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How to get a visa for Somaliland

The horn of Africa. The last frontier of travelling? Perhaps, but in reality, it’s really not that daring – that’s not to say, however, that travel to Somaliland isn’t great if you’re trying to get off that well-trodden path because after you set one foot in the horn of Africa you’ll instantly have 99% of other travellers trumped in the ‘where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been’ conversation the next time you sit around the campfire! But how do you get a visa for Somaliland? Actually, it’s not that hard. Check out why. 

How to get a visa for somaliland
How to get a visa for Somaliland

How to get a visa for Somaliland?

Good question. And the answer is refreshingly easy. The easiest way to do it is if you’re already in Africa, or if you fly first to Ethiopia, and then travel onto Somaliland.

3 Somaliland Embassies in the world

OK, there are 3 Somaliland representations (read: embassies) in the world:

  • UK
  • USA
  • Ethiopia

If you’re from the UK or USA, by all means, sort it out beforehand. But if you’re from any other country in the world, or you’re on a long trip through Africa, then you’ll be going to Somaliland via Ethiopia by land so here’s the deal:

How to get a visa for Somaliland
How to get a visa for Somaliland; In Hargeisa, Somaliland

How to get to Somaliland overland from Addis Ababa; Step by step

  1. When in Addis Ababa, go to Somaliland ‘embassy’ (note: NOT the Somali embassy), see the google map below.
  2. Explain to the staff why you’re going to Somaliland, and explain you want to leave tomorrow morning early
  3. Pay your $40 and ask nicely if it’s possible to get it today
  4. Collect your passport the same day
  5. The next morning, get the bus from Merkata Market bus station to Harar ($6 – 12hours)
  6. I’d recommend spending a couple of days here. Harar is the place where you can feed hyenas face to face. 
  7. Get the bus from Harar -> Jijiga ($2 – 2 hours)
  8. Get a bus from Jijiga -> Wajeela ($2 – 2 hours) (the Ethiopia/Somali border)
  9. Stamp out of Ethiopia in the Mao building, walk across the border and stamp into Somaliland
  10. Get a bus/taxi to Haeigeshia from the border ($4/$30 – 2 hours)
How to get a visa for Somaliland
How to get a visa for Somaliland; Overlanding from Addis to Somaliland, via Harar

Where is the Somaliland Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia?

Find the nearest internet café, change your Facebook status to something involving you being in Somaliland and watch the notifications roll in!

What to bring for your visa for Somaliland Application

My application process in Ethiopia took me all of about 30 minutes, and in the end they asked for nothing in terms of documents. However, I was prepared with the following, and I’d recommend you do the same. In any case, you should carry these things on any trip in Africa:

  1. Passport copy x 3
  2. Passport photos x 4
  3. $200 USD ($40 for the visa-fee, and extra just in case)
  4. Patience and humility. Africa has its own rules. And if you piss off the Ambassador, he can deny you in a heartbeat. Equally, if you’re nice, friendly and humble, he can award the visa there and then.

Finally, Is Somaliland A Country?

On my journey to every country in the world, I visited Somaliland and initially counted it as my Somalia visit. As I approached my last country, I realised that I was cheating myself. Somaliland, while not officially a country, is pretty much almost a country in every respect. It has its own currency, its own flag, its own government, its own dialect, and it even had international ’embassies’ in a handful of countries. It’s a country in every way, apart from being internationally recognised. So is it a country? Technically, no, in that respect Somaliland is officially part of Somalia. Culturally, logistically, emotionally however? Yes, it’s a country.

For that reason, I no longer couldn’t my visit to Somaliland as a visit to Somalia proper. I then went back to travel to Mogadishu, and it was a great crazy!

Visiting Somalia
Visiting Mogadishu, Somalia

Travel Insurance for Somaliland

Most travel insurance companies won’t cover you for your trip to Somaliland, or Somalia for that matter. But my insurance company will! I’ve been using Safety Wing from the first day that I heard about them. They cover EVERY country in the world except for North Korea and Iran, so even in Somaliland or Somalia, you’re covered. And it’s only $9 a week, and you can cancel at any time. Pretty epic. I wrote a review about them here. But if you can’t be bothered with any more information, you can go directly and sign up with them HERE

Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!

I use SafetyWing at $9 a week, and it's amazing. Also, it has great digital nomad insurance for people who are constantly travelling too! You can read my review here, and you can sign-up here

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Got a question? Wanna comment? I'd love to hear from you

12 thoughts on “How to get a visa for Somaliland

  1. Pingback: Travel to Somalia; How I traveled to Mogadishu; No Visa required!
  2. Pingback: A Guide to Somaliland Travel | One Step 4Ward
  3. Pingback: My Somaliland Travel; Kidnappings, 'Lady Friends in Burkhas' and Bootleg Gin in Somalia | One Step 4Ward
  4. How long time did you spend in Ethiopia and Somaliland in all? I’m going to Ethiopia for a month, and I’d love to go to Somaliland as well.

  5. I met a guy in Harar who was doing this too. He seemed to suggest you can also get a visa in Dire Dawa these days (though I have no proof whether he did or not). I was in Harar last week, but didnt even know there was a proper bus from Addis Ababa to Harar. It was all abit crazy. I met a guy in the petrol station who asked me if I wanted to get on a mini-bus that night to Harar so I said yes. The minibus was a DEATH bus. Bounced up and down the whole way, killed a cow, almost went off a cliff edge, broke down for a few hours and even had a smashed windscreen. The entire time I was hemmed into the corner in an overcrowded minibus. Found out later it was illegal! Now if I’d know there was a bus…please don’t tell me you even had your own seat and leg room on the bus? Anyway great advice for Somaliland here Johnny! Safe travels.

    1. hey ron, yeah it’s definitely safe mate but you can’t do it in one stint. I’d stop over in Harar for a couple of days, the journey from start to finish will take 2 full days, no night buses. But like I say a break in harar works out nicely =)

  6. Its WAY better to take a bus from Bole Mikael directly to Jijiga OR an even more comfy way is taking Sky Bus to Jijiga or first to Harar and then Jijiga. The Bus is soo nice with air conditioning, snacks and movies. For a few bir more than the merkato busses, I find it a GREAT bargain, especailly for a long hot bus ride like this one. Tickets are sold at Taitu Hotel in Piassa.

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