eVisa applications are an increasingly common way that countries and border agencies streamline the entry process. Compared to in-person embassy visits or processing stacks of paper documents, an online process is significantly easier for everyone involved. However, problems arise when applicants find their eVisa or electronic travel authorization application is denied and they're not sure why.
Being unable to speak to consular officials to find out more can cause confusion, or even result in canceled or delayed trips. Another unwanted outcome is that the traveller arrives at the airport, only to be denied boarding by a carrier because their travel documents are invalid due to simple and avoidable errors. This is a huge pain point for travellers, but it's one that can often be avoided if the error is caught well before the departure date.
The best way to avoid friction when it comes to eVisas is for consumers to have access to the right information and guidance during the flight booking and eVisa application process. All too often, border agencies and officials fail to set travellers up for success when it comes to submitting a seamless, error-free application.
At sherpa°, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of eVisa applications. Our ancillary products are one way to improve the eVisa application process by helping travellers submit an error-free application. This is accomplished through excellent UX design and customer service during the application process, as well as machine learning and other technologies that automatically flag potential mistakes before an application is uploaded to a government portal.
Clearly there are always cases where a traveler is simply not eligible for a country’s eVisa program, perhaps due to nationality, criminal background or other disqualifying circumstances. But all too often, the reason for the denial is easily-avoidable human error.
These mistakes are more commonly made when travelers apply directly through a government portal, without the help of sherpa° technology flagging errors and omissions. So let's take a look at the five most common mistakes travelers make when filling out their eVisa applications, and more importantly, what can be done to prevent them.
1. Uploading poor-quality images
If the passport picture, supporting identity documents, or other paperwork accompanying an application is blurry, low-res, poorly cropped or otherwise unreadable, then the application will usually be unsuccessful. Clearly informing the applicant about minimum requirements for image quality during the upload process—and enabling tech that proactively flags the issue if they upload a sub-par document—can help avoid this common mistake.
2. Insufficient or vague supporting documentation
Every country has different requirements for the type of documentation that's needed to support an application. Travellers will often underestimate how closely officials will review these documents, and how much detail needs to be provided. If a travel itinerary or accommodation details are sparse or lacking addresses, for example, or valid contact information is not provided for the traveler’s host while in the country, the application may be denied depending on the country’s requirements.
Expectations and requirements should be stated several times throughout the application process so that travellers are aware of the level of detail needed for a successful outcome.
3. Personal details don’t match or dates are written in the wrong format
This is the most easily-avoided error. Differing conventions for writing dates (for example day-month-year versus month-day-year) can confuse travellers when they are asked to enter their date of birth or their passport’s expiry date.
Furthermore, travellers may enter their name on the application in a form that doesn’t exactly match how it appears on their passport. Or the online application form may not account for special characters or different languages/alphabets, meaning the applicant is not able to correctly enter their name.
These unfortunate circumstances can be avoided by providing clear guidance about date formats, as well as established workarounds for applicants whose name uses a different alphabet. In addition, travellers should be automatically prompted to double check how they entered their details, specifically digits and numerals, before they hit submit.
4. Background information is omitted or assumed unimportant
Travellers can often assume that additional identifying information—a name change that happened years ago, or a second nationality for a passport that’s no longer valid—won’t be relevant, or can’t be checked. Communicating how this information will be cross checked (against global databases, for example) is important. In general, travellers should be made aware of how thoroughly their information will be verified to avoid any carelessness or false assumptions.
5. Assuming mistakes can be fixed or updated at a later date
Because travellers are so accustomed to filling out forms and completing transactions online these days, they can often underestimate the level of care and attention that needs to be taken before hitting submit on an eVisa application to a government portal. They may assume that, like an online order or account setup, any mistakes can be rectified later on with an easy support ticket. Unfortnately, that's usually not the case.
While some countries allow travelers to easily submit an additional application to override an existing one, other countries are not so flexible and require a cancellation of the previous eVisa attempt before a new one can be applied for. This can delay trips and cause unnecessary stress.
How sherpa° can help
Every eVisa program is different, and enforcement levels by border and immigration agencies can vary in terms how strict they are. Too often, travellers assume online applications are a mere formality, when in reality, a successful application requires diligence and attention to detail.
Integrating sherpa° technology into an application process helps mitigate or prevent many of the errors commonly made by travellers. In addition to our technology-enabled interventions, we also provide the human touch, including manual review of applications by experienced agents and a customer operations team who will reach out to consulates and embassies for deeper assistance whenever necessary.
Our overall goal is to use our extensive knowledge of the many different eVisa programs to prevent, catch, and correct potential errors, while also educating consumers in the process.
At sherpa° we’re passionate about freedom of movement. Our mission is to help travelers move freely around the world and to shift the way the world's leading travel providers approach border crossings. Through unmatched industry knowledge and expertise, we help our partners—from airlines to cruise lines to online travel agencies—open new ancillary revenue streams to help them reduce costs and operational risk while enhancing the customer journey and growing consumer confidence in travel.
More than simply providing a product or service, we're moving travel forward. Away from stress and confusion, and towards ease and connection. So travellers can move freely wherever life takes them. This is the future of international travel. Contact us today to find out how our suite of solutions can help grow your business.