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Receiving a Syrian Visa at Border and then Overstaying Experience

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This story comes from a reader named Marc Davies and documents his experience of trying to enter Syria without a pre-arranged visa, being awarded a transit visa at the border, overstaying it, and then exiting the country cleanly. This story shows the great division between official immigration policy and actual policy. Marc’s journey went off rather auspiciously, but he could have been denied at the border or even found himself in lots of trouble or even on trial for the overstay. I publish his story both to show readers that it is possible to get beyond official immigration policy and as a warning: although Marc got through Syria successfully, someone who follows may not be so lucky.

Go to Syria Visa at Border for the broader discussion n entering this country without a visa arranged in advance.

From Marc Davies:

“Dear all

I bear good news.

We, being two UK passport holders, set out from Antakya under a gloomy mid morning sky on the half eleven bus from the new station. As the buildings of ancient Antioch disappeared behind us our hearts were all aflutter with anticipation. The residual ruins emerging from the wilderness gave scant relief to our desperate condition.

At length, we came upon the Syrian border, marked by the customary sheltered posts and flanked by a long and tired looking official building. Escorted inside by the impatience of our driver, we made our way to the officer on duty in the booth to the far left. A short, stocky man of a choleric countenance but fine moustaches made some simple enquiries and looked to be dealing with our documents in a matter-of-fact manner. A small candle of hope glowed in the darkness of our hearts.

This was blown upon heavily as we were taken into another nearby office to meet a wiry senior officer who informed us that he could only offer us a transit visa and if we wanted longer we would have to return to an embassy. Our excited pleas for more time, more Syria, more sweet desert relief fell upon deaf ears and met a cold response. As such we accepted the transit visa, with the warning that we should spend no more than three days in Syria, as we would experience some trouble if the exit guards found us with four or even five days under our belts.

Glum and glad in equal measure, we made our way to Aleppo to consider our position.

Recreating over tea and low couches in a bohemian aleppo apartment, we quickly made a decision to forsake the official imposition, sow our wild seed in Syria and deal with the consequences the other end.

In hindsight this was a fine decision. We rejoiced in ten full days of Syrian delight, hungrily sucking at all it could offer; cheap and fine falafel, buildings older than a granddad and glass clear eyes emerging from the seduction of velvet black veils.

Finally the sad day came when we had to leave for Jordan. We boarded the half two bus from Damascus, the sun descending soon after to leave us in physical darkness to match the shadowy idea we had formed of our fate. The usual know-it-all naysayers in Cham had assured us we would be hauled back to the capital for summary trial but we held each other together with whispered mutual assurances.

At the border we paid our exit tax at a shed before advancing to the main immigration building. Queuing testily, we had the attention of the official after ten minutes or so. He took the passports and customs cards and cast his eye over the transit stamps.

He batted not an eyelid as he took up his inky gavel and, laying low our travel documents, raised our souls up to the aether in an exultation of unredeemed contravention. We left, smug, and made haste for Amman.

I wish the best of luck to all future chancers and remain,

Your faithful servant,


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Filed under: Border Crossing, Syria, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3134 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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