How to apply for visa is a question often asked and searched all over the internet. Different countries have different tourist visa policies and requirements for citizens of different countries. Thus, it is hard to provide country-specific tips and instructions for all the countries of the world. But, here are some common requirements that you will need for most of the countries.

NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list. Hence, some countries can and do demand additional documents beyond what’s mentioned here. Contact the embassy/consulate for the respective tourist visa applications

How to apply for visa: The 7 common requirements (CR7)

1. Valid Passport

A valid passport with at least two blank pages is required for the visa stamp.

2. Passport size photos

The embassy will specify the required number of passport size photos, photo size and background colour.

3. Proof of onward travel

One of the queries that follow the oft-asked how to apply for visa is ‘what is onward travel?’.

Onward Travel: Leaving a country and travelling ONWARD to another country or back to your own country

The bummer of the pack. You have to show them proof of onward travel in the form of a confirmed ticket into and out of the country. This ticket shows them that you don’t plan on settling down in the country and will leave after your travels are done. The annoying part is the cancellation process and loss of money if the visa is not approved.

Tips and Tricks for proof of onward travel

4. Hotel Bookings

You will have to provide hotel reservations. This is fine with people who follow a well-curated fixed plan. For the rest of us free souls this is a hassle. But worry not companero, you can use Booking to reserve fully refundable rooms.

Tips and tricks to make hotel bookings

5. Itinerary

A detailed itinerary of your trip. Might ask for it in Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil) or another local language if elsewhere in the world. But, you don’t have to stick to the itinerary you provide. Hence, you can create a random itinerary.

But a couple of things to keep in mind:
(i) Your hotel reservations MUST match your itinerary,
(ii) Your visa duration, number of days your visa is valid for, MAY depend on your itinerary
(iii) Your visa start date MAY depend on your itinerary

Contact me via email for a detailed itinerary for any South or Central American country in English, Spanish or Portuguese

6. Financial Proof

You will have to present bank account statements showing a minimum amount of money. The minimum amount that you need to show varies from country to country. Usually, the visa application states the minimum expected money in terms of Number of days X Cost per day. For example, if you are spending 20 days in Brazil then you will have to show at least US$ 1,000 in your account (US$ 50 per day X 20 days).

7. Letter to the Embassy Counselor

Some embassies require you to write a letter describing your purpose of the trip and some trip details. I usually write the purpose, duration and dates of the trip and mention about the itinerary, so the reader can check the itinerary for further information. The embassy might ask you to write the letter in Spanish or another local language. I used Google Translate to write the letter and it always worked.
NOTE: Your visa duration MAY depend on the embassy counsellor. So, make sure to mention in your letter how many days you wish to stay in the country and mention the precise dates you wish to be in the country as well.


Bolivia and Brasil ask for Yellow Fever vaccinations. Ecuador and Colombia don’t. But, if you plan to travel to the Amazon region of Ecuador or Colombia then you will have to show a proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.

How to save money on visa applications