Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Arriving in Ethiopia, visa, etc.


Hannah posted this on our group site. It is great info. I think a lot of it is scattered here and there on this blog, but this is more concise and therefore helpful. Thanks Hannah!

Here is the information we used when traveling (from KC and Jill K.) with notes added from us.

Get off the plane in Addis Ababa as quickly as possible and go right downstairs into the VISA line just to the right of the stairs. Have your passports and hotel/guest house address ready.
Visas cost $20.00 each in American Dollars, exact change, crisp bills, and bills newer than 2003 is appreciated and helps move the process along. (Note: If the VISA office is notified of the correct number of passengers arriving they will have enough people there to move the line. In our case they were not and there were 3 people to process several families. Though 3 sounds like a lot it is not as all 3 work on 1 VISA at a time and everything is hand written. When they saw it was taking quite a while they were so sweet to get my daughter and I chairs for us to sit.) There is a bathroom under the stairs, bring your own toilet paper. (Note: Traveling with small children I would try to go on the plane before de-boarding! )Get in line for immigration with all of your documents as soon as you leave the visa line. Stay in the middle line. The line to the left is for Diplomats and to the right is for Ethiopians.
(Note: There is a card to fill in for each person entering the country. We began to fill it out and then the lady at the window just finished it up for us. If you just go to the window maybe they will fill them out for you.)You can/should exchange money after you pass through the immigration station.
The bank has windows inside and outside of the immigration area. You will need your passport
number for this and any time you exchange money with a bank (Note: This was very relaxed and I think much better than trying to travel in country to exchange money. With 2 sick boys we were very glad we had exchanged our money here.)Keep your receipt (the bigger one that you sign) when you exchange money at the airport or you can't change birr back to US dollars when you leave or just leave
money as a donation. Do not exchange money on the street. Collect your luggage and put it on a free
cart. Decline help from the “porters” i.e. DO NOT let anyone bully you into
taking your bags and loading them on a cart, unless you are interested in help and willing to tip them. (Note: Declining is not a one time, "No thank you.", to put it mildly. We would not have minded tipping but on our return trip we were actually charged and it was a hefty price, per bag, even for US standards. If traveling alone you will need to use their services, just be prepared to pay. I think I remembered paying about $10 US it was a fixed price. It is per bag something like $3 per bag--not worth it in my opinion--JK). You may have to show your luggage ‘receipts’ from the airline to airport workers before they let you leave the area
with your bags. A customs agent (or someone) will ask you about declaring money before you leave the airport. Once outside the baggage area there will be a large number of people with signs to pick up guests. Find your driver (IAN staff should be picking you up to take you to your Guest House unless you have arranged otherwise. --JK) (Note: Our experience here was CRAZY, but unlikely to happen again, but next time we travel we will have our driver secured before travel.--H) Once you are at the hotel call the IAN staff to let them know. Confirm your return flights as soon as you arrive in Ethiopia or within a day or two. (You can do this at the Hilton Hotel--JK). Ask your hotel or guest home to help you do that.

1 comment:

The Andersons said...

Just wanted to add to be prepared for anything. It took us 3 hours from the time we deplaned until we exited the airport. There were several large planes that all arrived at once and the visa line alone took over an hour. We just tried to enjoy some lovely conversation with the people around us. :)