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Visiting Morocco for Indian passport holders

By on Jan 9, 2012 in Travel | 0 comments

I realise I haven’t posted much about my Morocco trip after my first day in Marrakech. All in good time…hopefully. Meanwhile, I wanted to get this quick one out of the way. When I first booked my flights to Morocco in August 2011, one of my biggest concerns was to figure out whether it would be possible for me to get a tourist visa. This turned out to be a major headache for me because I found so many conflicting answers to what visa requirements for Morocco are. I’m making this post in the hopes that it helps any traveller in the future in a similar predicament. I’m an Indian passport holder resident in the UK, so it is possible what I write below is specific to how the embassy here handles procedures or even my specific case. Don’t consider this binding legal advice. Do your own due diligence before applying for a visa; rules change all the time and by the time you come across this, the information below may be out of date. Does Morocco offer visa-free entry / visa-on-arrival? A select list of nationalities do not require to get a visa in advance. Morocco does not offer visa-on-arrival for any nationality, that I know of. What are the requirements for a Morocco visa, according to online sources? The Embassy of Morocco in UK lists the following requirements for filing for a tourist visa: Application form in three pages (downloading) Your original valid passport + copy of the first page with photo+ Copy of your legal status in the UK 02 recent passport size colour photos. Original passport along with copies of the main pages of details and the page of the right of abode in the UK Copy of your detailed provisional flight itinerary. Employment certificate from your employer in the UK. For students, copy of a recent letter confirming that the applicant is attending the school. For business owners, copy of the last Income Tax as substitute of the employment letter, A recommendation letter from your business partner in Morocco for business visa. Hotel provisional reservation or notarized Letter of Invitation from your sponsor in Morocco. For applicants married to Moroccan citizens, a copy of the marriage certificate plus a copy of the Moroccan passport or national ID of the Moroccan spouse can be a substitute for the invitation letter or for the hotel reservation. Proof of travel insurance covering at least the period of trip to Morocco. last three months pay slips or salary attestation (ORIGINALS AND COPIES ) last three months bank statements (ORIGINALS AND COPIES ) Copies of marriage certficate and spouse s pasport . VisaGuru mentions a slightly different set of requirements: Passport (Valid 6 Months on entry) UK residency (Must have been resident in UK for the minimum of 1 year) 3 application forms 4 passport photos Original employer or school/college letter Copy or Original airline tickets Copy or Original hotel confirmation (Hotel confirmation must show paid in full.) Copy or Original itinerary Copy or Original Travel Insurance Copy of the information pages of passport incl. UK residency. Application Fee What is your personal experience applying for a tourist visa for Morocco? What bothered me most was conflicting advice on what supporting evidence was needed for accommodation. Visa HQ said a confirmation was required directly from the hotel, which brings up the question – am I allowed to book via third-party travel booking sites? Does it have to be a ‘hotel’ or will a hostel suffice? VisaGuru (see above) also said it should show hotel booking paid for in full. On the other hand, the Moroccan embassy website mentioned ‘provisional’ confirmation without any clarification on what this ‘provisional’ meant! Contacting the Moroccan embassy in UK was no help as I tried calling them up over a period of a week and yet never once did they answer my call. I ultimately applied for my visa through a visa processing company called CIBT (which has offices in many countries around the world) since they seemed trustworthy. There wasn’t a lot of information forthcoming from ‘official’ sources so I only provided the following documentation, as advised by CIBT: Proof of UK residency: My UK visa. Proof of employment: I am currently on an internship with a UK-based company, but I’m also a registered full-time university student as this internship is part of my degree. I could have asked at either place for this proof (students can substitute ‘proof of employment’ with proof of academic status); I went with my workplace since that would be faster to procure. This is simply a letter on company letterhead according to a template you can download off CIBT’s site. Proof of financial means: Past two bank statements. I had to request paper copies from NatWest specifically since I’ve turned off paper statements. Leave time to obtain this as postal mail can take 4-5 days to deliver. Proof of travel arrangements: Copy of my flight ticket and hostel booking. CIBT advised that booking through a third-party site rather than directly with a hotel was fine, staying at a hostel was fine, and a booking which only showed a downpayment was also fine. Proof of travel insurance: I went for the cheapest travel insurance policy I could find online with the least amount of frills for cheap cost; I went for one from Columbus Direct. I sent these...

Salaam walekum from Marrakech!

By on Dec 27, 2011 in Travel | 3 comments

I almost didn’t catch my flight to Morocco. Christmas Eve was a lonely one for me. My housemates had all gone back home earlier in the week to be with their families. Most friends I know from university were doing the same. Yet, here I was, still having to clock in at work through a week when others I knew didn’t have to. I somehow braved through that feeling of isolation on Friday by going out for Japanese food and cinema – alone, but still kept me occupied. By Saturday, my isolation felt complete. All I had to look forward to was eating a microwave dinner, alone, at home. Fine, I usually eat microwave dinners anyway simply because of their convenience after coming back from work but doing the same on Christmas hurt. I had a meltdown. Or at least I was on the verge of tears. I don’t remember, it’s all a daze. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. All I wanted was to be with people I know and care for. I wanted Maggi noodles. Made by mom. How did I end up in this situation? I keep coming back to this theme time and again – always wondering how different things would be only if I made different choices. Ah…do you see what’s happening here folks? It’s time for the annual “tiny tendrils of guilt” post already! Yayface! Last year, I spent that wondering how different things would be if I hadn’t chosen to go to Singapore. Whether I should have valued some friendships and relationships more than I did. And yet…and yet…if I hadn’t made the choices I did then I wouldn’t have gained from my time in Singapore! Doors close. Doors open. Doors stay slightly-ajar. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUCKING IDEA HOW MUCH PAIN THIS CONFLICT CAUSES??? FUCK!!!! DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE SAY THE WORDS ‘DESTINY’ OR ‘FATE’ TO ME!!! In that daze on Christmas Eve, I looked up flights back to Delhi on Kayak. £600. I’m not hurting for cash this year thanks to my internship and as I fell asleep cold, crying, and hungry (I refused to eat a microwave meal – for the first time – on principle), I vowed to give a serious thought to booking to changing the destination I was flying out to in the morning. You don’t always need a fat Caucasian breaking-and-entering to make a wish come true, I told myself. Sometimes, a NatWest Visa card is enough. And I did. Surprisingly, for some reason, return flights to Delhi leaving on 26th December were cheaper than if I had bought them weeks in advance! I could even use frequent flier points to push down the price even further. I actually started making a booking right down to the payment page. Here I was, about to make a clear choice for one instead of the other. A choice to meet with friends and family I haven’t seen for months, years, eons. I stopped. I’d spent about £250 on my flights and visa for Morocco already. More than that, I went through much hassle to get my visa. Indian passport holders have to go through a lot of shit to get visas issued; I think it’s because of bad karma since getting a visa for India is hard for foreign travellers, Sidin thinks it’s because “our soft power shit is not working“. Whatever. I had to provide a dozen documents to the visa, and even then the visa agency I used for convenience (CIBT, lovely people they are – no seriously, I recommend them!) considered mine would be a touch-and-go case. I felt the Moroccan visa sticker with my fingertips. The grain of paper used for visa stickers differs so much – without being able to lift them off, you can almost gauge the weight of the paper used for each one. Smooth. Matte. Rough. Hologrammed. Watermarked. Signed-upon with a biro. Stamped with UV-reflective ink. Each country’s visa talks, in its own language. On the other hand… Doors close. Doors open. Doors stay slightly-ajar. Screw it, let’s do it! Now if it weren’t for the rest of the blog post that follows – and yeah, the title, perhaps – you’d be left wondering. That line above could swing both ways. *** It’s hard to describe that feeling I get when I land in a new country. It begins with a ritual – The Ritual of packing a backpack that metaphorically contains your whole life. The Ritual is invigorating because it gives you the potential for catharsis. You don’t need to return. You can walk away from it all if you are so inclined, now that you have all you need with you. In that moment you feel naive and empowered enough to flip life itself a middle finger. The Feeling builds when the insides of your stomach jolt from you journey beginning – the kick of a bus engine sparking to life, the recoil of a train starting to move, the landing gear of an airplane losing contact with the ground.  You reach your destination. The Feeling hits you. It’s a pure endorphin rush of your body and mind agreeing this is the place and this is the moment that I want to be in right now. The closest thing I can relate that endorphin rush would be the rush you get after sex. *** The Feeling wasn’t thing the only...