Here’s how to get a visa in Lebanon

Study, work or sightsee in this small but diverse nation.

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It’s relatively simple for Americans to gain entry to Lebanon, now that the country allows for visas on arrival. Still, the country’s turbulent history makes for strict border control.

Tourist visas

Buying a visa ahead of time is a common mistake a lot of Americans make before their first trip to Lebanon. Because it sounds safer than risking being turned away at the airport, they gather the required forms and FedEx their passports to the Lebanese embassy before booking a flight.

Not only is this a long and expensive process, it’s also unnecessary: US citizens are entitled to stay in Lebanon for up to three months on an entry visa without paying fees. Save your time and money by requesting a visa on arrival at the airport.

How do I get a tourist visa?

When you land at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, you’ll see a sign for “Visas.” This is not for you: US citizens get their visas at passport control.

Before getting in line, fill out the provided pink card with your personal information, the purpose of your visit and where you will be staying. You must include the address of your hotel or family you’re staying with, otherwise you risk being detained. It’s also a good idea to keep your plane ticket handy.

The border official stamps your passport, validating your visit for one month. If you plan to stay longer, renew your visa for two additional months at the General Security building in the area you’re staying in.

Student visas

Studying at the American University of Beirut or the Lebanese American University? Getting a student visa is significantly more complicated than a tourist visa.

But you can’t do anything before you enter the country. Instead, you’ll first need to enter on a tourist visa. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll apply for a student visa with:

  • A completed residence permit application form, signed and stamped by your university’s office for international students and registrar.
  • An enrollment certificate from your university, notarized by your embassy and stamped by the UNESCO Council of Higher Education.
  • A notarized statement pledging that you’ll avoid work during your stay in Lebanon.
  • Proof of housing from your local mukhtar, which is similar to a mayor with a smaller jurisdiction.
  • A paid statement of university fees.
  • Your bank statement.
  • Three passport photos.
  • Three copies of the first page of your passport.
  • Three copies of your entry visa.
  • 300,000 Lebanese pounds — about $200 American dollars.

Submit all documents to your local General Security office, where you will pay your fees and have your photo and fingerprints taken. It takes about a month for General Security to process your documents.

Five tips for applying for a student visa in Lebanon

  1. Start as soon as you can. Gathering your documents takes a lot of time, often longer than you expect.
  2. Make an appointment at the US Embassy. Appointments are open in the morning only and fill up fast. You can enter the US Embassy with your documents and cash to pay fees only — that means no keys, purse or phone. Ask a friend to come along to keep an eye on your stuff while you’re inside.
  3. Prepare for extra fees. Every step of the application process costs money. And getting anything notarized at the US embassy costs $50.
  4. Renew your entry visa if you need more time. If your experience is like mine, you may not be able to get everything together in a month.
  5. Check your status with General Security. Avoid getting turned away because they’ve made changes or you’re missing a document.

Work visas

If you’re lucky enough to find a job in Lebanon that provides a work visa, there’s not much for you to do — it’s up to your employer to put together your paperwork and pay any fees.

Processing can take up to six months or longer, and you’ll need to make sure you’re in the country legally while your employer gets your paperwork together. You might have to go to Cyprus for a day to renew your entry visa.

Bottom line

Getting a visa for Lebanon can be confusing and nearly always takes longer than you expect. But it’s possible with persistence and by staying on top of the process and documentation.

Common questions about visas in Lebanon

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28 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DanikaAugust 29, 2019

    Hello! I’m Mexican I came to Lebanon with a visa for one month obtained at the Airport, if I stay longer (3months) and I don’t notify the General Security, paying a penalty fee at my exit is enough, or I need to get an exit visa necessarily(?)

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaAugust 29, 2019Staff

      Hi Danika,

      You need to get an exit visa to leave — they don’t have an option to pay at the airport. You can do this by visiting the main general security building within a week of your flight and pay a 50,000LL fine. It can take several hours, so get there early. You can speed up the process by making sure you have passport photos on hand, though you can also have those taken at the General Security building.

      Hope this helps,

      Anna

  2. Default Gravatar
    VarshaJuly 4, 2019

    Hello!

    Just writing to ask if anybody knows the minimum amount required in your bank balance for a tourist visa to Lebanon (applying from India). Thanks in advance!

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaJuly 5, 2019Staff

      Hi Varsha,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      There is no specific information on how much is the minimum required amount in your bank account for applying for a tourist visa in Lebanon. It’s best to check with General Security to get further information for getting a tourist visa to Lebanon.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  3. Default Gravatar
    JazelJune 11, 2019

    Hi, I’m finished with my 2 year contract here in Lebnen, just waiting for 2 months more to leave country and go back to the Philippines, my question is, if I leave Lebanon the day my work permit expires will it cause me a problem with the immigration? Do I need to secure exit visa? Because my friend who went home last march paid 200$ in the airport because she is leaving Lebanon same day as her working visa expires without having exit visa. I hope I could find the answer here. Thanks in advance

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaJune 11, 2019Staff

      Hi Jazel,

      Thanks for your question. I’m not sure how it works for citizens of the Philippines — finder.come is a US-based site. I was able to leave the same day my work visa expired, though I had someone representing my employer come with me to cancel the visa. You might want to have your employer contact General Security to learn what the procedure is for your specific situation to be safe.

      Anna

  4. Default Gravatar
    DesmondMay 21, 2019

    I have been processing my working visa since last month and the told me that the visa is not out,which is more than six weeks and the agent said my visa is not out…… Is it true??

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaMay 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Desmond,

      Thanks for your question! Unfortunately General Security can take its time processing visa applications and it’s not uncommon for it to take several months (it took about six months for my application to be processed). Even if they say it’ll only be a few weeks.

      What you might be able to do is pay an additional fee to have your visa expedited. In that case, you or your agent should go to General Security’s main office to submit the request. Typically you can pick up your residency card three days after submitting your request.

      Hope this is helpful,

      Anna

  5. Default Gravatar
    MohammadMay 13, 2019

    I’m here in India. I want Lebanon work visa. Can you told me about work visa. I mean haven’t work visa for Indian from Lebanon. Bec I’m trying to find visa as long time but still I’m fail. Please help me to find work visa. Thanks

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaMay 14, 2019Staff

      Hi Mohammad, Thanks for your question.

      You’ll need to find an employer that can sponsor you to get a work visa to Lebanon. You can either go to Lebanon, find a job and have your employer transfer your visa from a tourist to work visa (that’s what I did). Or you can get a job before you leave India and have your employer apply for your work visa beforehand. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get a work visa without already having a job with an employer that’s willing to sponsor you.

      Hope this helps!

      Anna

  6. Default Gravatar
    MichaelMarch 4, 2019

    I have a British passport issued in Geneva where I live. Do I need to apply for a visa before I leave or can I get it on arrival at Beirut airport?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaMarch 4, 2019Staff

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your question! With a British passport you should be able to get a three-month tourist visa when you go through passport control in Beirut.

      Best,

      Anna

  7. Default Gravatar
    denaJanuary 10, 2019

    I am from Germany when i want to extend my.1 month visa in Lebanon do i need to report personally? or can someone do it for me? and what will happen to tourist who still stay in Lebanon more than the given 3months Extension?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaJanuary 10, 2019Staff

      Hi Dena,

      Thanks for your question! You can renew your visa for an additional two months by going to your local General Security office — you might want to call or ask around to find out which one is closest to you. You’ll have to renew your visa yourself, however. If you overstay your three months, you’ll have to go to the main General Security office in Beirut to apply for an exit visa before traveling. You can typically get an exit visa the same day you apply, depending on how early you arrive. To avoid overstaying your visa you can also travel to another country when the three months are up to become eligible for another three-month tourist visa (Cyprus is a popular choice).

      Hope this helps,

      Anna

  8. Default Gravatar
    GabeJanuary 5, 2019

    Hi, I’m Indonesian planning to study Arabic for few months. The institute advises me to make tourist visa and extend the visa when I get to Lebanon. How long will I get for the visa extension?
    And is it possible for me to travel out of the country and come back with that visa extension? Because I will need to go back to Indonesia by the end of Feb and go back to Lebanon in March to continue my study.

    Thank you

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnnaJanuary 7, 2019Staff

      Hi Gabe,

      Thanks for your question! As an Indonesian citizen you may be required to apply for a visa before you travel to Lebanon. Consider consulting the Lebanese embassy in Jakarta to get specific details of the process you need to follow before you travel. It’ll have the most up-to-date information.

      If you aren’t required to get a visa beforehand, you can get a one-month visa at the airport and renew it for an additional two months at your local General Security office in Lebanon. You can also leave at any time and return with a new one-month visa that’s eligible for another two-month renewal.

      Cheers,

      Anna

  9. Default Gravatar
    NimetDecember 27, 2018

    Hello there,

    I’m married to a Lebanese man in Beirut and reside in Beirut with him, however I was wondering how can we obtain a visa for my family to come visit us.

    Since there is no online help, my husband has to take days off from work to go inquire about tiny bits and often they do mislead a lot, it’s a hassle to be honest , hence I’m trying to gather info online as much as I can.

    Thanks for your help

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniDecember 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Nimet,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      If your family members are US citizens, this page is a good reference. You may contact the Lebanese Embassy and following their process in obtaining a visa or get their visa at the passport control of Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut upon arriving. They will then fill out a pink card with their personal information, the purpose of their visit and where they will be staying. Your family must include the address where they are staying, otherwise they risk being detained. Please note that the visa is free.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  10. Default Gravatar
    LouisSeptember 13, 2018

    Hello am a traveler agent of football i need an invitation for my player they have conpotition in Lebanon so how do I go aboutit

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesSeptember 14, 2018Staff

      Hi Louis,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      There are two ways of getting into Lebanon. One is contacting the Lebanese Embassy and following the process of obtaining a visa. Two is When you land at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut US citizens get their visas at passport control.
      You’ll fill out a pink card with your personal information, the purpose of your visit and where you will be staying. You absolutely must include the address of your hotel or family you’re staying with, otherwise you risk being detained.
      The border official will stamp your passport. validating your visit for one month. If you plan to stay longer, renew your visa for two more months at the General Security building in the area you’re staying in. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

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