Visas, Hail Mary Save on the last day

Unusually for me I made a bit of a hash of visas for this trip, partly my inexperience and partly underestimating how difficult some of the visa systems can be, especially if you want something outside of the normal standard tourist process.

So my first mistake was to believe what the Cameroon High Commissions website and a number of the visa services told me about the duration of the visa for Cameroon, both of these claimed that the normal Cameroon visa was valid for six months.  Turns out that in their new evisa application system you have to ask specially for a “long stay” visa, even if you are staying in Cameroon for a short time and even if you highlight the timing of your visit more than six months away.  Worse than this, having been issued with a three month visa, their system would not let me pay again and without paying on the system the High Commission would not issue a new visa.  Finally by creating a new account on Tonys computer and using his credit card the payment was accepted and a visa issued while we waited just one day before the boat to Spain.

Nigerian High Commission, kidnappers of my passport for a month is near Trafalgar square

The reason it was so very tight is that the Nigerian visa service had accepted my request for an unusual six month valid visa on the 30th of June, and taken £70 off me for three day processing, but when it was transferred to the High Commission, they simply sat on it for four weeks as they normally just issue three month valid visas for first time travel to Nigeria.  They helpfully told me on a couple of occasions that I could withdraw my passport, hence getting no visa and no refund which would have essentially made the trip impossible or very difficult as visas for Nigerian are in theory only issued in your home country.

The last visa in hand with Tony in London one day before the Ferry to Spain

After three weeks of daily emails to the visa agency, three letters to the ambassador, and many phone calls I was invited to the High Commission for a discussion just the day before my ferry to Spain, after much backward and forward I emerged two hours later with the rare six month visa, dashed over to the Cameroon High Comission for that visa and then headed off to the boat with both critical visas in hand just in time.

A “hail mary” save on the last possible day, nerve wracking but got it done

Gerry

About Gerry Mulligan

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