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Australian citizens require a visa to visit Mongolia. A number of other countries don't require a visa - some western countries, Asian countries, even Cuba and Israel. Why isn't Australia one of them?

If this can't be answered, I'd like to know how visa-free statuses are decided - is it typically done unilaterally, or as the result of bilateral/multilateral agreements?

  • Should have chosen "rationales", not "rationale". Sorry, HippieTrail! – Andrew Grimm Jul 8 '15 at 12:46
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    Usually bilateral agreements, not necessarily completely reciprocal. Australia requires Mongolian tourist visitors to pay AUD 135 for a visa. If Mongolia gave Australians visa free entry there would be less incentive for Australia to give Mongolian citizens free entry (probably a negative) and more Australians visiting (could be positive or negative). – Spehro Pefhany Jul 8 '15 at 13:19
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    Things like this are usually politics - maybe other countries offered Mongolia something in return for their citizens being visa-free, maybe Mongolia withdrew visa-free in retaliation for some Australian policy or perceived mistreatment of Mongolian nationals, maybe the Australian embassy don't throw very good parties... – user56reinstatemonica8 Jul 8 '15 at 20:33
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It simply means that the governments of the two countries haven't arranged this yet. Often visa-free is bilateral - especially when done with a trade deal, but sometimes not. For example, Aussies can get a tourist visa for the UK on arrival, but UK citizens need one (an ETA) in advance to visit Australia! (at least, last I checked).

By default, most countries require you to have a visa. Then as agreements are struck up, or they see it as financially viable to allow tourists in (cough Bhutan cough), they may start making it easier or cheaper for those specific groups to enter.

Often it's to nurture growth and relationships with neighbouring countries. For example, Mongolia has offered visa-free access to a few of the 'stan countries since the 1990s!

Interestingly, Mongolia grants visa free access (of varying lengths) to 46 countries and/or territories.

Comparing the visa policy of Mongolia and these 46 countries with the page on visa requirements for Mongolian citizens you can see how much of it is reciprocal!

So it's more a case of not why Australians need visas, but why Australia hasn't yet gotten to a more open relationship with Mongolia. Perhaps they're focusing on other countries first. But the good news is the world is opening up, and it's more and more likely to change. Keep the fingers crossed

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