March 17, 2015

Operators flying to Venezuela should be aware of changes to that country’s visa policies that went into effect on March 4. Previously, visas were rarely required for U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela, but now visas are required for certain categories of U.S. visitors.

Active Crewmembers: U.S. citizen crewmembers flying in an active-duty function into Venezuela may arrive without a visa and stay up to 72 hours. The crewmembers must be listed on the General Declaration (GenDec), and Venezuelan immigration officials must stamp the GenDec. Crewmembers also must stay at a hotel near their arrival airport, and may not engage in business or tourist activities.

Repositioning Crewmembers: U.S. citizen crewmembers flying into Venezuela in a repositioning or swap function are required to have a visa. The visa requirements, which are the same as those for business travelers, may be found on the Venezuelan Embassy’s website.

Business Travelers: U.S. citizens traveling for business purposes must have a visa, and the requirements for obtaining one are considerable. Tim Bennett, director of corporate relationships at G3 Global Services, LLC, recommends business travelers apply for the visa at least five to 10 business days prior to their intended travel date to allow for processing. However, Bennett cautions that processing times can fluctuate, and he encourages business travelers to apply for a visa three to four weeks in advance of a trip to Venezuela, if possible.

Tourists: Tourists will face the most arduous requirements to obtain a visa. U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela for tourism purposes must appear in person at the Venezuelan consulate closest to their residence. They must undergo a personal interview with Venezuelan consulate personnel and provide considerable documentation regarding their travel plans and intention to return to the U.S. Processing time will vary from one consulate to another.

“Crewmembers and travelers need to be aware this is a very fluid situation,” said Bennett. “We are tracking changes in the requirements and processing times and are receiving updates on this issue daily.”

Companies that specialize in passport and visa processing services, like G3 Global Services, LLC, can often expedite the process, but all travelers should plan for the process to take a considerable amount of time to complete.

“The bottom line is there are going to be significant delays in processing visas,” said Bennett. “The embassies and consulates simply aren’t used to processing so many visas, and they might not be staffed appropriately.”

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas recently reported that airlines have refused to board U.S. citizens who do not possess a valid Venezuelan visa. NBAA recommends that business aircraft operators ask all passengers destined for Venezuela to present their visa before boarding. Operators that fly to Venezuela should also check the Venezuelan Embassy’s website regularly for the most up-to-date information.