Visiting The Directorate of Residence In Kurdistan

Visiting The Directorate of Residence In Kurdistan

By |2016-07-21T23:57:25-04:00January 8th, 2011|"How To" Travel Guides, Iraq|74 Comments

Erbil, Iraqi KurdistanThere is some confusion as to whether or not travelers to Iraqi Kurdistan are required to visit the Directorate of Residence during their stay in order to validate their visa. After all, the visa stamp that one receives upon entering the country does clearly state, in both Arabic and English, “Visit The Directorate Of Residence Within 10 Days”. And in my case, the immigration officer who placed that stamp into my passport repeated twice the need for me to visit the Directorate.

However, other travelers, such as Anil of, were not given these instructions upon entering the country and despite choosing not to visit the Directorate, had no issues whatsoever upon exiting the country at the end of their stay.

As for me, on my second day in the regional capital of Erbil, I decided to take a taxi to the Directorate of Residence just to be safe. And the following, like some of my other Iraq posts, is not only a tale of what I discovered, but perhaps a useful guide for anyone else who finds themselves in the same situation.

Note: None of the photos have anything to do with the Directorate of Residence but as you’ll see, I was not allowed to take any photos outside of or within the complex.

Step 1: “No Guns or Phones Allowed”

I enter the Directorate complex through an unmarked gate off of a small lane. Immediately upon entering, I am asked to hand over my mobile phone, camera and any other electronic devices at a check-in counter, which I do, while pretending not to be alarmed by the fact that everyone else around me is handing over their fully-loaded handguns.

Proceeding through a thorough pat down, I reach a small courtyard filled with dozens of people – Kurds, Iraqis, Iranians, Turkish and Syrians – all trying to obtain various visas. Without any signs to guide me, I hop from building to building until I find someone who can point me in the right direction.

Here’s the layout of the confusing complex to use as a reference…

Directorate of Residence, Erbil, Iraq

Step 2: “Tin Shacks”

The next step involves two small tin shacks at the back right corner of the courtyard (see map above). The man inside the shack on the left makes 2 photocopies of my passport and visa (250 Iraqi Dinars per copy) and the man inside the shack on the right then fills out several forms, which he hands over to me after I ‘pay’ him 500 Iraqi Dinars for filling out the forms.

Step 3: “Room #3”

The form filling man directs me into the main building where I am told to search for “Room #3”. The building has four floors and the room numbers are in no order whatsoever, which is actually quite irrelevant considering that “Room #3” does not have its number on the door at all. After several sets of bad directions from employees of the Directorate, I find “Room #3”, located on the first floor with a sign on the door that reads “Control Room”.

The door to the office is closed, but I quickly learn that it is acceptable practice to just barge right in. I hand my passport and paperwork to a man at a tiny desk who hands my paperwork over to the more official man sitting to his right. Among other questions, this man asks me how long I want to stay in Iraqi Kurdistan.

My original stamp is valid for 10 days and so I ask for an additional 10 day extension, to which the man asks to see a letter from my employer in Iraq. After explaining that I am merely a tourist, he refuses my extension, however, after some persistence on my part, he eventually writes a short note on a scrap of paper and sends me off to his ‘boss office’. The friendly boss immediately approves my extension, although, while shaking his hand in appreciation, he tells me that I need approval from the ‘big boss’ first. The ‘big boss’ flat out refuses the extension and immediately sends me back to “Room #3”.

Back in the Control Room, defeated and increasingly confused, the man scribbles something onto my forms in Arabic and tells me to visit “Room #15”.

Juice Stand in Erbil, Iraq

Step 4: “Room #15”

It turns out that “Room #15” is located in the basement. I approach the small window next to the door, hand over my passport and paperwork again and take a seat on the floor of the overcrowded waiting hall.

After 45 minutes, a man calls my name and I enter “Room #15”, where my photograph is taken and an officer asks me the same questions as the man upstairs (Where are you from? Why are you here? What is your profession? What is your father’s name? What is your mother’s name?). The officer then gives me my passport and directs me to “Window #7”, located at the other end of the room.

At “Window #7”, a female soldier asks me the exact same five questions, enters some information into her computer and then places an orange circular sticker on the front of my passport.

Before I can even ask, she tells me to “Go to Room #11”.

Step 5: “Room #11”

Oh my. “Room #11” is no ordinary room. Nobody is allowed to enter “Room #11” and instead, one must join the massive crowd of people pushing and shoving their way towards the small window next to the door. This step, while a vital part of the process, is not for everyone, as I am forced to stick up my elbows, jab endless people in the ribs and step on some feet with a considerable amount of force.

Upon finally reaching the window, a man grabs my passport and paperwork and without a word, disappears into the room.

IMPORTANT TIP: Once your passport is taken, DO NOT give up your prime position near the front of the crowd. I made the amateur move of backing away from the window and the result was most unfortunate. If you move away from the crowd, you won’t hear your name being called when your passport is ready. I waited for one hour against a wall at the opposite end of the hallway and only when I decided to fight my way to the front of the crowd again, did I discover that the man had been calling my name for over thirty minutes. And inexplicably, because I didn’t pick up my passport when called, I had to return to “Room #15” and have my orange sticker replaced with a new one.

Citadel, Erbil, Iraq

Step 6: “Room #18”

I am told to return to the first floor and visit “Room #18”, another room that does not have its number on the outside of the door. “Room #18” is better known as the “Passport Fees & Fines” office.

The young man in the doorway does not allow me to enter but takes my passport from me. I peek into the office and notice that he places my passport at the end of a long line of at least 100 passports that snakes across two huge desks and eventually ends in front of a man sitting at a computer, who is spending more time drinking tea, eating pastries and talking on his mobile phone than working.

IMPORTANT TIP: If you’re in a rush or simply can’t stand this process any longer, don’t wander too far from the doorway no matter how many times a man comes out of the office and yells at everyone to stop crowding around the doorway.

I camp out by the door for thirty minutes before I finally put on my sad face, which I hope will convince the man in the doorway to bump my passport up a few places. I also point to my non-existent wristwatch and try to explain that I need to be at the airport soon. (This isn’t a lie as Anil was flying into Erbil that day and I planned to meet him at the airport.)

At first, the man ignores me and so I pull out 2000 Iraqi Dinars ($1.65 USD) from my pocket and wait for the right opportunity to slip him a bribe. But before I can hand over the money, I notice that he has just moved my passport to the front of the line.

I watch the man behind the desk talk some more on his mobile phone while typing in my passport information with one finger. He then slides my passport onto another desk, where another man sits in a chair, talking on his mobile phone of course. After ten minutes, I am called inside where I receive a hand-written ‘bill’ that I am instructed to take to the “Bank Counter”.

Step 7: “Bank Counter”

Surprisingly, the “Bank Counter” is conveniently located right next door to the “Passport Fees & Fines” office. I pay the 2250 Iraqi Dinar ($1.90 USD) fee and take the official receipt back to “Room #18”.

I exchange the receipt for my passport and despite the pain from having banged my head on a sharp metal bar sticking out of the wall in the process, I nearly fall to my knees in happiness that the process has finally come to an end.

Unfortunately, at the exact same moment, the man behind the desk informs me that I must now pay another visit to “Room #11”.

Kurdish man in Sulamainyah, Iraq

Step 8: “Room #11” (again)

Back downstairs I go to the once chaotic “Room #11”, which is now almost completely empty. A guard at the door directs me to a desk inside where a man types some more information into a computer, asks me the same five questions and hands my passport to a woman next to him. She places a large stamp in my passport, right under the stamp I had received at the border, and then hands it over to yet another man.

This man flips through the pages of my passport for a few minutes, drinks a cup of tea, looks for something in a large stack of papers on his desk and eventually, grabs a black pen and enters the expiration date of my visa onto the new stamp.

With my passport in hand once again, I ask the man where I need to be next.

Without even looking up he mutters, “Finish. You go.

And so, almost 4 hours after I walked into the Directorate of Residence in Erbil, I pick up my mobile phone and camera from the security desk and stroll back into the world outside, without having received the visa extension I wanted and completely unsure of why I had to go through this process in the first place.

So while this post may not provide the answer as to whether or not you need to visit the Directorate of Residence during your stay in Iraqi Kurdistan, if you do find yourself in the midst of this obstacle course, you should now be able to navigate the process with ease.

Directorate of Residence in Erbil
Well, I tried to find the actual address of this place but it was impossible. So my best advice is to simply show any taxi driver the visa stamp in your passport and they will understand the Arabic part that mentions the need to visit the Directorate of Residence.

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  1. Shola March 20, 2019 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Mac, I will be visiting soon and might need your help in erbil. Can I have your phone number if you do not mind.

  2. Brenda June 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Hi,,,i just want to ask and to know how to visit my friend in kurdistan,,,is there need to apply tourist visa? What document needed if incase i apply visa,,,this is my first travel in kurdistan so, i dont know how to do….thanks….

  3. Geetanjali December 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I am Geetanjali from India.i would like to travel to kurdistan.
    But i’m hardly find the information to make visa kurdistan.
    Could u please help me how to make it forIndia??
    Where do i make that visa?
    Do i just need to book the ticket then i get the visa on arrival?
    One of my colleague said that
    Kurdistan is autonomous from greater Iraq and issues its own entry visa when required (emailed letter of invitation / visa). Persons staying beyond 14 days are issued a KRG identification card in Kurdistan, which allows them to come and go until the card expires (up to 12 months).
    There is no requirement to have a visa from the Republic of Iraq when in Kurdistan – two separate governing authorities.”

    Please help.

  4. Rose June 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Hi Wandering Earl! I actually have an Indian friend I started corresponding with who is doing contract work in Erbil. He is staying in his hotel room simply because he cannot communicate in Arabic or Kurdish to the taxi drivers! For crying out loud – isn’t there come way to have a small card with both Arabic and Kurdish printed on it that says, “Hi – could you take me to __________ in the shortest route possibly? Thanks!” I cannot find this anywhere online!

    VERY non-wandering Rose (bok! bok! I’m a chicken! Must stay safe at home!)

    • Wandering Earl June 27, 2013 at 3:15 am - Reply

      Hey Rose – I didn’t find it to be that difficult to communicate in the end…I don’t speak Arabic or Kurdish and I managed to get around the region quite easily every day.

    • Kosar Muhammad May 1, 2015 at 5:02 am - Reply

      bro i am living in Erbil if you have any friends who they think they need help just let me know i will help them.

      • josh July 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

        hi kosar muhammad! did you know about invitation letter? how many days is the minimum proccess for this? thank you in advance!

        josh from philippines,

      • Anthony Beckley February 8, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

        Hi Kosar – can I have your mobile number

      • Abs Vettel October 11, 2016 at 8:51 pm - Reply

        Hello Kosar,

        Are you still living in Erbil? If so, I could really use some advice and quite urgently if possible…I’m a US citizen tho have been traveling the world for about 20 years and arrived here in Erbil about a month ago with the promise of a very good job offer lined up after living in Thailand for several years. However, the job fell thru before I even started and at the last minute, so well, there’s more to it and it’s a bit complicated, so I’d def prefer to correspond with you directly as I’m not sure who reads these comments or if you’re even still here in Erbil as most of the comments on this site seem outdated. I look forward to hearing from you soon and please do contact me via my email and we can exchange phone numbers or skype if you like after…I just hope that you have some solid advice (as everyone I’ve asked has quite varying answers and it’s quite confusing so I would appreciate help greatly! Thanks so much! Abs

  5. Maurizio Giuliano May 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Actually, registration is not an uncommon process. Besides Russia, I remember doing it in Libya and probably some more places. In Libya it was an office called Jawazzat and the process took minutes: a stamp and payment of the fee.

    Believe it or not, in theory even in Italy foreigners have to register, including those who do not need a visa, and including simple tourists. But this is not done, though I know people who went through it out of scruple.

    I believe the purpose is to register your presence, even though one may believe that the immigration process should suffice.

    Anyway the thing is that if you stay less than the reporting period, then to my understanding you dont have to register.

    • Wandering Earl May 17, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

      Hey Maurizio – That is correct except when I was there, the rules were very confusing. Also, I wanted to extend my visa so I had to go through the registration process in order to try that. But yes, many, many countries have the registration rule but in my experience, it is usually a much easier process than this 🙂

  6. Andrew April 12, 2013 at 2:29 am - Reply

    I went to Kurdistan several times between since 2009 and never had an issue when leaving within 10 days. Current stamps from 2013 show 15 days. As Franzmaximilian pointed out, the passport stamp seems to tell an incomplete story. No questions asked, no fine paid upon leaving.

    Happy to hear they have computers at the Directorate. They don’t in many other government offices such as the notary public I visited. Carbon paper and a good memory do the job as well 🙂

    Things get even more exciting them trying to settle down in Erbil and open a company of your own. The chicken-and-egg thing will be on for you with the necessity to have a registered office and a home address, yet not being able to get either of that without proper resident visa. Which will only be issued after the company is set up. Be ready for some spicy red tape experience in such cases. As usually in the Middle East, a well connected lawyer will make the process more smooth for you.

    • Wandering Earl April 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Hey Andrew – Thanks for sharing that information! And good luck with setting up the business if that’s what you’re trying to do over there 🙂

  7. Yanti March 10, 2013 at 12:05 am - Reply

    I have called iraqi embassy in jakarta as I wanted to know how do I get kurdistan visa for indonesian passport holders. Too bad the secretary said that I must fill the visa form first and then I hand it to them with my original Passport and for the acceptances, I need to wait 2 weeks to 2 months. I thought that I could have visa on arrival just like british or us passport holders but I wasn’t right..Damn rules!!
    But hopefully I can get there soon.inshallah

    • Mac March 31, 2018 at 6:08 am - Reply

      Hi . I am Kurdish i live in Erbil if u need any help i can help u

  8. Kulka Kurdayati March 9, 2013 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Well, by accident i found your page and i was curious about your Visa experience. As the rest of my people here i would like to say – sorry for this mess – hopefully we will make it better.
    But by the way – i would like to add that my experience from 2011 are a little bit different (i have EU passport). I went to the Slemanyi office, where in spite of quite a large crowd (it was about Newroz time and a lot of our peple from East Kurdistan under Iranina occupation came for celebration) – the whole procedure was quite fast and easy. Of course i waited a bit, but i think it was less than 2 hours all together, i went only to one room, i wasnt asked too many questions – except how long i need to stay and where i currently live. I didnt pay a single dinar for anything. Staff were quite freindly and helpful.
    So Hewler – learfn from Suly 🙂

  9. Richie Finger December 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl, I came across this post after spending 2 hours cycling around looking for the building. I didn’t find it in the end. Then I read your post and I decided not to waste one of my 3 days in Erbil doing what you did. I’m now in Sulymaniyah and might get the extension here. I, like you try and turn these painful processes into a game. And hopefully learn for next time. Adding a bicycle into the mix creates even further problems:)
    Great site I look forward to reading it.
    I’ll report back on my final outcome when I cross into Iran, with or without extension:)

    • Wandering Earl December 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Hey Richie – I can only imagine trying to find this place on a bicycle! Do let me know how it all turns out and I wish you the best of luck over there!

  10. I officially confirmed while I was in Kurdistan that if you are staying 10 days or less you do NOT have to visit to the Directorate of Residence. You only need to go to extend you visa and stay beyond 10 days. Hence “You must visit the Directorate of Residence within 10 days.” They’re missing a sentence there… 😛

    • Earl July 23, 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Thanks for confirming that Aaron!

  11. Franzmaximilian July 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Good news for all travellers going to Iraqi Kurdistan: the stamp on your passport now says 15 days (since June 2012 I guess). I noticed it by chance on two colleagues’ passports, while others stamped in May were still showing a 10 day validity.
    I also visited the Directorate (back in March this year), but I was much luckier.
    First, I had my employer’s letter together with a letter from a Ministry stating that the company works for them.
    Second, I was escorted by a local with good “connections”. Total time needed less than two hours. But I agree that yours is a perfect report of the whole process. And quite amusing to read too!
    Result: I’m now the proud holder of a 1 year residency card, only document I always carry with me, while my passport lays safely in a drawer.
    And I live happily in this lovely country!

  12. Yanti June 18, 2012 at 4:29 am - Reply

    Hello Earl,

    I am yanti from indonesia.i would like to travel to kurdistan.
    But i’m hardly find the information to make visa kurdistan.
    Could u please help me how to make it for indonesian??
    Where do i make that visa?
    Do i just need to book the ticket then i get the visa on arrival?

    Thank you,


    • Earl June 19, 2012 at 8:03 am - Reply

      Hey Yanti – I’m not too sure about the visa rules for Indonesians. The easiest thing to do is call the Iraqi Embassy in Jakarta and ask them about the rules.

  13. Omer September 30, 2011 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Dear Earl,

    It is a matter of sorrow that you have faced these difficulties while extending your ten days visa, but it happens to everyone pass by the Residency office.

    In my side I will also translate this tale and inform most of the people I face when I go there, as there is no perfect mechanism and management to deal with the visa procedures.

    I think the only way to solve this problem is to inform the Big Boss and the KRG Department of Foreign Relations to solve this nonsense bureaucracy.

    Sorry for the inconvenience you have faced in our region.


    • Earl October 3, 2011 at 6:29 am - Reply

      Hey Omer – There’s no need to apologize at all!! I’ve been traveling for many years and believe me, this is not at all the worst situation I’ve ever faced.

      However, if you do happen to know how to get in touch with the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, please let me know. I’ve just started a new website called and have been trying to talk to someone in the KRG about it. But they haven’t returned any of my emails yet 🙂

  14. Diary May 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, I really feel sorry that you had difficulty in our state. It came up my mind to translate your post into Kurdish and send if to a local newspaper so that other people and officials work on this annoying bureaucracy and trying to fix it.

    • Earl May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Hey Diary – It really wasn’t too much of a problem in the end. It was a bit confusing and a bit difficult to find out what I really needed to do but I can understand that things are organized too well yet. Hopefully they’re working on the bureaucracy so that it will improve soon!

  15. […] but there is some confusion as to whether or not this is really necessary. Read this post about my experience at the Directorate for more information regarding the crazy bureaucracy involved with visiting this government […]

  16. kurd February 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    guys I’m as kurdish guy really apologize for what had happen to you. you are not alone guys that’s happened to me as well. but you should know that for looooonggggg time we are sacrificing under Arabs salad, dictators and terrors, we are(kurds) don’t want to do any mistakes this time to get lost again our government and peoples trying to be accurate. I promise you that I will translate your article to kurdish and send it to them to inform them there are peoples getting tired with these useless routin…

    I would like to thanks all Europian and American countries they helped us when we were in tight angles

  17. Salar February 8, 2011 at 5:00 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I was really interested to know the opinion of tourists about the Iraq and Kurdistan region. So thanks for your post, and I feel proud with the achievement of our government KRG. They could establish an Oasis of safety among these unstable countries in the middle east, including the other parts of Iraq. In addition that the Kurdish people in this region faced one of the most terrible campaign of genocides from the former regime of Iraq. we are about to build a country from the ashes of the old.
    I am currently in London as a student. Last week I applied for a visa extension, the application form was 54 pages with other 50 pages of guidance (it took me more than 3 hours to fill it). The application fee was £550 (non refundable in case of refusal) , two days ago I received a letter from the home office asking me for fingerprinting. I had to go to a specific place to do that, after 2 hours of waiting and queuing, filling a form and paying additional £16.2 (as if the £550 wasn’t enough) I managed to get my fingerprinted. Then I was told to wait 6 weeks to get the decision and they will have my passport with them until they make their decision.
    So I would be more than happy if there is a Directorate in London (similar to the one in my city  ) and I am ready to spend whole the day going UP-Down Stairs if they can finish my application within the same day.

    P.S. I would appreciate if you can upload a photo of the stumps and the notice that you got on your passport, just curiosity.

    Thank you and all the luck in your future adventures


    • Earl February 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Hey Salar – I must say that is quite a process you have to go through to try and extend your visa in London and I can see how my experience in Erbil seems like nothing in comparison. All I wanted was a 7-day extension though so it’s a shame that after all of that my request was denied. But I do wish you luck with your extension and hopefully it will all be worth the process in the end 🙂

      And here’s a link to a photo of my visa stamps:

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment!

  18. Khoshnaw February 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Nice to hear that overall you enjoyed the trip, and are willing to visit the region again 🙂 By the way, late March, April and May are the optimum months for a visit, to enjoy the weather and the natural beauty of the mountains!

    There are also western-based travel companies such as Distant Horizons, Hinterland Travel and Kurdistan Adventures that can arrange sightseeing holidays in the area.

    You can get more information from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website If you choose the English version and click About Kurdistan Region, Travelling to Kurdistan, you’ll find the link to the pdf document at the bottom. you may also click the following link:

    Hope this will help and wishing you more enjoyable trips in the future 🙂

    • Earl February 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      That’s great stuff Khoshnaw. Thank you for sharing those links and I’m sure they’ll prove useful for anyone else planning a visit to Kurdistan!

  19. Khoshnaw February 6, 2011 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    Sorry to hear that you had to go through this inefficient bureaucracy! The whole experience can be very tiring and daunting. Unfortunately, such a decades-old bureaucratic system is the legacy of the old Iraqi regime, and a radical change is long overdue. Being a British Kurd myself (a dual national, Iaqi-British), I travelled to Kurdistan on my British passport on a couple of occasions recently and had to go through this process too..! However, speaking the language can make everything a lot easier! I believe that much improvement is needed in terms of work efficiency, staff training, client guidance/assistance, creating a customer-friendly environment, the physical condition of the buildings..etc. As far as your visa extension is concerned, it seems that you’ve already got a 3-month extension..!! Although I’m just guessing, but the purpose of going through this process is to get the standard 3-month visa extension. Probably it was not explained to you clearly because of the language barrier and the stamp being in arabic . It might be worth checking your passport stamp with an arabic- or kurdish-speaking friend. Hope this experience will not put you off from visiting Erbil again in the future to explore more positive sides of the region. I shall also write an email to the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative here in London.

    • Earl February 6, 2011 at 4:25 am - Reply

      Hey Khoshnaw – Thank you so much for your comment and for providing that unique insight! Unfortunately, I did not receive an extension and had to leave after my 10 days were finished. The stamp in my passport did state (in both arabic and English) that it was valid for only 10 days. However, despite the process of visiting the Directorate, I am still eager to return to Kurdistan again soon and explore the region some more. That first trip was one of the most memorable and enjoyable trips of my life 🙂

      And I do agree that speaking the language would have been much easier, so next time I will try to bring someone with me when I attempt to get an extension. Although, hopefully the bureaucracy is improving every day so perhaps on my next visit, the process will be somewhat simpler!

  20. Anil January 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    What a nightmare but an interesting read to follow along with. No guns or phones but what about swords?

    • Earl January 18, 2011 at 12:48 am - Reply

      Hey Anil – Oddly enough, I did not see any knives or swords being handed over. However, I was in such a state of shock at seeing so many loaded guns in front of me that I might not have noticed the swords!

  21. Theodora January 16, 2011 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, and I thought Indonesian bureaucracy was hard to navigate. Always a good idea to play it safe on paperwork, though, I find, even if you turn out not to need it: particularly in countries where charges are as, erm, flexible as Iraq.

    • Earl January 17, 2011 at 6:22 am - Reply

      Hey Theodora – I agree that it’s often better to play it safe and then, as long as you view it as a travel experience and not a complete hassle, the bureaucracy can prove to be quite enjoyable, amusing or at least somewhat interesting!

  22. krantcents January 13, 2011 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Do you ever get tired of all the different things governments put you through, particularly while traveling? This is one reason I can only vicariously travel with you.

    • Earl January 15, 2011 at 5:05 am - Reply

      @krantcents: I don’t really tire of it as now it simply becomes a part of the overall adventure! With that said, it can still be somewhat frustrating from time to time of course…

  23. Forest January 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Reminds me a lot of a scene in the movie Brazil….. If you have not seen it you must watch it now :).

    There is a place that sounds similar here in Egypt called the Mogamma, just 10 floors of small windows, no air conditioning and lots of shouting and running around.

    • Earl January 12, 2011 at 8:07 am - Reply

      Hey Forest – Lots of shouting and running around sounds about right. Those seem to be staples of government offices in developing countries.

  24. Siddhartha Joshi January 11, 2011 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Wow! What a post this was…I am extremely sorry but I was so entertained by the pains you had to go through 🙂

    Enjoyed what and how you write man, would follow your blog regularly now 🙂

    • Earl January 12, 2011 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Hey Siddharta – Welcome and thank you for following along! And don’t worry about it, if my suffering proves entertaining to at least one other person, than it’s absolutely worth it to me 🙂

  25. AdventureRob January 11, 2011 at 4:45 am - Reply

    Wow, just wow.

    They have a long way to go clearly. I get annoyed at most queues when entering a country but that seems ridiculous. Adds to the fun though I guess, but definitely need to be in the right mental state before tackling that!

    • Earl January 11, 2011 at 5:47 am - Reply

      Hey Rob – It’s quite intriguing that it took longer for me to get a visa extension rejected at the Directorate of Residence than it did for me to actually enter the country! I waited less than an hour at the Iraq/Turkey border to receive my initial stamp. So I just assumed it would be a quick trip to the Directorate. Next time I’ll be prepared (as will you if you happen to make it over there!).

  26. Maria Staal January 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Great post, Earl! As you said, you might not know why it was important to get this second stamp, but as a cultural experience it must have been quite fascinating. In any case it was fascinating to read about it! 🙂

    • Earl January 11, 2011 at 12:39 am - Reply

      Thank you Maria! I even thought about visiting the Directorate of Residence in a second city just to try again to get the extension. But I guess in the end I didn’t enjoy the experience enough to actually go through it a second time!

  27. Kan January 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Like the others, I need a drink after reading your post. Absolutely hilarious! It’s definitely one of those experiences you look back at retrospectively and absolutely laugh yourself silly with how ridiculous that process was. This is what I would call a ‘joy’ of traveling. 🙂

    • Earl January 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Kan – I think you’ve definitely got the right idea. Even during the process I found myself laughing from time to time and I actually had a pretty good time that morning. Whether something is frustrating or enjoyable often depends on how we view the situation!

      • Kan January 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm - Reply

        By the way, seeing as you’re in Australia at the moment.. should you need any help or need a place to stay feel free to find me. I pretty much check my emails daily and if you know there’s a high chance I can send you some more contact details.

        • Earl January 11, 2011 at 12:43 am - Reply

          Thanks so much for the offer Kan! I will actually be heading up to Sydney soon so perhaps we can meet up one day? I’ll send you an email and see if we can work something out…

  28. Rebecca January 9, 2011 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Bureaucracy at its best! Exhausting.

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      Hey Rebecca – Exhausting yet fascinating! Painful while it’s happening, but usually humorous immediately afterward!

  29. Priyank January 9, 2011 at 3:44 am - Reply

    Hi Earl!
    I’m sorry man but I enjoyed reading about your narration of this tormenting experience. Perhaps because it was extremely educational! At the end of it all, I am still completely puzzled about the purpose of this procedure!

    When you go to Russia, you’ll discover that tourists have to “register” their visa at a government office within 72 hours of arrival or if you are in a new city, or,…blah (lot of soviet rules). Anyway, I didn’t do anything until my second to last day in Russia and paid a penalty of 10USD for being late. I think that saved lot of trouble.

    Are you going to contribute to LP Kurdistan anytime soon? This was brilliant piece of documentation.

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Hey Priyank – Puzzled is a good way to describe it…I have no idea myself what the point of my visit was and if you only need to visit the Directorate in order to extend your visa, well, that doesn’t make much sense considering that they rejected my visa extension!

      And as for Russia, I’d say you did quite well with the $10 penalty. At first I read it as $100 and even then thought, “Well, that’s probably worth it” so $10 is definitely a bargain. One can have many wasted days in some places due to bureaucratic nonsense!

      It’s funny you mentioned the documentation. Halfway through the process I thought to myself that I should be writing this stuff down and so I backtracked a bit to get the information I needed. But I love keeping track of these kind of experiences as usually they are just glanced over without much attention paid to them. I find them fascinating!

  30. Matt Bailey January 9, 2011 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Earl! So Funny! hahahaha….I hate these situations and yet they also add a flare to travel that you remember later. Even if its not a good time.
    I can see myself getting so damn frustrated during this process and the only thing holding me back from completely losing it would be the country that Im in. 🙂

    Great post though! and Thanks for contributing to my E-book. I look forward to putting it all together!

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Matt – Yeah, it’s all how you look at the situation. As frustrating as it can be, sometimes it should just be treated as another learning experience, especially when everyone around you has a gun checked-in at the door!

      Looking forward to reading your eBook and I greatly appreciated the invitation to participate!

  31. Andi January 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I am exhausted after reading this! Where is the nearest Starbucks???

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      Haha Andi…good thing you weren’t there with me because the closest Starbucks to Erbil is probably a good 1500 miles away!

  32. ayngelina January 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Wow Earl, that would be so exhausting. In the end do you think you should have skipped it like Anil?

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Hey Ayngelina – I’m sure I could have very easily skipped this process and everything would have been fine. Although, it was quite an interesting experience to go through in the end, so I can’t really complain…

  33. David Berger January 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Great post, Earl. I hate bureaucracy but fortunately never had to endure anything like this.
    It’s amazing how much money governments are wasting world wide with inefficient bureaucracies like in Kurdistan.

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Hey David – I would have loved to see the computer system they were using as having to enter the same details six times seemed a bit much, but most likely the officials there think the process is quite efficient. The fact that there was even a process to follow was shocking enough to me!

  34. Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker January 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    haha great story there. Is your Arabic good or did you just wing it when the door would have no numbers?

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Dustin – My Arabic is somewhere between non-existent and terrible. Almost none of the dozens of staff spoke any English and so there was a great deal of pointing and hand gestures. But I also would just walk into every office I passed until I found the right one!

  35. TourAbsurd January 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Hmm. I wonder if the ignorance plea would have been best. You know, skip the whole thing, take the advice of the other travelers, and say you couldn’t find the place if asked.

    Reminds me a bit of Italian bureaucracy, except that in Iraq it’s much faster. 😉

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      @TourAbsurd: I have no doubt that the ignorance plea would work perfectly well in this case. I just assumed (correctly it turns out) that no matter what, visiting the Directorate would be a cultural experience!

      • TourAbsurd January 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm - Reply

        You need a ‘like’ button in your comments. There’s so much here to like! 😀

  36. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Paul Grant. John Paul Grant said: Visiting The Directorate of Residence In Kurdistan […]

  37. Sandy @ yesiamcheap January 8, 2011 at 7:00 am - Reply

    This sounds like a semi-official scam to get some money. I guess you have to make sure not to stay over 10 days there so as not to have to go through this process. I guess if you were working there or moving there you might need to go through this (frustrating sounding) process. Bureaucracy exists everywhere.

    • Earl January 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Hey Sandy – Not sure if it’s a scam considering that I only had to pay $1.90 USD in the end! But you’re right, I think the main reason to visit the Directorate is if you will be working in Kurdistan as you can take a letter from your employer and get an official extension. I don’t think there would be any consequences for an ordinary traveler who decides not to go through the process…

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