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10 Countries Americans Can’t Visit

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There are tons of countries that want tourists — head on over to Cancun, Venice, or Marrakesh and you’ll be welcomed with open arms (full of trinkets they want to sell to you). But some countries aren’t looking for visitors or, more specifically, American visitors. It may not be one hundred percent impossible to get in, but most likely, you won’t get to go. Here are ten countries that you’ll have a hard time visiting if you’re American.

1) Iran

Tehran sunset jpeg

Backpacking through Europe and want to hit up Iran on your way home? You sound cool! But it’s not going to be that easy. There’s no Iranian Embassy in the U.S., so you’ll have to go through the Pakistani Embassy in DC. Then you’ll have to go with a group tour or private guide. Then wait a couple months to see if you get a visa. I hope you’ve never been to Israel or they won’t let you in, and if you’re of Persian descent you’re better off not going or they might not let you leave.

2) Saudi Arabia

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If you want to visit Saudi Arabia, you’re going to need a good reason and a sponsor who, if you’re a woman, will meet you at the airport when you arrive. And before you leave, you have to get your sponsor’s and your husband’s permission. I think this is really unfair because why is Saudi Arabia rubbing in the fact that nobody wants to marry me? Even after going through all that, only select people get the visa at all, often for no apparent reason. Saudi Arabia has tons of oil money and they just don’t need us, I guess.

3) North Korea

jong un jpg

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not completely impossible to visit North Korea. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You have to book a complete package tour, even your meals, before you step foot in the country. No North Korean Embassy in the U.S. means you have to apply in another country, such as China. There’s a loophole, though — if you are Chicago Bulls superstar Dennis Rodman, these rules don’t apply to you. Are you Dennis Rodman? Hey, Dennis Rodman! Thanks for reading my article, Dennis Rodman!

4) Angola

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If you want to go to the lovely African country of Angola, you need a letter of invitation in Portuguese, which will cost you $450, then a $150 visa application, and to buy your plane tickets and make non-refundable hotel reservations without knowing whether or not you’ll get in. And then you’ll probably get your passport returned after two weeks with no visa and no explanation. So who’s in? Spring break 2016?

5) Algeria

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Not to get dark, but you should not go to Algeria if you aren’t okay with getting kidnapped. If that doesn’t faze you, you need to get a certificate of accommodation from the Algerian authorities and show evidence of your hotel booking confirmation. That’s right, you have to get your hotel already for a country you probably won’t even get into. Finally, in order for your Algerian visa to be approved, you will be required to have an invitation from a registered travel agency in Algeria. And then, once again, there is a very good chance you will get kidnapped.

6) Cuba

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The rules on travel to Cuba are currently changing, but tourism is still illegal. The US will allow “people-to-people travel” and “travel for the transmission of informational materials”, so I hope you fit into one of those vague categories. Also, that’s just what you need to do to get YOUR country to allow you to go. Next up, you have to get the Cuban Interests desk in DC to grant you a tourist visa (even though the US government doesn’t acknowledge it as tourism) and that’s decided on a pretty obscure case-by-case basis and the rules are changing all the time. Buena suerte, amigos.

7) Syria

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Want to go to beautiful and historic Damascus? I hope you have an immense amount of patience, because visas have to be approved by the government in Syria and there is absolutely no estimated amount of time for the approval process. You might wait years, who knows. You also have to have already purchased round-trip tickets or have a confirmed itinerary, even though you don’t know when your visa will ever be approved or denied. Oh also there’s a war going on.

8) Somalia

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Somalia is the second-least visited country on earth, and for pretty good reason. For starters, Somalia is full of pirates, and not the fun Captain Jack kind. You also need a sponsor and invitation letter. I’m always curious why countries where nobody wants to go make it tough for you to come in. I’m pretty sure Somalia could get rid of all their border control and it would just give them more people for the pirates to rob. Do you not want free money, Somalia?

9) Afghanistan and Iraq

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You can come here, but you have to join the Army first.


So, any new travel plans after reading this list? Sunny Somalia? Sandy Saudi? Seaside Syria? Let me know @erikaheidewald or leave a comment!

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