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All foreigners will need visas after handover


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Al Munthriya (on the Iraq/Iran border) - 19 June 2004
1. Wide shot of border post
2. Mid shot of security officials near border command post
3. Close-up of welcome sign for Al Munthriya
4. Exterior of customs building
5. Various of Iranian visitors and Iraqi nationals entering Iraqi customs building
6. Various of people being processed through Iraqi customs
7. Iranian and Iraqi men look at their papers
8. Close-up of man giving woman a passport
9. Pan of woman seated along wall
10. Close-up of woman's hand holding passport
11. Iraqi girls showing temporary travel documents
12. Back shot of customs agent processing visitors
13. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Colonel Salah Salman, Border Official:
"The new procedures are that all visitors from Iran to Iraq must have legal visas to enter the country. The legal procedures are that newcomers and visitors to Iraq should have have legal papers and visas - and all of these must be checked by passport officials on the computers to take full details on these visitors and all passports must checked to see they're not forged."
14. Close-up of customs border sign
15. Wide shot of border


All foreigners visiting Iraq after the interim government assumes power in July will require visas in an effort to boost security, an Interior Ministry official said Saturday.

Foreign visitors must apply for visas at Iraqi embassies abroad, Hadi al-Muhanna, director of the Interior Ministry's travel department told The Associated Press.

He said that does not include the 150-thousand American and other foreign soldiers already deployed in Iraq.

Temporary visas will not be issued at Baghdad's international airport or at any of the country's border posts, al-Muhanna said.

Since the United States-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein last year, visitors have been able to enter Iraq at border posts and airports without visas by presenting a passport upon entry.

Critics argued the relative ease of entry led to an influx of foreign fighters, criminals and intelligence agents whose presence threatens internal security.

Iraq maintained a strict visa policy during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Al-Muhanna said the visa requirements were necessary to combat ongoing instability. Iraqi authorities have long blamed attacks, including the sabotage of oil pipelines and a spate of car bombings, on foreigners.

Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said previously that foreigners will be admitted on 15-day tourist visas that could be extended to one month.

Long-term foreign residents could obtain permits to stay in Iraq for up to five years and there would be special visas for diplomats and official delegations, he said.

Al-Muhanna said there would be no exceptions for foreign journalists, experts engaged in reconstruction projects, Americans or residents of neighbouring Arab states.

Once inside Iraq, visitors will have to report their presence to an office at the Interior Ministry within one week, al-Muhanna said.

Foreigners who are already in Iraq when the new regulations take effect will not be required to apply for visas before leaving.

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