Applying for a Benin visa in Bangkok
I had to get my Benin visa in Bangkok urgently because my flight was leaving in 5 days for Lagos and the Nigerian embassy wouldn’t issue me with my visa before I had the Benin one (proof that I could leave and enter my next port of call)!
So I called the Benin embassy in a frenzy and told them I needed on asap. Again, as with everything, I thought it would be a breeze and couldn’t see how it would be a problem. I had all the paperwork but the one thing I didn’t have, which turned out to be the most important, was a letter of invitation. The lady at the consulate didn’t really care about flights or hotels, the LOI was number one. So without a letter of invitation I was literally going to have no chance at all.
Let me tell you that a letter of invitation (LOI) makes every visa process so much easier, so get on it when ever you can. An LOI is basically a letter from a resident of that country saying that they are inviting you to the country/you are staying with them.
The awesome lady at the embassy, who is a hero, advised me to contact my hotel to get a letter. One problem, I didn’t have a hotel booking. So I sat on my laptop Skypeing and emailing every hotel I could find in Cotonou, Benin. 24 hours later I had a reply and they told me if I made a booking (which I could later cancel) they would send me the letter right away. So I did that and got the letter.
I went to the consulate the next day and applied. The only thing I forgot was my passport photos but that wasn’t a problem because there’s a mall 2 mins away walking with a small photo both which can print in 5 minutes.
Unfortunately for me the man that signed off on the visas wasn’t there that afternoon or the next day. You’d think that was a big problem but not when you have a hero of a Thai lady processing your application in the consulate. She told me she would send it to his house for him to sign, which she did that night. I went back the next morning (24 hours) and picked up my visa.
Benin is amazing and I think it was a real gem in my travels of west Africa, I can’t recommend the place enough! Super friendly consulate staff and awesome country, what’s not to like?!