How to get the Visa for Equatorial Guinea?

How to get Equatorial Guinea Visa?

The Equatorial Guinea visa is on the top of my list of the most difficult visa to get. The US Americans will probably ask "what is this all about, it doesn't need a visa for Equatorial Guinea". Indeed, US Americans don't need a visa but almost the whole rest of the world who wants to travel to that beautiful country as a tourist, needs a visa.

I'm a swiss citizen and my intended plan to travel was by the end of 2019. However, already at the beginning of 2019 I was trying to figure out how I could get the notoriously difficult tourist visa for Equatorial Guinea.

How to get the visa for Equatorial Guinea

It was required to have all documents in Spanish. The letter, the flight tickets, hotels, bank statement, criminal record, yellow fever certificate and 100 Euro. It sounds easy but the invitation letter is not easy and it’s also the MOST important thing for the Equatorial Guinea visa.

And even when having all the documents, the authorities in Equatorial Guinea can be a big obstacle in the visa process. I first applied to the embassy in Switzerland and failed. Then I went to Spain and failed as well. Only the third attempt was a success.

Who is exempted from the "visa process from hell"?

Who needs a visa for Equatorial Guinea?
Visa exempted countries for Equatorial Guinea
The only exempted nationalities are from Barbados, China, the United States, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Gabon.

(I don't understand why to exempt some of the poorest and war-ridden countries but on the other hand, make the visa-life difficult for the tourists who would bring money.)

I summarized my journey to get the Equatorial Guinea Visa. I started 200 days before traveling and ended up getting it 1 day before departure to Africa.

1. Ask for permission to get the visa without an Invitation Letter (LOI)

200 days before travel. Back then I asked the local embassy if it is possible to get the visa without a letter of invitation (LOI) because I don't know anybody in Equatorial Guinea.

The local Equatorial Guinea embassy in Switzerland told me:
No problem, just send a letter addressed to the ambassador, asking for permission to apply without a letter of Invitation. 

A few weeks later after submitting the letter, I got the feedback that I NEED a letter of invitation.

2. Find someone reliable who can provide an Invitation Letter

150 days before travel. There are not many tour operators in Equatorial Guinea. After some research, I found two or three who responded. But the disillusionment came when I saw the HUGE price tags at the bottom of the offers.

None of them offered the possibility to provide me with the “Letter" service without buying a whole tour package with a minimum of a 5-day tour.

Time passed by to find a proper agency.

3. Identify the Letter-issuer of choice 

100 days before travel. By coincidence, I found the agency RumboMalabo. The small company is still on the ramp-up, but has big ambitions and is highly motivated. They don't have a website yet but are in the process of building one. Hector the managing director is extremely competent and speaks perfect English. The company is based in Malabo and they offered me to help me with the LOI.

But an LOI is not enough

RumboMalabo sent the LOI by e-mail the very next day. With all other documents I sent it to the embassy in Switzerland but a few weeks later I got the info that its not enough. The embassy told me:

Regulations have changed and now. The LOI needs an official signature/stamp of Equatorial Guinea Police.

4. Wait for the police signature/stamp on the LOI

60 days before travel. RumboMalabo tried to get the Police clearance and signature/stamps as quickly as possible. But all these efforts are very time consuming as the authorities don’t have any urge to speed up things. Days and weeks passed with RumboMalabo contacting the authorities every other day about the status and if the signatures are done.

Time passed by even though the authorities in Malabo assured to finish the signatures in the next few days, but nothing happened.

It passed on like this for weeks for unknown reasons, even when RumboMalabo tried other ways and through other people on-site to speed up the process.

5. Realize that the time is up. Reaching out to Madrid.

20 days before travel. Meanwhile, it was two weeks before my departure to Africa and I still didn’t have the visa. I could not wait any longer and contacted the Equatorial Guinea Embassy in Madrid.

After several attempts to explain the topic in Spanish I was forwarded to an English speaking embassy worker and he assured me quite fast that I could get the visa in Madrid within one day and that a signature on the letter of invitation was not necessary. Hope revived!

You can send the documents or come to Madrid in person. We will issue within the same day.

6. Try getting the Visa in Madrid within the same day

10 days before travel. Due to the limited time I had left, I decided to fly to Madrid on Monday evening to be able to return home with the visa on Tuesday evening. That was the plan.

Flying to Madrid

It was Monday, and I arrived in Madrid. Had a place to stay near the embassy so I could get there as early as possible on Tuesday, getting the visa and flight back home in the evening.
The embassy in Madrid was big and quite nice. I had to fill out a form and together with my passport. Not even 15 minutes passed and the worker who told me on the phone that I could get the visa within the same day, asked me quietly:

Can you please come back next week?

From then on, I knew I have a problem and no visa.

What was the problem?

The problem was that the visa-signer (consul) wanted to have a letter of invitation with official signature, which I didn't have and was told that I didn't need it here in Madrid (that's why I flew to Madrid!).

I was told that I really should come back next week, because then another visa-signer (consul) would be there, who might sign it without the signature.

Going home without an Equatorial Guinea Visa

I gave up hope at this point and resigned myself to the fact that I don't have an Equatorial Guinea visa and the planned trip to Equatorial Guinea will not work because I simply ran out of time for getting the visa.

It was Tuesday evening and on Wednesday next week my flight went to Africa, to Angola where this African trip starts.

7. Going again to Madrid for a second try

3 days before travel to Africa. On Sunday, 3 days before traveling to Africa, I found motivation for the last try. I booked another flight to Madrid.

On Wednesday is the flight to Africa, so I booked the flight to Madrid early on Tuesday morning, with the idea to take the visa home on Tuesday evening and fly to Africa on Wednesday.

8. The moment I received the Visa!

Equatorial Guinea Visa in Swiss Passport1 day before travel to Africa. On Tuesday I arrived again at the embassy in Madrid and all the workers already knew me.

This time no signed/stamped letter of invitation was requested because the specific “consul” is back from vacation and she has the authority to issue visas for tourists without certified signatures on the LOI. However, they still needed a copy of the passports from the RumboMalabo agency but they sent it quickly via Whatsapp.

The embassy worker helped me to put together the documents to take them to the ambassador and collected the 100 Euro. 30 minutes later I got the message:

Good news, Sven, she will sign the visa!

I spent the rest of the day in Madrid and looked around the city before I flew home that evening. Tomorrow my flight goes to Africa and the first destination "Angola".


The visa for Equatorial Guinea took me almost 200 days to get and aside from the 100 Euro Visa fee, it was definitely not cheap when considering the two runs to Madrid.

At this point, I want to thank Hector from RumboMalabo and his staff for their help, without their energy and support it would not have worked getting the visa!

Furthermore, I can totally recommend RumboMalabo's service within the country. In Equatorial Guinea, they organized a car with a driver for one day for a VERY fair price and this experience is one more reason why I can recommend the agency. I will write my experience from the country Equatorial Guinea in the next weeks.

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