Residency and Work Permits in Ethiopia

Foreign nationals interested in investment activities in Ethiopia have the opportunity to apply for an extended entry visa, allowing them to stay in the country for an extended period. 

WORK PERMIT stamp seal watermark

This new regulation provides a more favorable option for investors, executives, and shareholders. Additionally, it aims to boost foreign investment in Ethiopia. This guide provides details on residency and work permits in Ethiopia, including the types of work permits and their requirements.

Entry Visas for Investors

Foreign national executives and shareholders who wish to invest in Ethiopia are eligible for a five-year entry visa at a cost of USD 1,000. Managers and board directors can apply for a three-year visa for USD 750

This visa allows for a more extended stay in the country compared to the previous short-term permits. The specific processing timelines will be available on the official website when the regulation takes effect.

Documentary Requirements

For first-time travelers to Ethiopia for investment purposes, the following documents are required in addition to the visa application:

  • A letter of support stating the investment purpose.
  • If invited by a company involved in investment activities, an official application letter from the inviting organization addressed to the Immigration and Citizenship Service of Ethiopia.
  • The business license of the inviting company.
  • A support letter from the Investment Commission of Ethiopia.

Work Permit in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a country that has been experiencing significant economic growth and development. For foreign nationals seeking employment opportunities in Ethiopia, understanding the work permit process is essential. 

This guide provides an overview of work permits in Ethiopia, including the types of work permits, requirements for employers and employees, application processes, and associated costs.

Why is a Work Permit Needed?

A work permit is essential for foreign nationals who wish to work in another country. It provides legal permission to reside and work in that country during the employment period, ensuring a trouble-free immigration process.

Standard Application for Employment

The Ethiopia Job Market

Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, with significant developments in infrastructure, increased investments, and growth in various sectors such as industry, transportation, mining, and agriculture.

Types of Ethiopia Work Visas

Work permits in Ethiopia are categorized based on the nature of work and duration. These include:

  • Conference e-Visa: This visa is issued to foreign travelers attending international conferences, seminars, or workshops organized by governmental authorities, private organizations, or reputed NGOs.
  • Investment Visa: Applicable to individuals intending to invest or already engaged in investments within Ethiopia.
  • International Organizations Work Visa: Issued for non-nationals working in international embassies or similar organizations.
  • Foreign Business Firm Employment Visa: This is a short-term visa issued to those employed by foreign companies based in Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopian Government Employment Visa: Reserved for foreign nationals employed by Ethiopian government institutions or ministries.
  • Ethiopian Private Business Firm Work Visa: Issued to foreign nationals seeking employment or short-term assignments with private business firms in Ethiopia.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations Work Visa: This visa is granted to foreign nationals invited by Ethiopian NGOs for official employment.
  • Government Institutions Short Task Visa: Designed for foreign nationals who will work for a short period in government institutions.
  • Journalist Visa: Issued to professional journalists, filmmakers, and photographers coming to Ethiopia for work-related purposes.

Work Permit Requirements for Employers

The Ethiopian government aims to prioritize local employees over hiring foreigners. To employ a non-national person, employers must meet certain requirements, including:

  • Demonstrating that the foreign employee possesses the necessary skills for the specific role.
  • Providing relevant documents, such as business or trading licenses.
  • Committing to assign Ethiopian workers to the roles when the three-year work permit for foreign individuals expires.

Work Permit Requirements for Employees

Before initiating the Ethiopian work visa process, individuals should carefully review the specific requirements for their visa type. Common documents required for a work permit in Ethiopia for foreigners include:

  • Current business visa.
  • Four copies of the employer's application form.
  • A support letter from the ministry under which the applicant will be working (for government visas) or a business license from the Ministry of Trade (for private organization visas).
  • Registration certificate of charities and related societies (for NGO visas).
  • Business letter from the employer.
  • Five passport-size photos.
  • Proof of previous work experience.
  • A completed personal history form.
  • Educational certificates.
  • Copy of travel documents.
  • Payment receipt for the work permit fee.

Work Permit Application Process

  • An employer initiates the Ethiopian work permit application process, determining the appropriate visa category.
  • Gather the necessary documents from the employee.
  • Submit the work permit application form.
  • Pay the applicable fees.
  • Wait for approval, which may take 3 to 21 days, depending on the visa type.

Work Permit Costs

The cost of different work visas in Ethiopia varies, with fees as follows:

Visa Type


Conference Visa


Investment Visa


Foreign Business Firm Employment Visa


Government Employment Visa


Journalist Visa


Private Business Firm Work Visa


Government Institutions Short Task Visa


NGO Work Visa


International Organization Work Visa



Understanding the requirements and processes for obtaining a work permit in Ethiopia is crucial for foreign nationals interested in working in the country. 

Employers and employees should carefully review the specific Ethiopia visa type and associated documents to ensure a smooth and compliant application process. Additionally, considering the costs and processing times is essential for planning and securing a work permit in Ethiopia.


How can I get a work visa for Ethiopia?
To obtain a work visa for Ethiopia, you typically need to follow these steps:

  • Secure a job offer from an Ethiopian employer.
  • Your prospective employer will initiate the work permit application process on your behalf.
  • Gather the required documents, which may include a valid business visa, passport, a support letter from the relevant ministry or business license, and other necessary paperwork.
  • Submit your work permit application along with the required documents to the Ethiopian authorities.
  • Pay the applicable visa fee.
  • Wait for your work permit to be processed and approved. Processing times can vary depending on the type of visa.

Is a work permit and a residence permit the same in Ethiopia?
No, a work permit and a residence permit are not the same in Ethiopia. A work permit grants you permission to work legally in Ethiopia for a specific period, while a residence permit allows you to reside in the country. Both permits serve different purposes, and you may need both if you plan to live and work in Ethiopia.

How long does it take to get a work visa in Ethiopia?
The processing time for a work visa in Ethiopia can vary depending on the type of visa, the workload of the authorities, and the completeness of your application. In general, it may take anywhere from 3 to 21 days for your work visa to be processed. You should check with the Ethiopian embassy or relevant authorities for specific information about the processing time for your visa type.

What are the different types of visas for Ethiopia?
Ethiopia offers various types of visas for different purposes, including tourist visas, business visas, and work visas. Work visas in Ethiopia are typically categorized into specific types based on the nature of work and duration. These include Conference Visa, Investment Visa, International Organizations Work Visa, Foreign Business Firm Employment Visa, Government Employment Visa, Private Business Firm Work Visa, Non-Governmental Organizations Work Visa, Government Institutions Short Task Visa, and Journalist Visa.

How can I get residency in Ethiopia?
To obtain residency in Ethiopia, you would typically need to apply for a residence permit rather than a work permit. Residence permits are usually obtained for purposes other than work, such as investment, family reunification, or study. The specific requirements and processes for obtaining a residence permit in Ethiopia may vary depending on the purpose of your stay. It's advisable to consult with the Ethiopian embassy or immigration authorities for detailed information on the specific residency options and requirements.

Can a foreigner work in Ethiopia?
Yes, foreigners can work in Ethiopia, but they typically require a valid work permit to do so legally. The work permit allows foreign nationals to be employed in the country for a specified duration and under certain conditions. The specific eligibility criteria and requirements for obtaining a work permit may vary depending on the type of work and visa category. It's essential to follow the legal process and obtain the necessary permits to work in Ethiopia to avoid any legal issues.

Applying for an Ethiopia eVisa

  • Step 1: Complete the online application by providing your personal details and passport information.
  • Step 2: Make an online payment securely using your credit card.
  • Step 3: Check your email for the confirmation of payment and the receipt of your Ethiopia eVisa, which will be delivered electronically.
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