The virtues of formality

It strikes me that New Zealand could learn a few things from visa processes in this part of the world.

The Georgian approach has a minimum of formality. Rock up to the consulate, tell them what you want. No no. No need to fill in the form. Just sign it. Hand over your passport and a photo. How many days would you like on your visa? Hand over the cash. And watch as they type up the sticker for you and put it in your passport.

The Azerbaijan approach is still more sophisticated. Don’t even go into the consulate. Arrive and the friendly guard will call indoors for you. Out comes someone who could be a consular official. Tell him what you want. There is no form. Hand over the amount he asks for (US dollars only please) and a photo, and come back in a few hours. At least the Georgian visa is typed.

In terms of pricing visas, many governments (New Zealand falls into this camp) feel that pricing close to the cost of providing the visa service is appropriate.

There is an alternative approach that applies to most non-Government provided goods and services. Price the good at what customers are prepared to pay for it, not what it costs to produce.

It seems to me that Georgia and Azerbaijan, at least, take the latter approach in this developing market world. The longer the visa, the more the person wants to come and so the more they will be willing to pay.

Never mind that the processing (typing the visa in one case, writing it in the other) is exactly the same.

Can I just say, though, that whether the payment is genuine or not, it is not a good look to require travellers to pay any Customs or Immigration official at the border. In cash. US dollars. No receipt.

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