Coming To Erbil
Iraqi Kurdistan and Erbil can be reached by land and by air. By land, Iraqi Kurdistan can be reached through Turkey by the Khabur Boarder Gate, the only boarder gate between Kurdistan and Turkey. This Boarder gate can be reached by bus or taxi from airports in Turkey as close as the Mardin or Diyarbakir airports, as well as from Istanbul or Ankara. Iraqi Kurdistan has two boarder gates with Iran, the Haji Omaran boarder gate and the Bashmag boarder gate near the city of Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan has also a boarder gate with Syria known as the Faysh-Khabur boarder gate. From within Iraq, Kurdistan Region can be reached by land from multiple roads.
Iraqi Kurdistan has two international Airports. Erbil International Airport and Sulaymaniyah International Airport, which both operate flights to Middle Eastern and European destinations. Currently there are 26 airlines flying to Kurdistan, including Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Luthansa, Etihad, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air, Middle East Airlines, Atlas Jet, and Fly Dubai all service the Region.
The people of the Kurdistan region view the West as their friends and allies, and their tolerance and moderation has contributed to the region’s stability and security. Visitors as well as citizens can live and travel safely in the region.
The security situation in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq is very different from the rest of Iraq. There are fewer than 200 US soldiers stationed in Kurdistan and not a single coalition soldier has lost their life in the Region since the start of the conflict.
The official Regional guard, the Peshmerga forces, are highly trained and experienced in providing security. Working in close cooperation with the Regional Guard are the Asayish (the Security Police) and the regular Police, who provide comprehensive protection against threats and help with routine police matters.
To maintain the level of peace in Kurdistan, there are checkpoints on the borders and city perimeters. Separate advice must be sought for travel outside of the Kurdistan Region. We also recommend that visitors consult travel advice issued by their country of domicile.
A 15-day tourist visa is issued upon arrival at the airport. To stay longer, one must contact the Department of Foreign Relations and obtain residency. Visitors wishing to extend their stay in the Kurdistan Region beyond a 15-day period must apply for a Card of Residence.
Below is a general outline of the requirements for obtaining a residency card for an extend stay in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq:
- Fill out application
- Undergo a blood test
- Provide 2 passport-sized photos
- Clear an investigation
Blood tests must be procured at the Public Hospital. The results must be picked up 3-4 days later at the Residency Office along with the approved application.
The fee is 36,000 Iraqi Dinars, and the process usually takes approximately 2-3 hours. It is recommended to go to the Residency Office with a translator.
Taxies are plentiful and relatively cheap in the cities in Kurdistan, particularly during the day. They are easily found in the downtown area and by the major hotels. A taxi ride from one destination to another within a city should coast between 3,000 and 5,000 Iraiqi Dinar (IQD). If you are travelling to a location outside of the city or from city to city, it will be more.
There are several car rental companies in Kurdistan. Avis is located inside the Divan Hotel, Kayalar is located to the right of the Noble Hotel and Zarco is in Ankawa.
However, hiring a driver as well is recommended. Driving in Kurdistan is quite different than driving in Western countries.
There is not a great deal of public transportation in Kurdistan at the moment. There are plans to build a tramway and there are occasional buses used by the local people, but the majority of people travel by car.
The Capital of Kurdistan, the city of Erbil is home to several modern shopping malls.
With its glass domed and impressive facade, Family Mall is the largest shopping mall in Kurdistan. It features 120 stores with international brands such as Mango, DKNY, Home Istanbul, Carrefour, Digital City and much more. Family Mall also offers its visitors the option to dine in one of its many world-class restaurants and cafes. There is also a children play area with trampolines, motorised toy trains and playground.
Majid Mall was the very first shopping mall to open in Erbil. Opened in 2009, the majestic marble building contains 67 stores over three floors. The top floor features a wide selection of restaurants, including Fat Burger, known as the best burger in town.
Opened in late 2012, this beautiful rose coloured building houses a large number of international stores and a large modern supermarket. It also contains the very first cinema to open in Erbil. Movie schedules can be found online on Royal Mall’s Facebook page.