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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Uganda because of the threat of terrorist attack, civil unrest and criminal activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • Ugandan authorities remain concerned at the possibility of terrorist attacks and have implemented heightened security arrangements in public places, including borders and at the international airport. Be prepared for body, car and luggage checks when travelling in Kampala.
  • Protests can occur in Kampala and other parts of Uganda. Some protests and demonstrations have resulted in deaths and serious injuries. Exercise particular caution when travelling, including by avoiding large gatherings, political rallies, protests and demonstrations. Monitor radio and other local media for updated advice. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider travel to within 50 kilometres of Uganda's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Mgahinga Gorilla Park, and the Murchison Falls National Park because of the risk of banditry and attacks by armed groups.  See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the Karamoja region of north-eastern Uganda, including Kidepo National Park, because of the risk of banditry and inter-tribal clashes. Visitors to Kidepo National Park should fly rather than travel overland. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel within 50 kilometres of the border with South Sudan because of the serious risk of banditry. See Safety and security.
  • In November 2016, clashes between armed groups and security forces in the vicinity of Kasese, in Uganda's west, resulted a significant number of deaths and injuries. Clashes throughout 2016 have resulted in a number of deaths. See Safety and security.
  • Homosexual relations are illegal in Uganda and are not tolerated. Westerners have been prosecuted for homosexual activity in Uganda. See Laws.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Uganda, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides basic consular support (not including the issue of passports). The Australian High Commission in Kenya provides full consular assistance to Australians in Uganda. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Australians require a visa to visit Uganda. See the official online visa application portal. As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the High Commission of Uganda for the most up-to-date information.

The East African Community (EAC) has developed an EAC Tourist Visa allowing travellers multiple entries to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda for a period of 90 days.

Uganda is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Uganda.

For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Exercise a high degree of caution in Uganda because of the threat of terrorist attack. Remain alert, pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

The 21 September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 67 people, and several additional attacks throughout Kenya in 2017, underscore the ongoing terrorist threat posed by Somali-based terrorists across East Africa. Somali-based terrorists have threatened to attack the interests of east African Governments supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), including Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi.

Ugandan authorities are concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks and have implemented heightened security arrangements in public places, including borders and at the international airport. Be prepared for body, car and luggage checks when travelling in Kampala.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets which include clubs, hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, airports including civil aviation, markets and marketplaces, shopping centres and malls, political and high profile sporting events, including public screenings of such events, outdoor recreation events, bus terminals, public transport infrastructure, Ugandan government buildings, large public gatherings, crowded public places and tourist areas.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information.

Civil unrest/political tension​

Violent protests can occur in Kampala and other parts of Uganda. Avoid large gatherings, political rallies and demonstrations and monitor radio and other local media for updated advice.

Clashes in Kasese district: In November 2016, clashes between armed groups and security forces in the vicinity of Kasese, in Uganda's west, with a significant number of deaths and injuries reported. Clashes throughout 2016 have resulted in a number of deaths. Reconsider your need to travel in the area due to the volatile security environment.

North-eastern Uganda: Do not to travel to the Karamoja region of north-eastern Uganda (particularly the Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Katakwi districts north of Kate Kyoga), because of the risk of banditry and inter-tribal clashes. Clashes between tribal groups have occurred, frequently with no warning. If you intend to travel to the Kidepo National Park, fly rather than travel overland.

Areas bordering South Sudan: Do not travel to within 50 kilometres of the border with South Sudan because of the serious risk of banditry and crime in these areas.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is no longer active in Uganda but continues to operate in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic. The LRA is believed to have been responsible for several attacks that killed or wounded foreign aid workers in the past. Further attacks could occur. There's a military presence in north western Uganda, especially the areas bordering South Sudan and the DRC. While de-mining operations are continuing in northern Uganda, landmines remain a danger for travellers.

Border with Democratic Republic of the Congo: Reconsider your need to travel within 50 kilometres of Uganda's border with the DRC, due to the risk of banditry and cross-border attacks by rebel groups. The situation over the border in the DRC is extremely unstable and attacks can occur without notice. Do not take gorilla trekking tours that cross into the DRC.

In July 2014, there were violent attacks against security installations and civilians in Bundibugyo, Kasese, and Ntoroko districts in western Uganda near the border with DRC. Over 90 people were reported killed. Tourist destinations, including Rwenzori Mountains and national parks, are in this area. While there's no indication that foreign nationals were targeted, the situation remains volatile. Monitor the local media for developments which could affect your safety.

Reconsider your need to travel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Murchison National Park in western Uganda. Security personnel are usually required to accompany tourists on gorilla trekking visits in this region, as armed attacks have occurred in recent years. If you decide to travel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla Park, fly rather than travel overland.

If you decide to visit Uganda's national parks, note our warning on some areas, closely follow park regulations and use reputable, registered tour operators. Violence against tourists has occurred and security circumstances can change with little warning. The Ugandan Wildlife Authority has more information on travelling to national parks, including fees.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, especially on public transport. Theft from vehicles which are stationary in heavy traffic or stopped at traffic lights occurs frequently. Ensure valuables are out of sight and that vehicle windows are up and doors are locked.

There's a risk of armed robbery and carjacking, particularly when travelling outside the capital, Kampala.

Isolated incidents of violence have also occurred in urban centres, such as Kampala, Jinja and Kasese. Residential burglaries can turn violent. If attacked, don't resist. Security risks increase after dark.

Don't accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.

A number of financial scams have originated in Uganda. Consider unsolicited offers carefully and take legal advice before proceeding with any commercial arrangement. Some victims have had their lives endangered by criminals while in Uganda. If you're a victim of a financial scam, obtain legal advice and not to travel to Uganda to seek restitution as there's a risk of physical harm from the perpetrators.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia or to facilitate some other requirement. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

Our information on International scams provides more details.

Money and valuables

Travellers' cheques and credit/debit cards aren't widely accepted in Uganda. Travellers may find that they can't exchange US notes printed prior to 2006.

Keep your credit card in sight when making transactions to lower the risk of fraud.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or by contacting the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate, as soon as possible.

Local travel

The Ugandan Government periodically closes tourist areas considered to be at risk of rebel activity. Seek local advice about the current situation prior to travel. Do not travel between towns after dusk, with the exception of Kampala to Entebbe.

Driving in Uganda can be hazardous due to poor road conditions, the low standard of vehicle maintenance, bad driving habits, excessive speeds and poor lighting, especially at night. Traffic accidents are common and pose a significant risk to tourists. According to the World Health Organization, you are five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Uganda than in Australia. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Long distance bus travel can be hazardous due to the risk of accidents. Some accidents have resulted in fatalities.

Travellers using forms of public transportation such as matatus (minibus) and boda-boda (scooter taxi) should exercise caution. These vehicles are generally in poor condition, badly driven and can be prone to accidents. If using a boda-boda, always wear a helmet.

There have been a number of passenger ferry accidents attributed to overcrowding.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, especially for adventure sports such as white water rafting, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't. Use only reputable, registered tour operators.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Uganda.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you're in Uganda, be aware that local laws and penalties, including those appearing harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and can't do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.

Serious crimes, such as treason and murder, carry the death penalty.

Penalties for some crimes, including rape and robbery, include corporal punishment.

Homosexuality is illegal and same-sex relationships are not tolerated. Westerners have been prosecuted for homosexuality in Uganda. On 1 August 2014 the Ugandan Constitutional Court annulled a law passed in February 2014 which had increased existing penalties for homosexual activity and introduced new penalties for promoting homosexual activity. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It's illegal to photograph military establishments, government buildings, diplomatic sites and other infrastructure.

It's illegal to wear military-style or camouflage clothing. The penalty may include a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

 

Information for dual nationals

Uganda recognises dual nationality.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities aren't included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities outside Kampala are very limited. In the event of an accident or illness, medical evacuation by air ambulance to Nairobi would be necessary and, if serious, a medical evacuation from Kenya to a destination with the required facilities would be recommended. A medical evacuation from Uganda could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Uganda is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. Get vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Uganda. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

In January 2017, local authorities confirmed cases of avian influenza (H5N1) in wild birds and domestic poultry in Lutembe Bay near Entebbe and Masaka District. Avoid contact with dead birds. For more information on avian influenza see the websites of the Australian Department of Health and the World Health Organization.

Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Uganda. Other insect-borne diseases (including pneumonic plague and Chikungunya) also occur. Take medication against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Outbreaks of typhoid fever can occur in Uganda. Consult your travel doctor on vaccination before travel, and exercise appropriate water and food hygiene precautions.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, tuberculosis, meningococcal and viral haemorrhagic fevers) occur, with more serious outbreaks from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Don't swim in lakes and rivers because of the possibility of attacks by wildlife.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 999.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

The Australian Consulate in Kampala, headed by an Honorary Consul, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Uganda. The Consulate doesn't issue passports. Contact details are:

Australian Consulate, Kampala

Plot 22, CNOOC Building
(Next to Khana Khazana)
3rd Floor – Left Wing with Simba Signage
Acacia Avenue
Kampala
Ph: +256 31 2515865/+256 772202285          
Email: australianconsulate.ug@gmail.com Working hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm.

Full consular assistance is available from the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. Contact details are:

Australian High Commission, Nairobi

Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254-20 4277 100
Facsimile: +254-20 4277 139
Website: kenya.highcommission.gov.au

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the High Commission in an emergency you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy seasons are from March to May and October to November when flooding may occur, causing landslides, displacing large numbers of people and blocking some roads.

Uganda is located in an active earthquake region.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Wildlife

Prior to travel, contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority for information about the latest security advice and arrangements and information on park fees. Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and warden's advice.

Additional Resources