Below are the instructions for American passport holders who want to get a single entry visa, or tourist card, at the Surinamese embassy in Georgetown, Guyana. You can also get a tourist card when you land at the Suriname Airport, Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport (also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport). I would recommend securing your visa BEFORE you get to Suriname.
For a list of which travelers do and do not need visas to enter Suriname, click here. The internet was kind enough to provide this information. However, there’s not much accurate and up-to-date information on how to actually get visas once you’re in Guyana. The purpose of this post is to correct that and help you get your visa to Suriname while you’re in Guyana. I’ll also provide photos and my story of my own experience.
To begin, let me provide some context for my trip.
I was visiting Guyana for New Year’s and I thought it would be fun to add-on a trip to Suriname to start off 2019. I coordinated my trip to Suriname almost entirely from Guyana in a few days time. The biggest obstacle of my trip was New Year’s itself and the change in business hours. However, if you’re planning to go when there isn’t a holiday – with the help of this blog post – you should be able to get your visa and plan your trip under better circumstances than me. You can also get your visa to Suriname before you depart the U.S. if you’re planning that far ahead. I was not.
Since I try to keep each of my blog post as close to 1000 words (or less) as possible, I’ll have three separate posts about my trip to Suriname. This post will focus on the visa alone. The next post will be about getting to Suriname from Guyana. And the final post will be about things to do in Suriname and Guyana.
First, where is the Surinamese embassy in Guyana? Before I left the U.S. I tried searching the internet, but I found nothing. Fortunately, I have family in Guyana who knew. Take a bus or taxi to New Garden St and Lamaha St, Queenstown. Walk down New Garden St, about a block until you see the Surinamese flag. That’s the embassy.
When you go to the embassy, don’t wear open toed shoes, sleeveless tops, or pants that stop above the knee. Why? Because they say so. And yes, you can be turned away for noncompliance with the dress code!
Here is a photo of what the embassy says you need for a tourist card (single entry visa) and a multi-entry visa.
There you go. All done. Except … you’re not.
The sign on the gate is a bit at odds with the actual process. Below are the things that I actually needed to get my tourist card:
- A copy of the information page of my passport.
- A copy of my entry stamp into Guyana.
- A copy of the first page of my yellow fever card*, and the middle pages with the vaccination date and expiration.
- A printout of my return flight itinerary to the U.S.
- And $40USD, exact.
I didn’t need to fill out an application form and the wait time for my visa was about 10 minutes. When you go for your visa, play it safe and have as many of the required documents as possible.
My recommendations for other travelers:
- Don’t change all of your money into Guyanese or Surinamese currency. You will need to pay for your Surinamese visa in U.S. dollars or Euros. Also, to get the best exchange rates, only convert USD for Guyanese or Surinamese currency. If you try to convert between Guyanese and Surinamese currency you’ll lose a bit of money.
- Make photocopies of your documents before you leave for Guyana. If need be you can get photocopies in Guyana. But! Then you’ll have to find a place to get them done, pay for the copies, and figure out how to travel between the embassy and photocopier. (Fun fact: The embassy doesn’t do photocopies and there isn’t a place nearby that does them either.)
- Be prepared to make two, or more, trips to the Surinamese embassy. In my situation, I got to the embassy around 10:40am on Monday, December 31st. I didn’t have copies of my yellow fever card or the printout of my return travel to the U.S. I didn’t know I needed copies of those documents until I got to the gate, saw the sign, and spoke to the guard. So, I went off to get copies. By the time I got back to the embassy at 11:10am I couldn’t apply for a visa anymore. They were closed! Because of New Year’s it just so happened that they closed early at 11:00am that day. I went back on Thursday, January 3rd and everything went smoothly. If you are missing documents you could also be sent away and may have to return another day.
- It’s cheaper to go from Guyana to Suriname and then back to Guyana, than it is to go from Suriname to Guyana and then back to Suriname. First, there is no visa requirement or fee** to go to Guyana which means it’s easier to get into Guyana than Suriname. Second, while you can get a Surinamese visa when you land at Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, imagine if you didn’t have all of the necessary documents that I described above. What would happen? You could possibly be turned away and waste your time and money. If you go to Guyana first and you can’t get your visa to Suriname, at least you’re in Guyana. I figured out my hotel and transportation to Suriname AFTER I got my tourist card, just to be safe. Third, if you go to Suriname once from Guyana, you’ll only need one tourist card and that’s $40USD (€35). However, if you fly into Suriname and leave through the land border to get to Guyana, when you return to Suriname that counts as a SECOND entry. This means you’ll need to get TWO tourist cards or a multi-entry visa, and you’ll pay more money.
- Finally, keep reading my blog for more information. The next post will be about getting to Suriname and back from Guyana (Travel Basics 101), followed by a post about things to do and eat in Suriname and Guyana (TEAtime). I’ll add links to this post as the other two are uploaded, so make sure to follow my blog or bookmark this post and revisit it!
*The yellow fever shot could easily be one of the most expensive parts of this visa. This isn’t the flu shot. It’s not cheap or simple to get. The yellow fever shot is usually not covered by insurances and you have to find specific doctors who will administer it. When I got my yellow fever shot in New York in 2014 it cost $200. On the bright side, it’s good for 10 years and some study abroad, or work aboard, programs will cover the cost.
**Guyana had a departure/airport tax that is no longer in effect.