The Congo Test for Expats

I have come up with an ideal test to assess whether you are able to live an expat life in a tough country. I have dubbed it the ‘Congo Test for Expats’.

It came about when I visited Kinshasa for the first time in September 2011 to advise one of the larger business groups in the D.R. Congo on how they could use HR as a strategic growth driver and build a strong local talent pipeline.

So, the Congo Test for Expats goes as follows:

  • Imagine you are flying into a country that you have never visited before and it is not known for its ‘we welcome tourists’ policies.
  • You walk down the stairs of the aircraft into the immigration building only to be met by hundreds of people waiting in front of antiquated booths of immigration officers.
  • When it’s your turn he quickly dismisses your passport and what you thought was your visa and tells you to go to the office on the side of the hall.
  • You give up your hard earned first place in line to walk to this office to be welcomed by a flurry of activity and noise around three obviously more senior immigration officials sitting on desks.
  • A young lanky chap comes to you and asks you if you are Mr. X.
  • Upon confirming your identity to him, he asks you for your passport and hands you over some forms to fill in.
  • Dutifully completing the forms, he then takes the forms from you, asks for your luggage tags and your health passport (without a valid yellow fever immunization you are not allowed into the country that invented the Congo Virus!).
  • He then starts talking to one of the immigration officials, is finally waved away and asks you to follow him.
  • You follow him past the immigration booths and are stopped by the health inspector telling you that your health certificate is not valid.
  • He then tells you to leave the health certificate with the lady and informs you that you will get a new one in the city and he will arrange for it.
  • He walks you out of the airport building puts you into a car whilst saying that he will make sure your passport and luggage will be dropped off tomorrow at the hotel.

If by that time you still haven’t freaked out and are just taking it in, assuming that your hosts will take care of you…

Then you have passed ‘The Congo Tests for Expats’

– Paul Keijzer


3 thoughts on “The Congo Test for Expats

  1. May I ask what is the right thing to do in this case? I have lived in Ukraine, Belgrade, and Prague so I am not a pristine virgin to corruption and visa formalities, but I do wish to know your advice for when I land in Kinshasa in two weeks!

    • I would only hand over your papers if you are received by a representative of the company / organization you are visiting and he can prove this. I only had an invitation letter and not the official visa. If you have the official visa just stand in the immigration line.

      Don’t forget your yellow fever (validity is < 10 year) shot and medical passport, otherwise it will costs you USD 100 to get it sorted locally.

      Hope this helps


      • Thanks, appreciate that. I have a visa. I have the yellow inoculation card. But… my experience is that opportunistic types will see problem$.
        When were you in Kinshasa last?

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