Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Zimbabwe

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Zimbabwe due to the ongoing risk of crime and  the possibility of civil unrest and political violence. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other information sources about possible new security risks.
  • General elections will take place on 30 July 2018. Demonstrations may occur in different parts of the country, and instances of conflict cannot be ruled out in the lead up to, during and soon after the election. Be alert at all times and avoid political rallies and demonstrations. Consider your movements as the security situation could deteriorate quickly. See Safety and security.
  • The US dollar is the most commonly used currency in Zimbabwe.  In 2016, Zimbabwe introduced new 'Bond Notes' which have the same value as the US dollar. See Safety and security.
  • Due to the ongoing cash crisis in Zimbabwe, authorities have blocked international debit cards for cash withdrawals from ATMs. Take sufficient cash to cover your needs for the duration of your travel. Check with hotels and other service providers whether card payments will be accepted, especially outside of Harare. See Safety and security.
  • The current economic issues in Zimbabwe are contributing to an increase in crime and theft across the country. Security risks are heightened at night, especially on city streets, near bridges, around parks and open fields and in city centres. Some robberies have taken place during the day, particularly in high density urban areas. See Safety and security.
  • The European Union has banned Air Zimbabwe flights to the EU due to safety standards issues. Australian Embassy staff do not use Air Zimbabwe for official travel, other than in exceptional circumstances. See Local travel
  • Road conditions in Zimbabwe are poor, and accidents are common. Exercise caution when driving, and avoid driving at night when possible. The availability of fuel can fluctuate. Keep vehicles topped up and carry sufficient fuel for long journeys. See Local travel.
  • Health services in Zimbabwe are poor. Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance to access adequate healthcare services, including possible medical evacuations. See Health.

Entry and exit

The KAZA Univisa is valid for travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia and for day trips to Botswana. It is available at Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls airports and at the land border at Victoria Falls (Zambia border) and Kazlunga (Botswana border). It is valid for 30 days. The availability of the KAZA Univisa can change at short notice.

You can get a 30-day visa on arrival for tourism. Extensions to the single entry visa are possible. To arrange an extension, visit the Zimbabwe Department of Immigration or the nearest Immigration Office. Allow sufficient time for an extension review. You can also apply for a double entry tourist visa which is valid for 30 days from each date of entry.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Zimbabwe for the most up to date information.

You can be jailed if you overstay your visa.

If you intend to reside or work in Zimbabwe, you will need to get a work permit approved by the Zimbabwe Chief Immigration Officer before travelling to Zimbabwe..

Be careful if you are arranging visas and work permits through local migration agents. Consider getting these directly, or through your sponsor, from the relevant Zimbabwean immigration office.

Journalists working without proper accreditation are liable to arrest, detention and possible deportation.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for passengers over one year of age who arrive from an infected yellow fever area/country. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a list of yellow fever countries.

It is illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than US$2,000 (or equivalent) in cash. This amount is subject to change with little prior or public notice.

Ensure you get a legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter as immigration officials want to see evidence of entry stamps on departure. If you are travelling with an emergency travel document (ETD), it may be necessary to produce a police report as evidence your passport was lost/stolen and you have been issued with an ETD.

Departure options may be very restricted if the general security situation deteriorates quickly. Ensure your documentation remains up-to-date. Valid passports, visas and vehicle police clearances are essential if you need to depart Zimbabwe.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia and at least three blank pages for exit and entry stamps.

Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas. Provisional travel documents are not accepted for travelling or transiting through South Africa.

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.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

The security situation is unpredictable due to high levels of unemployment and economic instability. There are intermittent shortages of medical supplies, basic goods and food. Services such as power, water and transport are unreliable.

General elections will take place on 30 July 2018. Demonstrations may occur in different parts of the country, and instances of conflict cannot be ruled out in the lead up to, during and soon after the election. Be alert at all times, avoid political rallies and demonstrations, and monitor local media.

Avoid political activity or activities which could be construed as political, including political discussions in public places. It is an offence to make derogatory or insulting comments about the President or to carry material considered to be offensive to the President's office.

Land confiscation, forced displacement, looting of crops, theft of cattle, poaching of game and violent acts against farmers, their families and workers continue to occur in some areas of the country.

Crime

The current economic issues are contributing to an increase in crime and theft across the country.

Incidences of muggings, bag snatching, carjacking and pickpocketing are reported, particularly in urban centres and tourist areas. Armed robberies, assaults and other violent crime also occur. Security risks are heightened at night, especially on city streets, near bridges, around parks and open fields and in city centres. Some robberies have taken place during the day, particularly in high density urban areas.

Police resources, such as vehicles and fuel, are scarce and can be difficult to get. Police sometimes ask to be picked up at their police station and taken to the crime scene. There can be delays and complications in pursuing the recovery of property and prosecution of offenders.

Theft from vehicles is common. When driving, or as a passenger, ensure doors are locked and windows up, and keep valuables out of sight. Thieves are known to target cars stopped at intersections, especially along the route to Harare Airport, along Harare's Churchill, Borrowdale, and Masvingo-Beitbridge roads. Thieves are also known to slash the tyres of cars either stopped in traffic or parked, with the intention of robbing the occupants while they change the tyre.

Be aware of people near your vehicle, approach intersections slowly to minimise vehicle stopping time and leave enough space in front of the vehicle to move away if necessary. Particular attention is necessary at night: many locals avoid stopping at red traffic lights by proceeding slowly after checking the road is clear. Be careful while waiting  for residential gates to open, as 'smash and grab' attacks can occur.

Tourists have been robbed while visiting national parks. A comprehensive indemnity is often required by safari operators before they accept clients. To help minimise the security risks, travel in groups, preferably with an organised tour group, and check the security situation before visiting national parks and farms, including game farms, lodges and hunting areas.

Due to the very high occurrence of HIV/AIDS, if you are a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical assistance.

Commercial fraud, money transfer and job and employment scams are increasing. More information: Scams

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Money and valuables

The US dollar is the most commonly used currency in Zimbabwe. In 2016, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced new 'Bond Notes' which have the same value as the US dollar. More information: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Due to the ongoing cash crisis, authorities have put in place measures to reduce the flow of US dollars out of the country. This includes blocking international debit cards for cash withdrawals from ATMs. Take sufficient cash to cover your needs for the duration of your travel. Check with hotels and other service providers whether card payments will be accepted, especially outside Harare.

It is illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than US$2,000 (or equivalent) in cash. This amount is subject to change with little prior or public notice. It is also illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers.

Local travel

There is a departure tax for domestic flights. The fee is paid in cash (receipt provided) to the Civil Aviation Authority at the airport. 

Road travel and public transport

Avoid using public transport systems, including trains and commuter buses. They can be dangerous due to overcrowding, poor maintenance and reckless driving.

Dangerous driving habits contribute to the high rate of traffic accidents. Driving at night is very hazardous. Even in major cities, roads have potholes and are poorly lit, and vehicles sometimes operate without using lights. Animals roaming onto roads are a  hazard.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are six times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Zimbabwe than in Australia. 

Police roadblocks can appear with little warning. You must show your identification documents, including car registration and ownership papers, when requested by police. Other items, such as safety equipment, may also be inspected. Drivers may be subjected to on the spot fines or bribery demands. Payment of a bribe could leave you susceptible to more demands. Follow the directions of local authorities if you are stopped at a roadblock and told not to go further.

Stop your car when the President's motorcade goes past, even if you are on the opposite side of the road on a dual carriageway. Pull over as soon as you see the motorcade, which begins with a single police motorcycle with flashing lights. It is an offence to continue driving. Security forces have been known to intimidate or assault motorists who fail to stop in time.

Always have a mobile phone or other means of communication when driving. However, it is illegal to use a phone without a hands free device when driving.

During the rainy season (November to March), flash flooding can make some roads impassable.

Fuel shortages can occur. Enquire locally as to fuel availability before embarking on longer journeys to remote areas. Power outages and water cuts, sometimes lasting for weeks, are common, including in cities.

Zimbabwe applies vehicle charges for short-term foreign motorists. These charges include a carbon tax, parking fees, road tolls and increased border tolls.

If hiring a motor vehicle, ensure it is equipped with a fire extinguisher and two metallic emergency triangles with white reflective stickers on the front and red reflective stickers on the back, a spare wheel, wheel spanner and a jack. Drivers may face fines for non-compliance.

If you intend to drive to Mozambique, please check our travel advice for Mozambique for the latest on the security situation in provinces close to Zimbabwe. More information: Mozambique travel advice.

More information: Road safety and driving

Airline safety

There is limited airline choice within Zimbabwe. Flight schedules can change or be cancelled at short notice. Charter flights can be arranged through private companies.

Air Zimbabwe has been refused permission to operate flights to the EU as it has not demonstrated compliance with international air safety standards. Australian Embassy staff are not permitted to use Air Zimbabwe for official travel, other than in exceptional circumstances.

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

More information: Air travel

Other local travel information

The safety standards you might expect from tour operators are not always met, especially for activities such as adventure sports. Sufficient life jackets and adequate safety equipment may not be provided. Recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may be ignored. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider. Take particular when rafting or bungee jumping near Victoria Falls.

When visiting the Victoria Falls, take care to protect your passport from exposure to water. You may face difficulties if you try to travel using a damaged passport.

Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis).

Unexploded landmines are in parts of the country, mainly in border areas with Mozambique, and in the Lupane District in Matabeleland North Province. The Zimbabwe Government has an ongoing national demining program to locate and remove remaining landmines in the country. If you are planning to do  guided hunting ensure you engage a legitimate operator with a valid hunting licence. Be aware of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations and requirements.

Strict immigration regulations apply to the travel of children under the age of 18 to and via South Africa. More information: Travel advice for South Africa

Laws

You're subject to local laws, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards.Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

If you are detained you have the right to contact an Australian Embassy consular officer.

Always carry identity documentation or a copy of your passport in case you are stopped by Police or Immigration officials.

Drug laws

The penalties for possession, manufacture or trafficking of illegal drugs, including marijuana, are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Those caught purchasing or trafficking wild animals risk prosecution and prison sentences of up to 9 years.

Murder, treason, banditry, sabotage and terrorism are punishable by the death penalty. Juvenile offenders may be subject to corporal punishment.

Homosexuality is illegal. Penalties include large fines and up to one year imprisonment. More information: LGBTI travellers

It is illegal for civilians to wear any form of clothing made from camouflage material.

Purchasing, possessing or distributing counterfeit or pirated goods and pornographic material is illegal.

Ensure you have appropriate paperwork, including evidence of purchase, for any precious or semi-precious stones in your possession.

Avoid engaging in any political activity, or in activities which could be construed as such, including political discussions in public places. An open hand is the political symbol of one of the main political parties and a friendly wave may therefore be misinterpreted as a provocative gesture.

It is a criminal offence to make any derogatory or insulting comments about the President. Any person making such comments is liable to arrest and prosecution. Distributing or displaying books published by banned authors or displaying any form of political allegiance, slogans or images from Zimbabwean political parties may attract strict penalties including arrest, detention or deportation.

It is illegal to photograph sensitive places, including airports, military establishments, government offices, the President's Residence and security forces, without permission from the Ministry of Information. The President's official residence (State House, Chancellor Avenue, The Avenues, Harare) is particularly sensitive. Do not look through the gates or linger outside the walls. The roads around the residence are closed between 6pm and 6am.

It is an offence to continue driving when the President's motorcade goes past, no matter which side of the road you are on. See Local travel.

If you are intending to conduct business, familiarise yourself with local laws and regulations, including for land and business ownership. More information: Business travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Information for dual nationals

There is a lack of clarity within Zimbabwe about the recognition of dual nationals. This may limit the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to Australian/Zimbabwean dual nationals who have been arrested or detained.

More information: Dual nationals.

Health

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • 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.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medical facilities

Health services are poor. Public hospitals in Harare and other towns experience shortages of staff, water, power, medicines and equipment. They are unlikely to offer treatment of certain illnesses or offer assistance in an accident or emergency. The few private hospitals in Harare also have staff and resources limitations. You will need to pay upfront before you are admitted.

Medical facilities outside Harare and Bulawayo are limited. Medical supplies are limited and some prescription medicines may not be available. In the event of a serious accident or illness, a medical evacuation to South Africa would be necessary.

Health risks

There are reports of typhoid cases. Ensure your typhoid vaccinations are up to date. Paying careful attention to personal and food hygiene limits the risk of contracting the disease. More information: Typhoid fever fact sheet (WHO)

Drink water only from known safe sources (e.g. bottled, chlorinated or boiled water). Maintain strict hygiene standards while travelling.

Malaria is a risk in all areas except Harare and Bulawayo. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) also occur. Consider taking prophylaxis for malaria (as prescribed by a doctor). Take precautions to avoid being bitten by insects, including using insect repellent, wearing light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles and rabies) occur, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is very high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Natural disasters

The rainy season is November to April when flooding may occur. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

More information: Severe weather

Where to get help

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

Emergency phone numbers

For criminal issues, contact the Harare Central Police Station on 777-777.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints about tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Harare.

Australian Embassy, Harare

1 Green Close
Borrowdale, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: +263 (024) 2 853 235 55
Fax: +263 (024) 2 870 566
Email: zimbabwe.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Website: zimbabwe.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Zimbabwe
Twitter: @AusEmbZim

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

In a consular emergency if you're unable to contact the Embassy, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources