Wednesday, June 20

Angola Visa Mission

The Angolan Visa was the most difficult visa to organise on our trip. The Ethiopian, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigerian and DRC visas also have their challenges, but they don't come close. We finally managed to get 30-day Angolan visas, but it took a lot of work - we estimate about 10 half days of effort and around $300 (including photocopying, scanning and DHLing), but part of that was because we were investigating the process.

Officially, you need to apply for your visa in your home country, but as it lasts 60 days, it generally isn't practical. If you are South African and heading North, then you can go in for fingerprints and wait 10 days (although I have heard of it taking 6 weeks). I would recommend contacting Angolan Getaways (www.angolangetaways.com) to help with the letter of invitation etc. We have also heard of a few people getting Angolan visas in Zambia. If applying from the UK, they don't require fingerprints yet and do allow postal applications.

Plan A: Since 2008, only 5-day transit visas have been available on the route. Our initial plan was to DHL our South African passports to Angolan Getaways to organise 30 day visas for us, but 2 months before we needed to apply, they added a fingerprint requirement so we would have needed to show up in person.

Plan B: Use the Togo Residency that we got with our DRC visas to apply in Lome. The consul was away for a week so we couldn't speak to him directly, but someone else on the staff made it clear that it would be very difficult, require a notary to sign all documents and take 3 weeks.

Plan C: Get the transit visa in Abuja, Nigeria. It was possible before we started the trip, but not since 2011. We wanted the longer visa anyway.

Plan D: We went into the London Angolan embassy and made contact there. They offered to write us a letter of introduction for the Abuja embassy in Nigeria. We spent the morning in the Abuja embassy twice. The first time, the guy behind the counter was quite rude and told us to go away - he was sick the second day and the guy standing in made a real effort. They couldn't process the visa unless we had a 6-month Nigerian visa, which is impossible to get as a tourist. The computer system has no room for exceptions and the IT guy in Luanda couldn't find any way around it. They couldn't do the work in London and print it in Nigeria because the stamp has to match up. We struggled to get the Consul in London to talk to someone in Abuja because of the huge power index (someone can't raise an issue with their superior). The numbers they gave us for the Abuja embassy were wrong and we couldn't take our own phone into the embassy and pass it to them because of the security risk - the security guard couldn't ask someone inside if they could escort us and the guy inside couldn't walk outside because of the security issues. Eventually, the helpful guy phoned London on his personal cell phone and they discussed the issue, agreeing that it is a real problem in the system, but that there is no solution - it is unlikely that this will reach Luanda.

Plan E (success): We DHLed our passports back to London and because we had made contact before, they issued us 30 day visas in a few days (3 weeks is the norm). We have the luxury of 2 passports which saves having to wait around. Each embassy has slightly different requirements, but this is what we needed for London - we applied for the Ordinary visa in London, but the Tourist visa in Lome and Abuja. Others that applied through London sent fewer documents, but the application took longer to process. There were a few exceptions, but this seems to be what most people are doing now.
  • We organised a Letter of Invitation through Angolan Getaways.
  • A friend helped us translate Letters of Employment into Portuguese. They need to be on letter head paper with a company stamp.
  • We made a temporary booking for a hotel in Luanda as proof of accommodation.
  • We used original bank statements that were 4 months old, plus recent prints from the internet.
  • We wrote up a detailed itinerary for 30 days (although this is impossible to stick to on an overlanding trip)
  • Cover Letter explaining why we wanted to go to Angola.
  • Proof of Address (UK drivers licence)
Plan F: Get transit visa in Dolise, Congo or Matadi, DRC - most people have been rejected recently

Plan G: Several people have shipped their cars around Angola (or air freight with bikes). It is really expensive, with many hidden costs, lots of corruption and stuff getting stolen is common. You have to fly separately.

Plan H: A few brave souls recently have driven through DRC from Kinshasa to Lumbumbashi, which takes 2 to 4 weeks depending on the weather and is aparently quite hectic - we didn't really feel like this one.

Plan I: Some embassies have suggested going back the way we came - 55,000km, REALLY?         

I would also recommend taking a letter in Portugese saying that you take responsibility for your own safety and don't need a police escourt in the north. It doesn't work for the transit visa though - we had time so we could drive 30km/h and park on the side and wait until they got bored.


  1. Very good,useful piece of info. Thanks for taking the effort.
    Pepe Yanes

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