Those of us who are residents of Rwanda are in luck! We’re eligible for a very handy visa called the ‘CEPGL‘ (don’t ask me what it stands for) which will grant us access into both Burundi and the DRC, two of the word’s top tourist destinations! And all for the low, low, price of Rwf 6,500 (or whatever the current amount is that’s equivalent to $10) which is an absolute bargain.
To qualify as a resident of Rwanda you have to be here on work or business visa (and maybe others also qualify but I’ll have to check on that). I’d always thought that I had to also have my green card but it turns out that that’s not the case. Happy days, indeed!
To make things better, getting this wonderful little visa is pretty painless. The trip to the Bank of Kigali to pay is a pain in the ass (you used to be able to pay at immigration) but it’s really not that much to ask for such a magical document. So without further ado, here is a truly exciting post giving you step-by-step instructions on how to get your very own glorious CEPGL!
First head to this part of the Rwanda Revenue Authority website where you’ll need to generate and print the correct document to get the visa. Finding and generating the actual document you’ll need is confusing so here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Fill in all of the info and enter your passport number in the ‘National ID’ category
- Under the ‘Service Provider’ drop down menu choose ‘DE IE (Director General of Immigration and Emigration)’.
- Under the ‘Service’ drop down menu that appears, choose ‘Travel Documents’.
- In the last drop down menu choose ‘Cepgl’ and then again in the one that, for some reason, appears again below it.
- Enter the code and hit ‘Submit’ and on the next page you’ll be given the choice to send the info to your phone, print it, or email it. Pick one and you’re done!
Once you have this magical piece of paper (or the information on your phone), head to the lower part of the Bank of Kigali in town. Not the main branch but the one that’s in the parking lot below. Ask inside if you’re not sure. There’s an office of some sort to the left and to the right is a bank with tellers and all that banky stuff. Fill in a deposit slip using the account number for CEPGL which should be written somewhere in the bank or ask someone. I accidentally paid Rwf 10,000 which caused me problems at immigration so be sure to get the account number and rate correct.
Then take your receipt and your passport to the Laisez-Passer office which is behind immigration. I went at 7:30am and was the first person in there. If you want to avoid lines, morning is best. Fill in the form at the counter with the agent (or download and print it and fill it in in advance), show your receipt, give them a passport photo along with a copy of your visa and photo page of your passport, and that’s it! They don’t even take your actual passport off of you. You can collect the visa the next day after 2pm.
The visa is valid for three months from the time you apply but you’re only permitted to enter Burundi or the DRC for 30 days at a time. The best part is that when you travel to the DRC and Burundi they don’t waste space in your passport with a stamp, instead they stamp the CEPGL paper. The second best part is that the actual CEPGL looks like something I might have made in grade five art class.