I’m in Cote d’Ivoire!!
Like many countries on Africa’s west coast, the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire in French) requires a visa for tourists to enter.
I’ve been blessed (or spoiled) with a New Zealand passport, so this minor inconvenience almost stopped me from visiting here. Generally I only visit countries without visa requirements or that allow visas on entry, which is why I skipped Russia and the Ukraine on my Eurotrip a few years ago.
However, West Africa has been atop my list of places to visit for many years now, so I decided this was just part of the cost of travel. Luckily, it was much easier than I anticipated.
Cote d’Ivoire e-visa
The easiest and recommended way to get an Ivory Coast visa is to use the e-visa system.
The entire process is handled online and it is actually quite fast and easy.
Here’s what you will need (in jpeg or PDF):
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your flight information (both arrival and departure)
- Copy of your accommodation booking, or an invitation from a local
- 73 euro visa fee
The obvious problem here is you have to book your flights before you apply for the visa, meaning I had to spend a small fortune on a flight in and out of Abidjan and I didn’t even know if I was getting let into Abidjan in the first place. But that is the process.
Here are the documents that I submitted:
- PDF of my passport page
- PDF of my flight itinerary in and out of the country
- PDF of my Airbnb itinerary and receipt
- Payment via Mastercard debit card
Just print this into PDF and attach it in your application. Same goes for your flight itinerary.
Note: You shouldn’t have to worry if you haven’t booked accommodation for your entire stay. I only had booked mine for the first week and it wasn’t a problem.
How to apply for the Cote d’Ivoire e-visa
To start the application process, you need to go to the Snedai website, which you can find here.
If you want to be doubly sure, the URL is https://snedai.com/e-visa/
While it might not look particularly flash or convincing, this is the official website you will need to use.
To start, click on begin application. There is a small British flag at the top, where you can change the language to English.
You’ll get taken through a series of five pages. The first three are where you need to fill out all your basic details, such as name, DOB, occupation etc.
After that, you’ll get taken to a page to upload your travel documents. Make sure these are all correct – remember – there are no refunds for the 73 euro fee, so if you upload incomplete documents you’ll lose your fee and you’ll need to reapply all over again.
You will be asked for:
- Copy of your passport photo page.
- Copy of your flight itinerary.
- Copy of your accommodation confirmation or letter of invitation from a local.
The final step is to agree to the visa terms, which state you cannot work in the country and you must leave before your visa expires (90 days).
Click if you agree, and you will get taken to the payment page. You can by Visa or Mastercard.
Finally, submit your application.
Once you’ve submitted, you should receive an email within a few minutes that your application has been received. It will come from the address “[email protected]” and will look like this:
You will also receive a payment receipt that looks like this:
Now comes the waiting game.
According to the website, you should receive your visa within 48 hours (if approved).
After a very short but nervous wait, my visa arrived after 29 hours. It comes from the same email address and is written in both English and French:
IMPORTANT: Attached to this email will be a PDF of your visa confirmation.
Make sure you print this out!
You will need it at customs when you arrive in Cote d’Ivoire.
Arriving in Abidjan airport
One of the conditions of the e-visa is you must arrive via the international airport at Abidjan. That means if you’re planning to cross at the land border with Liberia, Mali or Ghana, you will need to get a paper visa from your embassy.
As soon as you come off the plane and enter the airport, there will be a small office to your left that says “e-visa”.
Go inside and there will be a waiting room with a machine where you take a ticket number.
Weirdly I didn’t even see a screen with any ticket numbers on it, there was just some guy in a suit pointing to people and calling them to the desks with the agents.
When you get called, hand him your visa confirmation slip and your passport, he will take your fingerprints and then paste a visa into your passport.
The officers don’t seem to speak much English but the process is straightforward and we communicated mostly in sign language. The whole process takes around five minutes.
Once you have your visa, you go join your queue at customs and wait to be processed. Maybe it’s because I arrived late at night, but the Abidjan airport customs was really slow – it took three desks maybe 45 minutes to get through about 20 of us. I’m not even sure what took them so long, because when it came to my turn he just quickly looked at the visa, took my thumb print and stamped me through in about two minutes.
Outside the airport
Once in arrivals the next challenge is finding transport to your accommodation.
This was little trickier than usual for me as it was now after midnight and things are always a bit harder during the night. I had two contacts in Abidjan, one told me to pay 6,000 max, the other told me to pay 8,000 max (to Cocody).
There was a few hustlers around, one who said his name was ‘Gar’ (I think) who was very friendly and helpful, until he tried to charge me 20,000 COF. I told him I’ll take a different taxi and he wasn’t so friendly anymore.
What I ended up doing was chatting with the guy at the information desk and he found me a cab for 10,000, which I was able to live with.
From there we headed out into Abidjan, on the drive to my accommodation we actually passed no less than three military checkpoints, I was even asked out of the car and had my pockets and backpack searched at one of them, but it was respectful.
The driver said it’s totally normal – I asked if they ever ask for bribes and he said not usually. I’m told these checkpoints are a remnant of the civil war a few years back.
After a twenty minute drive I arrived at my Airbnb, had a hot shower and headed straight to bed.
There it is! How to get a Cote d’Ivoire visa and arrive safely in Abidjan.