Travel Permits

In order to travel around Afghanistan as a tourist you need to obtain permits for the provinces you wish to visit.

Permitting is a two step process.

Step 1: Obtain Permits in Kabul

(If Kabul isn't convenient, read the section below on obtaining permits elsewhere).

a) Go to the Ministry of Information and Culture (34.525123, 69.174224) and request the permits. Don’t go to Afghan Tours (34.533558, 69.197881) as that is for tour guides only.

  • You must specify the provinces you intend to visit and your start and end dates of travel in Afghanistan. The permits allow you to travel within Afghanistan during the specified dates and to visit the provinces listed during those dates.
  • You don’t need a permit if you are just passing through a province.
  • The permits used to officially cost 1,000 AFN but recent reports indicate the permits are being issued for free. Other travelers had also reported obtaining discounts on the permits and paying anywhere from 300 to 1,000 AFN in the past.
  • The staff speak English and are very helpful. This should be done in a few hours at most.
  • Some travelers have reported the ministry staff mistakenly sending them to Afghan Tours to obtain permits. Afghan Tours is only meant for tour guides and tour companies. It’s not for independent travelers. If this happens, ask to speak to the director of the ministry and don’t accept this as an answer. It might require some waiting until you can speak to the right person.

b) The Ministry will endorse your application and then refer you to the Department of Tourism (34.514378, 69.19766) for issuing a letter to travel to the provinces you intend to. The staff there also speak English and can sort this all out for you within a day.

Step 2: Obtain Province Specific Permits

After you obtain the permits in Kabul, register yourself upon arrival in each province by going to the Ministry of Information and Culture in that province. The locations of these ministries are provided on this page. You will then receive a province specific permit or permission slip that you must carry with you. This allows you to visit the tourist sights in that province.

Permits are not required for provinces you just pass through. They are only required for the ones where you will visit the tourist sights for or stay longer than just being in transit.

Obtaining Permits in Locations Other Than Kabul

This is relevant for travelers who aren’t starting their trip in or near Kabul and for whom Kabul isn't a convenient or natural stopping point.

Examples include:

  • Travelers arriving from Iran and starting their journey in Herat and either never going through Kabul or doing so very late in the trip.
  • Travelers starting from Mazar-i-Sharif or Kunduz province and again not reaching Kabul or doing so towards the end of their trip.
  • Travelers starting their trip in Kandahar and exiting via Pakistan.

There are obviously many other possible scenarios.

Some travelers have reported they skipped Kabul (step 1 above) and went directly to the ministries in each province they visited and obtain the province specific permits. Each province could only issue the permit for that province, not for other provinces. They effectively bypassed step 1.

This begs the question: can others do the same? Will this work always and for all provinces? There isn't enough information to form a definitive conclusion. The best option for now would be to:

  1. Go to the Ministry of Culture and Information in the nearest province and explain your travel itinerary. Ask them if they can help obtain permits for other provinces (they likely can't) or if they can contact the Kabul ministry to aid with this.
  2. Failing this, contact the ministry in Kabul via WhatsApp or phone call and ask them if they can help by issuing the permits and sending you a PDF which you can then print.
  3. If they cannot do this, ask their advice on what can be done especially if Kabul is far away and not a convenient stopping point on the trip. Specifically, it would be helpful to ask if the permits can be obtained in each province directly.

There's also the option of having a guide obtain the permits through Afghan Tours which doesn't require your presence in Kabul. The downside of this approach is you have to pay the full price of the permit (1,000 AFN) and pay the guide and more importantly if you don't travel with the guide then that guide will have to explain why they aren't with you when you register in a province. It could involve some delay and inconvenience for the traveler and could also cause trouble for the guide.

Please be aware that government offices including the ones mentioned on this page are closed from Thursday afternoon and all day on Friday and reopen Saturday morning. It might be better to avoid travel on Thursday unless you’re sure you can arrive in the morning. Otherwise you might have to wait out a day and a half until the ministry opens.