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How to get a Visa for Socotra (Yemen)
Updated March 2020, How to get a Socotra Visa (Yemen) was originally written in June 2019
Socotra has been extremely difficult to visit in the last few years due to the ongoing war taking place in the mainland of Yemen. In late 2018 Yemenia Airways announced they would begin flying to Socotra from Cairo in 2019 once per week, thus making it possible to visit Socotra again (or, I should say with more ease than that of the cement ship from Salalah, Oman). Getting a visa to visit Socotra can be quite tricky at present, however, it is possible nonetheless. In this article, I will run through the requirements in order to secure a visa for Socotra.
Please note that you will be required to book a tour with a local operator to secure a visa (more on this later).
With a lot of efforts and arrangements, I’m excited to be offering two small group trips to Socotra Island in March 2021 with Inertia Network.
The first departure will include visits to the highlights of Socotra plus a camel trekking trip through the Haggier Mountains. The second departure will take us to explore the outlying islands of the Socotra Archipelago of Abd al Kuri, Samha, and Darsa, as well as a trek across the Haggiers and Noged Plateau back on the main island of Socotra. The second departure offers an option 5 day Mainland Yemen Expedition add-on.
How To Get A Yemeni Visa
I’m sure by now you’re well aware that Socotra is an island halfway between Yemen and Somalia and is officially a territory of Yemen. In order to visit Socotra, you will need a Yemeni visa. Most nationalities require a visa to enter Yemen and thus Socotra. Getting a Yemeni visa at present is not a straightforward process and comes with some caveats. Note that Yemeni embassies and consulates will not issue visas at present.
Step 1: Contact & Book A Trip With A Socotri Tour Operator
You cannot just go apply for a Yemeni visa because you want one. You must first arrange a trip with a Socotri tour operator who will apply for your visa for you in Yemen with the Ministry of Interior. The operator is essentially inviting you to Yemen and needs to approve this with the government.
The cost of the visa and arrangement of it is $150 USD
Step 2: Send A Scan Of Your Passport Info Page
The tour operator will need your passport info to apply for your visa. You will need to email them a scan of this and they will send it along with the visa application for approval.
Grab a copy of the first ever Bradt Socotra Guidebook to help you start planning
Step 3: Receive A Paper Copy Of Your Yemeni Visa
This is a very important piece of paper and you will need to have copies of it for flight booking, flight check in as well as to enter Socotra. Your visa will be issued no more than 30 days prior to your arrival. Visas are typically valid for 30 days stay in Yemen.
Step 4: Book Your Flight To Socotra
You will need to send a copy of this visa to whoever is securing your Cairo-Socotra flight in Cairo or you will need to present it yourself at the Yemenia booking office in Cairo when booking and purchasing your flight. If you need more information on how to get to Socotra check out my post on the topic here. If you are wanting to visit by the cement ship from Salalah, Oman (not recommended due to the conditions of the ship and the risks of crossing the Gulf of Aden) you will need to present this visa paper as well too.
You will also need two printed copies of this visa when flying to Socotra. At check in with Yemenia at Cairo International Airport Terminal 1, you will need to hand over a copy to the airline when they issue your boarding pass. Please note that the flight does make a brief stop in Seiyun in the mainland of Yemen.
Step 5: Arrive To Socotra
Once you arrive to Socotra you will need to hand over the final paper copy of your visa along with your passport. They will stamp the lower third of the page and give it to you. You will need to keep this slip with your passport and will need to turn it back in when departing. They will ask you if you’d like your passport stamped as well.
Boycott of Israel
Yemen is one of the countries that boycotts travel to Israel. If you have any evidence of travel to Israel such as Israeli visas, Israeli passport stamps, Egypt, or Jordan stamps issued along any of their land borders with Israel or arrival/departure cards you will most likely be deported from Yemen. Israeli passport holders are barred from entering the country. During the stopover in Seiyun passports will be checked for this. If you have traveled to Israel and there is proof of your visit in your passport you will need to apply for a new passport or if you are from eligible countries apply for a ‘second passport’.
That is How You Get A Visa To Visit Socotra
Getting a visa to travel to Socotra isn’t an easy venture, though your tour operator will facilitate the process for you.
Everything you need to know: The Socotra Travel Guide
On my first trip to Socotra I arranged my travels with Socotra Eco Tours who I 100% recommend. On my second trip I teamed up with Inertia Network to bring a group of 12 to Socotra with the help of Socotra Eco Tours. I have also met Mohammed of New Horizons Socotra Tours who is also guiding travelers in Socotra as well.
Have Any Questions About Getting a Visa For Socotra?
Ask in the comments below.
Please do not email me demanding how to get a visa to visit Socotra without booking with a Socotri agency because you do not want to be guided/do not want to pay for services/etc. I do not make the rules, nor do not control prices.
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