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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Love Letters (Technical): Preparing to Live in Africa

In order to live in Zambia as a missionary, one must obtain a work permit. This process is not very simple. It seemed every week we received an email telling us another document was required. So, I decided I would document the process for any other missionaries so that they might avoid any potential problems.


Documents that might be needed to obtain a Work Permit or to do other business in a foreign country:

  • Passports for everyone in your family.
  • Copy of all passports.
  • Extra Passport pictures for the work permit (at least 2).
  • Proof of Education: Copy of High School, College Diploma, or Transcript
  • Resume: A simple resume that documents any relevant education or experience.
  • Letter of Invitation: An invitation written from somebody in the foreign country inviting you to come work in the country.
  • Letter from "Employer": The Zambia work permit application required a letter from an employer in Zambia. If you are going into a country where the church is officially recognized, then you can probably get something from someone among the official leadership. If you are going to a country where there is no one to represent your employer, you will probably be able to process the work permit as if you were self employed.
  • Letter of Intent: A letter ideally written from your supporting congregation that describes the purposes of working in the foreign country.
  • Guarantee of Financial Support: A letter written from your supporting congregation that guarantees they will support your financial needs.
  • Police Clearance: A Certified Document that proves that you have no criminal background. I obtained this at the Dallas County Court House and had to get two separate documents for felonies and misdemeanors. I'm not sure whether the second is required, but I got it just in case.
  • International Driver's Permit: This will allow you to drive in some countries (when present with your US license). It can be obtained at any AAA Insurance office.
  • Letter of Recommendation from your Bank: A letter from your bank that recommends to a foreign bank that you are a good customer. This will allow you to more easily open foreign bank accounts. 
  • Marriage License: This might be required to prove you are married to your spouse.
  • Birth Certificates for family members: These might be required to prove your relationship to your children.


Process for obtaining Work Permit in Zambia:

  1. Come to Zambia.
  2. Upon arrival you must purchase a visitors Visa for each member of the family when going through Immigration Control at the airport ($135 for 3 years).
  3. Take all the required documents to the Ministry of Immigration in Lusaka along with the application fee (at the time it is K500,000 which is about $150)
  4. At this point, your Visa (in your passport) will be noted that your work permit is being processed.
  5. Wait 3 weeks.
  6. Go back to the Ministry of Immigration in Lusaka to see if your permit is ready. If not ready go to the previous step.

Hopefully, this will be educational and useful for someone.


May God bless you with patience and peace if you attempt to enter a foreign country as a Missionary :-)

Rick Love

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