How to get the DRC Visa?

How to get the DRC visa?

On my list of the most difficult visas to get, the visa for the Democratic Republic Congo is currently at position two. It's a lot of effort. I'm a Swiss citizen and the process to get the visa is a struggle because I needed an invitation letter from a person or agency down from the DRC.

It doesn't sound that complicated, and so I was relaxed about it at the beginning. But things got crunchy and expensive very quickly. After finding someone who can write invitation letters and has a business in the DRC, the person needs to be able to receive money and he needs to be reliable and knowing the procedure with the different offices in Kinshasa.

Once everything is signed and notarized, he sends a scan of the letter via email, which then can be used to apply for the visa at a nearby embassy. The embassy doesn't say a word anymore afterward and prints the visa.

The good thing is, once having the visa and once being on the arrival to the DRC, it's not a problem anymore to get there and around individually without any guide.

How to get the Visa for the Democratic Republic of Congo?

My intention was to travel independently without any guide or agency at my side. I planned to arrive from the Republic of Congo across the river to the capital Kinshasa in the DRC. I wanted to explore the area around the capital and afterward taking the plane to Gabon.

I didn't want to participate and pay for an expensive tour to see the mountain gorillas or the volcano in the very of the DRC, as I saw the gorillas already from Rwanda territory. In addition in the east of DRC was Ebola spreading and rebel groups were having their civil wars. The west of DRC is peaceful without any viruses. Kinshasa was literally very safe these days!

Getting the visa in the DRC embassy in Benin is not working anymore!

There are reports on the internet that are stating that the embassy in Benin (Cotonou) is issuing DRC visas on the same day and without an invitation letter. But this is not working anymore.

Based on this information I visited the embassy in Benin during the time I was in these countries. My hope was to easily catch up on a visa and avoid the invitation letter procedure. I showed up at the embassy and the gatekeeper told me right away that they don't issue DRC visas for tourists in Benin anymore.

Since February 2019 we have the order to stop issuing DRC visas to tourists. Only Benin residents can apply for the visa. Sorry.

6 Steps on how to get the DRC Visa:

Following six steps describe how I got the visa.

1. Find someone who is capable of writing Invitation Letters

I have contacted various agencies via the Internet to see if they can issue me a letter of invitation and of course I would pay for that service. But all the agencies I wrote to either wanted to sell an expensive gorilla trekking tour or volcano visit, which I didn't want. And many did not give an answer.

The only reliable option I found was Bridge4Future. It's not a tourist agency, but some kind of investment organization in the education sector. Arnold the CEO is from the DRC and speaks very good English. At this point, I would like to thank Arnold for the high-quality work he and his staff have done. Bridge4Future has experience in issuing letters of invitation to foreign visitors and they knew exactly which signatures to obtain from which office.

2. Submit information to Bridge4Future

The agency required a copy of the passport, the flight tickets and the travel route.

3. Make the payment

The transfer for the expenses and work of Bridge4Future of 300 USD was normally made to a bank account.

4. Wait for a long time - like, 1 month

This sounds simple but since it takes a long time to get all the signatures and stamps from all the different offices, it takes forever. There remains a consistent nervousness that something is not working or something is missing and therefore the letter is not officially signed. Since I have already paid my money, I would probably never ever get anything back.

I waited about 1 month until the first signatures were on the invitation letter.

Will I be informed about the status in between?
Bridge4Future is very customer friendly. They kept me up to date every few days via Whatsapp and has sent me a photo of each new signature on the document.

Why is it taking so long?
It needs different signatures and notarial certifications. Each signature is made by a different office and different people. This takes time, especially since there are no set times to be observed in Africa.

Which stamps are necessary and which offices must sign?
-The invitation letter must be countersigned and then notarized to become valid.
-The DGM (ministere de l'interieure et securite) document is the heavy part with 5 stamps and 5 different people in different locations and offices to give a signature.

(It's crazy, look at this effort for one simple tourist who wants to visit the country)

It takes 2 months and is a pure paper war with many different people that have to give signatures

5. Receive the invitation letter and send it to the embassy

After this month and a few more days of waiting, I received a photo of the invitation letter and all the signed and notarized documents. With a printout of it, I went to the embassy with it.

The woman at the embassy was especially interested in the DGM stamp. All other information was practically irrelevant for her. I did not even have to fill out the application form completely or sign it.

You don't have to fill that out, just your name and passport and the photo here, you don't need the rest.

Documents that were necessary :
- Passport and copy
- Application form
- Passport photo
- Hotel Confirmation
- flight ticket
- Letter of invitation
- Yellow fever
- Bank statement
- Payment of the equivalent of 110 USD

6. Wait another week and then pick up the passport

After a week I received a phone call from the embassy that I could pick up the passport.


All in all, I had to take care and worry for about two months to get the visa for the DRC. The whole thing was not cheap and cost me about 410 USD (110 USD for the visa and 300 USD for the work and effort around the invitation letter).

At this point, I would like to recommend again the reliable company Bridge4Future, for anyone who needs a tourist visa for the DRC in the future without buying a whole tour in tow.

In December 2019 I crossed the river from Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) to Kinshasa and entered the DRC. How the river crossing and entry to the DRC was like, I described here.

With all the effort of obtaining the visa, the visit to the DRC was even more memorable.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comment. Thats true only if you don't have a DRC embassy in your country. And, nevertheless, as non-EastAfrican (EATV) citizen you still need all those invitation letter and other approvals.