Botswana

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 19 March 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Botswana.

Botswana overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • You should monitor the media for possible risks to your safety or security.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Botswana headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate can provide limited consular assistance. The closest Australian High Commission is the Australian High Commission in South Africa.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of Botswana for the most up-to-date information.

All foreign currency or Pula in excess of Pula 10,000 must be declared upon entry into and departure from Botswana.

If you are 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.

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 and will need to be applied for at the nearest Botswana High Commission.

Australians travelling to or from Botswana through South Africa (including transiting) should read the Entry and exit section of our travel advice for South Africa. In particular, you should note South Africa’s yellow fever vaccination certificate requirements and its policy on provisional travel documents (i.e. one page travel documents).

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Crime

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Botswana. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. You should monitor the media for possible risks to your safety or security.

Street crime occurs in Botswana, particularly in urban centres. You should be vigilant, particularly if out after dark. While attacks on tourists are rare, violent crime, residential break-ins and carjacking (particularly of four wheel drives) does occur.

Foreigners have been robbed in the areas of Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in the capital, Gaborone. Travellers are advised to exercise caution in these areas.

Due to the very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Botswana. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage and consider using a plastic wrap service. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Australian Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

The condition of urban roads is mostly good but can be variable. Drivers should 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 local driving practices and inadequate lighting. Wild animals and livestock often stray onto roads and have right of way. Botswanans take injuries or deaths of their cattle by motorists very seriously.

Road travel in Botswana often involves driving long distances in sparsely populated, harsh environments and careful planning is required. When travelling to remote desert areas, we recommend the use of a reputable guide and a four-wheel-drive vehicle which is well equipped with emergency provisions. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Airline safety

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

Laws

When you are in Botswana, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are 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.

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

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

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

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

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include fines and imprisonment of up to five years. See our LGBTI travellers page.

The possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Photography of military or government installations is prohibited.

All animal souvenirs or 'trophies' are subject to National Trophy Law that strictly regulates the sale, possession or export of animals or their durable parts. Travellers carrying such items will need to present a government permit or receipt from a licensed store on departure. The export of elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products is strictly prohibited.

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.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Botswana does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Botswanan dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

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.

Medical facilities outside the urban areas of Botswana are limited. Public and private facilities will require confirmation of insurance cover or guarantee of payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the required facilities (usually South Africa) may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.

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

Malaria can occur throughout Botswana and is prevalent 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. We recommend that you take prophylaxis against malaria when travelling north of the capital Gaborone and take precautions against being bitten by insects, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting, light clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, rabies and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Some drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have recently been identified in Botswana. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not 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.

Where to get help

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 20681, Unit 1A,
Ramakukane Way
Block 3, (Opposite Oriental Plaza)
Broadhust Industrial
GABORONE
Phone: + 267 390 2996
Fax: + 267 391 4293
Mobile: + 267 7133 1500
Email: botshconsul@gmail.com

You can obtain full consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is 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
Website http://www.southafrica.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Botswana, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, 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.

Additional information

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

You should not bathe in lakes and rivers because of the possibility of attacks by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.