Iraqi Kurdistan is a relatively easy place to visit for many nationalities in terms of obtaining a visa. Here’s a breakdown of the visa situation depending on your citizenship or the country of the passport you travel with:
United States – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
United Kingdom – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
European Union – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
Australia – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
New Zealand – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
Japan – free 15-day visa upon arrival (by land or air)
Other nationalities – In theory, nationalities not listed above are required to obtain their Iraqi Kurdistan visas from an Iraqi Embassy or Consulate before traveling to this region. However, there have been travelers from countries not listed above who have received a visa at the border crossing with Turkey. An email to the closest Iraqi Embassy or Consulate should provide you with an answer as to whether or not this is possible for your particular nationality.
Do You Need To Visit The Directorate Of Residence?
Once you enter Iraqi Kurdistan, there is some confusion as to whether or not travelers must pay a visit to the Directorate of Residence at some point during their stay in order to register with the government. Officially, a visit is necessary if you intend to stay for more than 10 days. This requires running around from office to office within the Directorate of Residence, paying a fee of around $20 USD and receiving a couple of extra stamps in your passport, but again, it is required if you want to stay for more than 10 days.
Also, if you wish to obtain a visa extension (which is not always granted), you will have to make a trip to the Directorate of Residence in either Erbil or Sulamaniyah. Make sure you arrive early as these offices get extremely crowded and the process can sometimes take hours.
For a detailed account of the steps needed to take during a visit to the Directorate of Residence, read my post “Visiting the Directorate of Residence in Kurdistan“.