Entry & Exit Formalities
- You will need a visa to enter Somaliland. Visas are not issued at the airport.
- The most convenient place to get a visa is Addis Ababa. They are issued while you wait through the Somaliland Liaison Office and cost US$40 for a one-month visa. Visas can also be obtained in Djibouti, the UK, the USA and France; visa fees cost about US$40, although requirements tend to vary arbitrarily from one Liaison Office to another (US$80 in the USA).
- Another option is to go through a local sponsor, such as the Oriental Hotel, the Ambassador Hotel or the Maan-soor Hotel. Email them the (scanned) ID pages of your passport and give them at least three days to organise the visa. They will email a visa certificate back to you as an attached document. Print it and present it upon arrival at the airport (or at any land border). Note that this is a certificate; the original visa should have been deposited at the immigration office at the airport (or at the border post, if you arrive by land) by your sponsor. In many cases your sponsor will be waiting for you at the airport with the original visa. If you plan to enter Somaliland at Tog Wajaale (from Ethiopia), ask your sponsor to send the original visa to the Somaliland border post (your sponsor will put it in an envelope and give it to a reputable taxi driver heading to Tog Wajaale). Hotels charge US$20 to US$50 for the service, and expect that you spend a couple of nights with them.
Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Tourism
It helps at checkpoints if you have an official form from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Tourism that lists all the places you intend to visit in the country (be extensive). For Las Geel, Zeila and all travel east of Burao, this form is mandatory. Get there in the morning, fill in the form, fork out US$25 and it’s issued on the spot. It’s on a side street near Imperial Hotel.
Visas for Onward Travel
The Ethiopian Liaison Office can issue Ethiopian visas. You’ll need two photos, US$20 and a letter from the Immigration Department Office Headquarters, though this letter is not always required by the Ethiopian officer. The whole process should take less than a day provided you arrive early in the morning.