The Visa Situation for the Lebanese Passport

It’s bad people. Really bad. Remember when I was complaining about Lebanon being one of 39 countries that has to wait 10 days on average for the Schengen visa? If you don’t, then here it is.

It turns out the situation is much worse than having to wait 10 days for a Schengen visa. We, as Lebanese, can access 33 countries without needing visas. 33 sounds appealing? Well, the #1 countries in the world, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, can access 173 countries.

In a 2011 study, conducted by Henley & Partners, Lebanon ranked 97 out of 110 countries and behind countries such as Iran, Egypt.

In fact, in a 2010 study conducted by the same company (check it out here), we are also behind North Korea. And it doesn’t stop there. We are also on brochures that tell travelers about Lebanon being one of the countries with the most visa restrictions.

 

I have to ask though: why is the situation this bad? Other neighboring countries, who share our geographical location and the whole baggage of the Middle East, have a better situation that we do.

It could be that our Ministry of Foreign affairs is doing a horrible job, which I think is true. I mean, have you heard that “minister” asking the president to halt in filing a protest against Syrian violation of our land pending investigations? When you have people like that in charge of these types of relations, where do you expect to get?

Or could it be that all those other countries simply refuse to permit headache-free entry for Lebanese travelers?

I would tend to think it’s the former – that governments throughout the years have been and are doing such a bad job with foreign relations that with each passing day our passport loses whatever negligible value it had. And it’s actually very sad.

What’s the best passport to seek out in case you want to go anywhere you want and still retain your Lebanese citizenship? It seems like Sweden is a good fit. Denmark doesn’t allow dual citizenships.

A word for our minister of foreign affairs though, the citizens of the country that he has no problem getting up in a fit for whenever they violate our country can access 142 countries. Just saying.

 

 

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34 thoughts on “The Visa Situation for the Lebanese Passport

  1. Yay, my country is on a shared third place! I’ll be straight forward here. As much as I wish you could freely travel to – for instance – my country or Germany or France, this will be impossible as long as Lebanon doesn’t improve itself in many fields. No matter whether these issues are a product of internal strife or external meddling, issues exist.

    First of all. Your government includes a terrorist organization. You (I don’t know if you do) and many others may disagree on this designation but that is my honest opinion. It also the opinion of my government and the majority of politician save for Socialists (in our case). As long as Hezbollah exists the way it does: armed and aimed at destroying another country, I don’t believe any country should give visa-free access to Lebanese, unfortunately these includes you. Hezbollah was involved in a drug deal in our kingdom and in Germany, and there are other examples of this as well. Hezbollah like other thugs and terrorists like the PKK use Europe as a place to do dirty business. And without denying the crimes of Israel, Hezbollah doesn’t mind destroying a school or two. International criminalism and terrorism are not what the world fancies.
    With an organization akin to PKK or FARC or whatever human carbage this world has, why would any reasonable country not have issues when citizens from these places pop up on the border?

    Secondly the patron-client relationship of Lebanon to the regime in Syria is a serious issue. It is obviously related to the fact I mentioned above. Your government goes ape-shit (and rightly so) when Israel violates your sovereignty, how long did it take your president to slam Syria for its daily adventures? Not to mention that Syria’s hegemonial behavior has created a nice place for major weapon transfers to a non-state actor. Meanwhile Lebanon’s security forces cannot tackle the illicit drugs problems. Such stability doesn’t make other countries feel very comfortable. Lebanon’s share of “guilt” in these issues is obviously debatable, nevertheless the problems exist.

    I hope I did not sound too harsh. I respect Lebanese as any other people, but as long as your national problems persist, your visa problem will persist just as much.

    Reply
    • Bearing more relevance to the topic at hand. Lebanese and Iranians have been caught going on very special holiday trips. And it wasn’t for sight-seeing. I don’t mean to be a hypocrite, every country in the world goes international to track down its enemies. But harassing tourist resorts with lots of Israelis is usually not considered a very welcome activity. Just look at Thailand. And we still don’t know who did the last “glorious act of resistance” in Burgas… They aren’t accusing the Swiss that’s for sure.

      Reply
      • That was the most ridiculous thing I’ve read so far. So Hezbollah is a terrorist organization but Israel is all happiness and innocence.
        The Mossad haven’t done worse and Israel hasn’t killed way more civilians than Hezbollah.

        Don’t let the international love for Israel blind you. If the balance of power had been different, things would have been very different here as well.

        Reply
      • Hey Lara. I just wrote ” And without denying the crimes of Israel”. Where did you get the memo I wrote anything about their innocence? Reading comprehension much? Now tell me why again we have to look differently at Hezbollah than PKK, IRA or FARC or any other organization of thugs in this world.

        Sure if the balance of power would have been different, anything would be different in this world. If you do not think the existence of Hezbollah and its position in the government has anything to do with Lebanon’s international reputation, then think again. I am not sure who has killed more civilians, but I wasn’t aware that being lower on those statistics makes you a good guy?

        It’s funny, I wrote not a single positive point about Israel yet you brought it up as if I did. Meanwhile you ignore all other points I wrote. Especially you ignore the fact that Hezbollah’s behavior is a problem internationally speaking.

        Keep ignoring problems for what they are, and especially keep blaming Israel (not that they don’t deserve it, but what does it bring you?). I’m sure this attitude will solve your crisis and problems, and you’ll be at a Norwegian level of development before tomorrow.

        Reply
    • The Hizbollah debate can go on for hours and we would still not agree. I don’t think they are angels but I don’t think they are terrorists either. However, our visa situation doesn’t rest only upon them.
      Look at Israel for instance. Its people can access 140ish countries, right? Well, there are 33 countries in the world that do not recognize Israel. Add those to the 140ish and they can access more countries than you, as a Dutch person. Does that make sense?

      The only explanation is that the current balance of powers in the world is one which favors Israel and disfavors Lebanon. The US has no problems with vetoing every single Israel-related decision in the Security Council for instance but it feels repulsed when Russia does it regarding Syria. It’s a hypocrite dichotomy which my country is a victim of.

      It’s important to know that Hezbollah has risen in power substantially since the 2000s. Prior to that, it was a player in South Lebanon only. The visa issues preceded that. Moreover, Hezbollah was considered a “terrorist” organization by the US around 2005. Before that, Hezbollah to them was irrelevant.

      Reply
      • The visa situation may not rely on them but don’t you think any kind of serious factor to a country’s (in)stability, will influence their availability to travel internationally. For example, do you think Thailand will allow Lebanese to travel to their country freely after Lebanese have used that country for whatever they were planning at tourist resorts.

        Sure, realpolitik is all about hypocrisy. Terrorist designations are often arbitrary. But I for one would be quite pissed if the Netherlands ever became a place for “resistance” against tourists.

        I believe (a lack of) travel restrictions are a result of alliances, business interests, membership to supernational institutions (EU) and a country’s stability, oh and belligerence against the wrong countries.

        That map says I can enter 171 countries, that’s more than Israel. And basically everybody recognizes us. Yesterday I found out there are 204 countries, so I will have to investigate into our haters. On top of that, our businessmen can have two copies of their passports to circumvent the Arab-Israeli visa clusterf*ck.

        Anyway don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind visa-free traveling between Lebanon and the EU. But the situation will have to change.

        Reply
        • I would say there are way more unstable countries than us and they can travel to more countries visa-free. Sure, Hezbollah has an effect. I can’t deny that. But I think you’re taking its effect and blowing it to a bigger magnitude.
          Traveling to Thailand is actually very easy for me as a Lebanese. Very limited paperwork involved. What’s working against us is that we are, currently, on the wrong side of superpowers and consequently on the wrong side of how things are done around the world.
          Is that fair? I hardly think so. But we’re managing. I’ve gotten the schengen visa twice in the two times that I’ve applied for it. Odds of me getting other visas for other countries are now increased. Frequent Lebanese travelers have a passport as “valid” as any other nationality because of all the stamps. And eventually, what Lebanese are doing abroad (we are among the most influential diasporas in corresponding countries) far outweighs what some “groups” are doing.

          My point about comparing your numbers is to say if those 33 countries allowed access to Israelis, they can access more countries than you. Moreover, I think Israel is not exactly an example when it comes to stability. Regarding the two passports thing, most countries do that. I know the US and France do that.

          Reply
      • Ok, I did not know that about Thailand. Though I would expect them to be a bit wary. I may have overestimated the role of Hezbollah in all this. I am slightly surprised about your comment on being on the wrong side of the superpowers.

        I guess one could say Joe Average doesn’t really decide who is running the show. And surely regional and international meddling has its serious effects on Lebanon. But since you spoke about fairness, I believe it is fair to say the incumbent Lebanese government has been quite pro-active in pandering Iran. Not to mention to most non-neutral “dissociation” politics I ever heard of.

        I should be criticizing my own backyard before I judge yours, but I believe it is a fair point to make: Lebanon has its own share/responsibility in choosing its friends. Iran and Syria are not on good terms with many members of the EU (captain obvious remark, I know). The way Lebanon’s leaders maneuver the country in international politics will reflect on everything, including visas.

        My personal opinion is that depending on the politics of Lebanon’s government, I wouldn’t mind free access for you to our dark side.

        Reply
        • The incumbent Lebanese government is all Hezbollah and would naturally kiss up to Iran. Let alone the miserable stance regarding Syria. But the point about Lebanon choosing its friends is actually wrong simply because we don’t have that prerogative. We are bound by our neighbors and their greed in our land (be it the one to the south or the one to all other directions) and their meddling limits the nations we can work with.
          In order for us to have a say regimes need to change. Our leaders think they are influential when in fact they aren’t but pawns in a bigger chess game.

          And the thing about our personal opinions, Daniel, be it yours or mine, is that they are just like that of your average joe: irrelevant when the big guys play.

          Reply
  2. These are the countries according to http://www.jadaoun.com/blog/2010/08/2012/lebanese-passport-allows-visa-free-access-to-32-countries-and-territories

    Africa
    Cape Verde
    Comoros
    Djibouti
    Madagascar
    Mozambique
    Seychelles
    Togo
    Uganda
    Americas
    Bolivia
    Dominica
    Ecuador
    Haiti
    Saint Kitts and Nevis
    Asia
    Armenia
    Azerbaijan
    Bangladesh
    Cambodia
    Georgia
    Jordan
    Laos
    Macau
    Malaysia
    Maldives
    Nepal
    Oman
    Syria
    Timor-Leste
    Europe
    Kosovo
    Turkey
    Oceania
    Cook Islands
    Federal States of Micronesia
    Niue
    Palau
    Samoa
    Tuvalu

    Reply
  3. What’s even more amusing is when you look at the conditions for those Visa’s, for example a tourist visa to Australia for a lebanese citizen wanting to visit family members for a period of no more than 3 months requires a ‘sponsor’ i.e. a member of your immediate Australian family or a member of government, to pay a security bond of up to $15,000 to the government as assurance that the person in question will return within the 3 month period.

    Visits are not allowed to be for longer than 3 month and Lebanese citizens are only allowed to apply once a year.

    Difficult much?

    Reply
      • well it’s not what i think of Hezbollal that matters, it’s what other countries and people (since it’s about the visa), and they all see Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. and maybe he is 🙂

        Reply
    • Let’s see here…. They were convicted for planning for a terror act in Egypt, they recently blew up a bus in Bulgaria, they are laundering drug money in South Americas because it is “halal” to flood infidel countries such as the States with narcotics. They attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the States. They were recently caught red handed trying to booby trap the elevator for MP Boutros Harb. The list goes on and on.

      I don’t know about you… But if it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck… Then most probably… ?

      But still, why did the chicken cross the road? Brainwashed Lebanese: I blame Israel.

      Reply
  4. Yep exactly, my parents went through it a few years back for their nephew and I’m looking into it now for a relative who wants to visit in summer. Red tape ridiculousness.

    Reply
  5. Allow me to praise all the participants in this blog. In my 35 years I have never witnessed a political dicussion about my country without it ending with disrespectful one sided crippling point of view. My two cents about this is that everytime I peaked my head outside of my country ( Lebanon), I was forced to pay for my previous countrymen’s horrible behavior long before Hezbollah. See our lack of civil education drives us to apply ” ba3ed hmareh ma yenbot hachich” a local saying that translates into something like ” I really don’t care about anybody else but me”. And so the gangsters that robbed, killed, threatened to kill, etc… managed to ruin ma nationality’s reputation based on the fact that bad news carries further than good ones. Unfortunately, everybody will admit that Gibran was a great writer/poet, etc…. but more people will frown when I say Beirut or Hezbollah for example. The sad part of this story is that in the past, visa applications were on a case by case basis. So just because you were born in a country where long bearded men show up on tv promising annihilation shouldnt have stopped you from being given the chance to be the best cardiothoracic surgeon you can be if given the right circumstances. But the situation now is that of Generalization where it is totally acceptable to say all Lebanese “people” should be treated the same way. And that my friends is the unacceptable part because I am pretty sure that not all Dutch citizens are God’s gift to humanity and I am certain that I could find a few fgood iranians. Sure it takes more time and effort to analyze every application separately but I think it is totally worth it in an effort of preventing mass driven hatered for not being given a chance to prove who we could be.

    Reply
      • Reality check: They were never as bad as now. And I highly doubt they will outlast Hizbullah by much.
        What compounds the problem is that by defending Hizbullah, we open the door for blanket judgement from the part of other countries i.e. They are all sympathizers, let’s deny them the Visa.

        Reply
  6. Pingback: Pour une Europe « bala visa » « Le Clic

  7. I have been living outside lebanon for some eight years now. Due to my job, I have to travel 8 to 10 times a year and I am always a special guest for border security. I used to love traveling but now I do my best to avoid it. But what bothers me the most is our childish interpretations as lebanese to this curfew that we live in. It is not terrorism that bugs europe for example, it is more the immigration.

    Now on to solving this; One thing I learned is you get what you ask for. Whenever they see a lebanese passport on airports, they first think of it as a false document. and you know what, they are right about it. For we have done nothing to prove them wrong? For that used to happen during the way.

    If we want to break this curfew that is purely fueled by old perceptions from the war era, we have to work hard for it. Our ministry of exterior and the whole state should have it as a goal. We are not a war-torn country any more and we have to act like it. It is simple, we can start with those countries that have the same cost of living,… as us and ask them one question; How can we lift the visa restrictions between our countries? If their answer is no, then fuck it, if you don’t let me in you house, I will not let you in mine. simple human interaction that is based on mutual respect. that is mutual respect. And for all the philosophers out there, you get what you ask for, so keep on banging your heads my fellow countrymen.

    Reply
    • The Ministry of Foreign affairs (Exterior) needs to get its stuff together in order to do this. This is basically who I blamed in this. I don’t think politics are as relevant as some people make it out to be although they have a certain impact.

      Reply
  8. As a Dane I can assure you that it is an immigration situation. It takes 7-10 years to get a Danish citizenship, and that if is you are able to become a permanent resident (most are not). So sure, if you had a Danish passport you could go anywhere…getting it is impossible because the government is limiting immigration. Even the kind of immigration we need. Rather stupid.

    And re: the Hizbollah debate. Since when does a political party that is a member of the government get to have its own militia and kidnap and shoot people, or participate in civil wars in neighbouring countries? Can nobody see how absolutely INSANE that is? Seriously?! That is why Danish people can go everywhere. Political parties in Denmark do not blow people up, neither in Denmark or abroad…it’s pretty simple.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Some Lebanese Just Don’t Get It: Two Reactions on Lebanon’s Passport Ranking | A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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