Police permission

Somaliland's answer to a Freedom Pass.

In an earlier post, I talked about the difficulty of independent travel in Somaliland and the requirement to have an armed guard when moving outside the capital city. In that post I wrote that “The Somaliland government requires all foreigners to take so-called Special Protection Units (SPUs) when travelling outside the capital and/or to otherwise get permission from the local police station.”

Personally, on the several occasions I have travelled outside of Hargeisa, I have always been accompanied by an armed guard. But since I made that post, several people I know have now managed to travel without an armed guard, so I thought I would write more about the “otherwise getting permission from the police station.”

So here is how it works. You go to Police Headquarters in Hargeisa (located near the University of Hargeisa and the Imperial Hotel) and you request permission to travel to Berbera, Burao, or wherever it is you wish to go. The letter has to be signed by the head Police Commissioner, who is based in Hargeisa, so you can only get this letter in the capital, and specifically from the Police Headquarters (not just any police station). The letter (written in Somali) will state your name and the place to which you wish to travel.

If you then hop on a shared taxi to Berbera, when the taxi stops at the check points and they see a white person inside the car but no askari (guard), you whip out your official-looking letter, signed by the big cheese, and they let you through. Voila!

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One Response to “Police permission”

  1. […] this way (there are, however, serious issues around travelling without a guard, and obtaining police permission to do so). But the point is, you can get far around here with your own two feet and […]

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