Iraq – International flight ban complicates travel to Kurdish region

Employers should work closely with BAL when planning employee travel into or out of the Kurdish region. The situation continues to change rapidly, and travel requirements may change with little or no notice.

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IMPACT – MEDIUM

The Iraqi government has banned international commercial flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, complicating visa and travel processes for those traveling to the Kurdish region of the country. The ban follows a Kurdish vote on independence in late September and comes amid fighting over disputed territory. The situation in the Kurdish region remains fluid, but BAL’s latest information is as follows:

  • International commercial flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are suspended. The Iraqi government banned international flights into and out of the Kurdish region Sept. 29; however, direct domestic flights to the Kurdish region continue to operate. Most foreign nationals traveling to the Kurdish region must travel through Baghdad or other Iraqi cities.
  • All foreign nationals traveling to the Kurdish must possess an Iraqi visa. This is true even for foreign nationals traveling directly to the Kurdish region without leaving the Iraqi airport through which they are traveling. Visa processing times vary, but may take between one and three months.
  • Some foreign nationals traveling to the Kurdish region must have a visa issued by Kurdish authorities. Kurdish authorities require visas for many nationalities, but depending on their length of stay, nationals of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and many European countries may not be required to have a separate Kurdish visa on top of an Iraqi visa. Consult with BAL about Kurdish visa requirements.

BAL Analysis: Employers should work closely with BAL when planning employee travel into or out of the Kurdish region. The situation continues to change rapidly, and travel requirements may change with little or no notice. BAL will continue to follow the situation closely and will alert clients to any significant developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Iraq. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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