BEFORE YOU GO
As with any trip abroad, it is important to make sure that you have all of the things that you won’t kick yourself for not considering previously. For example, do I have the correct adapter to be able to charge my phone when I get there? The big plug question is answered below and in easy to understand terms.
The timeline for organising your trip is also very important. Make sure you give yourself a minimum of one month in advance to plan.
- Travel Insurance – I have a general yearly travel insurance that covers ‘world destinations’ – this cost £25 for the year, and will cover me on all of the basics, lost luggage, delayed flights etc. One thing to consider when travelling to Azerbaijan is that the country is not currently part of the European Union. This means that you cannot use your EH card – make sure that you have an insurance that covers all illness requirements especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- Passport Validity – Your passport must be at least 6 months in date to the END of your stay in Azerbaijan. There are a couple of websites that say that you will only require 3 months validity, however this is not the case – the visa centre in the UK will not begin to process your visa without this validity being in place.
- Booking your Hotel & Flights – You will need to book your hotel stay before being able to complete your UK visa application. If you are concerned about this, many hotels in Azerbaijan will offer an option of a full refund on cancellation. Turkish Airlines and Azal Airline also offer various cancellation refund flights. Book your flights to and from Heydar Aliyev International airport.
- Invitation to travel – This is no longer required to travel from the UK to Azerbaijan, as from this year (2017) online applications have replaced long processes of visa entry.
- Visa From United Kingdom (London) – You will have to be in receipt of a valid visa to travel to Azerbaijan before you travel, otherwise you will be denied entrance into the country. A standard tourism visa will cost c. £30 ($65) and is valid for up to 30 days, including the days of travel to and from the country. You can apply online, or in person at the Visa Centre. The application takes up to 3 business days, unless you pay for an urgent visa ($120) which will be processed within 3 hours.
For an application, as standard, you are expected to provide:
- a scanned image of a valid passport, showing that you are a British Citizen, valid for a minimum of 6 moths on return from Azerbaijan (If you are not a British citizen, you will need to apply in the Visa Centre and will be asked for further proof of identification)
- a completed application form
– You can complete your application via the visa centre website: https://evisaaz.com – you will need to upload your passport document to your application and complete the personal information questions posed to you. The full service takes a minimum of 3 working days.
Visa Centre Application
– You can complete an application through the visa centre, by printing a copy of the application and taking it to the visa centre with the required ID.
The Visa centre is open from 9am – 12pm Monday to Friday for walk-in’s, excluding Azerbaijani and British bank holidays. It is located at:
Azerbaijan Visa Centre
19 New College Parade
London NW3 5EP
Be aware that some secondary tourist sites will imply that the visa process is difficult and will offer their service in completing it on your behalf for a fee. The visa process is very simple using the visa website, and this service is really not necessary – especially as sometimes you will be charged up to $60 on top of your visa fee.
- Money – You are unlikely to be able to get Manat, the national currency of Azerbaijan in the UK. However, US Dollars are traded in Azerbaijan, and it is easy to change dollars to Manat in the main cities of Azerbaijan. We recommend taking dollars with you to pay for your cab journey to the centre of Baku from the airport. There is also a place to exchange your dollars to Manat in the airport.
- Plugs – The plug sockets used in Azerbaijan are European standard 2 pronged plugs.
- Bank – Remember to tell your bank that you are travelling to Azerbaijan, to avoid any card cancellations.
- Phone – Your phone will be able to jump onto the main Azerbaijan network in Baku, however, be aware that calls will be very expensive. A week trip with 2 or 3 short conversations and minimal text messages ended up costing around £50. Most hotels and restaurants will offer free wifi, if you have a smartphone, take advantage of this on all occasions.
- Health – Medical facilities with Baku are good however, if you travel outside of Baku it is recommended that you carry a comprehensive first aid kit. Make sure your insurance covers this. It is also recommended that you speak to your GP more than 8 weeks before travelling to Baku to make sure that you are in good health and will not require any jabs for your trip.
See the Boulevard Hotel Postcard & Hotel Inn Postcard, both are very central locations with brilliant customer service.