Malawi seems to be making it easier for non-Africans to get visas

In line with Malawi’s new entry visa requirements, European and Asian nationals will now be charged $75 on each arrival into the country, a government minister said on Tuesday. “Malawi is not for free and we have now gazetted the plan for visitors from Europe and Asia to pay $75 at the point of entry, putting us at par with neighbouring countries in southern Africa,” Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Kalilani said on Tuesday.

But even though tour operators say this latest move is already hitting the country’s tourism industry, the new visa system doesn’t necessarily make it harder for non-Africans to make trips to Malawi. A comprehensive list of countries required to pay the fee is still being compiled, but exempt from this entry fee are only SACD and COMESA countries; both of which Nigeria isn’t a member state.

When going on holiday to Malawi from Nigeria, travelers are usually required to know current Malawian visa requirements and regulations, while making sure that they apply for the correct visa that suited to the purpose of their trip as these tend to change almost over night.

Leading up to October 1 2015, it was still applicable to make use of a full valid passport required for entry into Malawi. For tourist visits, visas were not required by citizens of most Commonwealth countries, the USA, Japan, most European Union countries and certain other countries. For those nationalities that did require visas, it was not obtainable on arrival, but must have been obtained in advance from any Malawi diplomatic mission around the world.

The new visa system, initially announced in July was delayed until Oct 1st  in order to give adequate notice to travelers, but tour operators said tourists had been canceling reservations. Considering the fact that Malawi depends on foreign aid for about 40 percent of its national budget, a tour consultant Mwenecho Simwaka believes there is need for clarity as this system already seems to be costing Malawi business and much needed forex.

Below is a summary of the visa fee (in US$ dollars):

Transit – valid for 7 days    $50
Single entry – valid for 3 months    $75
Multiple entry – valid for 6 months    $150
Multiple entry – valid for 12 months    $250
Gratis – applicable to diplomats/individuals on government assignments-Free

Tourism is Malawi’s third main foreign exchange earner, contributing 7.3 percent of GDP in 2014 with the number of visitors doubling to over a million in the course of 10 years. With more than 500 different fish species, Lake Malawi is the main tourist attraction for the southern African nation.

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