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 scary. At least the Somaliland side isn’t. Traveling to Mogadishu, that’s a different story! But getting a visa for Somaliland, and then traveling to Somaliland is actually far safer than people think.

And of course once 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

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