Alien Registration in Khartoum, Sudan

A story of how I tried to save $10 in Sudan.

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A Japan traveler in his 40s, a Tokyo-based kitchen-sink seller (really!) whom we shared a burger meal with last night ran into us this morning, sweating, sighing and barely able to mutter these words:

“Registration is difficult!”

It seems like he is having a field day with the “Alien Registration Office” in Khartoum, an office we also have to face right now.

With Sudan getting so much negative international attention, getting a VISA to visit is already difficult, impossible if you are NOT a friendly-country (read: MUSLIM)  passport holder. After arriving, you have another task: Register with the police within 3 days after arrival in the capital city, Khartoum.

We have already spent 2 days getting TO Khartoum after crossing the border way north in Egypt.

The first hurdle, once you stop questioning its logic, is easy enough to overcome — go to the office, get a form, fill it up and then return to your hotel, and get your hotel manager to give an official stamp on the form. Then return to the registration office.

The second obstacle, which our Japanese friend didn’t prepare for was to have photocopies of passport, visa and photos ready. We already got this in advance, so score one point for us, one less headache, a little less sweat.

Now the third hurdle is a little more sticky. Instead of USD 20, the “Alien Office” will insists that you pay a little more, oh say, 50pct more — USD 30 equivalent in Sudanese Dinar.

“What?!” I almost yelled in defiance. They have touched a sensitive nerve in me.

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“Can you please check again… for Malaysians,” I said hoping naively that because I asked, I can avoid a bribe. Malaysia IS a “friendly” country to Sudan.

Everyone pays this amount, a Chinese doctor with China’s oil company CNOOC, told us.

I paid reluctantly and then after seeing the registration “stamped” on my passport, which means this stupid procedure is now complete, I stubbornly asked for a RECEIPT as proof of payment.

“Oh, this is so I can claim the money back from my company,” I said sheepishly. I am just a little troublemaker…

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The official at the window didn’t know how to deal with this one and therefore signaled me in to see the BIG MAN — Lt. Colonel Emmanuel, an imposing fat Negro in a suit, twice as tall and three times larger than me. Luckily for me, he was sitting down and I stood over him, bravely but stupidly, demanding for proof of my payment.

He started to write in English at the back of my receipt that I had in fact paid USD 30 when in front the official receipt didn’t say so. Basically, I was asking for trouble.

I might as well as for MORE trouble.

” So how come I am paying more than is stated on the receipt?”

Emmanuel would hear no more. He may not have right but he still had SIZE after all. He stood up and shoved me out of the office, calling out to his girl secretary to get me a photocopy of the receipt and then said:

” goodbye, enjoy your stay in Khartoum.”

Ah, a small victory?

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