Ethiopia’s popularity as a holiday destination continues to grow. It is a truly breathtaking country and ideal for safari and wildlife-lovers. Thankfully getting there has never been easier.
There are 2 types of visas for tourists which are also very easy to obtain: the visa on arrival and the eVisa.
Many nationalities are eligible for the visas on arrival which can only be secured at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Even more nationalities are eligible for the eVisa, which can be obtained online.
Before traveling to Ethiopia it is important to understand the pros and cons of each visa so you can choose which is best for you.
What is the Ethiopian Visa on Arrival?
The visa on arrival is a type of travel authorization which can be obtained at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport after visitors arrive in Ethiopia. There is no need to go to an embassy or consulate to complete a visa application beforehand.
Visas on arrival are valid for up to 3 months and allow one entry into the country. This means they cannot be used to leave and reenter Ethiopia.
Many travelers prefer to apply for an Ethiopia eVisa before their trip to save the hassle of queueing at the border after a long flight. The application only takes a few minutes to complete so it saves time in the long run.
Who Can Get a Visa on Arrival for Ethiopia?
There are a large number of nationalities who are eligible for the Ethiopia visa on arrival (see list below). Citizens of Kenya and Djibouti can enter visa-free.
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for African Countries
Nationals of all African Union member states and individuals who hold residence permits issued by these countries are eligible to apply for a visa on arrival for Ethiopia, including the following:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- DR Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Western Sahara
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for Asian Countries
Citizens and resident permit-holders of the following countries in Asia are eligible for the Ethiopian visa on arrival:
- Hong Kong
- North Korea
- South Korea
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for European Countries
Nationals and official residents of a number of European countries may obtain a visa on arrival to enter Ethiopia, including the following sovereign states:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for North American Countries
Citizens of the following North American nations as well as holders of residence permits issued by these countries may obtain a visa on arrival in Ethiopia:
- United States
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for South American Countries
Visitors from these countries in South America may apply for an Ethiopian visa on arrival to gain entry to the African state:
Ethiopia Visa on Arrival for Oceanic Countries
Citizens and residence permit-holders of the following states in Oceania are eligible for the visa on arrival for Ethiopia:
- New Zealand
How to Apply for a Visa on Arrival?
To obtain a visa on arrival from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, visitors need to queue at one of the kiosks at the airport to complete the application.
Applicants should bring 2 passport photos with them. It is also necessary to pay a fee for the visa.
In some cases, evidence of sufficient funds to cover the trip may be required. A bank statement is adequate proof of this.
Visas on arrival for Ethiopia can also be issued to visitors with a letter of invitation for a meeting, seminar, or workshop organized by the African Union participants of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. It is necessary to provide the letter as verification.
The Ethiopia eVisa: the Alternative to the Visa on Arrival
To save the hassle of queuing and applying for a visa on arrival at the border, you can apply online for an Ethiopia eVisa in advance.
Almost all nationalities are eligible for the eVisa and the application only takes a few minutes.
You also have the choice between a 30-day or a 90-day visa if you wish to stay longer. Like the visa on arrival, the eVisas can only be used at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to gain entry.
To apply for the eVisa, you just need to enter information such as your name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans. You also need to pay a fee using a credit or debit card.
Applications are normally processed within 24 hours though it can take longer on rare occasions. Approved eVisas are sent to applicants by email. Travelers can present their eVisa, along with their passport, at the Ethiopian border to gain entry.
Visa on Arrival vs eVisa: Pros and Cons
In general, it is more convenient and practical to obtain the Ethiopia eVisa. The ease of the online application and the peace of mind of already having authorization to enter the country upon arrival are huge advantages over applying at the Ethiopian border. However, there are cases when the visa on arrival is the only available option.
Advantages of the Ethiopia eVisa
The electronic visa for Ethiopia has several advantages over the visa on arrival:
- Quick online application: the simple form only takes several minutes to fill out.
- No need to queue: after you land in Ethiopia you do not need to queue for a visa on arrival.
- Option of 30-day or 90-day visa: offering choice and flexibility.
- Quick processing: most applications are processed within 24 hours though it can take up to 3 days
- Available to almost all nationalities: in 2018 the government made the decision to make the eVisa available to everyone (with the exception of nationals of Pakistan and Syria).
Disadvantages of the eVisa for Ethiopia
There are also certain drawbacks of the eVisa that it shares with the Ethiopian visa on arrival:
- Single-entry visa (same as the visa on arrival): the visa expires if you leave the country.
- Only permits entry at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (same as the visa on arrival); entering from other ports is not allowed.
Advantages of the Ethiopia visa on arrival
The visa on arrival for Ethiopia has one main advantage over the eVisa:
- No need to apply in advance: this is useful if you are traveling last-minute.
Disadvantages of the visa on arrival
The Ethiopia visa on arrival has a number of disadvantages, including several that the eVisa does not share:
- Queueing at the border to apply: this can be tiresome after a long journey.
- Not available to all nationalities: see the list of eligible countries above.
- Only available as a 90-day visa: the 30-day option is not available.
- Single-entry visa (same as the eVisa): the visa expires if you leave the country.
- Only permits entry at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (same as the eVisa): entering from other ports is not allowed.