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Botswana

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Botswana. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • Parents and guardians must carry, and produce on request, a full (unabridged) birth certificate as well as a valid travel document (passport) for children under the age of 18. There are additional conditions for minors travelling with only one parent or unaccompanied. See Entry and exit.​
  • Maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife. Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators. Follow wildlife park regulations and wardens' advice. See Local travel.
  • Do not bathe in fresh water lakes and rivers due to water-borne diseases. See Health.
  • Foreigners have been robbed in the areas of Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in the capital, Gaborone. Exercise caution in these areas. See Safety and security.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Botswana headed by an Honorary Consul, and can provide limited consular assistance. The Australian High Commission in South Africa provides full consular assistance to Australians in Botswana.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Visas on arrival for tourists are available for stays of up to 90 days.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest high commission, embassy or consulate of Botswana for up-to-date information.

Australian emergency passports are accepted as a valid travel document in Botswana. If you plan to enter Botswana on an Australian emergency passport, you must obtain a visa before you enter Botswana. This visa cannot be obtained on arrival. You need to apply at the nearest high commission, embassy or consulate of Botswana.

Other formalities

If you’re entering Botswana from Ebola affected countries, you’ll be subject to Ebola screening and maybe denied entry or quarantined on arrival. For more information, see Botswana Ministry of Health.

If you're arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry into Botswana.

Travelling with children

Immigration regulations apply to children travelling under the age of 18. All children travelling must have a valid passport and a full (unabridged) birth certificate that identifies the child and parents. These documents must be produced on request.

If the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren't travelling will need to provide a legal document giving their consent for the child to travel.

The legal document must be less than three months old, signed by both parents, and include:

  • full names, addresses, phone numbers, and passport details of the travelling child and both parents (as listed on the birth certificate)
  • travel destinations of the parent and children
  • a certified copy of the passport of any non-travelling parent

If you don't comply with these entry requirements, you might be deported on arrival or being stopped from boarding your aircraft.

The nearest High Commission of the Republic of Botswana can advise the requirements for the document.

Transiting South Africa

If you're travelling to or from Botswana through South Africa (including transiting), you should read the Entry and exit section of the travel advice for South Africa. South Africa has introduced specific documentation requirements for all children entering the country. Note South Africa’s Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate requirements, and that provisional travel documents (i.e. single page travel documents) are not accepted.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia and has at least two blank pages. If your passport does not comply with this requirement, you may be stopped on departure.

Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Your passport is a valuable document and 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.

Money

The official currency of Botswana is the Pula (BWP). Any foreign currency in excess of Pula 10,000 must be declared upon entry into and departure from Botswana.

Safety and security

Crime

Be alert, particularly if you're out after dark.  

Attacks on tourists are rare, but violent crime, residential break-ins and carjackings (particularly of four wheel drives) occur.

Street crime occurs, particularly in urban centres. Foreigners have been robbed in the areas of Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in the capital, Gaborone. Exercise caution in these areas.

The HIV/AIDS infection rate is very high. If you're sexually or otherwise physically assaulted, seek immediate medical assistance. See Health.

Visitors to Botswana should'nt expect the same level of service from police as they would in Australia.

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and large public gatherings can turn violent.

  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Road travel

Be careful driving from the airport into Gaborone at night.

Driving outside major urban areas in Botswana can be hazardous due to poor road conditions, poor driving practices and inadequate lighting. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you’re four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Botswana than in Australia.

Wild animals and livestock often stray onto roads and have right of way. Batswana (the people of Botswana) take injuries or deaths of their cattle by motorists very seriously.

If you're driving long distances, carefully plan your trip because of the harsh environment and sparse population. If you travel to remote desert areas, use a reputable guide and a four-wheel-drive vehicle which is well equipped with emergency provisions.

The condition of urban roads is mostly good.

More information: Road safety and driving

Taxis

Only use authorised taxis. Negotiate the fare before departure.

Wildlife

Respect wildlife laws and maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife. Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

Air travel

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 Botswana.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local 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're detained or arrested, the Botswana authorities may not automatically notify the Australian Government. As soon as possible, you should request police or prison officials notify the Australian High Commission in South Africa.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including those involving cannabis, are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.

More information: Drugs

Other laws

Serious offences, including murder and treason, carry the death penalty.

Some offences, such as serious assaults, attract corporal punishment.

The following activities are also illegal in Botswana:

  • homosexual acts – penalties include fines and imprisonment of up to five years  
  • possession of pornographic material
  • photography of military or government installations
  • export of elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products
  • export of animal souvenirs or 'trophies' without a government permit or receipt from a licensed store
  • observing wildlife at a distance below the legal minimum distance.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may 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.

Dual nationals

Botswana doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Botswana dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover 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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

Remember to extend your travel insurance if you extend your trip.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

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

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • Check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Botswana is very high.

Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Water-borne illnesses

Do not swim in lakes and rivers because of the possibility of attacks by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases.

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Malaria can occur throughout Botswana and is widespread in the north of the country, especially during the rainy season (November to March).

Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses by:

  • ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • taking measures to avoid insect bites, including using always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking anti-malarial medication when travelling north of Gaborone.

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, rabies and tuberculosis) are widespread with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Some drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have recently been identified in Botswana.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis).

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities outside the urban areas of Botswana are limited.

Public and private medical facilities require confirmation of insurance cover or guarantee of payment before commencing treatment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you will need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities (usually South Africa). Medical evacuation could be very expensive.

Natural disasters

Severe weather can have an impact on your travel overseas. Monitor local media for up-to-date information.

If you're visiting an area recently affected by severe weather:

  • confirm your plans and activities with your tour operator or travel provider
  • check the condition of infrastructure and facilities with local tour operators and hotels.

More information: Severe weather

Where to get help

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

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting services: 998
  • Medical emergencies: 997
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 999 or the nearest police station. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime. 

Tourism services and products

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

Australian Government

Australia has a consulate in Botswana headed by an Honorary Consul. The consulate can provide limited consular assistance.

Australian Consulate, Gaborone

Mr Amin Sabet
Honorary Consul
Australian Consulate
Plot 50637, Block 10, Airport Road
(Next to Airport Junction Shopping Centre)
Gaborone, BOTSWANA.
Phone: + 267 390 2996
Fax: + 267 391 4293
Mobile: + 267 7133 1550
Email: australia.consulate.botswana@gmail.com

You can get full consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in South Africa.

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street
Arcadia
Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA
Telephone (27 12) 423 6000
Facsimile (27 12) 342 8442
Email pretoria.info@dfat.gov.au

More information on opening hours and temporary closures: southafrica.highcommission.gov.au.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the High Commission, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see: