This Trip’s Top Visa Nightmares

I’ve had my fair share of frustrating visa experiences, but the last ones here in Africa deserves to be on the top of my list.

Sudan visa was surprisingly quick and easy after expecting the worst. They didn’t even bother including my last name!

Equatorial Guinea: is famous for being the World’s hardest visa to get. I’ve tried my luck at the Embassy in Yaounde, in Douala and lastly in Addis Ababa. Every time I have brought all the formally required documents, and every time they have just asked for more. In Douala I was asked for bank statements translated into Spanish and signed by the bank. Cholera vaccination was also the first time I heard an country require. And in Addis they kept my documents for two weeks before they finally said “sorry, we handle applications for citizens only. They could have just told me that in the first place..

The only way to get the visa in Africa that I have heard of is to pay a 3-800$ “unofficial fee” to the ambassador in Libreville and she will give it to you in one day. But in order to do that you first need a visa to Gabon, which is also not easy to get!

Gabon: has implemented an e-visa system, advertised with 72hour processing time, which practically is a joke. I have tried several times, with different passports and after weeks of checking the status in their systems every day I would get either the message”on progress” or it would say “no request found”.

I have tried emailing the address listed on the page and the ministry of tourism, but got no response whatsoever. Gabon is rich in resources and apparently don’t need tourism. On my six month Trans Africa trip I remember the government officials as the least friendly of all the countries we went through. Another traveler told me that you will meet the same careless attitude in all of their embassies too.

Eritrea: *cracking my knuckles* is my latest and maybe my most frustrating experince. It is by some called the North Korea of Africa, as you need government permits even to step your food outside the capital Asmara. I was told that all nationalities that don’t have an embassy can contact an agent in advance to get a visa on arrival. I knew it couldn’t be that easy and started the process early. The correspondence went as follows:

April 3st: Unfortunately we cannot arrange a visa for Norwegians as this has to go through the Eritrean Embassy in Oslo. Visa on arrival confirmations can only be arranged for nationalities without embassies.

April 5th: It seems that you are right that there is no embassy in Norway. Please send us the following documents so that we can arrange a visa on arrival

April 25th: We are expecting the visa to be in order by friday and will send it to you immediately afterwards

May 3rd: We are sorry to inform you that a new procedure has taken place. You have to send all your particulars to the Eritrean Embassy in Sweden so that they can give us a confirmation needed for you to get your visa on arrival

May 14th: We hope to get the confirmation for your visa on arrival tomorrow

May 22th and onwards: No more answer

I was calling the embassy in Sweden several times (which of course didn’t answer) and sent over fifty emails to the agent, every time thinking that I was close to getting the visa, but no. My Sudan visa expires today on May 25th and I will have to leave the country empty handed.

When chasing every country there will always be some that will make it extra hard for you. Then you should try to keep your chin up and remember Churchill’s famous quote:

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

Getting the visas you need

It is important tocheck the visa rules and regulations in good time before leaving your home country. Some countries will not let you in unless you possess a valid visa and others do not require one at all. Everywhere on the web you will find pages listing visa rules and requirements, but be careful: not all of these pages have the most updated or accurate info.
Visa regulations for Norwegian Citizens
For Norwegians I would advise following the steps listed underneath to make sure to get the visas that you need:

 
1. Check Wikipedia for a list of visa free countries for Norwegians (link)

 

Wikipedia is known for being a page that can not be trusted to be hundred percent accurate, but their list of countries can be visited without obtaining a visa on beforehand will be able to give you an impression of which countries probably will be the hardest to deal with. It is important to check the visa rules of every single country you are visiting, so once you have checked your countries on this list it will be time to move to the next step in the process of mapping out the visas that you need.
 
2. Check the Norwegian Foreign Affairs to find the most accurate and updated rules and regulations (www.landsider.no/land)

This is a page I use almost daily, and it is the first page that will be updated if there are any changes to visa rules for Norwegians. By clicking on each country and choosing “innreise og helse” you will have the most updated information about the visa requirements for Norwegian passport holders. The page is also useful for obtaining information regarding safety and the current political situations of the countries. 
 
 
 
saudi
On a visit to the Norwegian Embassy in Saudi Arabia

3. Contact the embassies we have in Norway to get the visas or to get your visa related questions answered (Contact details for all embassies in Oslo or Wiki)

Embassies can often be slow to respond to emails, so I will recommend calling if you have questions you need answered. The consular sections of these embassies can also help you with obtaining a visa to the countries they are representing. For the countries not listed in the above link you should consider moving on to the next step.
4. Use a visa service agency (Visumservice.no)


Some countries can be quite bureaucratic and hard to deal with, and by sending you passport to the embassies they often end up in un-prioritized pile on their desks. Are you short on time or need someone to help you deal with all applications and documentation necessary to get a visa then it is better to be on the safe side and contact a visa service agency. Visumservice.no is my preferred visa agency in Norway and with a Kilroy Studentcard (ISIC card) you will also get 10 percent on their administration fees!

5. Ask your travel agent to check TIMATIC  (timaticweb.com) 

User/Subuser: 4023761
Password: visainfo

 
Travel Agents have access to the TIMATIC database which is the system being used by the airlines to determine if you will be eligible for a visa on arrival or not. This can be time consuming work and all relevant information like passport type, date of entry, previous visited countries etc needs to be in place to get an answer. I would advise using the above links first to get an answer, and keep this as the last option.
 
Should you have other useful pages for visa related information, feel free to share on the comment field below. 

vietnamVietnam requires visa for most nationals, but Norwegians are entitled to 15 day visa free travel for letting in so many refugees in the 70’s. But make sure to have your return/onward ticket booked upon entry, as this is one of the requirements for visa free entry.