How To Get A Sierra Leone 🇸🇱Online Visa

How To Get A Sierra Leone 🇸🇱Online Visa

Sierra Leone was the last new country I visited in December 2023 on my West African journey, and my flight in was a late one, on Christmas night 2023. Sierra Leone, isn’t for the faint-hearted however and it was definitely a challenge to get here. Visas for some nationalities and at some borders can be issued on arrival, but please note that I wanted my visa in advance to be sure I had it, and this is what I recommend.

How To Get A Sierra Leone 🇸🇱Online Visa

Firstly, I had to secure the visa, which worked out at $80 US dollars (paid online) and on arrival, it was a mere stamp in the passport, nothing too elaborate looking. In the end, I flew in here on Christmas Day 2023 from Banjul, The Gambia (which was already via) Dakar in Senegal. I had a wild party in Senegal on Christmas Day at Le Café Du Reve (in the bar, dancefloor and my return to a Senegalese beach) before all that.

The Website Of The Sierra Leone Visa

Firstly go to the Sierra Leone government website here – it looks like this –

The Sierra Leone Government Website

The Sierra Leone Government Website

You are given this information there –

“For visa request please apply online through the following link Sierra Leone eVisa System. (so click on this link – )

An application ID will be only issued after online payment and application approval. This ID has to be presented to the immigration office for the printing and delivery of the eVisa. The applicant must have with his/her passport used for the application.

The duration of this visa be it multiple or single, is determined by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry. The passport is usually stamped for one month at the first instance by the Immigration Officer and if the person wants to stay longer than a month, they would have to seek an extension at the immigration department in Freetown.

Entry visas acquired from Sierra Leone High Commissions/Embassies abroad indicate category of entry purposes. This shows the purpose of coming into the country as stated in your passport. These categories are as follows:

  • Business
  • Tourist/Visit
  • Student

If however, you wish to change the visa acquired earlier, you can do so by applying for a change of status to the Chief Immigration Officer. The Chief Immigration Officer shall be fully informed by any employer or owner of a business who wishes to change the business and address of business and designation of his previous and present employment.”

Getting a Sierra Leone Visa Online

You log onto the website of the aforementioned Sierra Leone Visa and click on the link that says “Start a new VISA application”. It notes that it is three easy steps and actually it was. But it all depends on your nationality, I travel with two Northern Irish passports (one from UK, one from Ireland) and used my Irish one for this, which is allowed. Some nationalities may not be entitled to the online visa. When I clicked that my nationality is Irish (Northern for me, not for them), you get two options – a single entry visa for $80 US or a multiple entry visa for $160 US.

Apply for Sierra Leone Evisa

I wanted a Non African Union Single Entry visa ($80 US) so I clicked it, then clicked on Apply.

You then fill in your name and email address and they send you a code. Type in that code and then you proceed to personal details (passport number etc.) and payment.

Once you have paid and placed your visa application, it’s a waiting game of colours. Yellow means submitted application and the screen looks like this.

Application has been submitted

Application has been submitted

Green means approved application, pink means rejected application. Mine turned green within a few hours and was approved! Success!

My Sierra Leone Evisa was approved

Once it is approved, they email you a PDF of that visa and it looks like this.

How To Get A Sierra Leone Online Visa

How To Get A Sierra Leone Online Visa

I printed two copies of it, just so that I have one, and in case they take one. The visa is valid for one month, 30 days. I arrived into Sierra Leone on a flight from Banjul, The Gambia (seems to be a daily flight in and out that way) with ASKY. The international airport is known as Freetown International Airport, but it’s in Lungi, nowhere near Freetown. On arrival, no photo or paper visa was actually placed in the passport, you are just given a stamp of entry (below photo). The visa is valid for 30 days. Make sure you have a Yellow Fever certificate and any COVID documents they need. They asked me about my hotel too (Hotel Barmoi).

The passport stamp for Sierra Leone

Getting To Freetown

Now you are here, don’t believe the airport name – you are NOT in Freetown at all, your options for getting to Freetown from Lungi, are minibus then ferry, or motorbike then a smaller wooden boat. There are a few companies offering those services. I heard helicopter was also an option but dearer – I never saw any helicopters. Most people head straight to Freetown, but you could stay in Lungi for a day or night if you want – I was there briefly and it is village life.

Arrival in Sierra Leone

At night, doing this was far from picturesque, I arrived just before midnight. Everything was dark, but I found solace in the bar by the harbour while waiting on the ferry (which was extortionately priced at $45 US dollars!). I booked with a company called SeaCoach.

Seacoach – the Ferry

Seacoach – the Ferry

Seacoach – the Ferry

In contrast a can of Guinness at the bar was 50 Leones ($2 US dollars). The motorbike ride and smaller boat (which I used on my exit) were much cheaper, about $5 US in total, and even that was because I chose a fast boat. You can probably get it for $2 – $3 US.

Waiting for the Sea Coach

The Sea Coach

On arrival in Sierra Leone, darkness had fallen and getting to my hotel, The Hotel Barmoi meant that minibus, the ferry (SeaCoach was mine, but there are a few companies doing it) and then a tuk tuk or taxi to the hotel.

Guinness at the Ferry Terminal in Lungi


I must stress that at the time of my visit (December 2023), both the British Embassy and Irish Embassy advised against visiting Sierra Leone!!

Irish Travel Advice Sierra Leone

As followers of this blog probably know, I usually ignore such advice as they are not backpackers and are usually ill-informed. Plus I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 1980s where there were gun attacks and bombs everyday. If we stay at home, we don’t prove anything. I was here exactly 10 years to the month when I backpacked Iran and Iraq, both also told to avoid by the media and embassies in 2013. In this case, there was some violence and disturbances towards the end of 2023 in Sierra Leone, so please do take caution anyway, but don’t let it prevent you going there. I didn’t see any evidence of danger.

Backpacking in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Entrance Tax and Departure Tax

This is a confusing one. I’d already paid $80 US for the visa and had flight tickets in and out, yet they also try to give you an extra $50 US fine, $25 entrance fee and $25 exit fee. It says

“Payment of airport security fee – With effect from 31 August 2022, all inbound and outbound passengers from international airports in Sierra Leone are required to pay a $25 airport security fee prior to travel. Payment can be made online at, via Orange Money or Afrimoney, or at any branch of United Bank for Africa (UBA) or Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB)”

I didn’t pay any entrance tax or entry fee, but I did pay an exit fee of $25 US.

Departure Tax slip

ATM Problems – No Mastercard

I was safe, stayed safe and have my own system for it but there was also a fuel crisis and an ATM issue during my visit. No ATMs accepted Mastercard (I checked around 15 of them!!) and by ridiculous luck my only two cards on this trip were Mastercard as one of my banks switched me from visa. It’s very much a cash society here so be ready for that. Beers and food are cheap though, especially by the beaches. Even the two bars that said they accepted cards, neither of my cards worked. In fact, I never saw anyone use card successfully on my 5 day stint. Except for the duty free shop at the airport.

ATMs and card payment machines wouldn’t accept any of my cards here and I tried about 15 of them

ATMs and card payment machines wouldn’t accept any of my cards here and I tried about 15 of them

All that aside, you got your visa, enjoy Sierra Leone!

My Exquisite Stay At Hotel Barmoi On The Atlantic Coast At Aberdeen, Sierra Leone

My Exquisite Stay At Hotel Barmoi On The Atlantic Coast At Aberdeen, Sierra Leone

Touring Freetown

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2 thoughts on “How To Get A Sierra Leone 🇸🇱Online Visa

  • Old school tatics (visa card and cash) still needed across much of Africa. In Madagascar and Zambia places had efpos card machines but they always said “sorry its not working just now” …

    Looking in fwd to the next sierra leone posts

  • Hi Trevor, Yes, cash is King but they often make excuses and give shit exchange rates. US Dollars end up flying out quickly and are eventually almost worthless, hence why I need cash machines to withdraw local money. Safe travels. Jonny

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