Why Are Visas so Expensive for UK / US Citizens?

If you’re a British or American passport holder, you probably (and justifiably) feel somewhat aggrieved by the extortionate cost of visas when you visit other countries. I certainly do.

For example, a Chinese tourist visa costs £30 if you’re British, £90 if you’re American, and £20 if you’re pretty much from anywhere else in the world. The cheapest Indian tourist visa available costs between £12.20 and £42.20 depending upon where you’re from, unless of course you happen to be British or American. Americans can expect to pay £57.20 while UK nationals have to fork out a much bigger £92.20.

Why are visas so expensive for UK and American passport holders?

Presumably it is something to do with reciprocal arrangements. Something along the lines of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your’s. Unfortunately both the US (particularly) and the UK have strict, often expensive immigration laws. An Indian, for example, can expect to pay around £80 for a tourist visa to the UK and will have to jump through hoops to obtain it. It took me a while to even find that information among the wealth of hoops on the UK visa page. To me, this just isn’t fair.

In 2001, there were 60,711 Polish-born individuals living in the UK. After the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, there are now 579,000 Polish-born individuals living in the UK. This number increases to 850,000 if you consider ethnic Poles who hold British passports. I think this is brilliant. This represents free movement and an ability not only to travel where you want, but also to live where you want. As we strive for freedom in the world, it can only be achieved when we take down our borders and allow free movement across the world. I like to travel, so I am biased. I do not like to hand over much of the little money I carry each time I cross into a new country.

I am not alone in my desire to explore the world. I recently talked of why Americans don’t travel abroad, but this is changing. In the future, I hope for it to be easier for everyone.

No BordersCould the world work without borders?

One day, yes, I believe so. Or I hope that it will. The EU is the perfect example of free movement. There are many financial problems, but in general, cultures are integrating with one another. There are countries that will take longer than others to open, but as time progress, in general, we are becoming more open to one another. Could you ever imagine the US border being opened to Mexicans?

Ronald Reagan once said, “A nation without borders is not a nation.”

I feel that this view is outdated. Our birthright should not entitle us to rights over others. In the meantime, I guess that I’ll have to put up with my expensive visa fees and just have to get on with what I do. Why? I really don’t know.

Migration of humans has occurred since the beginning of our species. We can only fight it for so long.

By | 2013-12-13T02:33:49+00:00 May 28th, 2013|Thoughts and Inspiration|21 Comments


  1. Michelle Eby 15/06/2018 at 05:27 - Reply

    The problem with totally free movement between nations is that people from countries with bad governments can and will take advantage of people in nations with good governments.

    To give a very on-point example, when I was living in China a few years back, Chinese people didn’t trust that the baby formula sold in Mainland China was safe (which was a somewhat justified paranoia). But the baby formula produced in Hong Kong was trustworthy, so there were swarms of Mainland Chinese people going into Hong Kong and buying out all the baby formula, and the only thing that held them at all in check was that it was difficult for Mainland Chinese people to get visas, in addition to putting a limit on how much individual people could buy.

    This isn’t to put blame on the Mainland people for trying to provide safe formula for their babies, but it does make the point that every country has limited resources, and before there can be free movement, countries with dysfunctional governments have to get their acts together. A tiny island like Hong Kong can’t support 1.4 billion people, and even a big country like the United States can’t support the whole world (or even all of Latin America), much as we’d like to help. As idealistic as a borderless world sounds, we have a very long way to go before that can be a possibility.

    • Jamie 29/07/2018 at 17:38 - Reply

      I agree that it would be absolute chaos and near logistically impossible due to the inherent selfishness of people, but in the words of a certain singer, ‘Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too
      Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will be as one.’ 🙂

  2. Jeremiah 02/09/2016 at 06:36 - Reply

    Well it’s £600 for a visa to visit the UK and at least an additional £6,000 in your bank account. UK and USA passport holders have it the easiest. A group of us have petitioned our government to charge the same amount of money the UK does for it’s nationals trying to come to our country. It is catching ground because our country doesn’t rely heavily on tourism

    • Jamie 03/09/2016 at 10:09 - Reply

      One day I hope for free movement of people across the globe.

  3. Surprise 25/07/2015 at 12:30 - Reply

    Mmmm, I find it extremely expensive to get a visa to live in the UK. The irony is that my great-great grandfather was British…

  4. Barb 24/01/2015 at 20:57 - Reply

    I’m going to India for a 10 day fully escorted holiday. The visa has cost £102.40. The holiday is costing £1200. I can’t believe the high cost of the visa. Apparently if you hold a British passport you are not able to get a visa on arrival. Which I can only asume is cheaper. Needless to say this will be my one and only visit to India.

    • Micky 30/01/2017 at 14:12 - Reply

      Sorry mate, your response is so naive.

      Do you know how costly the british visa’s are ?

      I have lived and worked in this country for over 6 years now (all professional jobs, earn over 60k and pay taxes in full) and do you know how much i would have spent on VISA’s till date ?????
      5500 GBP (around 4000 until now and another another 1500 – 2000 GBP this year once again).

      And my wife is with me for the past 3 years, so my wife to live in this country until mid of 2018 with me we have already spent 3200.

      And i had a baby in two years back and i have spent another 3200 for the baby to live with me until mid of 2018.

      Can you see the costs ?????

      And on top of it, it is almost impossible to bring in my parents to this country (Visa is likely to get rejected because my mom atleast doesnt have anything to show like properties back in my home country as a proof during the application – if you ask me why should one submit these during visa application, please speak to home office, i dont want to write a lengthy explanation on why Home office needs these).

      NOW CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN THE COSTS TO ME ? [And special thanks to conservatives for all these].

      • Jamie 01/02/2017 at 01:20 - Reply

        Ironically the cost of a UK visa (for my American girlfriend) is one of the reasons I left the UK! Our recent intended application would have cost over £3,000 to apply and if we got rejected, we would simply lose the money and my girlfriend would not be able to enter the UK easily for ‘an undefined period of time’. Thus we now live in Malta.

  5. C.T 26/04/2014 at 09:50 - Reply

    So over India….£600 before you even start….so filthy!

    • Jay 12/02/2017 at 21:40 - Reply

      I have visa free travel to Britain. But even if its free monetarily, it’s too costly to go to a soulless dump like Britain.

  6. Phil 10/10/2013 at 15:41 - Reply

    India now charges the same as Uk for a tourist visa.
    However, an Indian tourist visa to the Uk has access to some of the best medical care in the world for free. A police system that works and a non corrupt judicial system. You can eat at restaurants without having to worry about parasites, and the tap water is drinkable.

    It is common for Indian hospitals to have blood on the floor, a police and judicial system based on bribery. I have been threatened with assault by Indian police, a US citizen was assaulted and told to be quiet about it.

    Western female tourists have to be extra careful of Indian men, all tourists face risk of disease and parasites.

    So, it stands to reason that a tourist visa for Indian visitors to the UK should cost more, as it does for the Indian tourist to visit all countries in the west.

    I’ll also add that there are thousands of Indians who have been granted residence in the UK, together with all the benefits of living in he UK, the NHS, free housing.

    I’d urge British tourists to take their hard earned money to a safer and friendlier country. Thai Land for example.

    • Jamie 26/10/2013 at 15:23 - Reply

      I understand why it might vary in regard to what you receive for your money, such as health care / water / police, but my quibbles are with the fact that different nationalities are charged different prices when they get exactly the same benefits or lack thereof. While the EU has many problems, I am a great supported of the free movement that it promotes and advocate that this free movement should be extended across the world. One world, no borders. Could it work? I believe yes, but not until acceptance across the world has allowed us to do this. It will not happen in my lifetime, but I have hope for the future. In the meantime, I feel that it would be fairer for everyone to be treated in a similar way, regardless of our nationalities because that is something that we have no control over.

    • Jay 12/02/2017 at 21:36 - Reply

      Just for the record, I have visited your Britain. Its a soulless dump, and people like yourself only further reenforce that reputation. Lets not get into you tasteless food (food that I wouldn’t even give to an animal), heavy congestion, and the fact that it’s an overpriced sh*thole. Not sure why you feel the need for a drawn out comparison between a developed country like Britain to India. It would be more fair to compare India to what it once was (a barbaric dictatorship run by your savage ancestors). No kidding India’s got room for improvement, but despite all that, India is FAR more prosperous, wealthy and stable than that useless shithole called the British Raj, that your savage ancestors had set up. Everywhere in the world that you westerners infest, there’s an epidemic of genocide, rape, oppression, slavery, forced conversions, smallpox blankets, civil wars, mass shootings, lynchings, Crusades, nuclear bombings, shit and piss fetish, etc.? If you savages ever go back to your old ways, your tiny little island will be nuked out of existence LOL. The world can’t wait until you goras go extinct ahah. I’d also urge tourists to stay from this toxic dump called Britain, and indeed pick a safer and friendlier country ie Thailand 🙂

      • Jamie 16/02/2017 at 02:15 - Reply

        I think my point here has been misunderstood. I was trying to make the point that visas for UK citizens are more expensive because of the high cost of visas into the UK. I find British border policy to be highly offensive and the staff to be extremely unreasonable. I date a non British citizen and we get held for multiple hours every time we enter the UK, and this is part of the reason why we have not tried to live there. If it was different (fairer, more reasonable) then it would be an option we would consider. Either way, every country has their positives and negatives and as much as I feel upset at the UK’s immigration policy, its horrendous decision to vote BREXIT, and many other things, I think we should not call it a toxic dump, but try to focus on the good in the world – only that way can we make progress. I do not want to live in the UK, but there are 64M people who do.

        • Jay 17/02/2017 at 02:57 - Reply

          Hi friend, my comment wasn’t directed at you. Rather it was written in response to Phil’s racist post. I should have been more clear.

  7. Jack Cosson 07/10/2013 at 13:23 - Reply

    I am a british citizen but live in Spain. The Indian Embassy in Madrid want to charge me 190 euros for a 6 month tourist visa for India!!! Is this normal?

    Thank you

    • Jamie 09/10/2013 at 08:07 - Reply

      Try contacting the Indian embassy in the UK, then compare.

  8. Uk 04/06/2013 at 20:59 - Reply

    a shortest term tourist visa to UK costs 80 pounds. is that expensive?

    • Jamie 09/06/2013 at 14:44 - Reply

      It’s all about perspective, but I would say that £80 is expensive for a visa.

  9. Andrew 31/05/2013 at 08:35 - Reply

    Hi Jamie, I totally agree. I don’t think where you were born should define where you are allowed to go in the world. One of the main problems in the UK is all the scare-mongering that goes on in the media (saying that the UK lets in too many people), then the public who will believe what they read and carry on the complaints. In a perfect world there would be no problems moving through different countries, no costs, no hoops to jump through, etc. Oh well, we can only hope…

    • Jamie 31/05/2013 at 08:48 - Reply

      I very much like that perfect world that you propose. I grew up in a very rural part of the country and saw first hand how opposed people are to integration from other cultures / nations. The media is responsible for many problems but with the spread of the internet, we are gaining freedom of information and getting a better of view of the world. It will take a long time, but things are changing and in the meantime, like you, I’ll keep hoping.

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