Entering Mozambique as an American: 6 Things About Which You Should Know

hen planning for my travel to southern Africa, I thought I would visit some other countries as well. I realized that Mozambique — and its capital city of Maputo — were well within reach, as I rented a car for the entire duration of my trip.

Entering South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana seemed easy enough with their requirements for citizens of the United States; but according to the official Internet web site of Consular Services of the Embassy of Mozambique in the District of Columbia, there is a long list of requirements for Americans to visit Mozambique — and for the privilege of meeting the following requirements, the fee for a single-entry visa for 30 days is $160.00:

  • Submit an original passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Mozambique and with at least 1 blank page for a visa. Amendment pages are excluded
  • Citizens other than from the United States of America and Canada, but living in these countries, must submit a copy of their permanent residence status
  • Fill the visa application form properly. It is very important that you provide all the information required, including the name and address of your place of stay in Mozambique. Please be advised that lack of information may result in delay or even denial of your applicationPrint the visa application form.
  • Submit two passport size photographs (passport photos must be in color and against a white background)
  • Include a self-addressed envelop or a pre-paid air bill with a tracking number (preferably FedEx), unless the application is brought to the Embassy in person.
  • Payments must be in either in US dollars or in money order ONLY, and payable to the Embassy of Mozambique. After a payment, you are entitled to a receipt or a pick-up slip.
  • Invitations by organizations operating in Mozambique must include a copy of their legal status issued by the Mozambican authorities.
  • Invitations by non-citizens living in Mozambique must include a copy of “DIRE” as proof of residence.
  • Groups of visitors invited by organizations are required to attach one invitation per visa application form.
  • Persons under the age of 18 must attach a parental travel consent letter to the visa application form.
  • The processing time for all kinds of visa is 10 working days.
  • If the applicant has been in a Yellow Fever endemic country, the applicant should bring a Yellow Fever Certificate.

Will I Be Able to Visit Mozambique?

I even called someone at Consular Services of the Embassy of Mozambique via telephone; and the person confirmed to me that a visa must be paid in advance: $160.00 — even if only for a day or two.

Ouch.

The official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of the United States Department of State has the following information:

In some cases, Mozambican Immigration has been willing to issue one-entry visas for $82 at country points of entry, including airports, particularly if arriving from a country without a Mozambican consulate or embassy. However, this is never guaranteed and U.S. citizens have been denied entry for not having obtained a visa in advance.

This was all enough to have me believe that entry into Mozambique would be unlikely for me; so I had alternative plans just in case I was not allowed into the country.

Trying to Get a Visa in Advance in Person

While I was in Washington, D.C. just off of my trip on Megabus, I braved windy and freezing conditions to visit the Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique to apply for a visa and pay the steep fee of $160.00.

“Did you not read our web site?” asked one of the people there. I thought I did. Apparently the embassy was open; but Consular Services was only available from Monday through Thursday between the hours of 9:00 in the morning and 1:00 in the afternoon.

I was at the embassy on a Friday.

Because the people responsible for Consular Services were not there, they could not process my visa application.

It was enough for me to re-think my plans to visit Mozambique. I only wanted to visit for a day or two…

…but then I thought to myself that I will be in Swaziland anyway; and the border would be a drive of fewer than three hours. What is the worst that could happen? I get turned away? Fine. I will enjoy more of South Africa and Swaziland instead. No big deal. I reserved a hotel room in Maputo which can be cancelled so that I would have an address of where I am staying in Mozambique. I even printed some passport photographs of myself in case they needed it to process my visa application — if it were to be processed at all.

Time to Attempt to Cross the Border Into Mozambique

The time finally came when I was to attempt to enter Mozambique. I drove from where I stayed overnight east of Mbabane in Swaziland across the country to the border crossing at Namaacha. I made sure that I left plenty of time for the border crossing, as I did not expect for it to be simple — or even successful.

It turns out that my biggest problem was that even though I was assured that I had the proper documentation for the rental car to enter a variety of countries in southern Africa, one of the officers insisted that I needed the official registration form of the car with me, which I did not have. All of the information — including the registration number — was on the document provided to me; and none of the other countries I had visited up until that point even looked at that document.

After consulting with his supervisor, the officer said to tell the company that next time, the official registration form of the car is needed for a car entering Mozambique. I thanked him for his patience. Again, this was the biggest issue with which I had to deal.

Interestingly enough, they never even looked at my Yellow Fever certificate.

Otherwise, I went through the normal process of entering a different country across a land border. There was a sign on the counter which listed the visa fees. For citizens of the United States, the fee is $82.00; so I just saved $78.00 plus a lot of hassle — nothing like the aforementioned ominous warning about citizens of the United States possibly being denied entry for not having obtained a visa in advance. My citizenship was not even an issue.

Perhaps that warning applies depending on which border crossing is used to enter Mozambique? I have no idea; but it more likely applies if you arrive in Mozambique as a passenger on an airplane, where you could be denied entry at the airport if you do not already have a proper visa. I just know that if you are an American citizen, you will have no trouble entering Mozambique from Swaziland at the border crossing at Namaacha, which is the northernmost border crossing from Swaziland.

I expected to be interrogated, hassled or denied by the officials on the Mozambique side of the border crossing. My actual experience was quite the contrary: they were helpful and accommodating to me — and we even joked around and had some laughs.

Entering Mozambique as an American: 6 Things About Which You Should Know

Keep in mind that the official language of Mozambique is Portuguese; so while it is not all that difficult to find someone who speaks some English, finding someone who speaks and understands English fluently can be a challenge. Even then, sometimes understanding someone who does speak English can also potentially be a challenge as well; so please exercise patience.

If you are a citizen of the United States who plans on visiting Mozambique by driving across a border crossing, here are six things about which you should know:

  • Insist that the rental car agency gives you a copy of the completed vehicle registration form
  • Ensure that you have newer notes to pay for your single-entry visa in cash: they rejected a dollar bill from 1999 which I gave to them; so I had one from 2009 which they accepted
  • Third-party insurance for the car is compulsory in Mozambique; but you can purchase it right there at the border crossing for 150 South African rand — which is fewer than $13.00 — and you will be approached to purchase it
  • Have an address in Mozambique as to where you plan to stay
  • Give yourself plenty of time at the border crossing to ensure that your visa and everything else is processed correctly, as I spent approximately an hour at the border crossing
  • Be patient and polite — I am not sure whether or not this helped me; but it certainly did not hurt

Summary

Follow the information posted in this article if you are an American citizen, and you should have no problem driving across the border from Swaziland into Mozambique.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Entering Mozambique as an American: 6 Things About Which You Should Know”

  1. Eric says:

    Always keep your passport on you in Maputo. It’s a large fine if they catch you without it so the police like to shake people down and give them a discount on a bribe.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I always keep my passport on me at all times, Eric; but that is excellent advice just the same. Thank you.

      You are not the first person to warn about the police in Maputo…

  2. Bex says:

    The $160 fee is very common since that is what the US charges for a visa. So, many governments impose a similar fee on US travelers, calling it either a visa fee or even a reciprocity fee. I’ve paid it in Brazil and Argentina, and I know it’s the case in Russia and Venezuela as well. Chile used to charge as well, but dropped the fees when they were added to the US visa waiver program.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I do not let the United States off the hook, Bex. I have no doubt that that is the reason.

      Is it really worth it for any country to charge visitors a visa fee? Shouldn’t countries do what they can to entice tourists to visit and spend their money into the economy instead? Is that not more valuable in the long term?

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