Overstaying your visa in Armenia can be a nightmare…or not? When traveling in this country, I felt as if the Soviet times weren’t that far away just yet. (At least the uniforms of the police and military made me think so. Call me superficial as much as you want, they look like they’ve seen a good chunk of the seventies in the passing!) For sure, I didn’t want to get into trouble with the local law. (I even heard some scary stories about the modern version of KGB pulling out people’s nails…I didn’t quite believe them, but hey, my nails have already suffered damage enough so I’d like to keep them as they are.)
Although I didn’t need a visa for myself, my husband got a 21 days permit sorted out at the border on arrival and we were good to go. We didn’t overstay the Armenian visa on purpose – we just stupidly mixed up the dates, as it happens. Facepalm, I know.
What happens if I overstay my Armenian visa?
Believe me, I am usually pretty good at keeping track of dates, flights, and visa restrictions; thanks to my Slovak passport reeking of white EU fancy-schmancy privilege, I usually don’t run into much trouble regarding visa applications and such. Having realized one sunny morning that we are already one day behind, while we were lazily thinking we still have a day to go, came as a shock, especially when a quick google search revealed that we can be easily fined with 150 to 250 $ fine. That’s like, our food budget for a month! Or a new pair of hiking shoes F needed so badly. Armenia can also ban you to enter the country for a whole year if you overstay their visa.
We panicked for a bit, argued about whose fault it was, packed up, but instead of rushing to the bus station, our hitchhiker selves prevailed – first of all, we don’t know where to take a bus in Yerevan, second, many times hitching a ride is actually the fastest option.
A few hours, four or five rides and a creepy sleazy driver later, we were mustering the most humble and regretful faces we could at the border.
We passed our passports on to the officer who checked the dates and pointed out the obvious. He then called a higher rank officer who called another one and so on. In the end, one of them grimly showed us the poster with fines clearly stated. We bowed our heads, declaring it was all our fault and how stupid a mistake it was. We find that the honest “Mea maxima culpa” approach usually works the best…unless it doesn’t.
“You have to pay the penalty,” the officer solemnly declared in Russian, his immaculate white shirt reflecting the LED light of the station.
“It’s 150 dollars.”
A moment of heavy silence was enough to make us feel small and insignificant. And poor.
Two of the officers laughed at an insider joke, unphased.
“But we will forgive you this time since it was the officers’ birthday yesterday. You are lucky!”
We breathed out, relieved, as the officer wrote a note on the computer.
They stamped us out, reminded us not to ever break the Armenian law again and said they wouldn’t bother to prohibit F to enter the country in the future. The border officer shook his finger at us and we were free to go.
Phew! Dear Armenian police force and border officials, I promise I won’t ever make fun of your uniforms again. Thanks for the benevolence!
Have you ever overstayed your visa? Did you face any trouble? Tell me all the horrible details in the comments!
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Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Georgia.
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