Congo

Like many African countries, the DRC does not fret too much that having a byzantine visa regime dissuades tourism and commerce - nearly every foreigner wishing to enter for any purpose will need a visa.

You can find the visa requirements on the Interior Ministry website in French. However, getting a visa—like most government services—isn't straightforward and can be a messy process, with different officials telling you different stories in different places around the country and at different embassies/consulates worldwide. And then there's immigration officials trying to get more money out of you for their own gain. What follows are the requirements that seem to be in place as of June 2012, although you may hear stories telling you otherwise.

If arriving by air, people from countries with a DRC embassy must get a visa before arrival. Visas can be for 1/2/3/6 months, single or multiple entry, with different prices. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is a must. As of May 2015, most embassies will require you to present an appropriately worded letter of invitation from a DRC person or organization. A confirmation of reservation of hotel accommodation can suffice if a tourist has no contact in the DRC, at least in the embassy in Berne, Switzerland, where I work, and in London, UK, Berlin, Germany, and Paris, France.

Visas on arrival "Visa Aéroportuaire", that is valid 7 days can be extended at DRC migration offices, can be given to people that arrive from a country with no embassy, but, they must first get a confirmation "visa volant". Write a letter to Directeur Général in DRC knowing French will most likely be necessary for this together with copy of your passport and ID/passport of the inviting person/organisation. If planning to get a visa in a third country eg American arriving by air from Ethiopia, wait for a visa before paying your airfare, since DRC embassies in some African countries only issue visas to citizens or residents of that country.

If arriving overland, you're best off if your home country doesn't have a DRC embassy such as Australia & New Zealand in which case you can apply for a visa in neighbouring countries without too much trouble. If your passport is from a country with a DRC embassy USA, France, then embassies in neighbouring countries Uganda, Rwanda, etc may tell you that you can only apply for a visa in your country of citizenship or residence.

If you're entering the DRC from Uganda or Rwanda you can apply for a visa at the embassies in Kigali, Kampala, or Nairobi for all periods, single or multiple entry. As recently as 2011, you could apply for a transit visa at the border relatively hassle-free for USD35 and maybe a small "tip" for the official which goes away with persistence with a yellow fever certificate and a passport-sized photo, although this is not possible anymore because you need the visa volant visa confirmation in advance to get a visa at the border "visa portuaire", and if there is an embassy where you live, you cannot get a visa volant. In this case, your only chance is to get the visa from the embassy in Kigali or Kampala or Nairobi, and I do not know if they accept applications from people who do not live there. I know all three did not in 2013.

At the Goma border, border police is, of what I have heard of travellers, often corrupt. They often ask for bribes and are ignorant about rules for citizens of different especially not African countries. So even if you follow all the rules, there can be long waits. Given the bad security situation in North/South Kivu, you probably shouldn't venture outside Goma or the national parks anyways. If you visit Virunga National Park official site, you can get a visa for USD50 and apply online or through your tour operator. If you can't get a visa at Goma for a reasonable price, you can travel south and try to cross at Bukavu and take a boat across the lake to Goma do not go by road...too dangerous. Also, be sure if you cross the border to the DRC immigration post, you have officially left Uganda or Rwanda, so be sure you have a multiple-entry visa before leaving!

When exiting the country by air, there is a USD50 departure tax that you'll need to pay in cash at the airport. If you travel by boat from Kinshasa to Brazzaville, you officially need a special exit permit and a visa for Congo-Brazzaville. To save time/money/stress, you should probably contact your embassy in Kinshasa before taking the ferry.

By bus
By bus

From Uganda to Congo via Bunagana-Kisoro border.There are many buses which operate daily between Bunagana /Uganda and Goma every day 07:00-13:00. Price for the bus is USD5. A valid visa for both countries is required in either direction. Entry and exit procedures at Bunagana border are "easy" and straight forward, and people are very helpful in assisting visitors to get through without troubles.

By plane
By plane

The main gateway to the DRC is Kinshasa-N'djili airport IATA: FIH. Built in 1953, it hasn't had much in the way of upgrades and certainly doesn't rank among the continent's better airports.

From Africa: South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, & Royal Air Maroc serve Kinshasa-N'djili multiple times a week from Johannesburg, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, & Casablanca via Douala, respectively.

Other African airlines serving Kinshasa-N'Djili are: Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli; Air Mali Douala, Bamako; Benin Gulf Air Cotonou, Pointe-Noire; Camair-co Douala; CAA Entebe; Ethiopian/ASKY Brazzaville, Cotonou, Douala, Lagos, Lome; RwandAir Kigali; TAAG Angola Airways Luanda; Zambezi Airlines Lusaka.

From Europe: Air France & Brussels Airlines have regular direct flights. Turkish Airlines will begin service from Istanbul in August 2012. You can also try booking travel through one of the major African airlines like Eithiopian, South African, Kenyan, or Royal Air Maroc.

The DRC's second city Lubumbashi IATA: FBM has an international airport served by Ethiopian Airlines Lilongwe, Addis Ababa, Kenya Airways Harare, Nairobi, Korongo Johannesburg, Precision Air Dar es Salaam, Lusaka, & South African Express Johannesburg.

Other airports with international service are Goma IATA: GOM with service by CAA to Entebbe Kampala & Kisangani ({{IATA|FKI} which is served by Kenya Airways from Nairobi.

By ship
By ship

Passenger and VIP ferries also locally known as 'Carnot Rapide' operate daily between Brazzaville and Kinshasa roughly every two hours 08:00-15:00. Prices for the ferries are: USD15 for the passenger and USD25 for the VIP ferry Carnot Rapide. The latter is recommended as these are brand new boats and not cramped. A valid visa for both countries is required in either direction as well as at least "officially" a special permit. The bureaucracy at either end require some time. Entry and exit procedures in Brazzaville are "easy" and straight forward and people are very helpful in assisting to get through without troubles. In contrast, these procedures are a bit difficult in Kinshasa and depend much on whether you are an individual traveller or assisted by an organisation or an official government representative.

There are also speed boats to hire, either in a group or alone price!, however, it is not advisable to book them as they really speed across the river along the rapids.

By train
By train

There is one line entering the DRC from Zambia. However, trains are very infrequent and unless you absolutely have to take the train for some reason, you should enter by road/air. The line reaches Lubumbashi and continuing to Kananga. The trains in the DRC are very old and the tracks are in various states of disrepair, with derailments frequent. Even when the trains do run, which may be weeks apart, they are overcrowded and lack just about every convenience you'd want a/c, dining car, sleeper berths, etc. Many of the lines in the southeast are no longer used. However Chinese companies who operate mines in the region are working to fix existing lines and build new ones, mainly for freight but some passenger service is likely in a few years maybe by 2015?.

By car
By car

The roads as a whole are too rocky or muddy for cars without 4 wheel drive. Decent paved roads connect the Katanga region with Zambia and Kinshasa down to Matadi and Angola. Roads enter the DRC from Uganda, Rwanda, & Burundi, although travelling far past the border is very difficult and parts of the Eastern DRC remain unsafe. There are ferries to take vehicles across the Congo River from Congo-Brazzaville and it may be possible to find a ferry from the CAR to the remote, unpaved roads of the northern DRC.