By Nigar Orujova
As Baku is getting ready to host the inaugural European Games on June 12-28, the authorities have decided to facilitate the influx of foreign visitors by relaxing its visa regime. Coming to the Land of Fire has never been easier.
Azerbaijan will issue visas under a simplified scheme 10 days prior to the start of the European Games and all throughout the competitions.
Foreigners will be able to obtain a single entry visa for 30 days at all consular departments of the Foreign Ministry, located at international airports, said Hikmet Hajiyev, the spokesman for the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry.
"This is provided in the presidential order "On some measures for the first European games" issued on August 8, which defines the simplified visa procedures for foreigners and stateless persons permanently residing in foreign countries, who will arrive in Azerbaijan in connection with the Games," he added.
"For this it is sufficient to provide an application form for a visa, which can be obtained on the plane or at the airport. A foreigner or stateless person permanently residing abroad must have a passport that is valid for at least three months from the date of return, or identity card. He or she must also submit two photographs (3x4 cm on a white background),” Hajiyev said.
“In addition, it will be sufficient to submit a ticket to Baku 2015 European Games or a printed document confirming the purchase of a ticket. Visa fee must be paid upon arrival at the airport,” he added.
The amount of fees is defined under the law of Azerbaijan "On State Duty" and placed in prominent places at airports with international status. Information on State Duty is also available online as well as at the Ministry and all embassies and consulates of Azerbaijan accredited abroad.
The following airports have international status in Azerbaijan: Heydar Aliyev International Airport, the International Airport in Ganja, Nakhchivan International Airport, Gabala International Airport, the International Airport Zagatala and Lankaran International Airport.
Hajiyev also noted that the simplified procedures are envisaged for the fans wishing to visit Azerbaijan and watch the European Games.
Hajiyev added that foreigners and stateless persons permanently residing abroad, who have been accredited in the prescribed manner, can visit Azerbaijan and leave the country by presenting the passport or other documents for crossing the border and the accreditation card within the period of 60 days before the start of the First European Games and 30 days after their completion.
The scope of persons to be accredited in connection with the First European Games and the form of the accreditation card will be defined in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, he added.
Basically, accreditation is planned for all the athletes who will take part in the European Games and the members of their teams, he said.
The spokesperson said that the process of online visa issuing for tourists wishing to visit Azerbaijan, is being carried out successfully, adding that the increase in the number of tourists applying for e-visa clearly proves this.
A fairly simplified mechanism is applied as well, he added. Thus, a person willing to visit Azerbaijan for tourism can submit all necessary documents to a travel agency and receive an e-visa, given to him based on preferential visa fee.
“Azerbaijan implements the corresponding work to improve the software in an automated inter-management date retrieval system (IAMAS) “Entry-exit and registration” in the context of tourism development for the purpose of the organization of work on processing of visas for foreigners and persons without citizenship at a higher level,” Hajiyev said.
“In addition, detailed statistical analysis in this area is being conducted, embassies and consulates of Azerbaijan are being provided with satellite communication through telecommunication satellite Azerspace-1 in order to improve the exchange of information between the foreign ministry and the diplomatic missions of the country,” he added.
Moreover, the issue of increasing the number of full-time employees of the foreign ministry, as well as embassies and consulates of the country operating in foreign countries is being considered for the rapid processing of visas for all foreigners and persons without citizenship wishing to visit Azerbaijan, Hajiyev concluded.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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