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Visas and Permits

Entry visas are required by most nationalities, and are usually for one or two months.

Different embassy representations will handle your visa inquiry depending on whether you plan to visit North or South Sudan. A visa to the North does not guarantee you access to the South and vice-versa. However, the requirements and process for obtaining the different visas remain broadly the same.

Egyptian nationals are exempt from visa requirements when visiting Sudan. You will not be allowed to enter the country if your passport shows evidence of a previous visit to Israel.

A tourist visa to Sudan usually takes between one and two months to arrive, depending on the efficiency of the embassy through which you are applying. You can speed up the process by getting a Sudanese national to invite you — the approval process can then take as little as one or two weeks. However, embassies abroad and ministries in Sudan do not always agree on the procedure, with the result that personal invitations are not always accepted. Check with your nearest Sudanese embassy.

Prices for all tourist visas vary according to your nationality. Europeans pay around €60 for a tourist visa, whilst US citizens pay around €110.

Transit visas are available and allow a maximum two week stay in the country. You can sometimes pick transit visas up at the border, depending on where you are crossing (although don't bank on this). Again prices vary. A two-week transit visa purchased on the Ethiopian border costs around 50 SDG.

If you are working for an NGO in Sudan, your employer may be able to expedite the visa application process. Some NGOs claim that they can get their staff visas within a period of between 24 and 48 hours.

North Sudan requires registration within three days of arriving in the country — Fridays and Saturdays are included within this time-window. If you fail to register, you will incur a fine of 10 SDG per day until you do. If you have been given a residence permit — which might be the case if, for example, you work for an international organisation — then you are exempt from registering.

Most hotels in Khartoum will register for you in return for a fee. If you want to do the registration yourself, simply turn up at one of the Aliens Registration Offices ('Maktab Tasgil al-Agganib') around the city. The easiest one to find is located on Afriqia Street, just opposite the Al-Salam Rotana Hotel. There is also one in the Mogran area of downtown Khartoum, near the Botanical Gardens, and one at the end of Street 61.

Registration costs around 117 SDG, but prices can fluctuate quite arbitrarily by about 5 or 10 SDG.

Visas on arrival are also possible, but usually only for those that have been invited by a company for a specific purpose. This is considerably more expensive, requiring a payment of 150 SDG for issuing the invitation and a further $110 (300 SDG) when you arrive at the airport in Khartoum.

To travel around North Sudan, you must first obtain a travel permit from either the Ministry of Tourism or the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Ministry of Tourism is by far the easiest option and can issue travel permits for many popular destinations in a matter of minutes. The travel permit is usually combined with a photography permit.

The procedure at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is usually much more protracted, and it takes at least 24 hours for one to be issued. You will need to provide five copies of your passport information page, five copies of your visa and two passport-sized photos. You will also need to provide a photocopy of the ID of the person that invited you, unless you are on a tourist visa.

The main reason for going to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, rather than the Ministry of Tourism, is if you want to travel to areas that have more restricted access, or if you are travelling on official or company business.

Travel permits issued by the Ministry of Tourism are free. If you apply through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, you will have to pay a nominal tax (around 5 SDG).

Both ministries are closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Officially, you are not allowed to take photos in Sudan without a photography permit. Expect to be harassed if you do. Even with permission, there is still a list of places in North Sudan, such as slum areas and bridges, which you are not allowed to take photographs of. The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for such permits.

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