I swear I researched thoroughly and read that the visa to Georgia for Filipinos is upon arrival. In some articles, it also indicates visa-free. I never came across any that say I need to obtain a visa prior to arrival.
“Ma’am, I am sorry but we can’t allow you to board the plane. You need a visa to enter Georgia.”
Are you kidding me? I arrived 7 hours early in Ben Gurion International Airport just because Israel’s security check when going out of the country is ‘problematic’ and ‘massive.’
“I swear to you, I don’t need a visa to enter Georgia. I can get one upon arrival.”
I showed her some articles proving my point. But she still insisted that I can’t board the plane. While she was double checking their system, I called my Georgian friends (who happened to be lawyers) and they were quite shocked about my news. They pulled their strings and contacted every government office they know in Tbilisi to justify that Filipinos don’t need a visa to enter Georgia. They advised me to call the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv to seek help and I did.
From calling the Embassy, I learned I was wrong.
Visa to Georgia for Filipinos should be applied prior to arrival… Oooppps. Sorry. My bad.
Holy fecking shet. How did I miss this? It was 2 hours before boarding and there I was, standing at the check-in counter looking like an idiot who had no idea about the visa regulations of her own country. As a person who has been traveling for a long time now, this is such an idiotic move.
I had to pull my own strings. I Whatsapped all the Filipino bloggers I know who have been to Georgia and they said I need to apply an e-visa. One of my friends gave me the link to apply for the e-visa to Georgia but he said I should wait 5 working days to receive it.
My stomach crunched. I don’t have 5 working days! My tourist visa in Israel will be expiring in 24 hours. Seriously, I don’t have the luxury of time. Oh my God, Trisha! This is what happens when you are always living on the edge. But anyway, I’m already here so let’s move forward.
I stood at the check-in counter realising the idiocracy and sort of accepted the defeat. I am totally wrong in this. But I kept my cool.
“So, what do we do now? Can you suggest other things? And may I be excused? I need to go to the toilet.”
“Yes ma’am. I will find answers for you. We don’t want you to miss this flight, too.”
“Thank you. Can I also have a beer?”
No. I’m kidding. I didn’t say that. Though I wish I did. Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Like in this situation. I really insisted to be in the flight so they were trying to find ways for me. It’s about our persistence. It’s about telling them what we really want and that is important in anything in life.
She was very helpful and I needed that. I didn’t need someone who will nag about my poor choices in life. I didn’t go to the toilet. It was an excuse to have a cigarette break. I was horrified! I needed to breathe.
I clicked the link my friend gave me and immediately applied for a visa. I needed to do something. I honestly was about to lose it.
Step 1: Citizenship/Country
Step 2: Travel lnformation
Step 3: Terms and Conditions
Step 4: Personal Information
After finishing all these sections, I was asked to pay $20 for the visa fee which is non-refundable whether the visa gets approved or not. Wait, what? They can reject e-visas?! The only problem was, I was 2 hours away from boarding time and the e-visa will only arrive after 5 working days.
I did what I had to do. I e-mailed the e-VISA department of Georgia with a poorly written message. I was in a hurry. I wasn’t thinking. Bottom line, they needed to know they have to give me the e-visa RIGHT NOW because I was already at the check-in counter. There was no turning back. Again, I had no other choice because my Israeli visa will soon be expiring. Damn, all this visa shenanigan!
Oh crap. This life. It’s crazy. It’s intense. It’s full of surprises. But this led me to a good learning experience about applying a visa to Georgia for Filipinos. But I still wish the e-VISA office in Georgia will read my mail and understand the situation I was in. I was praying hard they will send it right away. As in that very minute. I needed it! I want to scream!
Tip: Always have a passport picture and a copy of your passport in your phone, Dropbox, Google drive or e-mail. It’s a life saver!
As I head back to the check-in counter to speak to the helpful airline lady, she was smiling like something miraculously happened. I smiled back pretending everything was okay, pretending that my mind was not on fast forward mode with voices in my head saying “you are going to be fecking deported.”
“Ma’am, we are letting you board now. I checked all your passports (old and new) and you can enter Georgia as per the OECD agreement.”
Okay, I am really happy about this but what the feck is the OECD agreement?
Ratification of the Convention on the OECD
My 5-year valid Japanese visa and Mexican visa saved my ess. Apparently, you don’t need to apply a visa to Georgia if you have a valid visa from the members of the OECD agreement. You can check the list here. Additionally, if you have a residence visa in any Middle Eastern country, the visa on arrival is also possible. No need to apply the visa prior.
Helpful airline lady handed me my boarding pass but I was still shaking. I have a quick stop in Athens and she told me that if they will not allow me to board the Tbilisi flight, I need to show them my Japanese visa, and of course, explain the OECD convention.
After 1 hour and 30 minutes of massive check (yes, Ben Gurion Airport is crazy as feck), I rushed to the boarding gate only to find out I was the only passenger missing and take-off was delayed for 45 minutes. We just missed our spot at the runway because airports are busy like that. When something like this happens (this is my first time, btw) I just put that charming Asian smile and everything will be okay. At least that’s what I’ve been told growing up. Always smile. Share the positive energy even if it’s all fecked up.
I went to my seat and found out I have the whole row to myself. How do I deserve all this?!?! Not they are all looking at me like “this betch!”
Meanwhile, in Athens…
I was stopped at the boarding gate again. Though there were no flight delays, the airline crew in Athens were puzzled about how to approach my case. It’s a layover! Come on! How was I allowed to board in Tel Aviv if I am not allowed to do so in Athens? I kept proving my point. Over and over, I explained to them the OECD agreement like I was an expert. I even asked them to call the helpful airline lady in Tel Aviv because she can vouch for me. I did not violate anything.
But a miracle occurred again. I got an e-mail from the e-VISA office in Georgia and guess what’s it about? THEY JUST SENT MY E-VISA! OMG! I opened the attachment and interrupted everyone: “Everyone, hold your horses! Here’s my visa. Let me board.”
Everyone was quiet and double checked the e-mail I received. It really is the e-visa. My poorly written e-mail message worked.
I am one lucky betch. I was smiling big as I board the plane, looking at the sky and asking the Universe: how in the world do I deserve all this? BUT THANK YOU. THANK YOU! I want to scream!
Note: I might have been lucky with the e-visa but please, do not go through the stress and adrenaline rush. Apply for your e-visa to Georgia prior to arrival. Please. You have the steps above. Don’t be the idiot that I was.
By the way, I also did have the whole row to myself in the Athens-Tbilisi flight. Life is good!
The endless learning
You see, I am not an expert at all. I make so many mistakes. It seems to me that I am a guinea pig of Philippine passport holders. I have the first dibs on trying things because countries like Georgia are not really used to Filipino tourists so they don’t really know what the regulations are. They were even more confused than I am! The same happened to me in Panama where they stamped my passport without a visa. They panicked. Both of us didn’t know I need a visa to Panama.
It was a stressful flight but I am used to it. People who have passports like mine need a visa to everywhere but through the course of my travel, I realised it shouldn’t stop me from doing what I am doing. I am so thankful to have my Philippine passport. The adventures it gave me and the countries it brought me to have been a hell of a ride.
There is no greater experience than being challenged. I wouldn’t change anything nor will I wish to have a different passport. Ever!
My dear Filipinos, let us stop being underdogs and fight for our rights (only if we are right, of course!). Always look for other options and never ever give up. Some of us just want to see the world and we should not put our head low. Having this passport is challenging but the experiences you will have traveling with it will be a great story to tell.
This is me, 50+ countries and numerous visa applications after. Still surviving and enjoying the ride of life.
Where are you from? Did you ever have to undergo crazy visa applications to travel the world? What are your tips? I would like to hear from you! Leave your thoughts on the comment box below!
Plan your travels with Pinterest! Hover on the image below and pin it! I promise, it will come handy!