Updated in April 2020: Traveling in Pakistan and not ready to leave yet? I feel ya! Here’s a guide to Pakistan visa extensions and overstays with everything you need to know about extending your visa, overstay penalties, and more.
So you’ve traveled around Pakistan for several weeks, you’ve realized how insanely awesome it is, and you’re not ready to leave, even though your Pakistan visa is about to expire.
Uh, now what?
Well, as of 2020, if you don’t want to leave yet you’ve got a few options: extend your Pakistan visa, overstay and pay a fine, or get an exit permit.
Here’s what you need to know to help you make the right decision.
- Can I overstay my Pakistan visa?
- What happens if you overstay your visa
- Should you extend your visa?
- Visa extension vs. exit permit
- How to extend your visa
- When to extend
- How long is the extension?
- Cost of extending a visa
- Extending an e-visa
- Extending a sticker visa
- Visa extensions for Americans
- Re-entry/multiple entry visas
- Can you travel while waiting for an extension
- How to extend your visa in Lahore
Can I overstay my Pakistan visa?
Though overstaying any country’s visa is technically illegal and should not be taken lightly, the penalties for overstaying a Pakistan visa are quite lax for many nationalities.
Those who overstay a Pakistan tourist visa will be required to pay a fine based on how long they overstay their Pakistan visa. As of 2020, the fines for foreign nationals of non-Pakistani origins are as follows:
- Less than 2 weeks overstay: Free
- 2-4 weeks overstay: US$50
- 4 weeks to 3 months overstay: $200
- 3 months to 1 year: $400/year
- More than 1 year: Bro, go get a visa extension already. Okay okay that’s my advice, not official advice.
Note that fees are different for overseas Pakistanis. Indian nationals must pay Rs. 40 per day of overstay… though if you’re on an Indian passport overstaying your visa, the intelligence agency is probably going to find you long before you have to start calculating overstay fees.
Policies change, so make sure to check the official immigration website for more information on Pakistan visas and overstays.
What happens if I overstay my Pakistan tourist visa?
Here’s the tricky part: though the official fine rules are quite straightforward, there’s a lot of variation in how visa overstays are handled at borders. As with many things in Pakistan, a lot depends on the mood of the border official that day. And often your nationality/how white you are.
In recent years, there are two common situations:
- You either pay nothing or pay the fine at the border and are allowed to exit. This is common at airports and at land border crossings for short overstays of a few days. Border crossings further away from passport offices where you can get visa extensions (such as the Khunjerab Pass to China or the Taftan border crossing with Iran) are more likely to let you through.
- You’re turned back at the border and asked to get a visa extension or exit permit. This is more common at the Wagah border crossing with India, close to Lahore. Though officials are slowly relaxing more about overstays in recent years, they do still ask tourists to go back to Lahore to get a visa extension or exit permit from time to time.
Regardless of how your exit attempt plays out, based on the reports of tourists in recent years, overstaying your Pakistan visa does NOT affect your ability to get a new Pakistan tourist visa in the future, nor will it cancel a multi-entry visa.
Reports from travelers who overstayed their Pakistan visas
Nothing in Pakistan is ever totally certain. Policies—and moods—change all the time. Recent firsthand accounts are the best source of travel information in Pakistan, so here are some reports from recent travelers who overstayed or extended their Pakistan visas:
Are you planning on extending or overstaying? Please let me know how it goes in the comments!
- May: American passport (me!), 14 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – Needed exit permit from Ministry of Interior in Islamabad, asked for it at airport
- May: Irish passport, 1 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – No penalty
- September: Belgian passport, 7 day overstay, exited at Wagah border – Sent back to apply for new visa in Lahore (US$20, 1 day)
- September: Australian passport, 7 day overstay, exited at Khunjerab Pass – No penalty (brought screenshot of overstay fees to show official)
- September: American passport, 3 months overstay, exited at Lahore airport – Paid $200 fine at airport
- October: American passport (me!), 17 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – No penalty
- October: Polish passport, 4 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – No penalty
- October: Swiss passport, 10 day overstay, exited at Wagah border – No penalty
- May: Italian passport, 1 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – No penalty
- September: US passport, 1 day overstay, exited from Lahore airport – No penalty
Should I extend my Pakistan visa?
If you’re planning on staying in Pakistan for several weeks or months longer than expected, I recommend getting a visa extension. Better safe than sorry, and you never know when having an expired visa might be problematic at checkpoint or hotel.
It’s also important to remember that it’s a privilege to be able to even consider overstaying at all – think of what would happen to a Pakistani overstaying their visa in your home country! (The answer: they’d get screwed and never be allowed back.)
Extending a Pakistan tourist visa is quite easy for many nationalities; there’s no real reason not to do it.
What’s the difference between getting a Pakistan visa extension and an exit permit?
Ah, weird bureaucratic nuances!
A visa extension is what it sounds like: an extension of the validity of your visa to a further date.
An exit permit is permission from immigration to leave the country. It’s like an acknowledgement that you overstayed your visa, but immigration doesn’t have a problem with it.
Exit permits are useful for shorter overstays of less than a month. If you have an exit permit, you won’t have to pay any overstay fees and you won’t have to worry about being stopped when trying to exit the country. Most nationalities (Americans being a notable exception) can apply for exit permits in any passport office that handles visa extensions. Americans can only apply for exit permits in Islamabad.
Extending a Pakistan tourist or entry visa
How you extend your Pakistan visa depends on your nationality and the type of visa you have.
When to extend your visa
You can extend your visa at any time, even if the visa has already expired. However, some officials might be difficult if you try to extend your visa too far before its expiration date. Either wait until it’s nearly expired, or be pushy and insist that you won’t be able to extend later on because of your travel plans.
How long are visa extensions for?
Visa extensions can be for up to six months. However, sometimes officials will not want to give you an extension longer than your original visa length. For longer visa extensions, try applying at the Ministry of the Interior in Islamabad.
How much does a visa extension cost?
Visa extension prices vary by nationality and type of visa. Many European travelers have reported paying $20 for what is essentially a new visa. However, on my US and UK passports I’ve had to pay more than $150 for a new visa.
Extending a Pakistan tourist e-visa
If you have an e-visa for Pakistan, you can now get a visa extension online. Using the same NADRA visa portal that you used to apply for your original e-visa, you can apply for a visa extension.
Note: You have to start by applying for a new e-visa, then selecting “Extension” as the application type.
To apply for an online visa extension, you’ll again need to submit several documents including:
- LOI (Letter of invitation) or hotel booking proving your onwards stay in Pakistan. If you applied for your first visa using hotel bookings, you can do so with the visa extension. If you used an LOI, it’s probably best to get a new LOI and submit that with your extension request.
- A photo of your current Pakistan entry stamp, with your e-visa number written near it.
- PDF of your original e-visa.
If your information is correct and your documents are successfully submitted, you should receive email confirmation of your visa extension within a few days.
Extending a traditional sticker/paper visa
If you entered Pakistan on a traditional visa (a sticker inside your passport), you’ll need to go to the visa section of a local “passport office” to apply for a visa extension.
Every major city—Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, etc.—has a passport office. However, not all of them are willing to work with tourist visas. Travelers have repeatedly reported being turned away in Peshawar and Gilgit. (And, weirdly enough, I heard a success story from a tourist in notoriously complicated Multan.)
Lahore and Islamabad are the safest options, and their office addresses are as follows:
- Lahore: Passport Office, 4 A Shershah Block, Garden Town, Lahore (Google Maps)
- Islamabad: Visa counter, Ministry of Interior, Pakistan Secretariat (Google Maps)
Lahore is traditionally the easiest place to extend your Pakistan visa. The officials there are friendly and very familiar with the process and dealing with foreign tourists. Islamabad is the most chaotic, bureaucratic, and slow place to extend your visa. Avoid unless you have to.
If you want a step-by-step guide to getting a visa extension in Lahore, read the guide at the end of this blog post.
Pakistan visa extensions for Americans and other “problematic” nationalities
Most nationalities don’t have to think too much about this, but US citizens have a bit more bureaucracy to deal with when it comes to extensions.
Note: I do not have firsthand experience, but I imagine these restrictions also apply to other sensitive nationalities (ex. Indian, Afghan)
In my experience, Americans can only apply for visa extensions and exit permits in Islamabad, at the visa counter of the Ministry of the Interior (inside the Pakistan Secretariat). Lahore and other passport offices do not have the required permissions to issue visa extensions to US passport holders.
Why? Probably because Pakistan’s agencies are paranoid about spies and Americans are of particular suspicion after a US consulate employee turned out to be a CIA official and killed several people in the country in 2011.
Whatever the reason, Americans, just know you have to handle all of your visa bureaucracy in Islamabad.
Re-entry visas to temporarily exit then return to Pakistan
Back in the day, getting a Pakistan visa was challenging… especially for long-term overland travelers like me! You could only apply for the visa in your country of origin/residence, and applications were often denied or made more complicated for reasons unknown.
Things are easier now with the relaxing of visa restrictions and introductions of e-visas, but there’s still the occasional instance where someone might want to exit Pakistan to visit a neighboring country—say India or China—then come back. What then?
If you don’t have a multiple entry visa for Pakistan, don’t worry: if you have a traditional (sticker) it’s also possible to apply for a re-entry visa if you visit a passport office.
Re-entry visas allow you to leave Pakistan for a certain amount of time, then return. They’re essentially a new visa, but… well, semantics. I’ve applied for and received two re-entry visas for Pakistan in 2017 and 2018. Both allowed me to leave the country for up to three months from the date I applied, and both were valid for six months from the date I received them. The cost was the same as a new visa.
Can you travel on an expired visa or while waiting for an extension?
If your visa has already expired, you likely won’t encounter too many problems… though the longer you overstay, the more hassle you’ll get when people figure out your visa is expired. It’s best to say you’re already applying for an extension, or that you’re on your way to the border already. Try to avoid police checkpoints where possible.
If you applied for a visa extension and they took your passport for processing, ask to get a note or receipt from the passport office saying they have your passport. Carry it around with a photocopy of your passport and visa page and you should be fine, though checkpoints may not allow you to pass.
If your extension/exit permit will take some time, ask for your passport back. In my experience, I applied for a visa extension in Islamabad and they gave me my passport to use until the day I had to go pick up my extension.
Traveling on a second passport? Dual citizens, don’t be crafty. Travelers with two passports have gotten in trouble when they tried to travel on their second passport while waiting for an extension.
Getting a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore
As I said earlier, Lahore is hands down the easiest place to apply for a Pakistan visa extension or exit permit. Here’s how to apply for a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore.
Note: This only applies for paper visas that are in your passport. If you have an e-visa you can apply for an extension online.
Getting to Passport Office in Lahore
To get a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore, head over to the Passport Office in New Garden Town via Careem or Uber.. The address is:
Lahore Passport Office, 4 A Shershah Block, Garden Town, Lahore (Google Maps)
The visa section is open from 8:30 – 13:00 Monday till Thursday, and 11:30 – 13:00 on Friday. Times may change during Ramadan.
The passport office is behind a road blockade and a big green gate with a security guard watching the door. There should be plenty of people moving in and out and hanging around outside.
You need to show your passport to enter. Officially, you’re not supposed to carry cameras inside, but the guards were pretty lax about it.
The entry hall is a bit of a mess, but the visa section is easy to find. Go in, loop around to the right, and go up stairs in the back corner marked with a sign for foreigners.
Requirements for a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore
To apply for a Pakistan visa extension, you need the following:
- A new visa application form (available at the visa office)
- One passport size photo
- A copy of your passport information page, current visa, and entry stamp
- The details of your sponsor or LOI provider
When you fill out the form, follow the same guidelines as you did to apply for your visa. Avoid mention of visiting places like Peshawar, and feel free to say you’re flying out. Don’t worry about India visits—I’ve spent more than a year in India, told the officer I’d be going back in a few weeks, and still there was no issue.
If you have a visit visa—meaning you received your letter of invitation from a local—it might help to bring your sponsor with you. I went with another friend who was not my sponsor, and I was told it’s not always possible to extend visit visas. Luckily, my friend managed to sweet talk the officer. You shouldn’t encounter such issues if you’re on a tourist visa.
Paying for a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore
The price of a visa extension depends on your nationality and length of visa extension. In 2017 for a six month extension, the price was:
- UK citizen: 85 GBP / 11,560 Rs
- EU citizen: 60 EUR / 7,560 Rs
To pay for the extension, visit any National Bank of Pakistan branch, head to the cash payments window, and ask for visa payment. If they’re confused, tell them it’s a payment for the passport office. The clerk will give you a green form to be filled out in triplicate.
On the form, fill in your passport number where it asks for a CNIC number. Pay the clerk to finalize your visa payment.
Once you’ve made the payment, head back to the visa office with the payment slip to prove you’ve paid for the extension.
How long it takes to get a Pakistan visa extension in Lahore
Although I heard stories of people getting their extension in one day, I was told Islamabad has recently tightened the extension process rules, and that isn’t possible anymore.
For the record, this is Pakistan we’re talking about—if you really needed an extension ASAP for whatever reason, it’s not entirely impossible to get it done in 1-2 days if you push hard enough.
It shouldn’t take longer than 3-4 days to receive your visa extension unless there’s a holiday going on that would close down offices.
That’s it, folks! That’s all I’ve got on visa extensions and overstays in Pakistan. Let me know in the comments if anything has changed or you have any questions, and feel free to share your own experience to help future travelers.