherein you need to fill up forms online.
I actually applied for an Armenian evisa two weeks before I cross the Georgia-Armenia border and unfortunately my visa application got DECLINED. They don’t disclose the reason why I got rejected. For me, it was just time-consuming and I only wasted my 6-dollar evisa fee (it’s nonrefundable.)
HOW TO TRAVEL FROM TBILISI TO YEREVAN?
There are different modes of transportation available to cross these two countries. You can either take a marshrutka (the term for minibus), ride on shared taxi, rent a private vehicle, or go for an overnight train. During my trip, I decided to go with the first two since these are more convenient and would result in lesser travel time.
To get from Tbilisi to Yerevan, you first have to find the Ortachala central bus station in Tbilisi. This station serves Southern Georgia, Kakheti region, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, and Greece.
- Marshrutka for Tbilisi-Yerevan costs 30 GEL (Georgian Lari), at 08:20, 09:10, 10:00, 12:00, 15:00, 17:00.
- Travel time: 6-7 hours (including stopovers and immigration checks)
NOTE: The staff speaks very limited English, and there are no English signs.
MY TRAVEL EXPERIENCE FROM GEORGIA TO ARMENIA
I arrived at Ortachala bus station at around 7:45 AM by bus #71. As I get off the bus, there are already men on the street offering me a ride to Yerevan. And my first question was ‘how much?’ They say marshrutka is priced 40 lari which is actually the same as the shared taxi. However, I wasn’t satisfied since I wanted to find the regular marshrutka which is only 30 lari per websites I’ve browsed through. Well, the men are quite pushy and there’s no one really I can formally ask where the regular marshrutka is. So I ended up going for the 40-lari shared taxi.
TAXI ROUTE: Tbilisi-Sadakhlo-Bagratashen-Ijevan-Dilijan-Sevan-Yerevan
If you’re going with marshrutka, make sure to ride on a vehicle with the sign “Epebah”, it is the Russian term for Yerevan.
I was the first passenger so we’ve waited for three more people to get full. With two Belarussians (husband and wife) and one Iraqi-Canadian, we finally left at 8:20 AM.
REMINDER: Bring some food in case you got hungry on the way.
After an hour (9:25 AM to be exact), we’ve arrived at the border gate of Sadakhlo, the exit point for Georgia. We then headed to the passport control gate with our passports, have it stamped and went back to the vehicle. Our bags weren’t checked and were only kept on the vehicle. The whole process was quick and only took about 10 minutes.
Next, we drove for about 5 minutes to reach Bagratashen, the entry point for Armenia. This time, we went down together with all of our backpacks and luggage. We went inside the room and was immediately guided by a lady in uniform. Since I am a Philippine passport holder, I was asked to get in line for the visa-on-arrival before proceeding to the passport control entry gate. There was a window with the sign “visa” in it.
HOW WAS PROCEDURE FOR THE ARMENIA VISA-ON-ARRIVAL?
It was quick and easy. There were only three people lining up on the visa counter. Once it was my turn, it took me only about 5 minutes to get my visa.
- Withdraw cash. Before I lined up for the visa, I first withdrew some Armenian dram (AMD) as any other currencies are NOT accepted. Just beside the visa office, there was a small room with ATM as well as a money changer machine accepting dollar, euro and ruble only.
- Get in line on the visa counter.
- Hand over the passport and pay. As compared to applying for an eVisa, I didn’t fill up any form. I just handed the passport to the visa officer, answered his basic questions like ‘how many days will you stay in Armenia’, paid 3,000 AMD (6.29 USD), and signed a receipt.
NOTE: If you’re staying in Armenia for more than 21 days, you’ll have to pay 15,000 AMD which lets you stay a maximum of 120 days.
I actually paid the officer a 20,000 AMD banknote and provided me the exact amount of change. So don’t worry if you don’t have the exact amount of 3,000 AMD with you.
- Get my passport with a visa sticker. After paying, he printed and stamped the visa on my passport. Then I was ready to line up at the passport check point gate.
- Visa Type: Tourist Visa
- Entry type: Single Entry only
- Visa Validity: 21 Days
- Visa Fee: AMD 3,000 (USD 6.29)
ROADTRIP TO YEREVAN, ARMENIA:
I was officially in Armenia at exactly 9:50 AM. We then start driving towards Yerevan at around 10:00 AM.
While my road-trip Spotify playlist is on, I’ve seen the best part of land travels—passing by to some of the scenic views along the way. But I have to admit, the Armenian side has a lot of breathtaking views to offer. The greenery decorating the streets of Armenia (including its forest and hillsides) transitions in color to red, yellow and orange. Slowly the surrounding changes into a colorful paradise.
We also had two or three stopovers for gas and air refills.
At 1:30 PM, we made a stopover for lunch at Semo-i Mot (a restaurant complex on the coast of Lake Sevan–biggest lake in Armenia.
At around 2:00 PM, we continued driving from Sevan to Yerevan.
Finally, we’ve Arrived in downtown Yerevan at around 3:00 PM
If you intend to NOT pay other than the 40-lari taxi basefare, please ensure you made it clear with the driver to NOT drop you off at your hotel/hostels, otherwise he’ll ask for your hotel address and drop you off there with an additional fee–I paid 2,000 AMD (4.20 USD) in this regard. Please also note that the driver doesn’t speak English much.
RECOMMENDED PACKAGE TOURS
I hope that you find this CROSSING THE BORDER FROM GEORGIA TO ARMENIA blog useful!
In case you’re also looking for package tours to simply jumpstart your actual itinerary, I highly recommend booking tours through Viator which is perfect for your Armenian itinerary. See tours and packages I personally handpicked for you:
- Group Tour: Lake Sevan, Sevanavank, Dilijan old town, Goshavank, Haghartsin
- Private 9-hour Echmiadzin, Zvartnots, Garni and Geghard trip from Yerevan
- Armenia Group tour: Tatev Monastery, Carahunge, Shaki, Hin Areni winery (Lunch)
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.
- Hotel / Hostel
- Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.
Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.
- Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms in either Tbilisi or Yerevan! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!
Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.
- KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.
I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.
- Yerevan Package tours
- Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.
Click here to find the best Viator deals in Yerevan!
- Travel Insurance
- World Nomads. If you don’t have travel insurance when times get tough, basically you are screwed. Traveling always comes with inherent risks attached. Whether you are trekking in the Armenian mountains or wandering the streets of Yerevan, unforeseen events can suddenly upend your world. Generally speaking, travel insurance covers you for the following: Medical Costs – hospital visits, emergencies, evacuations; Property Loss – luggage and their contents; Travel Issues – accommodation and transportation expenses. Thus, I highly recommend you guys getting a travel insurance. I bought one from the World Nomads (available in 130+ countries) where most travelers get their travel insurances.
Go to this link to get to your World Nomads travel insurance.