Disclaimer: This article on securing a 90-day visa extension after getting a 30-day entry to Cabo Verde applies mostly to EU+ citizens. This new visa policy only applies to holders of EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and UK passports. Passport holders of other nationalities can still apply to a Cabo Verdean visa at embassies and consulates the regular way. If you don’t want to read the backstory, read The TL;DR or ‘What to bring’ for a summary of findings.
The Immigration office in Espargos, Sal
We first tried to get our visa extension in Santa Maria, which is the main tourist destination in Sal. They sent us to the police headquarters in the island capital Espargos. The concrete building is painted in blue, white, and darker blue. It’s now Monday the 21st of January, and we’ve been in Cabo Verde for a little less than a week now.
An officer directs us to the immigration office inside the station, and we pick a number to wait for our turn, trying to remember the faces of the people that were here before us. All the white people coming in directly acknowledge us with a nod, and not the Africans in the room. This is definitely weird.
A Spanish lady sits next to me and starts a conversation with us. Even though I start in Spanish, we switch to English soon after. She asks if she can look at our passports, and gives us hers in return. We find her page with a 12-month visa sticker, a multiple-entry visa. Our theory is that this one allows her to have as many 90-day stays within a 12 month period as she likes. She tells us she isn’t satisfied with it, as she’d like to stay for 6 months without leaving. Her story is confusing, and I she is too, which is why she’s here trying to clear things up.
In our passports, she directly goes to our Belarusian visa page. “Ah! You went to Ukraine!” she says, and I respond, “No, that’s Belarus. Bielorrusia?” We drop the topic out of awkwardness, and she goes to the page with the entry stamp of Cabo Verde. She asks us how long we’re staying, and if we’re moving here. I say “Just 90 days, to travel”. It’s our turn now.
The Immigration Officer
A young guy calls us to his desk. We hand over our passports, passport copies, passport photos, and whatever else we printed out and brought over for the occasion. We try in Portuguese to ask for a “prorrogação de visto turístico, noventa dias, por favor”. The request for an extension isn’t weird to him at all. He asks for the return flight. We hand over the paper and he gives us an inquisitive look as it says it’s from another island. “Why Praia?” and we try to explain that we intend on traveling to more islands before flying back from Praia. He looks at us like that’s an outrageous idea he’s never heard of before.
Then he looks at my passport copy, which indeed looks a little shabby, and says how it’s not good enough. Jonas produces a fresher copy of my passport, but he tries to explain that it’s still not good enough. The officer mumbles something about travel insurance, something we also don’t have printed out. He’s about to glue our passport photos to the form and send us out with directions to the nearest copy shop, but I manage to squeeze in one last question. Improvising, I say “Quantas dias custa o visto?” – meaning to convey “How many days until the visa is ready?” – and he responds with five.
We’re leaving Sal to São Nicolau in two days, so that’s not fast enough. I save our passport photos from his crafty glue and eager hands, and thank him for the information. We’ll have to try on another island, within 24 days.
Mindelo, São Vicente
In São Nicolau, our host told us that there’s no point in trying to extend here, so we waited until we hopped over yet another island to try again. We arrived by boat in Mindelo, the capital of São Vicente and the second biggest city in Cabo Verde. Surely, it must work here. We have 8 days to accomplish this before our 30 days expire on the 12th of February.
On Monday morning, the 4th of February, we went first to a print and copy shop to get the freshest paperwork for our immigration overlords. Then we walked to the police station in the north of town. A bunch of friendly people in uniforms point us to the right door, where there’s a small waiting area that’s not so busy and isn’t filled with tourists.
When it’s our turn, the lady tells us that we’re too early for a visa extension and that it’s better to do it on the 11th or 12th of February. I roll my eyes, hold my breath and count to ten not to freak out, and Jonas asks if it’s not at all possible to do it today. She talks to a colleague and they agree to do it today. We hand over the stack of papers we brought, and she flicks through it. She tells us we have nearly everything they want. Since it’s an individual process, she needs a booking confirmation for both of us, and we only brought one copy.
We’re out onto the street again and go to a nearby copy shop. It’s near a school, and many kids in school uniforms are in front of us. We print out the extra booking confirmation and return flight, and buy a pen while we’re at it.
The Cabo Verde Visa Extension Process
Back at the police station, we finally get to fill in the form and glue our passport photos on the little box. We haven’t eaten yet, but we’re ecstatic that it finally seems to be happening. We hand back our individual stacks of papers, and unlock the next step: payment. The officer points at the price of 2100 CVE per person (~€19), to be paid at any Cabo Verdean bank in town.
We start our hike to the bank avenue, at the Praça Amílcar Cabral on Rua Argélia. Jonas is quite irritated by the process by now and needs to eat something stat. We’re both quite done with this stuff, but we also know it’s worth the hassle if we can stay longer. We try one bank, the BCA, but there’s an enormous amount of people inside. We go to the Banco Interâtlantico instead, where the queue is more reasonable. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve queued for shit today.
The bank lady is efficient and fast. We pay the total sum of 4200 CVE and are on our way with a stamped sheet of paper that confirms our payment. We eat another biscuit on our way back to the police station. Once there, we hand over our payment, that gets added to our stack of papers and our passport. The whole stack gets filed away on someone else’s desk. I’m about to ask that very important question, but the lady who helped us is ahead of me.
“Come back tomorrow, at two o’clock”, we thank her, say mental goodbyes to our passports, and are on our way to eat some cachupa.
Visa Extension Success!
The next day, on the 5th of February, we went to the police station by taxi (150 CVE from Avenida Holanda) at three in the afternoon. We’re the only ones in the immigration office, and within two minutes we have our passports in our hands. The extension is a very large stamp with some writing in it, saying we’re welcome to stay in Cabo Verde until 4th of May 2019. That’s a whole 90 days extra… from yesterday! It’s literally too much!
Jonas and I say another few obrigado’s and obrigada’s for their generosity and leave the station.
- Try your local Cabo Verdean embassy/consulate first. Ask in person or by e-mail if they still hand out 90-day visas, how long it takes, what you need to bring, and how much it costs. The price is supposed to be €45, so you’ll save €5 (and a lot of headaches) by doing everything beforehand.
- If you didn’t get your visa beforehand, sign up on https://ease.gov.cv and bring your confirmation printed out with you to show directly upon entering the country. You’ll need to pay the €31 per person fee online.
- Have a return flight! At Lisbon Airport when flying TACV, I was actually asked to show my return flight I’d just booked the night before. Some people say you don’t need to show a return flight, but it’s good to have something you can show in case this happens to you. Otherwise, book a refundable fake ticket via one of those websites, just to show at the airport and immigration.
- Are you arriving/leaving by boat? Sorry, I have no experience with this and can’t help you. If you’re crewing a boat, it might be good to print out your communication to show at immigration that somebody wants your help on board. Please let me know in the comments how you did it!
- The vocabulary you’ll need: visa = visto, extension = prorrogação, please = por favor, Tourist visa = visto de turista.
- If you didn’t get your visa beforehand, try to get it arranged on the first Cabo Verdean island you visit. Make sure you have at least 5 working days to get it done. It might be done quicker than this, but you can’t assume bureaucratic efficiency now can you?
- Bring all the stuff I mentioned under ‘what to bring’ below this heading before you show up and waste your own and other people’s time. Also, bring snacks and drinks to survive long waiting periods.
- When the immigration police in Cabo Verde says you should try to extend the visa closer to the expiry date, ask if it can be done now nonetheless. Otherwise, try looking sad or disappointed.
- The immigration office in Espargos on the island of Sal said it would take 5 working days. The immigration office in Mindelo on São Vicente said it would take them one working day. It costs another 2100 CVE (~€19), tacked on top of the €31 you already paid for the EASE, so €50 in total. If you plan to visit Mindelo in your first 30 days on the island, I’d recommend extending there. I have no knowledge of how it works in Praia on Santiago island.
- The immigration office in Mindelo was the most generous; they gave me an extension of 90 days from the day of applying, instead of an extension of 60 days from the day I’d originally have to leave. If this is normal procedure, this means you could possibly wait till one of the last days before your entry stamp expires and then get 90 days on top of that. This would add up to ≤120 legal days in Cabo Verde. If you got a 90-day visa via an embassy beforehand and then extend it, you might get ≤180 days. Let me know how it goes if you try this!
What to bring to the immigration office in Cabo Verde
This is per person! If you’re applying for a visa extension together, it’s not good enough that one person has the booking confirmation of your accommodation. Print it out twice! Also: keep these documents in a good condition. One officer was dissatisfied with a passport copy that was folded before
- A pen. They won’t give you one.
- Your valid passport.
- Copy of your passport ID page and the page next to it.
- If you’re already in Cabo Verde, include a copy of the page that contains your entry stamp with the date and entry point clearly visible.
- Passport photographs. You’ll only need one, but it’s always good to have a few. Your return flight. You might want to underline the date to help the bureaucrats. This will be your exact departure date within a total of 90 days.
- Your booking confirmation with the address and the name of the host. If you don’t have a place booked yet for the whole stay, just bring something from the place you’re currently staying.
- Proof of sufficient funds. Depending on the immigration office, they might not ask for this. Bring something anyway. Best is if the transcript is less than two months old. I have no idea what amount is ‘sufficient’ in Cabo Verde, but it’s good to assume something like €25 per day of stay, per person. On the form, it said ‘sufficient economic means’ OR a declaration of your accommodation that guarantees your stay.
- Travel insurance that covers your entire stay, with precise dates mentioning just that. They only asked for this in Espargos in Sal, not in Mindelo on São Vicente.
- A document that proves your objective of stay. This is important if your reason to visit Cabo Verde is something else than ‘tourism’, like ‘business’, in which case you’re probably applying for a totally different visa (visto de negócios).
- Not mandatory but just to be sure: bring your yellow book or vaccination booklet to show, or even a copy of it. Being vaccinated against yellow fever and other diseases helps you travel onward from Cabo Verde and is generally an important travel document.
- The 2.100 CVE (about €19) per person required to pay for the extension. You don’t give this money to the police, but the police will print a receipt you’ll need to take to a Cabo Verdean bank. At that bank (I recommend Bânco Interâtlantico in Mindelo), pay the money, and get the bank’s confirmation of payment. Then bring that document back, give it to the police person and then, finally! the visa process will start.
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