- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Zimbabwe due to the ongoing risk of crime and potential for civil unrest and political violence. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- The Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party will be hosting its annual National People's Conference in Victoria Falls (Matabeleland North province) from 7-13 December 2015. You should anticipate heightened security, travel disruptions and the possibility of civil unrest during this period.
- The situation in Zimbabwe is generally calm, although incidents of political violence continue to occur in some urban and rural areas. There is potential for the security situation to deteriorate quickly. You should remain vigilant in high-density (lower-income) urban areas because of the potential for the security situation to deteriorate. See Safety and security.
- You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and any political gatherings as they may turn violent. Police and security forces are likely to respond aggressively and may not distinguish between demonstrators and bystanders.
- Health services in Zimbabwe are poor and travellers should ensure that they have comprehensive travel insurance that will enable them to access adequate healthcare services, including possible medical evacuations. See Health.
- We strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
Australian citizens entering Zimbabwe for tourism purposes are required to pay for a single entry, 30-day visa on point of entry. Extensions are possible, and require a personal visit to the Zimbabwe Department of Immigration or the nearest Immigration Office. Allow sufficient time for an extension review.
Foreign nationals have been imprisoned for remaining in the country beyond the authorised dates of stay. If you intend to reside or work in Zimbabwe, you must obtain a work permit approved by the Zimbabwe Chief Immigration Officer before entering the country. Work permit applications should be submitted by the person’s sponsor at any Zimbabwe Immigration Office.
Australians should exercise caution in obtaining visas and work permits from local migration agents and should instead seek to obtain these directly from the relevant Zimbabwean authorities.
Journalists working without proper accreditation are liable to arrest, detention and possible deportation.
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.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all 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.
Departure options may be very restricted if general security deteriorates quickly. You should ensure that your documentation remains up-to-date. Valid passports, visas and vehicle police clearances are essential should you need to depart Zimbabwe.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia and at least three blank pages for exit and entry stamps. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas. Provisional travel documents are no longer accepted for travelling or transiting through South Africa.
Safety and security
The Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party will be hosting its annual National People's Conference in Victoria Falls (Matabeleland North province) from 7-13 December 2015. You should anticipate heightened security, travel disruptions and the possibility of civil unrest during this period.
Civil unrest/political tension
The security situation in Zimbabwe is unpredictable, due to high levels of unemployment, economic instability, including intermittent shortages of medical supplies, basic goods and food, and the unreliable provision of services such as power, water and transport.
Tensions between informal street vendors and Zimbabwe’s security forces in recent months have led to demonstrations and clashes. It is possible this could occur again without warning.
There has been a recent increase in political protests throughout Zimbabwe’s major cities, relating to Zimbabwe’s broader economic challenges. You should 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 President Mugabe or to carry material considered to be offensive to the President’s office.
You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies, remain vigilant at all times and avoid high-density (lower income) urban areas because of the potential for the security situation to deteriorate.
Residents and visitors can be arbitrarily detained or arrested.
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.
Incidences of muggings, bag snatching, carjacking and pickpocketing are increasing in Zimbabwe, 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.
Police resources, such as vehicles and fuel, are scarce and help can be difficult to obtain. Police sometimes ask to be picked up at their police station and taken to the crime scene. There can be considerable delays and complications in pursuing the recovery of property and prosecution of offenders.
Theft from vehicles is common. You should drive with doors locked and windows up, and keep all valuables out of sight. Thieves are known to target cars stopped at intersections, especially along the route to Harare Airport and the Masvingo-Beitbridge road. 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.
Drivers should be aware of people in the vicinity of their 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. Care should also be taken while waiting in vehicles 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 we suggest that you 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 prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.
Commercial fraud, money transfer and job and employment scams are increasing in Zimbabwe. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Money and valuables
The US dollar is the main currency in Zimbabwe, and you should arrive with a reasonable amount of US dollars in cash. You will need to bring notes in small denominations (1, 5 and 10 dollar bills), as small change is often not available.
South African Rand, Botswanan Pula and British Pounds are sometimes accepted. Although rarely used, in January 2014, Zimbabwe added further currencies (Chinese Yuan, Australian Dollar, Indian Rupee and the Japanese Yen) to those officially accepted. In practice most vendors in Zimbabwe will not accept these currencies. Government issued ‘bond coins’ have recently also become legitimate tender – although a number of traders will not accept them.
You may have difficulty withdrawing cash from ATMs and banks. Travellers cheques and credit/debit cards are not widely accepted.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Road travel and public transport
Public transport systems, including trains and commuter buses, should be avoided. 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 potential hazard at any time.
Roadblocks are common throughout Zimbabwe, and can appear with little warning. Identification documents, including car registration and ownership papers, must be shown when requested by police. Drivers are often subjected to on the spot fines or bribery demands. Payment of a bribe could leave you susceptible to further demands. If you are stopped at a roadblock and told not to go further, you should comply.
You must 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. Drivers must pull over as soon as they 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.
There have been reports of police intimidating foreigners over minor vehicle violations in an attempt to solicit money. Care should be taken, particularly at night.
If driving in Zimbabwe it is recommended that you always carry a mobile phone or other means of communication. However, be aware that it is illegal to use a phone without a hands free device when driving.
Fuel shortages can occur and you are advised to 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 everywhere, 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, you should 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. See our Mozambique travel advice for more information.
For further advice, see our road travel page.
Air Zimbabwe is the only airline regularly operating on most internal routes, leaving limited choice for travellers. Flight schedules can change at short notice. Charter flights can be arranged through private companies.
You should be aware that safety standards and procedures of individual airlines in Zimbabwe may not meet international standards.
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 Zimbabwe.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
Other local travel information
The safety standards Australians 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 not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Particular care should be taken when rafting or bungee jumping near Victoria Falls.
When visiting Victoria Falls, you should take care to protect your passport from exposure to water. You may face difficulties if you try to travel using a damaged passport and you may have to pay for a replacement.
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 found in parts of the border area with Mozambique.
Australians contemplating undertaking guided hunting in Zimbabwe should ensure they engage a legitimate operator with a valid hunting licence.
From June 1 2015, new immigration regulations apply to the travel of children under the age of 18 to South Africa. Please see our travel advice for South Africa for further information.
You are subject to the local laws Zimbabwe, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Zimbabwean authorities do not always advise the Australian Embassy when an Australian citizen is detained or arrested. If you are detained you have the right to contact an Australian Embassy consular officer.
You should always carry identity documentation or a copy of your passport in case you are stopped by Police or Immigration officials.
The penalties for possession, manufacture or trafficking of illegal drugs, including marijuana, are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.
Murder, treason, banditry, sabotage and terrorism are punishable by the death penalty. Juvenile male offenders may be subject to corporal punishment.
Sodomy and homosexual acts between men are illegal in Zimbabwe. Penalties include fines up to or exceeding US$5.000 and up to one year imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.
It is against the law 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.
You should ensure you have appropriate paperwork, including evidence of purchase, for any precious or semi-precious stones in your possession.
You should 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 also a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to make any derogatory or insulting comments about President Mugabe. 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 special permission of the Ministry of Information. The President’s official residence (State House, Chancellor Avenue, The Avenues, Harare) is particularly sensitive, and visitors should not look through the gates or linger outside the walls. The roads around the residence are closed between 6pm and 6am daily.
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.
Australians intending to conduct business in Zimbabwe should familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations, including as they relate to land and business ownership. See also the Smartraveller advice for business travellers.
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
There is currently 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.
For persons over the age of 18, holding a Zimbabwean and a second nationality passport is prohibited. Heavy penalties may apply.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you 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 are not 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 will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations 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 page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Health services in Zimbabwe 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 and are likely to require payment upfront before a patient is admitted.
Medical facilities outside Harare and Bulawayo are limited. Medical supplies throughout Zimbabwe 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, costing up to $A25,000.
There is an ongoing outbreak of typhoid in parts of Harare, with over 1,500 cases reported since October 2011. While the majority of reported cases are in high-density, low-income areas, we recommend that if you are living in Harare or planning to travel to Harare ensure your typhoid vaccinations are up to date. Paying careful attention to personal and food hygiene limits the risk of contracting the disease. For more information see the WHO website.
A severe cholera outbreak affected most of Zimbabwe between August 2008 and July 2009. The disease may break out again with little warning. We advise you to drink water only from known safe sources (eg bottled, chlorinated or boiled water) and to maintain strict hygiene standards while travelling in Zimbabwe.
Malaria is a risk in all areas except Harare and Bulawayo. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) are also prevalent in Zimbabwe. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria (as prescribed by a doctor) and take precautions to avoid being bitten by insects, including using an insect repellent at all times, 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) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all 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 in Zimbabwe is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, 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.
For criminal issues, contact the Harare Central Police Station on 777-777. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
To complain 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. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian Embassy, Harare
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Zimbabwe, we recommend you Register your travel. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season is November to April when flooding may occur. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see: