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Immigration & Refugee Law



The main law governing immigration is the Somaliland Immigration Law - Law No. 72 of 27 November 1995.

  • A copy of the Law as passed by the House of Representatives is available here: Xeerka Socdaalka - Xeer Lr. 72 ee 27 Noofambar 1995. [large pdf file 2.6mb]
  • A re-typed version of the same law as signed by the President and with President’s Decree preamble is attached here: Xeerka Socdaalka - Xeer Lr. 72 ee Noofambar 1995 (small pdf file)My thanks to the Somaliland Immigration Branch for this re-typed copy of the Law). Since 1997 Presidential Decrees putting a law into force are issued separately and attached to the Law which is printed as passed  by the House of Representatives (and the House if Elders), but between 1993 and 1996, there were some laws, of which this is an example,  in which the Presidential Decree reproduced the whole Law.
  • For an English Language copy of the 1995 Somaliland Immigration Law, see below.

Under Article 46, the Law specifically repeals the 1966 Immigration Law - Law No. 9 of 27 June 1966.

The Law stated that Immigration matters come under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Somaliland Immigration Branch (formed in 1992) of the Somaliland Police,   act as an agent of the Minister. The Minister can also entrust public officials to undertake immigration duties, including staff at embassies or consulates. (Article 1 of the Law). The Minister is still responsible for immigration (as set out in the Law) but the Immigration Branch has, since 2010, been a sub department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs whilst before, under the last administration,  it was apparently part of the Intelligence Agency from 2003. The Immigration Branch is currently a uniformed corps (headed a Commandant) under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

See here for an an  unofficial annotated English Language translation of the Somaliland Immigration Law 1995 (pdf).  The headings  of all the Articles  of the Law are also set out below:



Art. 1 - Immigration Officers

Art. 2 - Powers of the Immigration Officers

Art. 3 - Duty to report to Immigration Officers



Art. 4 - Conditions for visiting the country of Somaliland

Art. 5 - Entry and stay permits

Art. 6 - Tourism entry permit 

Art. 7 - Transit entry permit

Art. 8 - Entry permit for educational purposes

Art. 9 - Entry permit for visit and work

Art. 10 - Permit  for temporary residence

Art. 11- Official permit  for permanent residence

Art. 12 - Addition of family members to entry and residence permit

Art. 13 - Alteration and revocation of residence

Art. 14 - Powers of the Minister of Interior to stop entry into the territory of Somaliland

Art. 15 - The duty of  foreigners to declare their addresses

Art. 16 - Parts of the country which cannot be visited by foreigners



Art. 17 - The lists of passengers of vessels, aircraft and vehicles entering or leaving the country of Somaliland

Art. 18 - Temporary disembarkation

Art. 19 - Emergency disembarkation



Art. 20 - Standing for surety and guarantee

Art. 21 - Renewing sureties

Art. 22 - Release of bond

Art. 23 - Payment of travel expenses for release of bond



Art. 24 - Permit for work

Art. 25 - Termination of work carried by a foreigner

Art. 26 - Foreigner changing work

Art. 27 - Termination of a foreigner’s work for reasons relating to the foreigner

Art. 28 - Self-employed foreign person in the country

Art. 29 - Exception



Art. 30 - Definition of an undesirable foreigner

Art. 31 - The role of Immigration Officers in relation to undesirable foreigners

Art. 32 - The return of undesirable foreigners



Art. 33 - Persons to be deported

Art. 34 - Procedure for declaration of undesirable foreigner

Art. 35 - Revocation  of deportation order

Art. 36 - The costs of the execution of a deportation from country order



Art. 37- No heading but lists 20 offences and their Punishment

Art. 38 - Punishment of deported foreigner re-entering the country of Somaliland

Art. 39 - Punishment of proprietor, agent or responsible person for a vessel, aircraft or vehicle

Art. 40 - Power of s  Judge to detain a vessel, aircraft or vehicle

Art. 41 - Permit fees

Art. 42 - Exemptions for immunities and privileges granted by law and under international agreements

Art. 43 - Centres for political refugees

Art. 44 - Transitional provisions

Art. 45 - Regulations

Art. 46 - Repeals

Art. 47 – Coming into force


The Somaliland Immigration Department:

Details  of types of visas and online application forms are available at the website. For any further information, please contact the Somaliland Immigration  at the following:  Telephone no: 002522-523961 ,  or at the following emails:; .


UPDATE - 19 July 2016: The Somaliland Immigration Department Website has been down for a while and there have been some confusion as to the changes in visa procedures set out initially in this Immigration Circular Order issued on 24 April 2016 - Copy in pdf English. Category A(7) (page 2) of the Circular refers to “Somaliland nationals those  hold foreign passports” as being “able to obtain an entry visa on arrival at all ports of entries” in the same way as all other category A listed travellers numbered A(1) to A(6). There was some confusion as to whether this category A7 includes children, and a further Immigration Notification Order dated 9 July 2016 was issued to confirm that it does. The July Notification states that children born abroad to Somaliland parents and holding foreign passports shall, like their parents, be able to obtain visas on arrival at entry ports in Somaliland. 


Under Article 4 of the Law, it is essential for anyone seeking entry to the country to have a valid passport or travel document and an entry permit for a visit or residence.

The Department’s website gives the following information  about the available Entry Visa Categories:

[Visa application form -  English  Arabic   French  and available at this Immigration Department webpage ]


a) Diplomatic National Passports

b) UN Diplomatic Passports

c) Service National Passports

d) International Institutions

e) Official Foreign Delegations.

The above mentioned will be given entry visa on arrival, on the completion of the  the visa application form.


a) Period: 30 days up to 90 days.

b) Extension: depending on the Business interests in Somaliland and the countries it maintains multilateral or bilateral agreements.

c) Conditions:

  • The purpose of your trip must be to perform a legitimate business activity
  • Passport valid for at least six more months from the day of entry
  • 2 recent passport size photos
  • Should make known his business contacts if there are any.
  • Extension depends upon his business perspective.
  • Letter of invitation from hosting entity in Somaliland (if there is).
  • Evidence of Funds e.g. recent Bank Statement approved by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Tourism.
  • Continuation/ return ticket.


a) Period : 15 days

b) Tourist Visa renewal: could be extended to 75 more days at different intervals.

c) Conditions: he/she should have

  • Passport with validity for at least a further six more months from the day of entry
  • 2 recent passport size photos
  • Return or continuation ticket
  • Sufficient living funds for the period of his stay or guarantee for Funds with one of the local banks.


a) Period: 72 hours up to 14 days at different intervals.

b) Conditions :

  • Passport that is valid for at least six months.
  • 2 recent passport size photos
  • Continuation Ticket
  • Sufficient funds for the period of his stay.


a) Period: 30 days.

b) Extension of Educational Visa:  Could be extended depending  on the period that the Institution running the relevant Educational Course needs.

c) Conditions:

  • A Full and completer Visa Application ( Form - 1)
  • 2 recent passport size photos
  • Passport valid for at least six months.
  • The Institution should be legal in Somaliland.
  • Applicant should have Admission from the Institution
  • For the purpose of Training (or)
  • For the purpose of Research (or)
  • For the purpose of participating in a workshop and so on.

6. Category (6) Special Travel Entry Visa

a) Period: 30 days.

b) Extension: Depends upon the special Entry Visa purpose.

c) Condition:

  • Depending upon the relative Entities that is hosting and whether the host can accommodate him/her.
  • 2 recent passport size photos
  • Passport that is valid for at least six months.

Please note:

a) The Visa Categories no. 1, 2, 3, 4 will be provided their Visas on (Arrival) at the regular entry points.

b) The Visa Categories 5 and 6 should apply their application Visas through their contacts in Somaliland.

c) Any other Visas which are not mentioned on the categories above could apply their visas through their Sponsor agencies.

d) Visa Charges will be paid at the entry points, on their arrival.

Information about visas for visits to Somaliland may also be obtained from the Somaliland Legations abroad at these addresses:

United States: 

Somaliland Mission  ( )
1425 K Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington DC 20005

Phone: 202-587-5743
Fax: 202-587-5601

United Kingdom:

 The Somaliland Mission in the United Kingdom.

 Address is: Suite 319 Waterlily Business Centre, 10 Cleveland Way, London E1 4UF.

Telephone: 0207 702 7064

Contact:             website:

The above contacts may also provide you with further information about other Somaliland Representatives abroad if you are travelling from another country.

You can also get more information from the main Somaliland Government website

The Somaliland Foreign Ministry website is


SOMALILAND PASSPORTS: The Immigration Department is also responsible for the issue of Somaliland Passports.  The requirements set out in the Department’s website are as follows:


1. The applicant should provide a copy of his registration card which was given to him during the election period.

2. The applicant should also bring from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) a document paper proving that the applicant has not committed any crime.

3. The applicant should also bring a document paper from the district attorney office verifying that the applicant has not committed any crime.

4. The applicant should provide 3 resent passport size photographs.

5. The Applicant should have a completed Passport Application Form.

This is the  Somaliland Passport Application form which also available at this link:

 Somaliland has announced recently that it will be introducing a new E-passport in 2013 to replace the current passport.



Article 35(1) of the Somaliland Constitution confirms  that “ any foreigner who enters the country lawfully or is lawfully resident in the country and who requests political asylum may be accorded asylum if he fulfils the conditions set out in the law governing asylum”.

Somaliland considers itself bound by the UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees  which were  acceded to by the former Somali Democratic Republic (the SDR)  on 10 October 1978.  The SDR ratified the Convention and the Protocol under Law No. 23 of 14 May 1978.   The SDR has signed the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa in 1969, but has (according to AU Records) neither ratified nor acceded to it.

As no new Law on refugees have been passed since 1991, the 1984 Law on the Status of Refugees (Presidential Law No. 25 of 2 June 1984) still in use Somaliland but with some modifications to meet the currant constitution of the Republic of Somaliland and new administrative arrangements relating to the Somaliland Ministry of Interior which has the primary responsibility for immigration and asylum issues and has different practical arrangements with the UNCHR. (The 1984 Law repealed the earlier Law No. 47 of 15 July 1978). An unofficial English language translation of the Law [available at UNCHR Refworld) . We have revised the translation against the original Somali Law and set it out the Law with annotations relating to its application in Somaliland – English language copy of the 1984 Refugee Law as applied in Somaliland.

An Eligibility Committee, together with the UNCHR,  deals with applications for asylum in Somaliland and a detailed information leaflet explaining the procedures is available for applicants  and advisers. The leaflet describes in detail the various steps involved in applying for asylum at the border posts, consideration of the applications by the eligibility Committee and the UNCHR office which provides expert help and advice, the determination and appeal to the Somaliland Supreme Court (within 30 days) in cases of dissatisfaction with the determination of the Committee.

For a study of some of the difficulties faced by refugees in the yet unrecognised state of the Republic of Somaliland, see Lindley A (200 )  Seeking Refuge in an unrecognized State: Oromos in Somaliland, Refuge, Vol. 26, No.1, at 187.

According to UNHCR (in 2010), Somaliland had at least 1,600 recognised refugees, about 20,000 asylum-seekers and 67,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) (up to  84,400  as estimated by UNCHR in March 2012) . Of the refugees, most are Oromos and Amharas from neighbouring Ethiopia, and the the remainder are Eritreans and  individuals from other African countries.

Somaliland also hosts a considerable number of Somaliand from Somalia and also Somalis from other neighbouring Somali inhabited territories (Eithopia and Djibouti).  There no figures of those Somalis who are resident and are not distinguished from Somalilander (other than on matters relating to citizenship) but those who are fleeing the wars and famines of Somalia are not accepted as refugees by the UN and are only counted as “internally displaced” persons. The last estimate of this category of Somalians was 84,400 (UNCHR 21 March 2012)


04/09/2012:  Human Rights Watch calls on Somaliland to stop deporting Ethiopian refugees.


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