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Rwanda

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Rwanda because of the threat of violence and criminal activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to within 10 kilometres of the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), because of the volatile security situation in this region. There is an ongoing threat of armed militias operating in the DRC crossing the border into Rwanda.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to within 10 kilometres of the border with Burundi because of the possibility of banditry and conflict between government forces and armed groups. This includes the portion of the Nyungwe Forest National Park bordering Burundi.
  • Australia doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in Rwanda. The Australian High Commission in Kenya provides consular assistance to Australians in Rwanda. See Where to get help.

Entry and exit 

Visas

Australiana  are eligible for a visa on arrival. A visa fee applies. However, visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Rwanda, in Japan, for up-to-date information.

Australian emergency passports are only accepted with prior approval from the Rwandan immigration department.

Do not cross the border into Burundi or DRC.

Other formalities

You'll need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if you’re arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever must present a valid vaccination certificate. For more information see the Department of Health website.

Passport

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

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.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Exercise a high degree of caution in Rwanda because of the threat of violence and criminal activity. Grenade attacks and other incidents of violence have occurred periodically since 2009, including in Kigali. People have been killed and injured in these attacks. One person was killed and eight were injured in a grenade attack in Rusizi district in June 2017. Genocide memorial sites, markets and taxi and bus stops have been targeted. Fatal attacks have occurred in the period surrounding the Genocide Commemorations (which begin on 7 April).

Avoid protests, rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo:  Reconsider your need to travel to within 10 kilometres of the border with the DRC, due to the unpredictable security situation in this region. There is an on-going risk of cross-border incursions by armed militias operating from the Kivu provinces in the DRC. Don't cross the border into DRC. If travelling to border areas, review the travel advice for DRC.

Border with Burundi:  Reconsider your need to travel to within 10 kilometres of the border with Burundi because of the unsettled security environment, the high risk of conflict between government forces and rebels in Burundi, and the possibility of cross-border incursions by armed groups, including bandits.

Don't cross the border into Burundi. If travelling to border areas, review the travel advice for Burundi and monitor local media and other sources for developments which may affect your safety.

Seek local advice before visiting the Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans). Book with a reputable travel agent and only visit as part of an organised tour group. Permission from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) is required before visiting the park. The ORTPN may provide military escorts to this area because of the risk of rebel attack.

Crime

While infrequent, petty crime targeting foreigners and tourists, including bag snatching, pickpocketing and robbery, does occur. Avoid walking or travelling after dark and remain alert during daylight hours. Theft from hotel rooms, residences and vehicles also occurs. When driving, keep valuables out of sight, and ensure windows are closed and doors are locked.

Terrorism

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

Money and valuables

Rwanda is a cash-based society. Credit cards are only accepted at large hotels. Check with your hotel before travelling to determine which credit cards they accept. Travellers cheques can only be cashed at commercial banks. ATMs which accept international cards are scarce.

Most shops and businesses will not accept or exchange US dollars dated pre-2006.

Local travel

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are six times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Rwanda than in Australia. Main roads between Kigali and other major towns are generally in good condition. Many secondary roads are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, particularly during the rainy season. Avoid driving at night as roads are unlit and driving standards poor. The US Embassy prohibits its staff from driving outside of Kigali city limits after dark. Poorly maintained vehicles, speeding drivers and roaming animals pose additional safety risks. More information: Road safety and driving

Use only licensed orange-striped taxis and confirm the fare before departure.  Avoid minivans (shared taxis) and motorbikes, especially at night, due to reckless driving, poor maintenance and the risk of petty crime.

Police road blocks are common throughout the country. You may be stopped and vehicles and luggage may be searched.

Access to the Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans, also known as the Virunga National Park) and Nyungwe Forest requires permission from the Rwandan Tourism Board Offices (ORTPN). See Safety and security. You'll will need to purchase a permit from the Rwandan Tourism Board before entering these parks.

Airline safety

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.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to 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.

Penalties for the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. More information: Carrying or using drugs

Homosexual activity may lead to harassment by the public and/or police. More information: LGBTI travellers

Photographing government buildings is prohibited.

Plastic bags are banned. You may be fined and the plastic bags confiscated on entry at the international airport and in public places.

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

See our Dual nationals page.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy.

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.

Physical and mental health

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.

More information:

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are very limited throughout the country. In the case of an accident or illness, you may need to be evacuated by air ambulance to Nairobi (Kenya) or, if serious, to another destination with the required facilities. A medical evacuation could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Health risks

Malaria occurs widely throughout the country, including in Kigali. Other insect-borne diseases also occur. Take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Consider taking prophylaxis against malaria.

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

Natural disasters

The rainy seasons are February to May and September to December. Heavy rains can occur during these months and can cause flooding and mudslides throughout Rwanda. Damage caused by heavy rain may inhibit the delivery of essential services and the ability to travel around Rwanda, as roads may be impassable.

North-western Rwanda is in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The most recent earthquake occurred in 2008 on the border with the DRC, and a volcanic eruption occurred in 2002.

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.

Emergency phone numbers

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national number is 112, although emergency calls to this number may go unanswered. Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

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

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.

Australia doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in Rwanda. You can get consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission in Kenya.

Australian High Commission
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Nairobi, Kenya   
Phone: (+254 20) 4277 100
Fax: (+254 20) 4277 139
Website: kenya.embassy.gov.au/nair/home.html
Email: australia.hc.kenya@dfat.gov.au

See the High Commission 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 High Commission, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources