Businesses that operate in multiple countries and those that have relationships with companies based abroad frequently need to arrange international trips for their representatives. These can range from regular visits to a one-off journey to close an important deal. It is essential to have the correct travel authorization to make business travel as smooth as possible.
Some countries issue business visas specifically for foreign nationals visiting their shores for this purpose.
However, the visa or travel authorization required by a business traveler can vary depending on the country they are visiting, the country they come from, and the objectives of their visit.
For this reason, it is of vital importance that companies consult worldwide visa information and check business visa requirements before sending employees on an international trip.
Types of Visas for Business Trips
Visa requirements for business travelers vary from country to country.
Many sovereign states have a special business visa. Some countries may have an online system that allows companies to obtain visas for their representatives via the internet, while others will insist that they visit an overseas diplomatic mission (such as an embassy) to apply.
Certain countries have electronic visas (eVisas) and/or electronic travel authorizations (ETAs) for short stays that cover business trips in addition to tourism. These can be acquired by completing an online application form.
However, in most cases, eVisas and ETAs are only available for travelers from specific eligible countries. For example, Australian passport holders may apply for a Canadian eTA for a business trip, while South African nationals must apply for a business visa at a Canadian embassy instead.
Electronic visas and travel authorizations for some countries permit the holder to make multiple entries, which is ideal for business travelers who have to make regular visits to an office or partner company in that state. Other countries have separate multi-entry visas available.
However, a number of countries require that foreign nationals apply for a new visa for each visit.
Things that Affect Business Visa Requirements
There are a number of factors that decide which type of visa a traveler needs for a business trip to a particular country.
Firstly, the visa policy of the destination country should be consulted. Different countries have different visas available for different purposes.
The business nature of a visit could mean that an all-purpose eVisa is sufficient to enter one country, while a business eVisa is required to enter another, and a consular business visa from an embassy is needed to visit a third country.
The relationship between countries is an important factor—in particular, the relationship between the destination state and the business visitor’s country of origin can affect whether or not they are eligible for an online visa or ETA.
Countries with close relationships tend to make travel easier for their respective citizens. Some, such as the US and Canada, have mutual agreements to ensure that their citizens do not require a visa at all for short visits.
In many cases, nationals of sovereign states that have good relations with their destination country will be eligible to apply for either an eVisa or an electronic travel authorization for stays of a certain duration, avoiding the need to go to an embassy.
The length of time the traveler intends to spend in the country is another factor. In general, eVisas and ETAs have a time limit, which can vary from a number of weeks to a number of months.
Business visits usually fall within the allotted time period. However, longer business trips will require the foreign national to apply for a consular business visa. This should be applied for well in advance as embassies take longer to process applications than the online systems.
The bottom line is that there is no universal answer to the question of whether a traveler will need a business visa. It depends on each particular case, and specifically on factors like the individual’s nationality, the country they are traveling to, and the length of time the visit will take.
It is, therefore, necessary to consult global visa information before making a business trip.