I was (and am) super excited to go to Ghana for the first time with my husband. We purchased airline tickets from South African Airways for a great price (direct flight, round trip under $700/per person)! I was ready to start packing (several months early) and my husband (who is Ghanaian) mentioned I would need to obtain a visa. Huh? I had been to several European countries and had never applied for a visa prior to travel. I learned that the European Union allows Americans to travel to countries in Europe without obtaining visas. Per a March 2017 Times Magazine article, that hassle-free travel could be in jeopardy but it remains intact for now.
So, I went online to the Embassy of Ghana’s website and printed out an Application for Ghana Entry Permit/Visa. I completed the two-page form, obtained two passport photos (required for the application) and purchased a $60 money order (no personal checks accepted). I mailed my application certified mail so that I could track when my application arrived. I patted myself on the back and was about to start packing again. My husband casually inquired if I had included my passport with my application. Umm, no! I did not see instructions to include my passport and I would not have felt comfortable including my passport in snail mail.
A few days later, someone called me from the embassy and confirmed receipt of my application but stated I had not included my passport. Argh!! ☹ I was told I could mail my passport with a self-addressed envelope with my return address and I needed to pay for tracking to have the passport sent back to me. I inquired about dropping off my passport in person. The gentleman stated I could do that but I was not guaranteed completion on that day. The drop off times are 9:30am to 12noon Monday to Thursdays.
I traveled to Washington DC the next day to the Embassy of Ghana to drop off my passport. PARKING IS NONEXISTENT on International Drive!! I parked around the corner in front of a school and prayed my car would not be ticketed or towed. I entered the embassy grounds through the security checkpoint. A nice gentleman inquired my reason for visiting and directed me to the visa office. I entered the office and there was already a half dozen people waiting. I waited less than 10 minutes and then informed the lady at the counter I was there to drop off my passport. I had paid for the Single-Entry visa at $60 (which lasts for three months). My husband told me to inquire about the five-year visa. The lady clarified that the Multiple Entry visa at $100 would allow for travel into Ghana for six months to five years. I asked if I could change my application to the Multiple Entry visa. She returned my money order to me and I was allowed to use my check card for the $100.00 Multiple Entry visa. I had to sit and wait for 10-15 minute while my mailed application was located. There was at least another half dozen visitors who came through who were also submitting visa applications. It was an interesting process to watch. One of the good things about dropping off your application is that the staff reviews your application and points out areas that need further completion. Make sure you complete all sections, including your hotel information and/or person you are staying with in Ghana (otherwise this may delay your application)!! Finally, I was called back to the counter and I paid my new fee. I was told to come back in a week to pick up my visa. The whole visit took about 30-45minutes. Luckily, my car was neither ticketed or towed!!!
The visa pick up times are 1-3pm on Mondays to Thursdays. I had been given a little red raffle-type ticket the week before. I gave it to the person at the counter. I was asked when I had dropped off my passport/application. The lady went to a drawer and got a stack of visa applications. She sifted through them and gave me my passport. Inside was a Ghana visa for 5 years!!! Woohoo! Mission Complete! The pickup visit to the embassy took less than 10 minutes! 😊
I hope this post will help others to have a seamless experience when obtaining a Ghana Visa. Please check out my next post on travel vaccines for Ghana. “The Search for Yellow Fever Vaccines!”