On my travels, getting visas can be as much a pain in the ass as a pleasure. From the moment you apply until actually seeing that shining sticker on your passport can be a long winded process. Luckily I’ve been through these types of processes several times and am here to help my fellow travellers out! The Suriname Visa that I got in Venezuela in 2011 was a huge struggle. But it was worth it and here’s my advice on how to get a Suriname Visa in Venezuela. This report features the entire real life struggle I had including muggings, guns, black markets and visa refusals. I really hope your application for a Suriname Visa runs a lot smoother than mine did!
Which nationalities need a Suriname Visa?
Most nationalities need one. I was travelling on a British and an Irish passport and both those nationalities need one. The only countries that DO NOT NEED A VISA are these ones:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Philippines, Gambia, Guyana, Grenada, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.
So basically most countries need one, Suriname is also the ONLY COUNTRY in South America that I needed a visa for – the others are all stamp on arrival. If you’re not on the list above, get reading on how to get your visa!
Where in South America can you get a Suriname Visa?
OK before you even get to Venezuela you have to know that the only cities that you can get a Suriname Visa issued in South America are:
Cayenne, FRENCH GUYANA
Port of Spain, TRINIDAD and TOBAGO
So if you’re on a long trip, which I was, make sure you pop to one of these places. I originally intended to get my Visa done in Bogota, but in the rush (and the fact that I had flights booked out of Caracas) I ended up in Caracas in Venezuela getting my visa, so therefore this post details how to get a Suriname Visa in Caracas, though I’d reckon it’s a similar situation to the other Embassies.
How to get a Suriname Visa in Venezuela
For a start you need to be in Caracas, capital city of Venezuela. Also famous for drugs, robberies, muggings, shootings, rapes and all kind of scams and scandals. Hence why Caracas was once the murder capital of the world. I’d thought I’d clear that up first. Head to Caracas.
Where is the Suriname Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela
It’s not easy to find, let me tell you that much. It’s also not that safe in some of the nearby streets. The reason it’s not easy to find is due to Caracas’s odd street system. The same street will appear in 5 or 6 different suburbs for example. You need to head to the area called Altamira. Altamira has it’s own metro station, and in fact a lot of decent (if expensive) hotels. Though, just for a change, Altamira has some banks and offices, some decent scenery and is not as dangerous as most parts of Caracas. Take my advice and stay in Altamira if you are getting a Suriname Visa – it’s just handier and less hassle.
Here’s the address –
Suriname Embassy, 4A Ave. entre 7a v 8a Transversal, Qta. Los Milagros, Altamira, Caracas.
Yes that is confusing as hell, and I first went to almost the exact same address baffled by the fact the embassy wasn’t there, as instead of the word Altamira it was the word Los Palos Grandes. Eventually when I found it, my nightmares were beginning.
Getting to the Suriname Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela
Even though I’ve just given you the address, you still need to know how to get there, so start from Plaza Altamira, the square below:
From there head north towards the mountains along the street called Avenida San Juan Bosco. It’s a main road. You will get to a square (more a semi circle) and the road routes out into 3 other streets. The tell tale sign you’re here is a church:
Take a left at the square and get onto 4a avenue which runs north towards the mountains in behind. You will reach the 7th Transversal Street, when you do, head straight across and you will see the Suriname Embassy on the left hand side. It took me a long time to find it believe me! It looks like this:
Opening Hours of the Suriname Embassy in Caracas:
As you can see from my photo, the opening hours are not on your side unfortunately, and can you believe I even had to beg them to stay open an extra hour on my second day of the visa application just to get my visa done. As a rule of thumb the offices are offically manned from 9am to around 4pm on weekdays. BUT they only do visa applications between 9am and 12 noon. Plus they take a lunch break between 12 noon and 2pm (although on the sign above it says 1pm), so the chances of getting the place to be open are slim. My advice – head on a weekday at 9am to optimise your chances of getting the visa.
How to get into the Suriname Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela:
You’d think this would be easy enough, but it’s not. Gates, barbed wire and all sorts of security systems are in place in most of Venezuela and this embassy is no different. Keep ringing the bell and banging on the gate and you might be lucky to get inside. It took me about 8 minutes before a guy let me in!!
What visa should you get to visit Suriname?
This is a travel website, so I’m telling you about getting a tourist visa on here, which is what I got. Get a 2 month multiple entry visa like me, although there are other options if you want to stay longer. But a 2 month multiple entry tourist visa is what you need.
What do you need to bring with you to get a Suriname Visa?
I should have told you this first, but things always change with visa applications so this is a guide. Before my visit to the Suriname embassy I checked on the website for what I needed, but I just knew there would be more than one visit to the embassy so I thought I’d call in and ask them everything I needed and for the application form first. I was shocked at how detailed, thorough, strict and difficult it was to get the visa. By the way I also e-mailed them before my visit, not surprisingly they didn’t reply!
So…Officially you need ALL of these things to get a Suriname Visa in Venezuela:
1. Your passport (which must have at least 6 months left to run)
2. TWO passport photos
3. A completely filled out application form
4. A colour photocopy of your passport
5. An original and a copy of your flight ticket (please note you will probably be arriving by plane and to Zanderij Airport, which is a fair trek from Paramaribo)
6. A confirmation of hotel reservation (I booked online to stay at Amice Guesthouse in Paramaribo)
7. A bank statement for the last THREE months (yes, I know, crazy!)
8. A job letter indicating the time, post and salary of current or last job
9. $45 US Dollars (this is important – it MUST BE PAID IN US DOLLARS – not even Venezuelan Bolivares are accepted – again crazy and added to my Nightmares in Caracas)
Getting all of these things on your travels is a nightmare, add that to the fact that I was in one of the drug and gun capitals of the world, Caracas! At the time of my first visit to the embassy, I only had 3 out of those 9 things, so I was sent back to get the rest. That was my first refusal. On my first attempt I had been refused the visa as I didn’t have the accompanying evidence or the $45 US Dollars ( I only had Venezuelan Bolivares). I narrowly escaped a mugging with all my valuables on me, story to follow in detail someday, but overview here: Attempted mugging in Caracas
How to get all these things in Caracas, Venezuela:
With great difficulty, let me tell you, here’s those 9 things and how I got them, so you can get them too (allow at least a day in case you have to book flights and wait for email returns from employers etc.)
1. Your passport (which must have at least 6 months left to run) – I had it on me
2. TWO passport photos – I always carry passport photos – I had them
3. A completely filled out application form – I don’t own a printer, I picked up a copy of the application form at the embassy (it takes about 20 minutes to fill it all in)
4. A colour photocopy of your passport – I had to go to a colour photocopier in Altamira and get this done. Ask at your hotel.
5. An original and a copy of your flight ticket (please note you will probably be arriving by plane and to Zanderij Airport, which is a fair trek from Paramaribo) – I had my flight booked and I had an e-mail of the itinerary – I printed it in an internet printing shop in Altamira.
6. A confirmation of hotel reservation (I booked online to stay at Amice Guesthouse in Paramaribo) – I had also just booked this and had an e-mail confirmation from the Guesthouse – I printed it in an internet printing shop in Altamira.
7. A bank statement for the last THREE months (yes, I know, crazy!) – I didn’t have much money in my Australian account and had NO bank statements on me at all. The only thing I did was access one of my online bank statements from the previous year and printed it – they reluctantly in the end had to accept it.
8. A job letter indicating the time, post and salary of current or last job – I just got my old boss to e-mail me to confirm my job title and I printed the e-mail in an internet printing shop in Altamira.
9. $45 US Dollars (this is important – it MUST BE PAID IN US DOLLARS – not even Venezuelan Bolivares are accepted – again crazy and added to my Nightmares in Caracas) – OK so I had the previous 8 things and this is where it got tricky, but yes, eventually I got my US Dollars, I had to go to a pawn shop in an alleyway in downtown Caracas past pickpockets, gunmen and druggies in order to get it. There had just been a black market crash in Venezuela the day I arrived so I got ripped off big time.
So if you manage to get all of those things then you might just get your visa. Not quite, after my first visit to the embassy, an attempted mugging in the street near the embassy and a night’s sleep I returned the next morning having got all the things I needed except the $45 US (which I was working on getting…). But I still needed TWO more things:
10. THREE empty passport pages (I had only 2.5 empty pages left and they were adamant I couldn’t use my British passport – I had left my Irish passport at the hotel and filled in the entire form based on being British). I begged and I begged and finally they granted me my Suriname Visa in a passport which is now full.
11. $5 US dollars fee for same day visa application ( I had no qualms about paying this except for the fact I didn’t have it and now needed to source $50 US Dollars for the Visa).
My story of getting my Suriname Visa in Venezuela (cut short):
So on that second morning I left the embassy and walked back towards my hotel. I wasn’t in a trusting mood in Venezuela and it’s a dodgy country however a black lady approached me and sounded interesting. She turned out to be my saviour. She handed me her travel business card, she was Luisa of Sun Gate Travel (shame I wasn’t staying longer in Venezuela in fact as she would have been an awesome lady to sort out my travel adventures!). We got talking and I still needed these two things to get my Visa. I decided I didn’t want to get my Irish passport or use it – I was going to argue and beg with them to put the Suriname Visa on my British passport as I wanted to fill it and it was expiring soon too. But I needed $50 US. I had about $200 US worth of Venezuelan Bolivares. Well that was 2 days ago – the black market crash meant I ended up blowing almost all of that to get just $50 US from a dodgy shop in the downtown (my only visit to central Caracas). It’s a long story and is covered here in detail: Downtown Caracas – Watches, Pickpockets and Cocaine!
SO after all that, I finally got my visa, shiny and new and for $50 US Dollars and in my British passport! I was elated, as you can see from the above photo inside the embassy just before I paid!!
I think I have covered it all ok for you on there, any questions or comments please let me know and the visa regulations always change. In Europe, Brussels and Amsterdam are the only cities you can get a Suriname Visa in. Good information to know.
To tell my entire story and show how you CAN get a Suriname Visa in one day in Caracas read below (hopefully you will find it a smoother path).
My timeline of getting my Suriname Visa in Caracas:
Day 1 – Tuesday –
9am – tried to find Suriname Embassy walking around the correct streets but in the wrong suburb. Ended up confused and headed back to hotel to check in and check online if the information was correct. Refused service in a coffee shop on the way back. Refused to be allowed to check into hotel room early.
11am – Back at hotel and looking at options for getting Suriname Visa. Guy at reception tells me the address is correct but I went to the wrong suburb. It’s now about 20 – 25 minute walk and the place closes for lunch at 12 noon. I check in, shower and wait.
1pm – Walk to embassy and find it and am let inside before 2pm. They refuse my Visa as I don’t have all the things I need, I leave with a list of what I need to get.
2.20 pm – Attempted mugging in broad daylight in Altamira. Smelly, fat guy brandishes a gun and I make a bolt into a bar/restaurant to escape him.
2.30 pm – I relax with a beer and nachos making notes on how I can get the things I need. I ask the owner of the restaurant to drop me back to my hotel. He does.
4.30 pm – Hotel has no internet and the internet cafe is shut until 8am. Damn! But I head to the cash machine in vain to get my US Dollars out. They can only give out Bolivares. Nobody can swap them for US Dollars for me due to the black market crash.
6pm – I check email in the hotel and collate all the emails and bank statements into one easily printable email ready for printing the next morning. The hotel couldn’t print it for me.
Night – update my blog, have a few beers and relax!
Day 2 – Wednesday
8am – breakfast then head to internet cafe and print everything
9am – taxi from my new mate Ramon direct to Suriname Embassy (didn’t want to walk following mugging previous day)
10am – After waiting for an hour, they refused my visa. Not enough space in passport. Shit! My Irish passport is at the hotel. I also didn’t have the US Dollars yet either.
11am – Walked back the same way I had the attempted mugging the day before looking out for the wanker. Bumped into Luisa and told her my story of how I needed $50 US Dollars.
12 noon – guns, cocaines and black market story as I head on the metro with Luisa into downtown Caracas in almost secret/terrorist on the run style just to get the $50. I ended up having to withdraw more Venezuelan Bolivares than I’d ever imagined.
1pm – arrived back at the Suriname Embassy and had the visa nailed and in my hand by 2pm!!!
Oh the joys of travel – get your Suriname Visa, head there and love it!! It’s a great country!!
My videos of the Visa Struggle and Venezuela in general:
My attempted mugging happened about 30 seconds after I made this video!:
Having a Zulia Cerveza Beer in Little Rock Cafe after my attempted mugging:
My bedroom in Caracas:
Having a beer the night I got my Visa confirmed!: