Immigration & Visas

This was amusing. On the Malawi Govt website there is a list of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Malawi; N Ireland is one of those countries!

So I went to the embassy in Harare to see how this would work and after much debate and checking online, they said, “You’re right. You don’t need a visa.”  I asked for a letter confirming this and was refused. “They’ll have the same list at the border,” I was told.” But,” said the lady as I left, “Bring the $70 with you, just in case :)”

So at the border I made my case. Irish passport - “You need a visa.” Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport - “You need a visa”

Anyway I persevered and after the issue went up 2, if not 3, levels of bureaucracy my case was accepted. N Ireland was indeed on the list and my birth certificate - oh, I forgot to mention I had brought a copy of my birth certificate with me - proved I was born in NI  so I did not have to pay for a visa; $70 saved!

Customs Formalities

A TIP to enter Malawi costs MK20,000 (about US $28-30).

Then there is the Road Access Fund fee of US $20

I had a carnet de passage and this meant I didn’t need a TIP. This was completed swiftly by teh customs by and was in.

On the way out the wrong thing was completed - she filled in the next entry part rather than the current exit section. When I pointed this out the correct section was completed and the mistake was noted on the back and sealed with a stamp.

For info, each page of the CDP consists of three sections. One is completed on entry to a country; one is completed on exit; and the third remains in the book, stamped both on entry and exit and is returned when your journey is complete.

Insurance Rquirements

Third party insurance is compulsory. It is available at the border.

COMESA insurance is also available and cost me $15 for 2 weeks.

Police & Legal Issues

Police, customs and various other road blocks are frequent and ubiquitous. 

However I was only stopped twice as I traveled nearly the whole length of the country. On the first occasion I was waved on after a very friendly chat, but on the second, as I approached teh border to exit, I was asked for my passport. Then after a cursory inspection and a few friendly words, I was waved on.

Motorcycles are common – used as taxis and goods transporters – and seem to attract no attention whatsoever at road checks. You can just drive through, though I didn’t do this, just in case.


Malawi is cheap. The people are honest, friendly and very willling to help.

Fuel availability can be well spaced although all filling stations do have fuel. They DO NOT, in general accept cards. One station did take my card, then their machine said payment was not approved. My phone message said it was paid, so we agreed I could go, and if the payment didn’t go through, I‘d let them know and send the money by bank transfer! How’s that for trusting?

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