The Government of Iraq has announced its intention to launch an electronic visa over the coming months. The Ministry of Communications said they had already completed all the electronic platforms for the infrastructure for the project but were resolving some technical issues.
Amir al-Bayati, the ministry's senior agent for technical affairs, said: "the project aims to eliminate administrative corruption in institutions that grant foreigners (visas) when they enter Iraq."
He explained applicants would fill out a special form online which would be audited by the relevant authorities. He said the system would improve the security of the country and give the economy a boost.
Al-Bayati also said the ministry was trying to solve the outstanding technical issues as soon as possible.
At the moment, all nationalities need a visa to enter Iraq except a handful of neighboring countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates) who are eligible for a visa on arrival. Considering there are very few Iraqi embassies and consulates around the world, applying for a visa for Iraq is not simple.
The list of eligible countries for the Iraq eVisa has not yet been announced though Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom were mentioned in the recent government announcement.
Iraq's potential as a popular tourist destination
Iraq is just beginning to recover from the US-led invasion 16 years ago though parts still remain dangerous. Religious tourism is the most typical type of tourism as the country has several holy sites which tourists flock to by the thousand.
The country has the potential to be a fascinating travel destination for anyone interested in history as Iraq's story goes back 4,000 years and covers a range of different eras. Ancient cities such as Babylon and Ur are examples of mankind's first ever civilizations.
In total, there are 4 official UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat), Erbil Citadel, Hatra, Samarra Archaeological City, The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities. There are also 11 sites on the 'tentative list'.
The number of tourist arrivals over the last two decades has risen and fallen with the country's fortunes. The highest number came in 2010 with 1,518,000 arrivals but this dropped to 892,000 in 2013. The winter is the most comfortable time to visit Iraq as the summer months average around 12F (48°C) and are unbearably hot. In the winter the daytime temperatures stay above 68F (20°C) but nighttime temperatures can fall below zero.