How to get a visa for Ethiopia?
Getting a visa for Ethiopia is easy. Since March 2019 the Ethiopian government made it easy for travellers and tourist flying directly on Addis Abeba where you can receive a visa upon arrival.
For overlanders it is a bit more work and time and you will need to figure out if you will cross the border through the official or unofficial border post. The unofficial border only applies for the iloret border which is located east of lake Turkana on the Kenian and Ethiopian border.
Crossing the official border from Kenia to Ethiopia
To receive the visa, you will need to do the following:
Get a letter of introduction from your government or embassy. A letter that is stating that they will not issue that is also okay (you can find an example underneath). Keep in mind that you will need to make an appointment (you can do this online through www.netherlandsandyou.nl or e-mail email@example.com) on time as it can take up to 3 days before you can go to the embassy. Some countries will charge a fee for this letter. The Dutch embassy in Nairobi (see map) is giving these letters for free and it will only take 5 minutes. Tip: If you are traveling to Sudan, try to get a letter of introduction for this country as well as this is needed to get the visa for Sudan. This will safe you the hassle to arrange it in Addis Abeba. Tip: The Dutch embassy has moved to another location which is providing a secure parking spot.
Go to the Ethiopian embassy(see map) , no appointment needed and give them the following documents: o Letter of invitation of your embassy o Passport o Copy of Passport o Passport photo Tip: You can park your car in the side street for free, but this is not secured. You can also park your car at Qwetu apartments, which is secured. Keep in mind to give the guard a few Kenian shillings.
Pay your visa fee which is $ 40,00 pp for 1 month and $ 60 pp for 3 months for European citizens. Payment can be done at the CBA bank (see map) which is 1,0 km (walking distance) of the Ethiopian embassy. The embassy will issue a paper with the amount as well as their account number. At the bank you will need to fill in a cash deposit form to finalize the payment. Bring proof of payment back to the Ethiopian embassy.
Pick up your visa and passport the same day in the afternoon (if you are lucky) or pick up your visa the next day.
Drive to the official border (Moyale, Mandera, Liboi) and stamp out your visa and carnet de passage or temporary import permit.
Note: All the embassy's are closed from 12:00 to 2 p.m.. The Embassy of Ethiopia is open until 12:00.
Crossing the unofficial border iloret
When you are traveling through iloret, which is in the north eastern part of lake Turkana you will find a none official border post (see picture below ;-) ).
If you haven’t prepared your papers properly the possibilities of having to go to jail is present. We have heard many stories already, but by following these extra steps you can prevent this:
Before you go to the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi, make sure you have done the following:
1. Go to the immigration office of Kenia at the Nyanyo house (see map). When you are in front
of the building take the entrance at the left side of the building. Go to window number 6 and
ask for the blue form (see below). Fill in the form and you will get an exit stamp for Kenya on the day you want to enter Ethiopia. It took us 20 minutes in total and no fees are charged.
2. Go to Times Tower (see map) to stamp out your carnet de passage. Take your passport with you which is needed to pass security. When in front of the building, enter the smaller tower (right side) and take the elevator to the first floor and go left. There you will find a brown door with security in front of it. Ask for Mrs. Joyce Agik, her desk is on the left side. People are friendly and will show you the way. It took us 5 minutes in total and no fees are charged.
Once in Ethiopia you have to drive to Omorate (see map) to register your arrival and stamp your carnet. This is all in the same building. Make sure that the carnet is filled in correctly as some officers are not used to it. Besides the stamp in your carnet you will also receive a sort of temporary import permit. Keep this with you until you cross the border to Sudan or back to Kenia.
Note: If you are traveling from Ethiopia to Kenia you have to stamp out your carnet and visa at the same building in Omorate.
Good luck everyone. If you still need questions, feel free to contact us.