Warning Gabon Embassy Brussels
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Nov 27, 2012 2:00 PM Last Post By: Artabanes
Nov 19, 2012 1:37 PM
Warning Gabon Embassy BrusselsI read the earlier warnings about difficulties applying the Gabonese visa in Brussels. Nevertheless I tried, thinking that as long as I clearly understand their requirements, I will either bring them the requested documents, and get the visa, or will conclude that I cannot deliver those docs and will not go through with the application. Not so. Here is my experience:
1. I went to enquire about needed documents. One was an "airline reservation". I explicitly asked whether an airticket arriving into and leaving from two specific neighbouring countries was acceptable, entering and leaving Gabon by land. The woman behind the window said "yes".
2. Some weeks later, I went to drop off the documents and make the actual application. Before paying, I asked the gentleman behind the window to verify that all docs were OK and met the criteria for the visa. He looked through them and said they were OK. He then asked me to pay 100 Euro, giving me an unnumbered receipt from their color printer. He told me to come back one week later.
3. One week later I went back. The same man told me the visa had been refused. "That's normal because you did not give us a flight reservation to Gabon. We have no evidence that you are actually going to Gabon." When I pointed out that two different staff from the embassy (including himself) had recently told me my documents were OK, he got angry and rude, and told me that all embassies work like this, and that they had not been treating me in any wrong way.
When I asked if I could complete the application by still bringing in a flight reservation directly to/from Libreville, the man said I would then first have to pay another 100Euro, with the outcome still not guaranteed.
I have no problem with an embassy refusing me a visa. It has happened on at least three other occasions to me, but staff has always been upfront saying docs were insufficient and never took money in those cases.
What I find more difficult to accept is, in this case, it looks like embassy staff deliberately and repeatedly gave wrong information, in order to be able to take the application with the money and only then come up with problems and refuse the visa, while holding on to the money. So be warned about applying in Brussels as an independent traveller. The fact that Africans get denied visas in Libreville does not justify this kind of misinformation and behaviour.
As it happened, I casually enquired and ended up getting my Gabon visa in a single day and at half the price, zero documents required, in a neighbouring country. Entered at Leconi and left at Bitam.
Nov 27, 2012 12:57 AM
1That's pretty bad, I was thinking about trying to go to Gabon in the next couple of years (and I live right by the Gabon Embassy here). However, it does sound exactly like what European/American embassies do in Africa as well: reject the visa and keep the money, even if all the paperwork has been done.
Nov 27, 2012 8:54 AM
Nov 27, 2012 2:00 PM
3Lien, Good to hear that it worked for you. I was worried about you when I read your story in the other thread. Did you give flight reservation to Gabon then? Reservation hotel, tour?
As far as I can tell, some perceived truth in Taharqa's remark above (that this is what Western embassies do in Africa) seems to be the motivating factor. Next to what I wrote above about the moving target requirements, at the same time they were already talking about the need for a detailed itinerary as well. When I said I could write it down for them like that, they said no, it had to come "from the internet" whatever that may mean. You get the picture, for some reason I was singled out for being made to pay and then refused the visa, and nothing was going to change that.
Moral of the story: You can try in Brussels, but you risk losing your application fee.
(O well, I guess losing money is part of wanting to travel in this part of the world. I travelled by motorcycle 130 km from Okoyo via Lekety and Mbie to Leconi, and wasn't getting through without paying seriously at some checkpoints i.e. the one in Okoyo to get my exit stamp and the police checkpoint just outside Leconi which you need to pass to get to the Gabon immigration office which is on the road from Leconi to Franceville.)
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