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Visas for Africa: How to get yours with iVisa
10 min read
Updated on May 29, 2024

Our globe-trotting, thrill-seeking filmmaker, Michael Zervos, has almost finished traveling an entire continent in under 4 months! After weeks of ups and downs, transiting one of the most challenging continents regarding trip planning, expectations, and visa entries, he has given us countless insights into his immigration experiences.

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Keep up with his record-breaking journey here, and continue reading for your iVisa African visa guide, full of first-hand tips and travel advice.

Understanding visa categories: Tourist, Business, and other types of visas for travel to Africa

When planning a trip to Africa, understanding the different visa categories is crucial for a smooth experience. Here are the most common types of visas and their typical uses:

1. Tourist Visa

  • Purpose: For leisure activities, sightseeing, visiting friends or relatives, or other non-business activities.

  • Duration: Generally short-term, ranging from a few days to several months, depending on the country.

  • Requirements: Often requires proof of accommodation, return ticket, and sometimes proof of financial means.

Why not check out the popular Rwanda eVisa and how we can help you obtain it.

2. Business Visa

  • Purpose: For engaging in business activities such as meetings, conferences, and other professional engagements. It's important to note that this does not generally allow for local employment.

  • Duration: Usually short-term, similar to tourist visas but tailored for business-related visits.

  • Requirements: Might require an invitation letter from a company within the host country, proof of the business’s existence, and sometimes evidence of the traveler's employment in their home country.

Michael Angelo opted for the Nigeria Business eVisa on Arrival as it's easier to obtain than a Nigeria Tourist Visa. Read more about his Nigeria Visa experience in our blog on the hardest visas for US citizens to get.

3. Transit Visa

  • Purpose: For travelers passing through the country to reach another destination. This visa is necessary when travelers need to leave the airport or stay overnight before their onward journey.

  • Duration: Typically very short, often less than 72 hours.

  • Requirements: Proof of onward travel is usually required.

Michael just recently traveled from Comoros to Seychelles and gave us a great insight regarding transit:

Ethiopia Airlines has a stopover program wherein if you stop in Addis, Ethiopia, for between 8-24 hours, they will supply a hotel, meals, transit to and from the airport, and even a transit visa. Pretty good, right?

East Africa Visa

  • Purpose: This visa has excellent benefits. With this travel document, you can visit Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, allowing you to have a whole East African experience with only one visa! Find out more and apply with us now.

  • Duration: Multiple-entry visa and has a validity of 90 days. That means you can enter and leave Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda as often as you want during those 90 days.

  • Requirements: A valid passport for at least six months, proof of return or exit from East Africa, proof of accommodation, and financial evidence that you can cover the expenses of your trip.


The KAZA UNIVISA costs USD 50 and permits tourists to secure a single visa for multiple entries into both Zambia and Zimbabwe. This visa remains valid for up to 30 days within any 12-month period, provided the traveler stays within Zambia and Zimbabwe. Additionally, it includes day trips to Botswana via the Kazungula Borders.

The visa can only be used at specific points of entry. Check the lists here for who is eligible and which points of entry qualify for obtaining the visa.

It's the perfect visa for tourists visiting Victoria Falls.

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Bring a pen; always have a pen!

Top insider tips for African travel

  • Michael has reiterated this advice repeatedly because many African countries require you to fill out a disembarkation card when landing, and you want to avoid being stuck in a queue of people waiting to use the one pen available on the plane.

In a recent Instagram post, Michael gave us his top 5 tips for flying in West Africa.

Visa-On-Arrival options: Countries in Africa offering convenient entry

Many African countries offer visas on arrival to facilitate tourism and business travel. However, the availability of a visa on arrival can depend on the traveler's nationality. Here's a general list of some African countries that offer VOAs for many nationalities:

  1. Kenya - OK, so it's not technically a visa-on-arrival, but Kenya offers an ETA for most travelers, which serves as a visa waiver. For a seamless trip to Kenya, travelers must now complete an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) 72 hours before their travel.

Things to Note: ETA applications can be made with us or directly through the Kenya ETA portal.

  1. Tanzania - Provides a visa-on-arrival service to many foreign nationals, although some might need to apply online first for the Tanzania eTourist Visa.

  2. Uganda - Generally grants visas on arrival, but an online application prior to arrival is recommended to save time and hassle. We offer the Uganda Tourist eVisa and the above-mentioned East Africa Visa, including entry to Uganda.

  3. Egypt - Provides visas on arrival for citizens of many countries, usually for up to 30 days. If you require a more extended stay in the country, you can apply for a 90-day or 6-month stay with the Egypt eVisa.

  4. Ethiopia - Offers visas on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, but an e-visa in advance is advised for smoother entry. We only offer the Ethiopia Business eVisa. Apply for your Ethiopia Tourist Visa directly through the Ethiopian government services.

  5. Madagascar - Grants visas on arrival for most travelers for stays up to 15 days. If you wish to stay longer, you can apply for your 15-day, 30-day, or 60-day Madagascar eVisa with us.

  6. Seychelles - Operates a visitor’s permit on arrival system, effectively a visa-free entry for up to 90 days under certain conditions. You can get your mandatory Travel Authorization ahead of time with us.

  7. Mozambique - Typically offers visas on arrival for tourists and business visitors. A visa on arrival is valid for 30 days from the date of issue and is issued at Maputo International Airport. You must show a return or ongoing flight ticket. If you need to stay for longer than the given 30 days, you can apply for the appropriate visa on the official Mozambique eVisa portal.

The Mozambique visa on arrival was easy enough to get; it cost 50 USD, and you should pay in cash ONLY - says Michael.

  1. Zambia - Provides a 30-day visa on arrival for many nationalities and also promotes an e-visa system. The VOA costs 25 USD, and you can pay it by card. You can find a complete list of visa-free countries on the Zambia Immigration site, where you can also apply for an eVisa to stay longer.

  2. Zimbabwe - Offers a visa on arrival for several nationalities, especially those traveling for tourism. It's available at Harare, Bulawayo, and Victoria Falls airports, as well as at the land borders at Victoria Falls (Zambian border) and Kazungula (Botswana border). It costs 50 USD, and the duration of the visa can vary depending on the purpose of the visit, usually 30 or 90 days. If you need a different type of visa, from a conference visa to a student visa, you can apply on the Zimbabwe eVisa portal.

It's always a good idea for travelers to check the latest visa requirements from official government sources or contact the embassy of the country they plan to visit, as visa policies can change frequently.

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Visas for Africa - That we don't offer

Many African countries don't offer visas on arrival and require you to obtain one before you travel. Michael has not only had our help in navigating the external visa process but also enlisted the help of trustworthy Untamed Borders to ensure his trips run as smoothly as possible.

Here's a brief list of some of the African visas you may need to acquire before visiting any given country. You can find out if you need a visa here, and if we offer our trusted professional services to help you obtain it. Otherwise, check with your nearest embassy or consulate.

  • Chad - To enter Chad as a tourist, you'll need a visa before you depart. The easiest option is applying for a single entry visa, valid for 30 days, for US$150. You'll need proof of a yellow fever vaccine to enter.

Top tip: You'll need to contact your nearest embassy or consulate of Chad, and you can apply by mail (documents sent by post); all required documents and completed application forms must be attached. No rush service is available, and you need to use a prepaid return envelope.

  • Libya - Unless you're on the visa-exempt travel list, you'll need a visa to travel to Libya. Citizens of the following countries can visit Libya without a visa: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The duration of visa-free days varies depending on the visitor's nationality and can range from 1-3 months. For those who do need a visa, like United States citizens, you can apply on the Libya eVisa official site.

  • Algeria - The number of days you can stay in Algeria, the validity, and the price depends on the purpose of your stay and can range from 30 days to 2 years. A single-entry tourist visa costs around 25 Euros, for example. Find more information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Algeria.

Top tip: A visa for US citizens is required unless entering via cruise ship or traveling to certain cities in the south of Algeria. Documents can be sent through post service; it's recommended to use a priority mail express return envelope.

  • Mauritania - A Mauritania visa is issued either at the port of entry or at the Mauritania embassy. A visa on arrival is available for US citizens at Nouakchott International Airport. BUT, you must confirm with your airline if it's possible to board without a visa. Otherwise, you must attend the Embassy and apply for a visa before you depart. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Mauritania in your home country and book a visa appointment. Find extensive Mauritania Visa information here.

  • Gambia - The government of Gambia requires visitors to obtain a visa before entering. For example, the fee for a visa from the US is around $200, and $275 for same-day processing. You can apply directly with the Gambian Embassy. You can also get a visa on arrival at the airport, but you must first confirm with your airline if it's possible to board the plane without a visa. The fee for the VOA is around $108, and you will be granted a 30-day stay.

Top tip: Every traveler needs to pay a security fee of USD 20 upon arrival and departure at the airport, payable in cash (USD or dalasi) only at kiosks.

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  • Guinea-Bissau - After lots of research and help from an external travel agency, we gathered the following important information about travel to Guinea-Bissau:

  • To get a visa on arrival, you will need a permit from the Guinea-Bissau Migration Service and a valid travel document. To receive an authorization letter, you must send detailed information about the purpose of your visit to Guinea-Bissau, the duration of your trip, and a scanned copy of your passport to the contact person in Guinea-Bissau.

  • Documents are sent to the Immigration Service, and a request for an authorization letter is filled out by your contact person. If approved, your contact person will mail or fax you a permission letter. When applying for a visa, you must present a printed permit letter. If you don't have a contact person in Guinea-Bissau, you can send the documents to the chief officer of the Migration Service.

In Gambia, you have to pay for a visa the first time you visit. It’s free for the next five years; if I want to return, I don’t have to get a visa.

There are 54 countries in Africa today, and most of them require tourists to get a visa to enter, or a visa-on-arrival is offered with some prerequisites. Each country has very different and sometimes highly complex application processes and procedures. We advise you to use a professional service like ours to obtain a visa where needed; otherwise, you should contact the nearest embassy to you regarding the African country in question.

There are some African countries that are very easy to get into, Cape Verde and Senegal being 2 of them. To read more on this, check out our blog on the easiest countries for US citizens to get a visa.

Our embassy listings might help you find the one you need. Otherwise, you can chat with our helpful customer service agents via chat or WhatsApp.

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