We tried to extend our tourist visa in Madagascar in the coastal city of Toliara, aka Tuléar or Toliary. Our first visit attempt was on Friday the 23rd of December, and the next time Monday the 26th of December. Trying the Madagascar tourist visa extension around Christmas was obviously not ideal.
- 1 Why Extend the Madagascar Tourist Visa?
- 2 Where to Extend Your Tourist Visa in Madagascar
- 3 Researching the Malagasy Tourist Visa Extension
- 4 Attempt 1: Friday before Christmas
- 5 Attempt 2: Visa Extension Progress?
- 6 Attempt 3: We got it!
- 7 Madagascar Tourist Visa Extension Packing List
- 8 Insanely useful article? Consider buying me a baobab juice!
- 9 Share or save for later? Jolly goodness, you’re phenomenal!
Why Extend the Madagascar Tourist Visa?
When we arrived in Madagascar in mid-November 2022, we only got a tourist visa for 60 days on arrival. That cost us €40 per person, which we paid in Euros. Sadly enough, the information about obtaining a 90-day visa upon arrival was already outdated.
Madagascar is a huge island. A truly humongous place. A chonker, if you will. And the roads between towns and cities can be of varying quality. That’s why traveling overland and by sea is slow. We sometimes need a day to recover after a big move because it’s killing for the back. Luckily, massages are cheap.
To speed up travel, taking domestic flights is an interesting option, but unfortunately, all domestic flights go either to or from the capital Antananarivo. We’d love to take a flight from Toliara to Taolagnaro, but to first fly in the wrong direction, stay a night in Tana, and then hop on the next flight is just… too much risk. And money; domestic flights aren’t cheap either.
So in order to see a significant chunk of Madagascar and to have enough time to make it out of the country, the 30-day visa extension was always a joker on the back of our minds.
But can we get it?
Where to Extend Your Tourist Visa in Madagascar
The best thing I did was snap a photo of the visa extension locations in Madagascar while buying the original 60-day visa. This was mentioned on the autorisation de debarquement form we received at Ivato International Airport. Below the personal data is a section saying prolongation de visa. They took that receipt from us, so we didn’t have that information anywhere else handy. But I plotted all seven locations into this map so you can find them yourself:
The seven cities are:
- Antananarivo (aka Tana or Tananarive): Service Centrale de Contrôle de l’Immigration et Emigration (SCCIE) — Anosy
- Antsiranana (aka Diego-Suárez): Service de Renseignement de l’Immigration et Emigration (SRIE) — Rue Lavigerie
- Fianarantsoa: Centre de Prolongation — Ambatolakisoa
- Mahajanga (aka Majunga): Centre de Prolongation — Mangarivotra
- Nosy Be: Aéroport Fascène au Poste de Police de l’Air et des Frontières
- Toamasina (aka Tamatave): Secrétariat du Service Régional des Renseignements et du Contrôle de l’Immigration et Emigration — Ex bâtiment faritany avenue de l’indépendance
- Toliara (aka Tuléar or Toliary): Direction Régionale de la Sécurité Publique — Antsimo-Andrefana
On the map, you can see more than just the visa extension place mentioned in Toliara. That’s because the place of the visa extension and the place where you pay for it are two different locations and we happen to know all of them. Unfortunately, I don’t know the payment places in any of the other six cities. If you figure them out, comment below the article so I can add them to the map!
Researching the Malagasy Tourist Visa Extension
We didn’t know anybody who had stayed in Madagascar on a tourist visa before and extended it. So we googled and googled, but besides some very basic information, there was no detailed blog post about the Malagasy tourist visa extension anywhere.
Our last resort was looking for posts in Madagascar-themed Facebook groups. Jonas found some information in the group called Madagascar Expat Lifestyle about it. There were many posts with varying information. One post mentioned bringing four (!) pass photos.
So we started gathering these items the day before we went to the place for the visa extension.
Attempt 1: Friday before Christmas
We took a cyclo-pousse first to a copyshop on Rue Docteur Raseta street. I had looked up a copy or print shop on that street called Alpha Services, but we found a different, Muslim-owned shop first on the same street. Jonas gave them the USB stick to print out our documents and I gave them our passports to make photocopies of the ID page and the Madagascar entry stamp page. We spent a little over 1.000 Ariary.
Then we took a ride with the same cyclo-pousse driver to the Direction Régionale de la Sécurite Publique in Toliara. He didn’t immediately know where it was, but I described it as on the main diagonal street a little further than we had already cycled. Five minutes later we were at the correct office. It’s kind of a police station, but also not really?
We asked security where to go for the prolongation de visa and she said Chambre 8. It was not hard to find.
Inside room 8, there were multiple smaller rooms. Small offices or cubicles, if you will. We found a friendly lady behind a desk in a room with a gigantic typewriter atop a large filing cabinet, whom we asked about the visa extension. She said we can’t do it today because the guy authorized to stamp it isn’t present. When will he be? On Monday the 26th of December. After Christmas. The office opens at 8:00.
Okay. Now what?
She gave us two forms to fill in, of which one had been the original copied so many times it was barely legible. One long one and another one that was very short. But we couldn’t take them and could only borrow them to make copies. Not tomorrow, right now. So Jonas took the cyclo-pousse back to the copyshop to make double copies of these two papers. We have a tendency to fill them in wrong, which is why we’re making the spare copy.
While he was going there, I thought it would be nice to scan the forms and upload them to my site as PDFs so you people don’t have to go to the office and ask for them. You can find the download link at the bottom of this article in the packing list.
Jonas returned, we gave back the ‘original’ forms, and thanked the lady who was helpful but didn’t hold all the power. Then we returned to the Hell Hotel with our favorite cyclo-pousse rider in Toliara. We told Patrick we’d need to return to the office on Monday morning.
Attempt 2: Visa Extension Progress?
After Christmas, we returned to the Direction Régionale de la Sécurite Publique in Toliara. We left the hotel at 8:30 with Patrick. A little later, we arrived at the office, where there were two old French guys already waiting. We went inside to say hi to the nice lady. She said we should wait till the boss shows up.
We shared the bench in the tree shadow with one of the Frenchmen. He wasn’t very positive about getting his visa extension today. It was apparently his sixth time showing up here.
Meanwhile, Jonas checked the cotisse bus station across the street. He inquired about taking a minivan to Isalo National Park or to Fianarantsoa.
Twenty minutes later, the boss showed up and we all went inside. The other guys went first and then we showed up with our filled-in forms. We still had to fill in a couple of fields that had been incredibly vague. I had a chat with a guy there who found it pleasant to hear English around him instead of French. The kind lady complimented my sunglasses, which I had found in an eBike in Bagan, Myanmar. One of the few pairs of sunglasses I didn’t pay for and they’ve somehow been with me for ages, despite me dropping them in a field in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine on a hike.
The boss seemed in a hurry, so we gave him the papers and our passports. Things went fast and he stamped and dated a bunch of papers and then told us to go to the caisse to pay for the tourist visa extension. He said this place to drop our money was nearby the Score supermarket. I got out my OSM map and found a government building called Direction Régionale des Impôts.
A useless sidequest
Patrick drove us through the market area of Toliara where we got stuck in a cyclo-pousse traffic jam. A begging child bothered us and touched Jonas, who was mentally spiraling to the bottom. Past the supermarket Score, we found we found a government-like building that said caisse inside and an employee.
The lady there was adamant that we were in the wrong place. Shit. My English is insufficient here, so here we go: wij werden van het kastje naar de muur gestuurd. I still checked next door and asked the people there where to pay for the prolongation de visa and they sent us to the office with the lady who only knew “no” again. A colleague of hers showed up and she also said no. They described a place we needed to go to, but it sounded like where we just came from. They also told the location to Patrick, who nodded and knew where it was.
So we got into the cyclo-pousse again to see where we’d end up. Jonas stopped believing in it and said perhaps it’s just time to leave Madagascar in January. Keep our 160.000 Ariary (€34).
We cycled through town and Patrick dropped us off at a building that looked like the Direction Régionale de la Sécurite Publique at first. Upon closer inspection, it was a different place. I forgot to take a photo outside, so here’s the location and a stolen photo from Google Maps:
Paying for the visa extension
We were ready to give up, but this office turned out to be the correct one. +1 for the frustrated lady at the other office, -1 for the stamp man who confidently sent us to the wrong location.
We had to sign into the building book and then a lady pointed us to the right guy, who quickly put out his half-smoked cigarette and went to a desk. Sitting down, we handed over all the papers and our passports. He asked for the money, 80.000 Ariary per person. Jonas handed him 160.000 Ariary in bills of 20.000 and the man split the pile of cash in two. He double-checked our names and struggled to put my first names and last name together despite my passport speaking French in addition to English and Dutch. Not sure if my Dutch passport is just bad design, but this shit happens all the time everywhere I go.
Though I didn’t see it happen and didn’t check up afterward, he already stamped something on both our passports. I received my passport with a proof of payment slip. Less than 20 minutes after arriving we walked out of the building. So far this place has the highest level of efficiency.
Patrick brought us back to the Direction Régionale de la Sécurite Publique. We arrived there at 10:00, well before the pivotal lunchtime—after which we all know no more bureaucratic work will be accomplished. The stamp man had long left the office. The trustworthy lady was still there. Another man was in a different office across kind lady. We had to talk to him.
Jonas did the talking while I gathered the paperwork. I stuffed the passports, proof of departure, copies of the passport ID and stamp pages, the big visa extension form, and the payment proof in two neat piles. Then he asked us for (presumably) a booking confirmation from our hotel. We didn’t really get this request, but we told him we were staying at Hotel Paletuvier in Toliara. A noisy shithole. He asked if we have a letter from the hotel, to which Jonas said we don’t. He asked if we were just tourists, which we confirmed.
Addendum: if a letter from the hotel would have been mandatory we would have given up instantly on extending the visa since they couldn’t even give us an aircon remote after asking for one.
Finally, he asked for the last thing missing from the two piles: our two pass photos each. He paperclipped them to our prolongation de visa form and put the bundles in a folder with many other visa extension requests. Just passports lying there. I thought I saw a Korean passport in there and definitely some Chinese ones. Presumably, he showed us this to tell us that our passports will be kept safe here. Not sure if that’s my conclusion.
Jonas asked for a timeline and the man said today at 16:00 the Superboss is coming. Or tomorrow morning. Either way, now all that’s left is the final stamp of approval and it’s done. If only this fella or the kind lady had this amount of authority…
Then we left. We found the old French guy still (or again?) sitting on the bench in the shadow of a big tree. His mood hadn’t changed. He said that he’d been trying to extend his visa for over a week. Jonas told him that the guy we just met said that the Final Boss will be coming at 16:00 or tomorrow morning. This made the boomer upset because he had been told that the Chief Stamp Man would be coming in about 20 minutes at 10:30. He tried to get us to panic by saying that the passports are just lying there in the office unattended.
He didn’t want to leave his passport, so I assume he’s still sitting there.
After an early lunch, we returned to the hotel. All we can do now is wait till we go mad.
Attempt 3: We got it!
The next morning, we didn’t want to try too early, so we did some work. A little after 10:00, we left our hotel with Patrick to the Direction Régionale de la Sécurite Publique. The expectations were low, but our spirits were high after the first night of sleep without a loud concert going from noon to midnight since we arrived.
We arrived at the office and there was a group of Malagasies at the wrong office. Once they left, there was the confident stamp guy who had sent us to the wrong payment office the day before. Not seeming to recognize us, he asked our business. Jonas said we were here for the visa extension and that our passports were already here. He let us in and pointed us to the office with the guy who had taken in our passports the day before
He was helping an unfamiliar boomer before us. The French boomer received the two forms to go and copy them somewhere. This wasn’t the Frenchman’s first rodeo, who asked if he needed to bring a hotel letter. The guy said that’s not necessary in Toliara. This implies that you’ll need a letter from your hotel at other visa extension places in Madagascar.
Unfortunately, the nice lady was not there.
After the French boomer left to go copy some shit, we had the full attention of the guy who took our forms and pass photos yesterday afternoon. Jonas said hello and ça va, doing the small talk before getting down to business. The capable guy opened up a big ledger with many tiny pass photos and data. The newest page had just our two faces and data. He had one French passport in his hands that he thought was mine, but I said nope and “Les Pays-Bas et Allemania” in my best Spfrench. Ah yes, the unusual passports.
He found our passports in the odd nationalities stack and opened them up to show the Madagascar tourist visa extension page, pointing at the big red “12 FEV 2023” to make sure I’m aware of the outcome of this saga.
It was big, beautiful, and had swallowed up my entire passport. I had handed over my passport with 8 completely free pages the day before and now I have seven left. This is getting tight. This 90-day trip to Madagascar will take up two whole passport pages by the time I’ve stamped out. I’m not sure the math on this is sustainable.
Another fun thing about the many, many visa extension stamps is that one of them says the price of “80.000 Ariary” in blue pen. But the “Ariary” is written over the red-stamped FMG. FMG, MGF, or Franc Malgache, was the currency of this country before the Ariary. The switch happened in 2005, so that’s almost 18 years ago. Somehow, the stamps at all seven visa extension offices have not only not been replaced, but also not broken or gone missing.
We thanked the guy and then left. Patrick was nearby. But we first had to get bus tickets to Isalo NP/Ranohira for the following day. We’re free!
And that’s the Madagascar tourist visa extension complete!
Madagascar Tourist Visa Extension Packing List
Here’s what to bring to your tourist visa extension attempts. This worked for us in Toliara. Other cities might require more/different things from you.
This is the packing list per person:
- 1 copy of the passport ID page
- 1 copy of the Madagascar entry stamp page
- Return/exit flight ticket printout
- 2-4 pass photos (the same)
- The main form for the tourist visa extension. Copy it from their office or download it here: Madagascar-tourist-visa-extension
- The payment form. Copy it from their office or download it here: Madagascar-tourist-visa-extension-payment
- 80.000 Ariary in cash
- Your patience
- If you have it, print out your current hotel booking. Or ask your hotel for a letter. What the letter should say is a complete mystery to me. This seems to be a requirement outside of Toliara
Bonus points/just in case (no one asked us for this, but it wouldn’t be insane if they did):
- Proof of sufficient funds (bank statement)
- Proof of health insurance that covers Madagscar
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