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Zambia

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Zambia. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to areas of Zambia bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of the threat of armed criminal gangs.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to areas of Zambia bordering Angola and Mozambique because of landmines in the area.
  • Avoid large crowds, political rallies and demonstrations, as they can turn violent with little warning. See Safety and security.
  • The level of HIV/AIDS infection in Zambia is high. Take precautions. See Health.
  • The Zambian government has introduced measures to curb the spread of cholera. Over 2,000 cases were reported in Lusaka between November 2017 and January 2018. See Health.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements

 Visas

You'll need a visa to enter Zambia.

If you're visiting Zambia for tourism and staying for less than 90 days, you can get a 30-day 'KAZA visa' on arrival in the following circumstances:

  • entry via the international airport in Lusaka or Livingstone; or
  • entry via the land borders at Livingstone (Zimbabwe border) or Kazungula (Botswana border).

The KAZA visa can be used to travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe and for day trips into Botswana.

In other circumstances, you'll need to get an entry visa before you travel to Zambia.

A maximum of two, 30-day extensions (for a total of 90 days) is allowed on entry visas.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Zambia for up-to-date information or to apply for a visa.

More information: Zambian Department of Immigration

Other formalities

If you're arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you may need to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on arrival.

If you're travelling from an Ebola-affected area, you may be medically assessed at the Zambian border. Following an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa in 2016, Zambian authorities refused entry to people travelling from affected countries. If there is another outbreak, authorities may again ban entry by people from Ebola-affected countries.

If you plan to stay in Zambia for more than 90 days, you'll need to apply for a National Registration Card.

If you leave Zambia by air or take a domestic flight, you'll need to pay the National Airports Corporation levy. The levy generally isn't included in airline tickets. Pay the levy on departure in US dollars or Zambian Kwacha.

To work in Zambia, including as a volunteer, you need a work permit. To live in Zambia, you need a residence permit. If you breach these or other immigration requirements, you could be arrested, imprisoned or detained. Some immigration agents operating in Zambia may issue documents that are not authentic. Make proper checks before and after using an immigration agent to get visas or permits.

Passport

Ensure 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.

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.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the High Commission in Zimbabwe or Honorary Consul in Lusaka for advice.

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

If you're travelling to Zambia via South Africa, you'll need a full Australian passport: provisional travel documents are no longer accepted for transiting through South Africa. More information: Travel advice for South Africa

Money and valuables

The local currency is the Zambia Kwacha (ZMW). Declare all amounts of ZMW and foreign currency in excess of USD5,000 on arrival and departure.

All domestic transactions in Zambia must use Kwacha. It is against the law to quote or pay in foreign currency for local goods or services. Doing so can result in a fine or a 10-year prison sentence.

Use only reputable banks and Bureaux de Change to exchange or withdraw money – counterfeit USD100 and ZMW notes are in circulation. Zambian banks and foreign exchange agents will not accept US bank notes issued before 2000.

Zambia Kwatcha old notes (including 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Kwacha notes) are no longer accepted. Make sure you receive correct and legal notes. 

ATMs that accept international cards are only available in the capital, Lusaka.

You can use credit cards at some hotels, restaurants and shops in major urban centres. Many companies charge a fee for the use of credit cards. Credit card fraud occurs in Zambia. Keep your card in sight at all times while payments are being processed. Make sure credit cards are swiped no more than necessary and carbon copies are destroyed.

Safety and security

Armed robbery, carjacking, petty crime and residential break-ins occur throughout the country. Security risks increase after dark, especially in tourist areas and city centres.

Pickpockets and bag snatchers target tourists. Thieves also target luxury 4WD vehicles and travellers in bus and railway stations and shopping areas. There have been violent robberies (some involving fatalities) along the Cairo Road area of Lusaka, including Chachacha, Freedom Way and Lumumba Roads.

The use of date rape drugs has been reported at bars and restaurants in Lusaka.

  • Be alert to your surroundings and pay attention to your safety and security at all times.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid displaying expensive watches, phones, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid walking alone or travelling after dark.
  • Keep vehicle doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, including when moving.
  • Avoid changing money in busy public areas.
  • Never accept food, drink, gum or cigarettes from strangers.
  • Keep a close eye on your food and drinks at all times. If you're not sure if it's safe, leave it.
  • If you become a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical attention. HIV/AIDS is common.

Scams

Commercial fraud scams are common in Zambia. Individuals have been the victims of extortion after being persuaded to travel to Zambia on business.

  • Scrutinise all approaches originating in Zambia from people you don't know.
  • Don't send money to anyone in Zambia until proper checks are made.
  • If you are the victim of a scam, get legal advice. 
  • Don't travel to Zambia to seek restitution.

More information: Scams

Civil unrest and political tension

Large crowds, political rallies and demonstrations can turn violent.

  • Avoid all demonstrations, protests, political rallies and large public gatherings.
  • Keep an eye on the media for news of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Landmines

There are landmines and other explosives in areas of Zambia near its borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola and Mozambique. These may not be marked. Off-road travel in these areas is dangerous.

  • Reconsider your need to travel to areas bordering the DRC, Angola and Mozambique.
  • If you travel to these border areas despite the risks, get advice from local authorities on possible routes.

Tours and adventure activities

Safety precautions and maintenamce standards of transport and tour operators are not always met, including for adventure activities such as rafting at Victoria Falls. Safety equipment such as lifejackets and seatbelts may not be provided.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities:

  • first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy
  • check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking
  • don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements
  • always use available safety equipment, even if others don't
  • use another provider if appropriate safety equipment is not available.

Wildlife

Getting too close to wildlife can provoke attacks. Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because wildlife could attack you.

  • Respect wildlife laws and maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife.
  • Don't swim in lakes or rivers.
  • Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators.
  • Closely follow park regulations and the advice of wardens.

Road travel

You are five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Zambia than in Australia. Hazards include poor driving habits, pedestrians and animals on roads, poorly maintained vehicles and roads, and inadequate road lighting. Traffic accidents occur regularly along the Great East Road in Lusaka.

Cars in Zambia must be equipped with two metallic emergency triangles with white reflective stickers on the front and red reflective stickers on the back. Drivers must carry identity documents.  

If you want to take a vehicle into Zambia, you'll need to get a 'temporary import permit (TIP)' and purchase third-party insurance at the border. If you're not the owner of the vehicle, you must have a letter from the owner authorising the use of the vehicle in Zambia.

Police road blocks are common.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • When hiring a motor vehicle, make sure it is equipped with compliant emergency triangles.
  • Drive defensively and legally.
  • Always carry an appropriate identity document when driving.
  • Avoid driving after dark in rural areas, where possible.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

You can drive in Zambia with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

There is no reliable public transportation in Zambia. Avoid long-distance buses as they are poorly maintained and often overloaded.

Boat travel

Travel on river craft is dangerous as they can be overloaded and lack necessary lifesaving equipment. Always wear a life jacket, even if others don't.

Air travel

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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 Zambia.

More information: Air travel

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.

Zambian authorities don't always advise the Australian Embassy when an Australian citizen is detained or arrested. If you're detained, you have the right to contact an Australian Embassy consular official.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences can be severe and include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Police and immigration officials can request to see your passport and immigration stamp/visa at any time. Failure to produce these documents may result in detention. Carry your passport and visa or immigration permit at all times or obtain certified copies from the immigration office where the permit was issued.

Activities that are illegal in Zambia include:

  • homosexual acts – more information: LGBTI travellers
  • possession of pornographic material
  • photography around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel
  • purchasing or trading endangered wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horn, without a licence – more information: Wildlife trade (Department of the Environment and Energy)

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.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Officially, Zambia recognises dual citizenship but, in practice, Zambian authorities may not recognise dual citizens' other nationality. Zambia has not yet put in place arrangements for dual nationals to apply to have their other nationality recognised by Zambian authorities. Enter and exit on the same passport.

If you are a national of both Australia and Zambia, Zambian authorities may still regard you as solely a national of Zambia. This may limit the ability of Australian officials to provide consular services to you if you are detained or arrested.  

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

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.

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.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. In Zambia, this includes medication containing diphenhydramine.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only. If you don't carry your prescription, you could be arrested and imprisoned.

More information:

Health risks

HIV/AIDS

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

Insect-borne diseases

Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Zambia. Other insect-borne diseases (including chickungunya, plague and African sleeping sickness) also occur.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

Cholera and other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, haemorrhagic fevers, and rabies) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

Over 2,000 cases of cholera were reported in Lusaka between November 2017 and January 2018. The Zambian government has introduced measures to curb the spread of cholera.

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water in rural areas.
  • Avoid ice cubes in rural areas.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Avoid contact with animals.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in Zambia is poor, especially in rural areas. Medical supplies are limited and some prescription medicines may not be available. Make sure you know your blood type and carry a sterile medical kit including needles and dressings.

Most doctors and hospitals require up-front cash payment regardless of whether you have travel health insurance.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.  

Natural disasters

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times.
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates.

Severe weather and flooding

The rainy season is November to April. Flooding may occur and roads may become impassable.

  • Monitor local weather reports, especially during the rainy season.
  • Be ready to change your plans if there is severe weather or flooding.
  • If there is flooding, consider leaving an area for higher ground if it is safe to do so.

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 insurance provider. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: phone 999
  • Medical emergency: phone 999 or go to the nearest hospital
  • Crime: phone 999 or visit the nearest police station

Police response, particularly outside major cities, may be slow due to lack of resources.

Always get 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

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

The Australian Consulate, Lusaka

2/B/23 Roan Road
Kabulonga, Lusaka
Phone:  (+260) 960 706 908
Email: australian.consulate.zambia@gmail.com

Australian Embassy, Harare

1 Green Close
Borrowdale
Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone:  (+263) 24 2853 235 55, (+263) 24 2852471-6
Fax: (+263) 24 2870 566
Website: zimbabwe.embassy.gov.au
Email: zimbabwe.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Zimbabwe
Twitter: @AusEmbZim

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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

Additional information

Additional resources