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Explainer: Options for Nigerians as Ethiopia bans walk-in visa

Lessons for Nigeria as Ethiopian Airlines leverage ‘open skies’

Following the cancellation of visas on arrival for Nigerians and over 42 nations, the Ethiopian government has provided some options for the affected countries.

In a circular by Ethiopian Airlines to passengers on Tuesday, it said effective immediately, there will be no more visas on arrival for Nigerian citizens.

The airline said passengers should obtain their visa at the Ethiopian embassy in Abuja before travelling.

“Passengers transiting overnight in Addis Ababa are not affected by the ban. E.g. Passengers having layover in Addis to travel the next morning to Zanzibar, Seychelles, Lusaka, Lilongwe, Harare, Cape Town, etc. are not affected by the ban and do not need transit visa for their trips,” the airline said.

There are two types of visas for tourists which are easy to obtain: the visa on arrival and the e-Visa.

However, while Nigerians are no longer eligible to obtain visas on arrival, there are two options for Nigerian travellers: They can either obtain their visas at the Ethiopian embassy in Abuja before travelling or apply for an e-Visa.

While not all nationalities were eligible for the visas on arrival, which could only be secured at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, almost all nationalities are eligible for the e-Visa, which can be obtained online.

Before travelling to Ethiopia, it is important to understand the pros and cons of the e-Visa.

The Ethiopian e-Visa

To save the hassle of queuing and applying for a visa on arrival at the border, tourists can apply online for an Ethiopian e-Visa in advance.

Almost all nationalities are eligible for the e-Visa, and the application only takes a few minutes.

Travellers who apply online can choose either a 30-day or a 90-day visa. Like the visa on arrival, the e-Visa can only be used at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to gain entry.

To apply for the e-Visa, travellers just need to enter information such as their name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans. The Ethiopian e-Visa fees are paid securely online by debit or credit card.

Applications are normally processed within 24 hours, although it can take longer. Approved e-Visas are sent to applicants by email. Travellers can present their e-Visas, along with their passports, at the Ethiopian border to gain entry.

Visa on arrival vs e-Visa

In general, it is more convenient and practical to obtain the Ethiopia e-Visa. The ease of the online application and the peace of mind of already having authorisation to enter the country upon arrival are advantages over applying at the Ethiopian border.

Advantages of the Ethiopian e-Visa

The electronic visa for Ethiopia has several advantages over the visa on arrival.

With the e-Visa, there is a quick online application; this simple form only takes several minutes to fill out.

In addition to this, there is no need to wait in line. After landing in Ethiopia, passengers do not need to wait for a visa on arrival. There is also an option of a 30-day or 90-day visa, offering choice and flexibility.

The e-Visa is quick to process, and most applications are processed within one to two business days.

The e-Visa is available to almost all nationalities. In 2018, the government made the decision to make the e-Visa available to everyone (with the exception of nationals of Pakistan and Syria).

Read also: Ethiopia bans visa on arrival for Nigerians

Disadvantages of the e-Visa

There are also certain drawbacks of the e-Visa that it shares with the Ethiopian visa on arrival:

Single-entry visa (same as the visa on arrival): The visa expires when you leave the country.

The e-Visa 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 Ethiopian visa on arrival

The visa on arrival for Ethiopia has one main advantage over the e-Visa: No need to apply in advance and this can be useful if the travel is impromptu.

Disadvantages of the visa on arrival

The Ethiopian visa on arrival has a number of disadvantages, including several that the e-Visa does not share. They include travellers waiting at the border to apply; not available to all nationalities; it is only available as a 90-day visa – the 30-day option is not available; it offers only a single-entry visa (same as the e-Visa) and only permits entry at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (same as the e-Visa): entering from other ports is not allowed.