Tips for Foreign Investors

Health Requirements

Prior to entry, all foreign visitors should be in possession of valid health certificate for yellow fever, vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or a cholera-infected area within 6 days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.

Visa and immigration requirements

Visas are required for all foreign visitors to Ethiopia, with the exception of nationals of Kenya. Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. Nationals of 37 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia. The list includes: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.

All visitors to Ethiopia (except for Kenyan and Djiboutian nationals) are required to obtain an entry visa. Since 2002, tourists from 33 countries (listed under "Visa Requirements") are able to obtain entry visas upon their arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, and in Dire Dawa Airport. In September 2009, the fees for visa-upon-arrival was US$20, regardless of whether one is applying for a Tourist, Business or Transit Visa.

The procedure is relatively quick and painless; just look for a door with a sign "Visa" on the left hand before the immigration counters. Please note, that currently those traveling to Ethiopia by land border will face EXTREME DIFFICULTY in obtaining a Visa at an overseas consulate (e.g. Kampala) as there is a backwards policy of not granting visas to non-residents. Thus, the only way to obtain a visa  in Africa is by flying in, or posting your passport back to your home consulate. Be warned that Ethiopian consulates are currently upholding this policy with no negotiation.

By plane

Ethiopian Airlines is one of the most successful and reputable airlines in Africa. Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines and also hosts Lufthansa, Sudan Airways, Kenya Airways, British Airways, KLM, Turkish Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Egypt Air and fly Dubai. A new runway and international terminal, which was said to be the largest in Africa, opened in 2003.

CAUTION: Arriving in the country without a major currency such as Euros or American Dollars is not recommended, especially if one has not obtained a visa prior to arrival. Travellers cheques and cash can be exchanged at the airport.

  • If you have a prior arrangement, many hotels will send a vehicle to pick up pre-booked guests from the airport.
  • There are also other international airports in Dire Dawa, Mekele, Bahir Dar


Ethiopia uses the Ethiopian calendar, which dates back to the Coptic calendar 25 BC, and never adopted the Julian or Gregorian reforms. One Ethiopian year consists of twelve months, each lasting thirty days, plus a thirteenth month of five or six days (hence the "Thirteen Months of Sunshine" tourism slogan). The Ethiopian new year begins on September 10 or 11 (in the Gregorian calendar), and has accumulated 7-8 years lag behind the Gregorian calendar. Thus, for the first nine months of 2007, the year will be 1999 according to the Ethiopian calendar. On 11 September 2007, Ethiopia celebrated New Year's Day (Enkutatesh) for 2000.

In Ethiopia, the 12-hour clock cycles do not begin at midnight and noon, but instead are offset six hours. Thus, Ethiopians refer to midnight (or noon) as 6 o'clock.

Note: Airline timetables are based on the 24-hour clock and use the Gregorian calendar


Public holidays are celebrated according to the Ethiopian (Julian) Calendar (see “Time”). The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian Calendar, with the New Year falling in the month of September.

January 7: Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)

January 14: Birth of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH (Mauwlid)*

January 19: Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket)

March 2: Victory of Adwa (1896)

April 18: Ethiopian Orthodox Good Friday

April 20: Ethiopian Orthodox Easter Sunday

May 5: Ethiopian Patriots (1941) Victory Day

May 1: International Labor Day

May 5: Ethiopian Patriots (1941) Victory Day

May 28: Fall of the Dergue (1991) Day

September 11: Ethiopian New Year

September 27: The Finding of the True Cross (Meskel)

October 5: Id ul Adha (Sacrifice)*

*These holidays are subject to moon sighting.


The units of currency are the birr and cents. Notes are 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 birr. The 1 birr coin is also in circulation. ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are found in major Addis Ababa hotels, shopping malls and at the Bole International Airport. It is important to retain currency exchange receipts.


Banking hours are usually 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays. Most banks work through lunchtime; however, foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours (noon – 1 p.m.).


Money transfers can be made through Western Union and MoneyGram. Both have representative branches in Addis Ababa and also make their services available from private and national banks. For courier services, DHL, Fedex, UPS, TNT and EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.


Telephones, fax machines and Internet access are available in Addis Ababa in most hotels and at private Internet service centers around the city.


Government office hours are 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30 -11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Private and public businesses are often open on Saturdays.