A visa is required. We cannot assist in processing this document, but we provide instructions on how to apply.
All About the Visa for North Korea
North Korea is famously the most closed country in the world, so travelling to the country can be tricky, and you are not permitted to visit independently. What’s more, you will need to apply well in advance and the policies can change unpredictably, so there is no guarantee your trip will stand or that your permit will be issued.
In order to be granted a visa, you must first sign up for a tour. This could be a group tour or a private tour, depending on your preference. All tours must be organised by an authorised tour operator registered with the State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance. Please make sure the agency is duly registered when you enquire about a trip. During your trip, you must not stray from the itinerary, and you must stay with your guide at all times.
Tourism is generally restricted to the region of Pyongyang, although some tours have expanded over the past decade to include a few more areas, such as Chongjin and Rason on the coast. Tours tend to be short, and in most cases they will last less than a week.
- 1 North Korea Visa Policy and Application Process
- 2 North Korea Visa Requirements and Eligibility
- 3 North Korea Visa Application Form and Documents
- 4 North Korea Travel Visa Status Check
- 5 How Much Does a North Korea Visa Cost?
- 6 What Is the Difference Between a Visa VS a Tourist Card?
- 7 More Questions and Information
North Korea Visa Policy and Application Process
The visa application can be facilitated by the tour operator who is organising your trip, or through a company responsible for processing travel documents for foreign visitors.
In any case, you will need to follow these steps:
- Contact an agency and request they process your document.
- Complete the application form.
- Send the application form along with any supporting documents to the agency.
- Wait for your application to be approved by the government.
- The agency will collect the document on your behalf.
- Receive the visa from the agency before your departure.
The visa is not stamped into your passport, but will come as a separate document with your photo and details on it, often referred to as a Tourist Card. It will also show your entry date and port of entry, so be aware that the document will only be valid for entering the country in that location on the specified date.
If you wish, you may also get the visa stamped into your passport upon request. In this case, you will need to visit your nearest Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK) Embassy in person. Please note that this applies only for countries in which there is a DPRK Embassy. If there isn’t one in your country, you won’t be able to apply in this way, and you will need to get the Tourist Card.
For your information, when you arrive and leave the country, your passport will not be stamped if you are travelling with a Tourist Card. However, if your visa is stamped into your passport, then your passport will be stamped, and you must make sure you have at least 2 blank pages for this.
North Korea Visa Requirements and Eligibility
DPRK does not let any South Korean passport holders into the country. If you are a South Korea national, please do not apply for a travel document as it will be rejected.
Moreover, the US government as well as the Malaysian government have imposed restrictions on their citizens when it comes to travel to this country. Therefore, if you are from either the US or Malaysia, you will not be allowed to travel here for tourism. There are limited circumstances in which a visa may be issued to either of these nationalities.
On top of this, professional journalists from any country will not be granted a visa, except for special events or very specific pre-authorised reasons. If you are a photographer or work for the media, you may also encounter issues with being granted a travel permit and you should be especially mindful when you’re there.
No matter if your occupation is related to the media or not, you must be careful when using your phone or camera to take pictures during the trip, or you may be suspected of being a journalist. Only take pictures when specifically authorised or when your guide gives the green light.
Although there are no North Korea visa-free countries for tourism, Chinese nationals are granted access to 2 regions travelling with just their ID card, for a very limited time:
- Tongrim county for 2 days.
- The city of Sinuiju for a day trip.
Diplomatic & Service Passports
The nationalities listed below in possession of a diplomatic or service passport may visit without a visa:
Please be aware that most tours depart from China, which is where you will be handed your Tourist Card. A few tours also depart from Russia, so this could be another option for you.
It’s important you check the visa policies for the country you are departing from, as you may need to also get a visa for this country. China does grant a transit visa for up to 72 hours in the main city hubs of the country.
So long as the trip is well planned and follows all the policies, it’s likely you will gain authorisation to travel.
During your trip
It’s essential you follow the rules and regulations and always listen to your guide. The penalties for breaking any rules can be severe. Each tour follows a strict itinerary with no deviations allowed. Don’t interact with locals unless expressly authorised.
North Korea Visa Application Form and Documents
The good news is, applying for a travel document doesn’t require a huge amount of paperwork to fill out or documents to be sent. There are just 3 essential elements that need to be submitted, these are:
- A completed application form.
- A photocopy of your passport.
- A passport-style photo.
In addition to this, you must make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your return date.
The application form is pretty simple and straightforward. Please find the information you will be asked to provide below.
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Current nationality
- Original nationality
- Passport number
- Passport Issue date
- Passport expiry date
- Both work address and personal address
- Both work email and personal email
- Both work phone number and personal phone number
- Purpose of your visit (e.g. tourism)
- Who is paying for the trip (e.g. yourself)
- Duration of stay
- Entry date
- Departure date
- Name of inviting agency / sponsor
- Details about any previous visits to the country
- Who is accompanying you (if applicable)
- Place and date of application
Along with your application form, you must submit a photo of yourself, following the criteria below.
- Passport size photo measuring 35 mm X 45 mm.
- With a neutral white, light grey or cream background.
- It must have been taken with the last 6 months.
- Clear, in focus and with nothing covering your face (e.g. sunglasses, hats etc).
- Looking straight into the camera with a plain expression.
North Korea Travel Visa Status Check
All travellers planning a trip to this unique Asian destination will need to contract the services of an agency or tour operator. They will be the ones to handle the ins and outs of the paperwork and deal with the immigration office directly.
Therefore, if you would like an update on your application once the process is underway, the best thing to do is to contact the agency directly and see if they have any news.
To ensure everything runs smoothly, check your application form thoroughly before submitting it and make sure any supporting documents match the criteria.
How Much Does a North Korea Visa Cost?
Visa fees can vary widely depending on your nationality, so it’s best to check with the agency who is processing your document.
In addition, the agency will also charge a fee for handling your application, which again can vary considerably depending on the agency and where you are applying from.
Nonetheless, the fees are in the range of 40-$70 USD, generally speaking.
What Is the Difference Between a Visa VS a Tourist Card?
Essentially they are the same thing, but they come in a different format. Most tourists will get a Tourist Card, which is a piece of paper with their details confirming they have been granted entry to the country on the dates specified.
The visa which is stamped into your passport has the same purpose as the Tourist Card and is simply a different way of presenting the permit. However, only nationalities that have a DPRK consulate in their country will be able to get the travel pass in this format.
Moreover, countries in Europe are able to get the document stamped into their passport from the consulate in Sweden.
This being said, there is no advantage to having the version stamped into the passport compared to the Tourist Card.
More Questions and Information
We hope you found the information on this page useful and that you know exactly what you need to do in order to plan a trip to this country. However, if you still have a few doubts pending, we have collected all our most recently asked questions below.
In any case, the company with whom you book your trip will guide you through the process, since each company will have slightly different processing times.