Moving to Iraq?

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Moving to Iraq

Iraq may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of expat life. However, with the country's revival, moving to Iraq may still be of interests. You can read up on the country and its people, as well as visas, in our Expat Guide on moving to Iraq.

Those moving to Iraq will most likely find themselves in Baghdad. Sitting on the banks of the Tigris River, this capital city is the second largest of the Arab world. Recent times have seen many encouraging signs for Iraq. In August 2009, for example, the Iraqi government came to an agreement for the construction of Basra Sports City; a new sporting arena that played host to the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations. With milestones such as this fairly common, quality of life is improving rapidly.

The Land and Its People

Iraq's population currently stands at approximately 36 million. Home to the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain and part of the Zagros mountains, the country's dominant religion is Islam, with both Sunni and Shia Muslims present. Iraq borders five countries, namely Syria, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

In terms of ethnic groups, Iraq is home to a diverse range of people, including Iraqi Arabs (Palestinians, Marsh Arabs, Bedouins etc.) and Kurds (Feylis, Yazidis, Shabaks and Kaka'is). Iraqi Arabs represent around 80% of the population while Kurds represent 15-20%, although there are other groups such as the Turkmen and Assyrians.

While Arabic has always been the official language in Iraq, 2004 saw Kurdish also gain official status. In addition to these two, other languages spoken include Turkmen, Mandaic, Shabaki, Armenian, Circassian and Persian. In terms of geographical location, although the country is synonymous with mountains and dessert, Iraq does have a small stretch of coastline.

Visas for Iraq

Those wanting to move to Iraq must obtain a visa before traveling. This can be done at your nearest Iraqi mission if you are abroad, or at your country's Iraqi Embassy. The Kurdistan region is slightly different, and a visa on arrival is possible, although this cannot be used for the rest of Iraq. It is also crucial to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months.

Not carrying the correct documentation is a very quick way to end your Iraq adventure, so make sure your health records are in order as well. It is also advised to double check exactly what you need with the Iraqi Embassy. Yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from certain countries, so it is vital that you check this before traveling.

Mathias Döringer

"Iraqi bureaucracy is very different to what I know from Europe. Sharing experiences with fellow expats helped me to overcome many obstacles."

Isabella Martinez

"As you can imagine, expat living in Baghdad is difficult at times. The InterNations community helped me a lot to cope with the daily challenges!"

Global Expat Guide