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Sahara Travel ForumTopics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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At the beggining I would like to say that we have got visas in Poland in October without any problem. But when we were going to agerian border we have received message from agerian ambassy in Warsaw that we can have problem in passing algerian border. At the border there was not any problem to pass ant it took about 4 hours (as usual I suppose).
If you have been in Djanet and Tadrart I think we had met there. We were traveling in 8 cars, so quite big group.
"I would not take it personally. I suspect it's all down to the diplomatic relationship a country has with Algeria - how easily Algerians can visit your country, politics, trade deals - and quite possibly the individual ambassador."
Well, the emabassy or the ambassador himself cannot really do anything to speed up things or even to find out what's going on. They say their hands are tied as after they send your 'dossier' to the Ministry of F.A. those guy send it over to the Ministry of I.A. (their bureaucrats really hold the threads in their hands). Until they get a feedback a yes or a no they don't know more then we do.
We are the ones who applied for visas on December 8.... what is it today... Jan 20? Still no answer. Not even a bloody rejection. Not a word saying "wait a little bit more guys, we're working on it".
We met the ambassador and some other diplomats in Budapest last week to ask for their opinion and hints for speeding up things or at least to get an answer for the massive delay as we're not sure it's a common practice to make people wait 7 weeks without even saying a word.
I'm impressed reading about 1-2 weeks delivery time in other parts of Europe. Since the decision is made in Algiers I see no reason for differentiation.
Especially that EU laws regulate the immigration in Belgium, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere so I see no reason to "punish" this country and favour another.
One thing is sure - if you fly in, meet a guide and participate in a local trip you have no problems and get your visa without a hitch. If you want to drive your own car there - hard times.
This is really a joke.
I think we rather turn our heads to Libya as compared to Algeria it's a travelers' paradise.
"Well, the emabassy or the ambassador himself cannot really do anything to speed up things or even to find out what's going on. They say their hands are tied as after they send your 'dossier' to the Ministry of F.A. those guy send it over to the Ministry of I.A. (their bureaucrats really hold the threads in their hands). Until they get a feedback a yes or a no they don't know more then we do.
Maybe it is in Hungary, but in Brussels I applied for my visa on friday and they told me it would be ready on tuesday (2 working days!). I can't see that the dossier has to pass all these ministries in this short period, and the consulate clearly stated I would get my visa when I applied with the necessary documents.
For the records, what did I exactly need in Belgium for a 30-days single-entry visa?
- a "certificat d'hébergement", in my case just a fax from a hotel with no end date of my stay. The "certificat" wasn't even stamped or signed by anything official.
- the AC-43 application document filled in
- a proof of medical insurance (B-ALG8)
- 2 ID photos
- 60€ costs
That's it. No difference if I would go by car, as they didn't ask anything about my plans, transport, route, arrival etc.
It is clear now there's a huge difference even between EU countries, e.g.:
- the difficulties in Hungary, Poland
- the easy procedure in Belgium, Portugal
- French nationalities have to pay 100€, Belgians and Portuguese 60€, etc.
I feel sorry for the difficulties some of us have and wish it will turn out fine in the end.
Now let's see how it turns out on the ground. I'll try to go as far south as I can with public transport. It can also be a 30-days visit of Algiers...
there are some embassies / consulates which have the right to issue visas themselves without sending the dossier to Algiers.
A few, especially in France and Belgium - for obvious reasons.
I guess the majority of the countries are in the other 'hat'.
Yes, the visa fee can be slightly different just like the number of passport photos, the difference is the process. If you your papers hit the road to the bureaucracy you're lost.
You were lucky to apply for a visa in Brussels but since they have a pretty strict territorial restriction (you can apply for visa in another country than your passport if you're a resident) I cannot do the same.
Needless to say - if you use public transport, they don't care but as soon as you stop by the border with your car they ask for your local 'guide' and if you don't have one, you simply turn back.
I can get a visa with a simple hotel reservation like I did last year, just got a fax from Algiers.
A SAME DAY VISA!
But that's not the issue now...
I was planning to visit Algeria with Bartosz (Polish group waiting for visas since 26th Dec). In seems to me that making a trip using our private cars is what makes this huge delay. We were told in Algerian consulate that if we intended to travel in Algeria in guide's car they would'n have to send our 'dossier' back to Algeria and therefore the whole process of getting visas would be shortened to two weeks.
Either I wrote it here or I was talking about it with someone recently and we were wondering if an outright visa rejection without a good reason is some sort of consular faux pas. To do so is bad form if it gets out.
So they delay and delay and hope you will go away. I had this myself about 12 years ago with Alg, right up to the point where I drove to the consulate to get my passport on the day of a ferry and headed Libya instead. That is why the first edition of Sahara Overland had so little on Algeria.
It must be extremely frustrating. Certainly, if anything gets sent to Algiers it's as good as buried.
I take it gararin you were not expecting to drive into and around Algeria without an escort? That is a lost cause for most nationalities, certainly in the south.
"In seems to me that making a trip using our private cars is what makes this huge delay."
Still, honestly, what's the difference between driving down to Djanet with our own cars or fly to Djanet and drive around in their cars? We have a guide from the border and take the main road all the way to Illizi...
This is a big diference for algerian clerks.
It is a substance of the case, that in such countries as Algieria, Libia and many other at the moment a tourism isn't important. They have oil and it is most important for them. But oil at one time will end.
"To do so is bad form if it gets out.
So they delay and delay and hope you will go away."
Such a professional attitude and nice way of representing a country, really. Not sure if this is the case but thinking more about it, you're right - very likely.
It's extremely frustrating. Especially when you have a group on your back. And you stand there like an idiot since you deal with idiots on the other end.
Bartosz - I know tourism is not priority at all but somehow I cannot get rid of my European way of thinking and in a way expect them to be straight saying: We don't like people driving their cars in Algeria. Period.
So I'm not wasting my time (and money) dealing with them.
Yes, I know.... should change my mindset.
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