Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
Ethiopian tourist visas (one month or three month, single entry) are available to Irish citizens upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The on-arrival visa process is available only at Bole International Airport and is not available at any of the other airports in Ethiopia. The visa fee at Bole International Airport is payable in U.S. dollars. Current visa fees are $50 for one month and $70 for 3 months – both are only for single entry.
Business visas of up to three months validity can also be obtained at Bole International Airport upon arrival, but only if the traveler has a sponsoring organization in Ethiopia that has made prior arrangements for issuance through the Ethiopian Main Department for Immigration & Nationality office in Addis Ababa.
Current visa extension fees are $100 for a first time one month extension, $150 for a second time 15 day extension, and $200 for a third time 10 day extension. Travelers whose entry visa expires before they depart Ethiopia must obtain a visa extension through the Main Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. Currently, there is a overstay penalty fee of $5 a day from 1 up to 15 days and $10 a day after 15 days. Such travelers may also be required to pay a court fine of up to 4000 ETB (300 USD) before being permitted to depart Ethiopia. Court fees must be paid in Ethiopian Birr. Travelers may be detained by immigration officials and/or required to appear in immigration court, and are required to pay the penalty fee before they will be able to obtain an exit visa (20 USD, payable in dollars) permitting them to leave Ethiopia.
Muslim and Christian society
Both Muslim and Christian Ethiopians generally dress in a conservative manner. Women usually keep their shoulders and knees covered, and in some areas they may wear more conservative clothing. Be aware that wearing sleeveless clothing or clothing which does not cover the knee may cause offence, particularly outside Addis Ababa.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Western and Julian calendars
The Western and Julian calendars are used in Ethiopia. The year 2016 in the Western calendar is 2008-2009 in the Julian calendar. Christmas is celebrated on 7 January and New Year on 11 September.
Similarly, two systems of time are used. Ethiopian time is measured as a 12-hour day starting at 6am. Western 7am is referred to by many as one o’clock. Many Ethiopians are aware of this difference and will often convert times when speaking to foreigners.
Homosexual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment under the law. The subject is taboo for the majority of Ethiopians.
You must get a permit to export antiques from Ethiopia. To avoid confusion on departure, you should keep receipts for any souvenirs you’ve bought, including crosses, which could be mistaken for valuable cultural artefacts.
In Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you can fill in the customs declaration form in the baggage hall.
Ethiopian law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely marked clearly. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera and arrest.
Ethiopia is still primarily a cash economy. Dollars and some of the more popular travelers’ checks can be changed at the airport, and at some banks.
There are some ATM machines at the major hotels and commercial centers that accept major international credit and debit cards, although connectivity problems sometimes limit their availability. While credit cards are gaining acceptance with some hotels, travel agencies, and merchants (Visa is much more widely accepted than Mastercard). It is best to check ahead and ensure you have sufficient cash reserves. Bear in mind that travellers’ cheques are not generally accepted outside Addis Ababa.
There are strict rules about taking foreign currency and Ethiopian birr out of Ethiopia.
You can’t take more than USD$3,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency) out of Ethiopia, unless you declared the amount when you arrived in the country or you have Ethiopian bank advice certifying the purchase of the foreign currency. And you can’t take more than 200 Ethiopian birr in to or out of the country.
Amounts over 200 Ethiopian birr, or undeclared amounts over USD$3,000 may be confiscated by the Ethiopian authorities.
In case of emergency, Western Union have offices in Ethiopia, which can facilitate money transfers.
Mon, 09 May 2016 15:17:44 BST