Dear Madagascar Students,
We hope that your packing is going well and that your excitement is building for what will be a great adventure in an amazing country. Because your instructors will already be in Madagascar, we will not be with you when you arrive and get your visa. As you will come to see during our semester, simple things like getting the right visa can be rather complicated in Madagascar. Here is a brief description of what this experience will be like, more or less. Please print this information to bring it with you on the plane.
You will land late at night in Antananarivo (Tana for short) and will disembark the plane directly onto the runway. The flight attendants will probably open both the front and back of the plane for disembarking.
Once you deplane there will be a general flow of people toward the very small terminal building. People are not particularly interested in forming lines and waiting in turn, so it can get a little pushy. Don’t worry about rushing! It is most important that you stay together as a group. It is not important that you are in the front of the line as all the luggage will be unloaded by hand and carried to the terminal building and it often takes a very long time to get your baggage.
Once you enter the arrival hall there will be a few desks where immigration officers will ask for your landing card (this will be given to you on the plane to complete). It is imperative that you have completed the entire card and signed it. It will ask you to put the address of where you are staying and you should put the following address:
Once through that line, again gather as a group and then you will need to approach the counter to get a “Visa on Arrival”. The visa desk should be on the right-hand side and will have a sign that indicates it is where you can buy your visa. It is very unlikely that anyone will speak English. Know that it always feels a little stressful to get the visa (even for those of us who have been to Madagascar often!). Madagascar offers three different visas and it is imperative that you purchase a 90-day visa (there are visas for different time frames and you must get the 90-day visa). Please take a minute and copy the following sentence down on a piece of paper. When you go to get your visa, you should put it in your passport/show the officer the paper:
Aza Fady, mila Visa telo volona na sivifolo andro aho. Misaotra Tompko.
This phrase translates as: “Excuse me. I need a 3 month or 90-day visa. Thank you.”
You should give this note to the person behind the visa counter. The cost of the visa should be around 50.00 USD. You can pay in Euro’s or Dollars, but it is important that you have smaller bills. It is often hard to get change for a 100.00 bill and they do not accept credit cards, etc. Please bring with you from home at least $70 in cash (three $20 bills and one $10 bill). It may be that they will charge you slightly more than $50, so we want you to be prepared. Do not expect to withdraw this money in the airport in Tana – instead bring it with you from home.
After you all have gotten your visas, go together to get your baggage. In Tana, there is only one baggage claim/carousel and you can’t miss it! The baggage claim is directly beside where you will purchase your visa. A suggested plan of action is to have a few people wait near the carousel and a few others create a space to put the bags as they get picked up. Once everyone has their bag, exit to meet your instructors. If there is a lost bag, your instructors can help you deal with this after you come through customs. Again, you should all stay together throughout the process and exit together.
The three of us (Sidonie, Mohamed, and Micah) will be at the airport to greet you on the other side of customs. There is only one exit and your instructors won’t miss you!
If you have any problems during the arrival process, please ask someone to borrow their phone and call Micah on the following number: 032 50 726 92.
Please let us know if you have any questions about this.
See you soon!
Micah, Sidonie and Mohamed