Visas on arrival – tentative good news

I’ve just heard from two reliable local sources, one working in tourism and the other with the government, that according to the immigration department, a 3-month single-entry visa should be available on arrival at US$70 (as opposed to US$50 for the 30-day visa) starting today (28 Jan 2015).

I would not recommend that anybody rely on this information until it is verified. However, if anybody flying into Addis Ababa is able to verify or refute it by checking with the visa desk at the airport arrivals hall, that would be most useful – please comment below!

Visa extensions

John writes:

You have certainly heard that visa procedures have been toughened.  It now costs USD 50.- to have the visa delivered
upon arrival at the airport, and only one month visas are issued. (see also

I do not know what the normal procedure for extension is – queuing up endlessly at immigration? – but the procedure if you overstay is complicated. You first have to go to immigration to state that you overstayed, then you have to appear in front of a magistrate who will decide upon the fine, usualy 20-25 USD (though I was told that an Italian fellow who had seriously overstayed was fined 500 USD) and you will have to pay an additional 100 USD to get a one-month extension.

Visa on Arrival

As of early December 2014, a visa on arrival at Bole International Airport costs US$50 (or the pound or euro equivalent). This US$50 visa is valid for 30 days, which was the maximum period that the immigration authorities would stamp in your passport when I passed through Bole in early November 2014.

We have heard that a three-month visa now costs US$70 but it is not clear whether this type of visa is once again available upon arrival (as it was until at least as recently as July 2014, when I had one stamped in my passport at Bole) or must be bought in advance. If anybody passing through Bole feels like checking this out, please let me know and I’ll post it here.

Note also that the fee for an annually renewable resident’s  ID card has also risen from from ETB 400 to ETB 1500

Ethiopia visas in Somaliland

Thanks to Pawel for the following important news (which I have expanded slightly)

It is no longer possible to get an Ethiopian visa in Somaliland. The Ethiopian representative office in Hargeisa is not issuing them anymore. So if you plan on visiting Somaliland from Ethiopia, you either need a multiple-entry visa for Ethiopia, or you will have fly back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines (which costs upwards of US$200 one-way) and then buy a visa on arrival at Bole International Airport.


Emergency passports and exit visas

Having had my passport stolen in Ethiopia, I would like to add something to the information on passports and visa. In my country of origin I am an attorney specialized in immigration law. Let’s put it this way: now I am also one specialized in Ethiopian immigration law. The procedure to obtain an emergency-passport and an exit visa is quite an adventure.

The first thing you need to do is report the theft (or loss). Preferably this has to be done with the local police of the area the theft has taken place. However, the local police can be very helpful, but not very forthcoming to write an official report. In our case we had to write it ourself. These kind of reports will never be accepted by your embassy or by the immigration service. If the local police is not willing to give a typed, stamped and signed report, go to the regional police. Ask them kindly to write the report in Amharic, with your name, nationality and passport-number in English.

After this you need to translate the report into English as this is required by your embassy. The translation can be performed by official translation bureaus, which can be found in Addis Ababa near the Stadium. When you have obtained the translation, you have to authenticate the translation at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. After this you have to legalize the documents (the report and the translation) at the Ministry of Forreign Affairs.

Equipped with the authenticated and legalized documents you can apply for the emergency passport at your embassy. Take two passport photo’s and a copy of your old passport. The issuance of the emergency-passport should normally take 24 hours.

Having obtained the emergency passport you can apply for the exit visa. This visa is required to leave the country and can not be obtained at Bole airport. The exit visa needs to be applied for at the Ethiopian Immigration service. The process itself can take a whole day, as you need to pass about six or seven rooms. When you have paid, it takes about 24 hours for the exit visa to be issued. When you explain what has happened and emphasize that there is an emergency, it might help to get the visa the same day.


We were very lucky to have a driver (with car) who spoke Amharic. He helped us through the whole process. My advise would be to take someone with you that speaks Amharic. He or she will be able to get you in front of the rows and explain that there is an emergency. The keyword in the process is: respect. Treat all the civil servants with respect and just kindly explain that you need to leave the country as soon as possible. As I have experienced it, the country relies more on personal relations of respect, than on procedures that you can call upon. Bring a book, food and try be patient!