Accessing the Democratic Republic of Congo can be a lengthy and frustrating procedure, particularly when you arrive by boat from Brazzaville or by plane in Kinshasa.
As well as having your visa in your passport and your yellow fever certificate, it is a good idea to have your original invitation with you, as immigration officers have asked for this in the past.
Expect delays, intimidation, being asked to take a seat in a side office for no apparent reason and requests for a bribe, but in general you will be through within an hour or two.
Visitors should take note that at the beach Ngobila in Kinshasa, where boats to Brazzaville arrive and depart, it is very useful to engage a fixer who can assist you with the bureaucracy.
This can be done at the entrance to the port. It should be highly noted that visitors to Democratic Republic of Congo require visas, and yet they are not available on arrival.
Visitors must apply at the Democratic Republic of Congo embassy in their exact home countries or country of residence.
The exact requirements for visas vary from embassy to embassy, but in general you will need proof of hotel booking, yellow fever vaccination and a legalized letter from a sponsor in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Visa fees tend to be between US$ 100 and US$ 200, and normally need several weeks to be processed.
The only current alternative to acquire a visa at home is the two-week, single-entry tourist visa issued for people visiting Virunga National Park.
The cost of this visa is US$ 105, and on top of that you will have to purchase a Congo gorilla trek permit (costing US$ 400), a Nyiragongo trek permit (costing US$ 300) or accommodation at the Mikeno Lodge in order to get the paperwork issued.
The visa limits you to visiting North Kivu province and is issued on arrival, though all the bookings need to have been made several weeks in advance.