If you have been following me on Instagram you will know the struggle I had with getting an Albanian visa. My first thoughts were that it was going to be an easy process to get one. The actual visa is easy to obtain but it’s getting the right documents and the time frame that can be the struggle. So, I decided to document the process and maybe it might give you a little insight into what it’s like to apply for a long-term visa for Albania.
NOTE: I am NOT a visa advisor. I cannot give you advice on an Albanian visa. This post is only telling you my personal experience with getting one. Depending on which country you are from, will affect which visas you can get, so it’s always best to check with your countries embassy.
The type of visa
When I went to the immigration office in Saranda, I was told that for me I was able to apply for two types of visa – residential or work visa. I was told that for the residential visa I would need to buy a house or have a housing contract for 5 years (which is near impossible!). Also buying a house was also near impossible for me as I only had a month until my tourist visa would run out and, I don’t have a spare €50,000 sitting in my bank account (shock).
So, my only option was to apply for a work visa.
Documents I needed for my work visa:
- A housing contract for the length of stay I wanted, which was one year
- A list of work-related documents. (I won’t go into details of that as it’s a long list and it’s in Albanian, so it won’t make sense)
- Documents that I had purchased travel insurance in Albania for 1 year
- Criminal record with an apostille (and translated into Albanian)
- Photocopies of passport
- 4 photographs
- A document that I had been tax registered
Once you have given in all your documents and they have all been accepted, you will get given a two-month temporary visa while the other visa is processing.
Update August 2018 – Went to go pick up my year visa and it STILL wasn’t ready after 3 months so don’t stress, everything takes time in Albania!
I decided to document the cost of getting the documents too. All up it cost me a total of approximately €400. There were some documents that I didn’t include because I can’t remember the costs. It should cost a little less but as some of my documents weren’t accepted and I had to get sent emergency documents from New Zealand, it ended up costing me this much. The visa itself costs 10,000 lek (€80). I have included that cost into the total.
Top tips for getting a long-term Albanian visa
Don’t do what I did and leave it to the last month. You may think a month might be just enough time to get it done but it wasn’t. Luckily, I was given a little extra time (30 days). If I wasn’t given those extra days I would have been over my visa and would have had to pay a fine (up to 100,000 lek which is €800). If you are just arriving into Albania and you have the 3month tourist visa-free timeframe, then as soon as possible go to the office and get the process rolling. In Albania, nothing ever is on time. If you need a document done and they say one day it will most likely be two. I would bring in a document to the office, it would be declined, and I would have to get another document. It would then take me another full day or two to get the new one. Nothing is rushed in Albania so if you’re in a hurry like I was then it’s super stressful.
Introduce yourself to the local immigration
Albania is not like other countries when it comes to visas. Make sure you introduce yourself to the local immigration and get chatting. It is helpful if you bring in a local who can translate. Even if they don’t need to translate it can help just in case there are problems as the locals know how to talk to them. This helped me a lot. I really don’t know what I would have done if I was by myself talking to the officers. Even if they speak good English sometimes there can be miscommunications so it’s always best to have an Albanian with you.
So, my experience with getting an Albanian visa in three words: stressful, eventful and moderately easy (in terms of what you must do to get an Albania visa and to get accepted).
Again, I am NOT a visa advisor. I cannot answer questions on which visa and documents you need because it’s different for everybody. This is just an insight into my experience. If you’re interested to know what it’s like living in Albania as a tourist, then read this. To access all my other Albanian articles, click here.
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