I have been wanting to come to Syria since last fall, but I was worried I would be turned back at the border for not having a visa. And as it turned out, I ended up going to other places in the Middle East before Syria, and only now it made sense for me come here, as I needed to go from Turkey to Jordan.
It is my understanding that visas are granted depending on the nationality of the passport holder. The length of the visa and price also varies by country.
For example, Hunter and Tamara, an American couple I met in Jordan last September, were turned down at the Turkey border. Americans should issue their visas in the US before they arrive in Syria. From what I have heard, other Americans have been denied entry without a visa, so the new policy seems to stand until now. The price for the visa for Americans issued in the United States is US100.
Martin, a Canadian traveler I met in Egypt just crossed the border from Jordan to Syria on his motorcycle, but he was only given a three day visa. He told the authorities he needed to be in Turkey to meet his daughter. I am not sure if there is a policy to issue only a three-day visa to Canadians or not, but that is what he was granted. He paid US50 for his visa.
When I crossed the border from Antakya (Turkey) to Syria, the process could not have been easier. It took about 20 minutes for me to fill out a form, pay US28 (only hard currency is accepted) at the cashier and be on my way. There were no call to Damascus, no wait of up to six hours as some travelers have reported. The officer gave me a 15 days visa although I was told I can stay up to 30 days without having to ask for a visa extension.
So, I left my hotel in Antakya at 8am and by 11:30am I was drinking a Turkish coffee at my hotel in Aleppo. I think it helped to have an experienced taxi driver who collected me in Reyhanli. Turkey, and dropped me off after the Syrian border where I caught a mini bus to the outskirts of Aleppo. From there, I only needed another taxi ride to the city center to start enjoying my visit in Syria.
I understand that several other Turkish borders have been closed recently, but Antakya is the most reliable, supposedly open 24 hours a day, although I have heard that sometimes they close for several hours.
I am not sure about the process for passport holders of the European Union and UK but my guess is that it is somewhere between the three scenarios above.
Of course rules change all the time, specially now that protests and government crack down is on the rise in several cities in Syria. But as far as this week goes, at least Brazilians should not fret getting their Syrian visa at the border.