African Visa rant..........again.

London Travel Blog

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Like most of my previous blogs about Africa I start by having to mention the visa application process. I thought that all visas I required for my future travels were available in London, it seems I was mistaken. For this trip, information suggests I should be able to get a visa on arrival (VOA) for Ethiopia and Djibouti, however I have good reason not to trust VOA's as I have had a few situations in the past that have cost me time, money and denial of entry.

The Visa process for both Ethiopia and Somaliland looked fairly straightforward, both available in London. I could get a visa for Djibouti in Paris and it just so happens that I was transiting there on my way back from Guinea-Conakry (blog pending).

Arriving early morning into Orly airport from Conakry I set off to the Djibouti embassy with all the documents required. The staff were helpful and attentive and I was soon taken to the ambassadors office. It was there he told me I was too early, my visa was only valid for 30 days and I am travelling later than that. I thought all visas had 3 months validity, never mind I told him "I'm back in France in 3 weeks visiting friends, I can extend by one day and revisit" OK was the reply and I left my documents there and was given contact details etc. I'll come back to this.

Two weeks later I decided to get my Somaliland visa, note Somaliland is not Somalia. Somaliland is a breakaway region in the north of Somalia, formerly British Somalia and has its own functioning government, army, currency, infrastructure etc etc. The problem is that no UN nation recognises it and the UN still considers it part of Somalia. It does have two overseas missions though one in Addis Ababa and one in London - hooray ! So off I go, with visa application form downloaded from the mission website duly completed, to a building in the East end of London in Whitechapel. Here I was informed by a guy loading a van into a nearby shop that they were no longer there. There was nothing on the door to say they had moved and the address on my application form and on their website was where I was now standing. I had no idea what to do next. I crossed the street to grab a coffee in a nearby shop, lo and behold it was owned by and patronised by Somalis who told me it was only a few blocks away down the Mile End road in a building next to Barclays Bank, and so it was, but even then it was hard to find. A visa was issued to me there and then, when I mentioned that there was no information telling people of the new location they just said, "sorry we know but our web designer is busy and has yet to update the site" Good lord I hope it's not indicative of what's to come, but hey, 1 down 2 to go.

After this success I thought I'd go and find the Ethiopian embassy location for my future application, I had time to kill and I know the application takes several days. I could not leave my passport with them today as I needed it for my trip to France and my other one is with another Embassy getting a visa for a future trip. When I arrived at the Ethiopian embassy, just to get the application forms and chat about the process I was told they would issue me a multiple entry visa there and then, I did have all the necessary documents with me or available by email which I forwarded. Thanks so much Ethiopia, this has been a good little morning visa hunting, 2 down 1 to go.

Back in France a few days later I had a great weekend with my friends, I left my family for them to drive back home and I headed off to Paris, two hours by train to spend the night there before the embassy opened the following day. I had emailed and telephoned to say I was returning. The emails were not responded to and the telephone calls went to voice mail "Je ne parle pas Francais - geezer". So next morning I was met by a smiling lady who greeted me before and told me the ambassador was not in today and he's the only one who issues visas. Then the ambassador "who is not in today" appeared in the office and I asked him if he would issue me a visa. I was told to return the following day as he was busy. I showed him my boarding pass for my fight home this evening and reminded him that he told me to come back today. This was to no avail, he disappeared off through the front door and into his car. How I remained calm and polite through all of this I don't know, I must be going soft and its cost me the price of a flight to London, 1 night in a hotel, a train ticket to Paris and countless metro fares. So fuck you Djibouti I'll just have to try the VOA method despite Monsieur Ambassador telling me that this is no longer a possibility. We shall see.

I hate getting visas but always reminded that Africans can't get them to come to the UK !

Bluenose says:
That sucks Yunni.
Posted on: Oct 24, 2017
gingerbatik says:
oh... it was awful Mike:(
I had problem with my S.African visa recently, denied boarding when check in online within 24 hours and cost me the flight, one night hotel unrefundable, additional fee for car rental, and other hotels;(
Posted on: Oct 24, 2017
Munawwar says:
Congratulations on featured blog, love the detail..
Posted on: Jul 19, 2017
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