If you want to take your first trip to an Africa country, you might be asking the question- What essential travel documents do I need to have to travel to an African country?
Well these documents are similar to the ones you typically would need to travel to any other country with one or two additions for African countries.
Different countries across the world have requirements for non citizens to meet/ have when visiting their countries.
Depending on the country you are from the requirements may differ.
In this article we discuss the major essential travel requirements that will help you avoid delays and have you welcomed into the country with open arms.
1. International Passport
Your International passport is the most important travel document that you should have.
You might not need a Visa when travelling to certain countries due to the privilege you have as a citizen of your country. But you most definitely would need to have an International passport to travel out of your country.
2. Travel Visa
The travel Visa is definitely a must have document to have if you are travelling to an African country from the UK, America and other countries.
The exceptions to having a travel Visa by some African countries are those countries under the ECOWAS umbrella.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) allows for citizens from countries within the ECOWAS umbrella to travel to fellow countries without the need for a Visa. All they would require is their ECOWAS passport.
Gambia and Benin are Visa free for African passport holders.
That being said, citizens from West African countries travelling to countries in East Africa or South Africa will require a Visa to travel to those countries.
I believe there are countries across the world that allow citizens from certain countries to visit without the need for a visa. So this concept is not peculiar to the ECOWAS arrangement.
In any case, for travellers both within and outside Africa who intend to visit an African country you would require a Visa
TYPES OF VISA YOU CAN GET FROM MOST AFRICAN COUNTRIES
The type of Visa you get will determine how long you are legally allowed to stay in the country you are visiting. Each country has their own duration per Visa type. Stated below are some of the Visa types available in most African countries.
- Tourist visa
- Business or Work Visa
- Student Visa
- Multiple entry Visa
- Immigration and Naturalisation Visa
Some countries give Visa on arrival but I recommend that you check the country’s Embassy or Consulate online to confirm if they give Visa on arrival or if you have to pay for the Visa online.
For example if you are travelling to Tanzania type in “Tanzanian Consulate” on Google, as per your country. For example; “Tanzanian consulate USA”, to get the official website for the country’s embassy located in your country (USA).
Learn all you need to know about Visa application on the website and if you can, apply for a Visa online. To be on the safe side.
You don’t want to arrive in a country only to realise they don’t offer Visa on arrival.
Entry and Exit Visa Requirement
Other necessary information to check online are the country’s Visa entry and exit requirements. Visit travel.site.gov to learn more about Visa requirements for US citizens.
3. Covid 19 Test Result
For now, the Covid19 test result is an essential requirement for travellers across the globe.
Countries have specifications for time periods within which you ought to have taken the Covid test. This test result should show that you are negative before you visit the country.
Upon arrival, you will be required to show your Negative Covid19 test result along with other necessary documents, before entering the country.
The same will apply once you are leaving the country.
In some cases you are required to also show receipts of Covid19 test payments to show that you actually paid for the test and took it.
This is because some people have figured out a way to Photoshop the test results. How funny!
4. Vaccination and Vaccination Card
Since the Covid19 broke out around December 2019, several organisations have worked tirelessly to bring out vaccines that will help limit the spread of the virus and save lives.
Several Covid19 vaccines are out now and people have started getting their vaccines so that their bodies can be better suited to fight the virus and they can go back to travelling and other activities that they love and enjoy doing.
The Covid19 vaccine is gradually becoming a requirement for travellers in several countries and the trend for the Covid vaccination card or proof will continue to grow and become normal as people are eager to go about their daily lives.
For most African countries, even if you have taken your vaccine you still need to show your Covid19 test results. So taking the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you entry into the country without the Covid test. Take note.
The most required vaccine or shot that you need to enter some African countries however, is the Yellow Fever shot. It has been this way for years.
You need to show that you have taken the yellow fever vaccine in order to get in.
Countries that require a yellow fever vaccine card are; Nigeria, Rwanda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Niger, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Gabon, Kenya, DRC, Liberia.
In essence, when you take the yellow fever vaccine you will get a card which you will show to customs along with other documents before you will be allowed into these countries.
Some of these countries are sometimes relaxed with this requirement.
Suffice to say, you need to have the vaccine card to avoid unnecessary issues with customs.
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5. Flight Tickets
Book your round trip tickets with your preferred flight agency.
African flight companies that you can fly with are Ethiopian Airline, South African Airways, Kenyan Airways.
Non African owned airlines that fly to Africa are British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Delta, Emirates and so on.
Airtreks are super awesome in the way they help you look for shorter routes to your destination, the best flight to use, they give you dates for when you will arrive your destination and also for your return and with a click of the button you can pay for your flight on their dashboard.
Flight centre gives latest updates and news on restrictions, airline routes and traveller information for travel. You can go to their website and type in the country you want to visit as well as your purpose of visiting in the query box. You will get current news about your travel plan. This can help you plan wisely.
The good thing about Google is that you not only find affordable and available flights for your trip.
You get to use Google’s large data pool of Information to find hotels or Airbnb available in the country you want to visit, rentals for tourists, fun places you can visit and so much more.
6. Certificate of Identity or ID Card
An Identity card is an essential travel document. It might be requested upon arrival at the country’s airport.
It will also prove very useful if you lose your passport while in the country you are visiting and you need proof to show that you are a US citizen for instance. Or a citizen of whatever country you are from.
Examples of proper identification cards that you can bring along with you when travelling are Permanent residence card, a Military ID, International driving permit (IDP), and off course Passport.
7. International Driving Permit(IDP)
If you intend to drive yourself during your visit in an African country, then you would need to have your International driving permit.
The International driving permit is recognized in 150 countries worldwide, it should normally be combined with your normal driver’s license.
You can apply for the IDP online in your country. All you need to do is download the form, fill and submit along with passport photographs, a small fee, and your current driver’s license.
8. Travel Insurance
Always have your travel Insurance card information with you.
9. Photocopies of all your travel documents
Yes! have photocopies of all the above travel documents safely tucked somewhere for use.
Sometimes you don’t have to give or show the original copies the photocopies would do just fine.
Copy of travel insurance, copy of passport, visa, Covid19 documents, and drivers license.
It is better to be over prepared and have a great trip than under prepared and be stranded.
This is why it is important for you to ensure that all your essential travel documents are in place and ready for your trip. It will in some cases save you money, and unnecessary or avoidable problems when you travel.
Have a wonderful journey!