Entry & Exit Formalities
When entering Mongolia, by land or air, fill out the straightforward entry form. You’ll have to register if you plan to be in Mongolia for more than 30 days. Registering in Ulaanbaatar (UB) is fairly straightforward, and it’s also possible in Ölgii if you arrive in western Mongolia.
If you are legally exporting any antiques, you must have a receipt and a customs certificate from the place you bought them. Most reliable shops in Ulaanbaatar can provide this. If the shop cannot produce a receipt or if you buy the item from a country market, assume that you will not be able to export the item; it will be confiscated upon departure.
At some sites (especially Kharkhorin and Bayanzag) you’ll be offered furs of rare animals and even fossilised dinosaur bones and eggs. Please do not take up these offers. There are stiff penalties for illegally exporting fossils, including jail time.
Travellers entering at the airport with extra baggage can expect to have their luggage opened and inspected. You can bring the following into Mongolia duty-free:
1L of spirits
2L of wine
3L of beer three bottles of perfume
A 30-day tourist visa is required for some foreign nationals, although a number of countries can visit visa free, including citizens of the USA, Canada and Germany.
Tourist visas A 30-day tourist visa is required for most countries and can be easily obtained at any Mongolian embassy, consulate, consulate-general or honorary consul.
Visa on arrival If you are travelling to Mongolia from a country that has no Mongolian consulate, you can pick up a 30-day tourist visa on arrival at the airport in Ulaanbaatar. You’ll need T108,000 (or dollar equivalent) and two passport photos – you should also have a pre-approval letter from an organisation or company in Mongolia.
90-day visa-free nationalities Citizens of the following countries can stay in Mongolia for up to 90 days without a visa: Belarus, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Serbia, Ukraine and USA. If they stay less than 30 days, nothing needs to be done, other than having their passport stamped when they enter and leave the country. If they stay more than 30 days, they need to register.
Other visa-free nationalities Citizens of Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand and Turkey can stay visa-free for up to 30 days; Philippines passport-holders can stay for 21 days without a visa, and Hong Kong citizens can stay visa-free for up to 14 days.
Registration All visitors who plan to stay more than 30 days must be registered within seven days of their arrival.
Extension Visitors can extend on a per-week basis. A one-week extension is T22,000. A 30-day extension is T108,000. If you overstay your visa the fine is also T108,000. When requesting an extension, you may be asked for a flight itinerary printout.
Regulations To check current regulations, try the website of the Mongolian embassy in Washington DC at www.mongolianembassy.us. Other websites to check include www.immigration.gov.mn and mfa.gov.mn.
Cost Standard tourist visas generally last 30 days from the date of entry, and you must enter Mongolia within three months of issue. Each embassy or consulate sets its own price. For single-entry/exit visas you can expect to pay: A$230 in Canberra, UK£40 in London, C$90 in Ottawa and Y405 in Bĕijīng.
Issuing time Visas normally take several days, or even up to two weeks, to issue. If you want your visa quicker, possibly within 24 hours, you will have to pay an ‘express fee’, which is double the normal cost. If you want to stay longer than 30 days, tourist visas can be extended in Ulaanbaatar.
Multiple-entry visas Multiple-entry/exit tourist visas are usually only issued to foreign residents who do a lot of travel.
These visas last 72 hours from the date of entry. This period will only allow you to get off the Trans-Mongolian train for a very short time before catching another train to Russia or China. A single-entry/exit transit visa costs between US$25 and US$60, depending on where you apply for it, and cannot be extended. You will need to show the train or plane ticket and a visa for the next country (Russia or China).
If you have a 30-day tourist visa, you can extend it by another 30 days. For extensions, go to the Office of Immigration, Naturalisation & Foreign Citizens. The only catch is that if you stay longer than 30 days you have to be registered at this office (which you should have done within seven days after arrival).
The office is located about 1.8km east of Ulaanbaatar airport (next to the large sports arena), an inconvenient 15km trek from the city centre. The office can get quite busy, so try to arrive early to avoid the lines. There is a small cafe here that serves meals if you get stuck during the lunch hour. An information desk with English–speaking staff can help answer your questions and point you to the correct line.
The INFC office is a branch of the main visa office of the Ministry of External Relations (www.mfa.gov.mn). You may be sent to the ministry if your visa situation is complicated (ie you require a work permit). The entrance is on the west side of the building. In Mongolian it’s known as: Gadaadiin Irgen Haryatiin Asuudal Erhleh Gazar (Гадаадын Иргэн Харьяатын Асуудал Эрхлэх Газар).
If you have already registered, you should apply for an extension about a week before your visa expires. It costs T3600 per day and the minimum extension is seven days. You will need a passport-sized photo and must pay a T5000 processing fee. The extension will be issued on the same day. Credit cards may be accepted, but it’s best to bring cash in case the machine isn’t working.
Several guesthouses in Ulaanbaatar will take care of visa extensions (and registration) for a small fee. If you don’t have a letter of support, you can write your own (handwritten is OK); the letter should state the date of your arrival, the date of extension and the reason for travel.
Getting a visa extension outside Ulaanbaatar is difficult, as officials would need to send your passport back to Ulaanbaatar. In an extreme situation this might be possible at the INFC office in Ölgii.
Transit and tourist visas are good for one entry and one exit (unless you have a double or multiple-entry/exit visa). If you are working in Mongolia, or if you obtained your visa at an honorary consul, you are usually issued a single-entry visa (valid for entry only). In this case, another visa is required to leave the country. These visas are available from the INFC office.
The exit visa situation in particular applies to Israeli and US passport-holders (who usually enter without visas). Israelis need an exit visa if they stay more than 30 days and Americans need one if they stay more than 90 days.
Cost For most nationalities the exit visa costs around US$15, plus an additional US$2 per day that you stay beyond the expiry of your entry visa.
Duration It is valid for 10 days, which means that you can stay 10 days after your normal visa has expired.
If you intend to stay in Mongolia for more than 30 days, you must register before the end of your first seven days of being in the country (although this rule is sometimes overlooked and you might be able to register in the first 30 days). Note that you can only register twice per calendar year at the INFC office.
Requirements Registration takes place at the INFC office. The process is free, but you have to pay T1000 for the one-page application. You’ll need one passport-sized photo. Most guesthouses can rustle up an invitation to Mongolia for you if you require one.
Signing out As a formality, the registration also needs to be ‘signed out’; however, the official you are dealing with will usually do this when you register so you won’t have to come back. A specific date is not needed; just set the exit date as far out as possible and you can leave any time before that date.
Ölgii office If you’ve arrived in western Mongolia from Russia, the INFC office in Ölgii can get you registered.
Fine If you don’t register, you are liable for a fine (theoretically from US$100 to US$300) when you leave the country.
The only way to remain in Mongolia on a long-term basis (ie more than three months) is to get a work or study permit. The company or organisation you are working for should handle this for you, but if you are working independently you need to go it alone. You will almost certainly need a letter from an employer providing a legitimate reason for your stay. Registration typically takes place at the INFC office near the airport.