How to apply for a Ugandan volunteering visa

You may remember my earlier post on getting a volunteering visa for India. I decided it was time to do one for Uganda.

So you want to volunteer in Uganda? Kudos. And now you’re researching volunteering visas? Excuse me whilst I hold my sides with laughter.

Uganda’s visa system is a MESS.

The good news is that if you’re from the U.K., Australia or the U.S. (probably more countries too) then you don’t need to apply for a visa in advance. You just pay $50 at the border and they’ll stamp your passport with permission to stay for 3 months. The bad news is that if you want to stay for more than 3 months everything turns into a headache. You can try applying for an extension at the immigration office or you can do what I’ve been doing and leave the country then come back in again.

The advice that I’ve been given is to always tell immigration authorities that you’re in Uganda on holiday. Never mention a job, even one where you’re not being paid. This seems dishonest, and really it is. NGOs here regularly have their paid foreign staff entering this way because of the difficulties involved in getting a work visa.

If you’re coming over to work for a specific organisation then the best thing to do is to contact them and ask their advice about visas. Things are liable to change at the last minute.