Visas for US passport-holders

The US Consulate in Malawi recently released the following statement:

The Government of Malawi has informed the United States Embassy that effective October 1, 2015, Malawi intends to introduce a system of visas and entry fees for nationals of countries which require Malawians to pay visa fees.  This will apply to U.S. citizens.

According to the notification, with the exception of diplomats and government officials, U.S. citizens must obtain a visa prior to arriving.  Malawi is introducing three types of visas:

–  Single Entry Visa:  These visas will be subject to a fee of $75 USD when issued from within Malawi or $100 USG when issued by a Malawian embassy or consulate;

–  Multiple-Entry Visa:  These visas will be valid for 6 or 12 months for a fee of $150  or $250 USD, respectively when issued from within Malawi.  When issued by a Malawian embassy or consulate these will be subjected to a fee of $220 or $300 USD, respectively;

–  Transit Visa:  These visas will remain valid for seven days and are available for a fee of $50 USD when issues within Malawi or $70 USD when issued by a Malawian embassy or consulate.

While the Government of Malawi has been clear that visas should be obtained from Malawian diplomatic missions abroad well in advance of travel, details regarding application or appointment procedures remain unclear.  Fees posted for Malawian visas also differ from the figures cited above.  U.S. travelers planning arrivals on or after October 1, 2015, should contact the Malawian diplomatic mission nearest them to arrange for visa issuance.

The Government of Malawi reports that travelers arriving in the early days after the implementation of this visa requirement who cannot obtain a visa in time for their travel may contact the Immigration Department to request a travel letter which will allow them to receive a visa upon arrival in Malawi.

Airlines may require travelers to have a Malawian visa before boarding connecting flights to Malawi. Malawi has informed the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that visas may be obtained by travelers upon arrival in Malawi, however it remains unclear whether IATA guidance to airlines will reflect this upon implementation of the new visa requirement as of October 1, 2015.

The Government of Malawi further reports that an online request procedure is being implemented at www.immigration.gov.mw/.  Please use the chiefimo@immigration.mw.com email address.

Initially, all visa fees will be payable in U.S. dollars although this is subject to change once Malawi introduces an electronic visa issuance system that will enable electronic payments.

Foreign visitors or residents possessing  long-term residential, employment, student, or business permits such as the two-year validity “Temporary Employment Permits” (TEP), five-year validity “Business Residence Permits,” one-year validity “Students Permits,” and “Permanent Residence Permits” are considered holders of long-term permits and are exempt from the visa requirement as they are considered returning residents.

Persons holding 30-day (extendable for an additional 60 days) “Visitors Permits” or “Business Visit Permits” are considered holders of short-term permits.  Holders of short-term permits will be required to have a visa once they have exited Malawi and wish to return.

Diplomats and officials traveling on government business will be exempt from this visa requirement.

Based upon the experiences of travelers who arrived during a premature rollout of the entry fee earlier this year, visitors may be able to pay the visa fee upon arrival at points of entry such as border crossings or at the international airports in Lilongwe and Blantyre.  Please be prepared to pay visa or entry fees in U.S. dollars.  Interested persons such as tour operators or relatives may be able to make advance payment within Malawi at offices of the Immigration Department on behalf of the arriving travelers, but this is not confirmed at this time.

The entry fee will not apply to nationals from either the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, not including Angola, or to nationals from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries.

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