This was actually my sixth trip to Africa, yet it is still one of the continents with huge blanks from me. It is the most challenging continent in my opinion to travel. This is due to the logistics, the visa issues, the overland transport and sadly the disease and poverty in some regions. But that will never stop me going back time and again. This time I was heading to the Ivory Coast, locally known as Cote D’Ivoire and formerly known as French Upper Volta and Upper Volta at various points in its history. I toured the sights of Abidjan and Grand Bassam and stayed in the Ibis Hotel Plateau. I first heard of the Ivory Coast in 1991 when they won the African Nations Cup. By 2006, they were finally in the World Cup, inspired by national treasure Didier Drogba. But how do you get a visa?
These days it has become easier! Instead of another embassy visit, this time, I tried the eVisa option, which I was shocked even existed or even would work, but I gave it a try. I rarely did eVisas on my travels and was trying to think of other countries where I had done this. Then I realised Sri Lanka was one, Australia also (twice I held working holiday visas for it), New Zealand (my working holiday visa) and more recently Kaliningrad. So I had some experience of it. I have shared my visa tips before for these countries:
- How to get a North Korea visa
- How to get a Suriname visa in Venezuela
- How to get a Suriname visa in French Guyana
- How to get an Ethiopia visa at Addis Ababa Airport
- How to get an Iraq visa at Erbil Airport
- How to get an East Timor visa at Dili Airport
- How to get a Jordan visa at Amman International Airport
- How to get a Kuwait visa at Kuwait International Airport
- How to get an Iran visa in Trabzon, Turkey
- How to get an authorisation code for an Iran visa
- How to get a China visa in Hong Kong
- How to get a China visa at Beijing Airport
- How to get a Myanmar visa in Hong Kong
- How to get a Vietnam visa in Hong Kong
- How to get an Azerbaijan visa in Georgia
- How to get a visa for Nagorno Karabakh
- How to get a Qatar visa at Doha Airport
- How to get an Indonesia visa at Denpasar Airport
- How to get an Indonesia visa at Jakarta Airport
- How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa
- How to get a Hong Kong Working Visa
- How to Get an Australian Working Holiday Visa
- How to Get a Second Australian Working Holiday Visa
- How to get a Tanzania visa on arrival in Kilimanjaro
- How to get a Sri Lanka visa online
- How to get a Bangladesh visa in Hong Kong
- How to get an Afghanistan visa in Bishkek
- How to get a Tajikistan visa in Bishkek
- How to get an Uzbekistan visa in Bishkek
- How to get a Gorno Badakhshan visa in Bishkek
- (Old post – not necessarily true any more – How to get a Turkish visa on arrival at Istanbul airport)
- How to get an Antarctica visa (tongue firmly in cheek)
- How to get a Mongolia visa in Poland
- How to get a Belarus visa in Poland
- How to get a Kaliningrad visa in Poland
Ivory Coast was sure to be trickier, but I gave it a go. Here’s a brief rundown, up to date as of February 2018.
How to Get an Ivory Coast Visa Online
You head to the official website of Snedai who issue the visas. This is the only place to get the visa. Here’s the link: Ivory Coast Evisa
The website is written only in French and English, so if you don’t understand either of those languages you’ll need to get someone to help you translate it. I found the English version to be easy to understand, though at times it default switched back to French. I also know a lot of French from my backpacking days in that country and Linda Macklin’s lessons in Bangor, Northern Ireland. French is the main language in the Ivory Coast, with other local languages also used such as Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin, and Cebaara Senufo. The French invaded though and their language remains the most spoken.
Go to the Online Services page and click on E-visa
This is the exact page: https://snedai.com/e-visa/
It tells you that –
“We bring to the attention of visa applicants as the only site officially recognized and approved by the state of Ivory Coast for visa applications is that SNEDAI”.
and also warns that –
“The online application of E-visa does not entitle the visa. Your request can be accepted or rejected by the Authority and there is no refund”.
So in short, there is a risk – you can pay your 73 Euros and not get the visa, so make sure you double check everything and don’t make any mistakes!
What Nationalities Don’t Need a Visa for the Ivory Coast?
Again this is always changing, so check with your embassies. But these nationalities don’t require a visa:
Central African Republic (90 days)
Chad (90 days)
Congo (90 days)
Mauritania (90 days)
Morocco (90 days)
Philippines (90 days)
Seychelles (90 days)
Singapore (90 days)
Tunisia (90 days)
Despite being Northern Irish, I travel on only a British or an Irish passport at present because my own nationality is not recognised. So I needed a visa. For this visa, I used my British passport. For places like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Argentina I used my Irish passport as it was easier. Here, I don’t see an issue with either but I defaulted to the British one.
The Website itself describes its own visa process as a 3 step system, though I saw it as 5 steps. It was five main steps and very easy. Although Step 1 on their list involved a lot of smaller steps.
Step 1 – Going to the website, clicking on the evisa application and choosing the 73 Euro e-visa option.
Step 2 – Entering your personal information. All simple and easy.
Step 3 – Entering your travel information.
Step 4 – Making the payment.
Step 5 – The Waiting game.
Step 1 (as described on the website)
Pre-enrollment is to record some personal information and to download 3 documents:
1.the identity page of the passport
Take a photo or scan of your passport page. Make it visible, make it readable. Attach it.
2.the booking of airfare
Take a photo or scan of your aeroplane booking. Make it visible, make it readable. Attach it.
3.the invitation letter or certificate of accommodation.
Take a photo or scan of your hotel booking. Make it visible, make it readable. Attach it.
After pre-enrollment, the applicant performs a fee for obtaining the Visa whose duration is 3 months (multiple-input) and are as follows: 73 Euros (including bank charges).
The payment is made with VISA or MASTERCARD .
When the payment is made, the applicant receives an instant mail (accompanied by an attachment on which there is the unique, personal code certificate of payment)
NB: The case of non pre-enrollment online are exceptional and are the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST).
Step 2: Receive response DST
The applicant receives an email address in a time of 48h working days a document (contains a bar code) which is the response of the authorities (approved or denied).
Step 3: Enrollment at the airport
The applicant embarked with the document “Pre-enrollment approved” and is presented on arrival at the airport to the “airport Visa” space. It performs its biometric enrollment and visa is printed and delivered immediately. The box E-visa enrollment are available 24h / 24 and 7/7.
– Enrollment (fingerprinting and photo) is required for each visa application, even if the applicant has already obtained several visas.
– The biometric visa requires the presence of the applicant. Fingerprinting is required for all except for minors under 12 years, but their presence is necessary.
How long in advance do you have to book your visa?
I’d recommend within two weeks of your trip. The visa itself takes 48 hours, so you need to pay for it at least 3 days in advance, allowing that extra day for your actual trip. I actually only did mine 3 days before and that was fine, but leave a bit of time just in case something goes wrong.
Documents Needed to Get an Ivory Coast Visa Online
I needed to submit:
1.The online visa form itself
2.A scan/photo of my passport
3.My flight ticket in and out (I took a screen grab and saved it as a jpeg and png document)
4.My hotel reservation (I took a screen grab and saved it as a jpeg and png document)
And that was it.
After Payment of the Ivory Coast Visa
After I paid for my Ivory Coast visa (online via Visa or Mastercard), I received a confirmation email within an hour to say that I had paid and the payment of 73 Euros was accepted. It came from the no reply address email@example.com
When I clicked on that email, it confirmed that I had registered for the visa and was now waiting on the visa to be confirmed. I was still not 100% sure at this stage that I would get the visa. There is no refund if you don’t get the visa, so the payment is a risk.
Confirmation of the Ivory Coast Visa
Within 24 hours, I received a second email confirming that I had the visa. It came with a link to a document (below) which stated – “this document must not be used as a visa”, however printing this document and showing it to officers on arrival is what gets you the actual visa.
Ahead of my trip, I simply printed all these documents that proved I had the visa and that was it. I was ready to go.
Arrival in the Ivory Coast at Abidjan International Airport
On arrival the procedure was incredibly fast, at Abidjan International Airport. In fact, I landed at 5 a.m. on a flight from Lisboa in Portugal. And by 5.35 a.m I was outside the airport already! You go to the booth that says “E-visa” on arrival. It is on the left hand side of the immigration section and is a small room with around 15 seats and 4 computers. You sit down in a room and are given a number. I was 007, which felt a little odd as it’s JB, James Bond, my initials.
They called me up after about 8 minutes, checked my print outs, took my finger and thumb prints and sent me to the second person. This person issued me with the visa which takes up a full page in your passport and includes the photo from your passport on it – you don’t need another photo. I didn’t need an extra photo, or a boarding pass, or my Yellow Fever Certificate.
After that, I went to the immigration counter where they simply took my fingerprints, checked the visa and stamped my passport. It was a valid 90 day tourist visa, with a single entry. The process was easy and the Ivory Coast was such a pleasant country to visit.
Backpacking in the Ivory Coast
I was ready to explore the Ivory Coast, backpacking Abidjan and Grand Bassam. I based myself in the Ibis Hotel in Plateau, Abidjan and used Dayo Williams as a guide. Here are Dayo’s details – a great guide:
Dayo Williams – Dayo African Tours:
00225 Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
Good luck getting the visa everyone!! If you have any questions regarding purchasing and printing online entrance tickets or the online payment of the proof of payment ahead of this visa, you can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org