Iraq Visa on Arrival is part of the Iraq Homecoming Trip Report.
“Welcome to Iraq,” a passenger sarcastically said after the exit door and plane were not aligned correctly, forcing us to wait on board while the geometry was sorted out.
After a walk to the passport control, I was handed a misaligned visa-on-arrival form created using a copy machine. I was told to go back to the waiting area and fill out the form. I filled it out hastily so as to avoid the queue of other foreigners. I then saw a random guy in uniform standing near a sign that said visa-on-arrival. He was not behind a desk or a counter. He was just standing there. I handed him the form along with my passport. Then I was told to sit down. Each person filled out the form and handed his passport to the same person. Then he disappeared with our freedom.
I observed and wondered what other people were doing Iraq. I thought maybe someone else was having a homecoming (see Iraqi Homecoming Trip Report: An Introduction). Maybe these were fellow family members.
An hour later, the same random man returned and called each person’s name and shouted how much money each of us owed. One by one, people went up to the man and paid him with cash in exchange for our passports. It didn’t matter who submitted the form first. What mattered was having exact change. My guide told me only to bring 100s because most places will not accept bills in small denominations. I would suggest some change for situations like this. The visa cost was $77. I only had crisp Benjamins, forcing me to wait until everyone else had paid to receive $23.
Change in hand, I went back to the immigration counter, had my passport stamped, and proceeded to exit.
“Welcome to Iraq,” indeed.
Visas are usually a problem for me. I am bad about sending the app ahead of time, I gloss over the rules, or I sloppily fill out the forms. Judging by the informal approach at Baghdad customs, I have concluded that culturally I am predisposed to such disorganization.