International staff in KR-I

Updated September 2015

Many citizens including those of the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Canada and many EU countries do not require a visa in advance to visit Iraqi Kurdistan. Countries which require visas (and a more comprehensive list of those which don’t) can be found by following this link: .

For those not requiring a visa, on arrival by either the overland crossing from Turkey or by flight into Erbil or Sulaymaniyah, a 15 day entry stamp will be issued for free in your passport. For intended stays longer than 15 days there are various visa/residency options, with the following requirements (see below). For those countries requiring a visa, visa application procedures are available on the KRG Directorate of Residency website ( )

1 month residency (if your organization is already registered in the KR-I)
1.    A support letter from the organization (see note 1)
2.    License of organization from the KRG NGO office (NGO registration certificate from Dept. of NGOs)
3.    Administrative order from KRG NGO office (another document from the Dept. of NGOs issued when the organization is registered)
 If your organization is not yet registered then it is possible to follow the above procedure through a partner organization that is registered here. Alternatively, for stays longer than 15 days you can be issued an exit visa upon presentation of a valid flight ticket leaving the KR-I which will allow you an extended stay. The length of this extension is at their discretion but is normally the best option if only overstaying your tourist visa by a few days.

 3 month residency
1.    A support letter from the organization
2.    License of the organization from the KRG NGO office (NGO registration certificate from Dept. of NGOs)
3.    Administrative order from KRG NGO office (another document from the Dept. of NGOs issued when the organization is registered)
4.    Confirmation of residency from local Mukhtar (community leader) (see note 3)
5.    Blood Test Results (see note 2)
6 months / 1 year residency
1.    A support letter from the organization (see note 1)
2.    License of the organization from the KRG NGO office (NGO registration certificate from Dept. of NGOs)
3.    Administrative order from KRG NGO office (another document from the Dept. of NGOs issued when the organization is registered)
4.    Confirmation of residency from local Mukhtar (community leader) (see note 3)
5.    Blood Test Results (see note 2)
6.    Employment contract
7.    Authorization letter (giving you authorization to proceed with the process on behalf of the organization in question)

Letter JCCC on Visa, Residency and Registration Regulations in the KRI

Please find the letter of the Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCCC) on visa, residency and registration regulations here (original) or here (English translation).

1.    Support letter – (“We at xx organization support yy’s application for residency in the KR-I”)
2.    Blood tests – The test will check for the following: HIV, HCV Antibody, HBs Antigen, Malaria and Bilharzia first you must go to the residency office with a color copy of the picture page of your passport and one passport-sized photo. Take this to Office 21 in the main courtyard on the ground floor and they will give you a paper to take to the hospital to authorize your blood test. The blood test can be taken at the Hawler Teaching Hospital (Safeen, Arbil  36.199296, 44.019706)in Shorish District, located on the street between Jalil Khayat Mosque and Royal Mall to the North and the taxi garage for Duhok/Soran to the south. The test costs 31 500 IQD and results are available for collection after two working days from office 21 at the residency office.
3.    Mukhtars – each local district is governed by a Mukhtar from whom you must obtain a document proving your place of residence. You will require a passport photo and proof of location of residence. Finding the Mukhtar in your area will simply involve asking local residents / neighbors.
4.    Languages – requirements are unclear but documentation in both Arabic and Kurdish is accepted.
5.    Costs – Blood test – 31 500 IQD; Residency card printing – 8000 IQD; Other small charges are sometimes incurred during the process, but nothing significant. Late fees also apply for those who overstay a tourist visa while going through the process of gaining residency.
6.    Exit visas – If you are visiting the KR-I for short periods and only want to come and go on tourist visas, it is unadvisable to overstay the 15 day visa. Obtaining more than two exit visas is inadvisable.

7.    Location of residency office - Location: The residency office is located on 100m Road, opposite Empire City and Dream City and next to the Jouhayna Hotel and Korek main office building. (see below maps)
The Erbil residency office itself is not easy to navigate and it is advised to send / go with a Kurdish speaker where possible. The person getting residency is only required to be present for a photo and thumb print to be taken. The specific offices relevant to international NGO personnel registration are:
•    Office number 33 – for blood test documentation. Off the outdoor courtyard on the ground floor in a small hut.  Immediately opposite you as you walk out from the security check.
•    Office number 4 - office for dealing with all ‘Organisation’ applications (NGOs, universities etc.) On the second floor next to the Director’s office (office number 1).
•    Office number 15 – office for foreigners from USA, Canada, Europe (if trying to get an exit visa (extension on tourist visa) but not registered as employed with an organization in KR-I. On the first floor. For people from Africa and Asia go to office numbers 41 & 42. For people from Turkey, go to office 26; Arab countries 27 and Iran 28 – all on basement floor.
•    Office number 29 and 55  – office for payment of visa charges / late fees (in the basement)
•    Office number 12 – on top floor, place to collect residency cards when completed.
The residency offices can also be visited in Sulimaniyah and Duhok. The site for the Sulimaniyah office can be found below:



International staff in Iraq

Updated December 2014

NGO international staff can apply for visa:

1) From outside the country: Through one of the Iraqi Embassies abroad, as Ambassadors have the authority to grant a visit visa. This works on irregular/ad-hoc bases especially if you still do not have operations inside Iraq.
2) From inside the country: Through the NGO Directorate and Residency Department.  This works when you start operations inside Iraq.

Applying for visa from inside the country:

General requirements:

- NGOs first need to gain a registration certificate from the NGO Directorate according to the NGO Law No. 12 of 2010 to allow it to operate inside Iraq.
- You need an Iraqi sponsor (national staff or consultant) authorized in written to represent your NGO in both the NGO Directorate and the Residency Department.
- All applications and communication are in Arabic.
- Colored copies of passports and passport sized photos will be needed.  
- International staff members' passports can not have an Israeli stamp and need to be valid for at least 6 months.
- You can apply for a visit visa, which is valid for three months. This works for HQ visitors, consultants, etc.  
- You can apply for a multiple entry visa which is valid for three months in which your staff member can come in and out of the country multiple times.  
- Currently 6 months – 1 year residencies are almost not possible to secure for NGO workers.
- All applications needs to be signed by the HoM/CD holder of PoA or a legal written authorization must be given to another staff member.

Visa Process:

NGO Directorate

- A visa application letter request needs to be submitted first to the NGO Directorate using an NGO format letter, signed by the CD/HoM and stamped. Please find the template here.
- Info includes: Name, Passport number, Nationality, Address outside and inside Iraq, and Entry Point (name of airport) with passport copy.
- For new staff/arrivals you need to submit another letter to update the staff member info in the NGO directorate, this is done only once for every new staff member.
- The NGO Directorate internal procedures take maximum 10 working days.
- The NGO directorate official letter to the Residency Office takes maximum 5 working days.

Residency Office

- Your sponsor will prepare 4 files for each application including his/her national ID cards (Iraqi 4 official cards) and photo, expat passport copy and photo, registration letter, and sponsor authorization letter (annex 2) and Visa Application Form (annex 3).
- Your sponsor will visit the Residency Office and check in the mail office in the Internationals or Arabs section for the NGO Directorate letter.
- Then s/he will follow the internal procedures that can take 1 to 3 working days. Sponsor will sign assurance letter taking responsibility - along with the NGO - over the expat while in country.  S/he will be issued a card for interviews.
- Sponsor on behalf of the expat will have two interviews with the National Intelligence and the National Information Agency (both have offices at the Residency department).  Any of the two agencies could stop the visa process for security reasons.
- After the interviews receiving the Visit Visa usually take maximum 10 days, Multiple Entry Visas will take maximum 15 days. Meanwhile the sponsor will visit the office to follow up on the approval and get the approval letter when finished.
- Copies of the official letter will be sent  through mail to inform the entry points (will take 2-3 days for Baghdad Airport, and 7 days for Basra or Najaf airports)
- Sponsor will send copy of the approval letter to the expat, expat needs to carry a copy of the letter with him. A visa sticker will also be stamped on the passport upon arrival at the airport.
- Expat will pay 82 USD at the airport for a visit visa and 202 USD for a multiple entry visa.
Notes: a new procedure was noticed recently in which airline companies do not accept the visa approval letter alone and require obtaining the visa sticker at the Iraqi Embassy ahead of travelling. This issue was faced recently with Dubai and Turkish airlines. This will cause 10 days delay until the residency and entry points are informed by the visa issuance from the Embassy.

After arrival:

- Sponsor on behalf of expat will need to visit Residency Office within 10 days of arrival to apply for single/multiple exit visa stamp which will allow the expat to travel out of the country. Original passport will be needed for a day or two to do that.
- Sponsor will request a letter for blood tests. Expats can do the blood test in Rusafa Side, in the Blood Center in Allwiya (Karada area) or in Karkh side, in the Blood Center in Salahiya area.