Ethiopia has land borders with 7 countries: Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Kenya, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan. Visas will not be issued at any of these borders and so it is essential that you obtain a visa to Ethiopia before embarking on your border crossing.
Since 2017, Ethiopia is offering nationals of all countries the Ethiopia eVisa. This electronic visa can be easily obtained. Applicants can complete the Ethiopia eVisa application form. The form takes just a few minutes to apply. All you will need initially is a valid passport with at least 6 months left on it, a working Email address to receive the Ethiopia eVisa at, and a credit or debit card with which to make the payment. There are other requirements for documents to be uploaded after this, but the process is fast and simple. Once an application has been submitted it will be approved within 24 hours.
It is important to be aware that the Ethiopia eVisa is only accepted at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. In order to travel by land, you will need to go to an embassy or consulate to have a standard tourist visa issued. Travelers should, therefore, be mindful that as well as being a faster and easier way of traveling, entering Ethiopia by plane has the added advantage that you can travel on the Ethiopia eVisa.
Which are the Ethiopian land borders that can be crossed?
Below are the 5 viable options for entering Ethiopia by land and what to expect at each:
Entering Ethiopia by land from Kenya
The only viable crossing from Kenya is at Moyale, which is around 500 miles from the capital Nairobi. Caution is strongly advised as the area is known for banditry, even though this appears to have lessened recently. A daily bus takes people from the town of Marsabit up to Moyale to make the crossing.
Entering Ethiopia by land from Djibouti
Djibouti is possibly the safest place to cross into Ethiopia from. The official crossing can be found at Dewele. There is a daily bus from Djibouti City to Dire Dawa and the journey takes around 12 hours. You are strongly advised to buy your ticket in advance.
Entering Ethiopia by land from Somaliland
Despite being a de facto country that is not officially recognized, Somaliland is actually a relatively straightforward option to cross from. There are several buses that you can catch traveling from the border village of Wajaale in Somalia to Jijiga in Ethiopia.
Entering Ethiopia by land from Sudan
The crossing into Sudan is to be found at the border town of Gallabat. You can reach Gallabat from Gedaref, but start off early as it’s a long drive.
Entering Ethiopia by land from Eritrea
The land border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has recently reopened after more than 20 years of being closed. This was an important step in helping to bring to an end the conflict that has lasted for decades between the two neighbors. The border is between Burre on the Eritrean side and Zalambessa on the Ethiopian side.
Whichever point that you choose to cross at, make sure that you get your eVisa for Ethiopia beforehand as it will be not possible to process it at any of the borders mentioned above.