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Zimbabwe

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Zimbabwe due to the risk of crime and the possibility of civil unrest and political violence. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • Following elections on 30 July 2018 violent protests occurred in Zimbabwe. More protests, particularly in Harare CBD, may follow. Be alert at all times and avoid political rallies and demonstrations. Consider your movements as the security situation could deteriorate quickly. See Safety and security.
  • There is a cash crisis in Zimbabwe. In response, authorities have blocked international debit cards from making cash withdrawals from ATMs. Take sufficient cash to cover your needs for the duration of your stay. Check with hotels and other providers whether they accept card payments, especially outside of Harare. See Safety and security.
  • The current economic issues in Zimbabwe are contributing to an increase in crime and theft across the country. 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, particularly in high density urban areas. See Safety and security.
  • The European Union has banned Air Zimbabwe flights to the EU due to safety standards issues. Australian Embassy staff do not use Air Zimbabwe for official travel, other than in exceptional circumstances. See Local travel
  • Road conditions in Zimbabwe are poor. Accidents are common. Drive carefully. Avoid driving at night. Sometimes there are fuel shortages. Keep vehicles topped up and carry sufficient fuel for long journeys. See Local travel.

  • Health services in Zimbabwe are poor. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical evacuation. See Health.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You'll need a visa to enter Zimbabwe.

In most circumstances, including when your visit is for tourism, you can get a get a Zimbabwean visa-on-arrival or a 'KAZA UniVisa' on arrival. Both visa types are valid for 30 days.

If you get a visa-on-arrival, you can apply for an extension through Zimbabwe's Department of Immigration website or an Immigration Office. Allow sufficient time for an extension review. You can also apply for a double-entry tourist visa, which is valid for 30 days from each date of entry.

The KAZA UniVisa is valid for travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia and for day trips to Botswana. It is available at Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls airports and at the land border at Victoria Falls (Zambia border) and Kazlunga (Botswana border). UniVisa holders can visit Zambia and Zimbabwe multiple times within the 30-day validity period. The UniVisa is not extendable. The availability of the KAZA Univisa can change at short notice.

If you plan to live, work, study, invest or do business in Zimbabwe, you'll also need to get the relevant permit, approved by the Zimbabwe Chief Immigration Officer, usually before you travel to Zimbabwe.

Be careful if you are arranging visas and work permits through local migration agents. Consider getting these directly, or through your sponsor, from the relevant Zimbabwean immigration office.

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 up-to-date information.

You could be jailed if you overstay your visa.

Departure options may be very restricted if the general security situation deteriorates quickly. Valid passports, visas and vehicle police clearances are essential if you need to depart Zimbabwe. Keep your documentation up-to-date.

Other formalities

You'll need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter Zimbabwe if you're arriving from an area or country where yellow fever is present. More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements (by country, WHO)

Make sure you get a legible entry stamp in your passport on arrival in Zimbabwe – immigration officials will want to see evidence of entry stamps when you leave the country.

If you're travelling with an emergency travel document, you may need to produce a police report as evidence your passport was lost/stolen.

Journalists working without proper accreditation can be arrested and detained and may be deported.

Strict immigration regulations apply to the travel of children under the age of 18 to and via South Africa. If children plan to travel to or from Zimbabwe via South Africa, first read South Africa.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to 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.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

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

Money

The US dollar is the most commonly used currency in Zimbabwe. In 2016, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced new 'Bond Notes' that have the same value as the US dollar. It is illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers.

Due to an ongoing cash crisis, authorities have introduced certain restrictions. These include blocking international debit cards for cash withdrawals from ATMs. Take sufficient cash to cover your needs for the duration of your stay. Check with hotels and other providers whether they accept card payments, especially outside of Harare.

It is illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than USD2,000 (or equivalent) in cash. This amount is subject to change with little prior or public notice.

More information: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

The security situation is volatile due to high levels of unemployment and economic instability. There are intermittent shortages of medical supplies, basic goods and food. Services such as power, water and transport are unreliable.

Violent protests occurred in Harare and elsewhere in Zimbabwe following elections in July 2018. Police and military have increased their presence in the Harare central business district (CBD). Some businesses have closed temporarily. More protests may occur, particularly in the Harare CBD.

It is an offence to make derogatory or insulting comments about the President or to carry material considered to be offensive to the President's office.

Land confiscation, forced displacement, looting of crops, theft of cattle, poaching of game and violent acts against farmers, their families and workers occur in some areas of the country.

  • Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Zimbabwe.
  • Avoid political activity or activities that could be construed as political, including political discussions or commentary in public places.
  • Avoid political rallies, protests and large public gatherings – they could turn violent.
  • Monitor the media for reports of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities.

Crime

There is a high level of theft and other crime throughout Zimbabwe.

Incidences of muggings, bag snatching, carjacking and pickpocketing are common, particularly in urban centres and tourist areas. Armed robberies, assaults and other violent crime also occur.

Security risks are higher at night, especially on city streets, near bridges, around parks and open fields and in city centres. Robberies also happen in the day, particularly in high density urban areas.

Theft from vehicles is common. Thieves target cars stopped at intersections, especially along the route to Harare Airport, along Harare's Churchill, Borrowdale, and Masvingo-Beitbridge roads. Thieves also slash the tyres of cars either stopped in traffic or parked, then rob the occupants while they change the tyre.

Tourists have been robbed while visiting national parks. Safari operators often require a comprehensive indemnity before they will accept clients.

Commercial fraud, money transfer and employment scams are increasing.

Police resources, such as vehicles and fuel, are scarce and can be difficult to get. Police sometimes ask to be picked up at their police station and taken to the crime scene. There can be delays and complications in pursuing the recovery of property and prosecution of offenders.

  • Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Zimbabwe.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid displaying expensive watches, jewellery, phones and cameras.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Keep vehicles doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight at all times, including when moving.
  • Be aware of people near your vehicle.
  • Minimise your vehicles' stopping time by approaching red lights slowly and planning ahead when approaching residential gates.
  • Leave enough space in front of your vehicle to move away quickly, if necessary.
  • Secure your accommodation against intruders, including when you're in it.
  • Travel in a group, preferably an organised tour group, where possible.
  • Avoid walking after dark.
  • Get up-to-date advice on the security situation before visiting national parks and farms, including game farms, lodges and hunting areas.
  • Due to the very high occurrence of HIV/AIDS, if you are a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical assistance.

More information: Scams

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Local travel

Essential services

Power outages and water cuts, sometimes lasting for weeks, are common, including in cities.

Landmines

Unexploded landmines are in parts of the country, mainly in border areas with Mozambique, and in the Lupane District in Matabeleland North Province. The Zimbabwe Government has an ongoing national demining program to locate and remove remaining landmines in the country. Stick to main roads and paths where landmines could exist.

Road travel

You are six times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Zimbabwe than in Australia. Hazards include dangerous driving habits, potholed urban and rural roads, inadequate street lighting, vehicles operating in the dark without using lights, and animals on roads.

During the rainy season (November to March), flash flooding can make some roads impassable.

All vehicles must be equipped with a fire extinguisher, 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. If your vehicle is not fully equipped, you could be fined.

By law, all vehicles must stop when the President's motorcade goes past, even if you're on the opposite side of the road on a dual carriageway. Motorcades usually begin with a single police motorcycle with flashing lights. Security forces sometimes intimidate or assault motorists who fail to stop in time.

Police roadblocks can appear with little warning. You must show your identification documents, including car registration and ownership papers, when requested by police. Other items, such as safety equipment, may also be inspected. Drivers may face on-the-spot fines or bribery demands. Payment of a bribe could leave you susceptible to more demands.

It is illegal to use a phone without a hands free device when driving.

Zimbabwe applies vehicle charges for short-term foreign motorists. These charges include a carbon tax, parking fees, road tolls and increased border tolls.

Fuel shortages can occur.  

  • Check you have adequate insurance for you and your vehicle before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Always have a mobile phone or other means of communication when travelling by road.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Be alert to possible hazards at all times, especially at night.
  • Avoid travel at night on major highways in and out of Nairobi and on rural roads.
  • Follow the directions of local authorities, including if you are stopped at a roadblock.
  • Pull over as soon as you see a motorcade, even if it's coming from the opposite direction.
  • Get up-to-date local advice on fuel availability and road conditions, including security risks and road closures, before travel by road to or through rural or remote areas.
  • If you hire a vehicle, make sure it is equipped with all compulsory safety equipment.
  • If you plan to drive to Mozambique, read the Mozambique travel advice and seek up-to-date local advice on the security situation in provinces close to Zimbabwe.

More information: Road travel.

Driver's licence

You can drive in Zimbabwe 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. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Use only registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

Avoid using public transport, including trains and commuter buses. They can be dangerous due to overcrowding, poor maintenance and reckless driving.

Boat travel

There have been a number of passenger ferry and boat accidents. Use a reputable transport provider and wear a lifejacket at all times, even if others don't.

 Air travel

There is a departure tax for domestic flights. Pay in cash to the Civil Aviation Authority at the airport. Collect your receipt.

There is limited airline choice within Zimbabwe. Flight schedules can change or be cancelled at short notice. Charter flights can be arranged through private companies.

Air Zimbabwe has been refused permission to operate flights to the EU due to its safety standards. Australian Embassy staff are not permitted to use Air Zimbabwe for official travel, other than in exceptional circumstances.

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 Zimbabwe.

More information: Air travel

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators aren't always met, especially for activities such as rafting, bungee jumping and other adventure sports. Recommended safety precautions and maintenance standards may not be followed. 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
  • use only reputable, registered tour operators
  • don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements
  • always use available safety equipment, even if others don't
  • if appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Victoria Falls

When visiting Victoria Falls, take care to protect your passport from exposure to water. You may face difficulties if you try to travel using a damaged passport.

Swimming

Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of attacks by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis).

Hunting

Certain regulations apply to hunting. Risks exist, including from landmines in some areas.

  • If you are planning to do guided hunting, make sure you engage a legitimate operator with a valid hunting licence.
  • Research the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations and requirements before you go hunting.

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.

If you are detained you have the right to contact an Australian Embassy consular officer.

Drug laws

The penalties for possession, manufacture or trafficking of illegal drugs, including marijuana, are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines. More information: Drugs

Other laws

Always carry identity documentation or a copy of your passport in case you are stopped by Police or Immigration officials.

Murder, treason, banditry, sabotage and terrorism are punishable by the death penalty. Juvenile offenders may be subject to corporal punishment.

Other activities that are illegal in Zimbabwe include:

  • buying, selling, killing, capturing or trading in the parts of any protected wild animal without a licence
  • homosexuality - more information: LGBTI travellers
  • wearing any form of clothing made from camouflage material, if you're a civilian
  • Purchasing, possessing or distributing counterfeit or pirated goods or pornographic material
  • Possessing precious or semi-precious stones without appropriate paperwork
  • photographing sensitive places, including airports, military establishments, government offices, the President's Residence and security forces, without permission from the Ministry of Information
  • engaging in any political activity, or in activities which could be construed as such, including political discussions in public places
  • making any derogatory or insulting comments about the President
  • distributing or displaying books published by banned authors
  • displaying any form of political allegiance, slogans or images from Zimbabwean political parties
  • continuing to drive when the President's motorcade goes past – see Local travel

An open hand is the political symbol of one of the main political parties. A friendly wave may therefore be misinterpreted as a provocative gesture or political activity.

The President's official residence (State House, Chancellor Avenue, The Avenues, Harare) is particularly sensitive. The roads around the residence are closed between 6pm and 6am. Don't look through the gates or linger outside the walls.

If you are intending to conduct business, familiarise yourself with local laws and regulations, including for land and business ownership. More information: Business 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.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

There is a lack of clarity within Zimbabwe about the recognition of dual nationals. This may limit the ability of Australian officials to provide you consular assistance if you're an Australian-Zimbabwean dual national and you're arrested or detained. 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 medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

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.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne diseases  

Malaria is a risk in all areas except Harare and Bulawayo. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) also occur.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof, including with treated mosquito nets
  • 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.

More information: Infectious diseases

HIV/AIDS

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

Typhoid and other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles and rabies) occur. More serious outbreaks occur from time-to-time.

  • Keep your typhoid vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • 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.

More information:

Medical facilities

Health services are poor.

Medical facilities outside Harare and Bulawayo are limited. Some medical supplies and prescription medicines may not be available.

Public hospitals in Harare and other towns experience shortages of staff, water, power, medicines and equipment. They may not treat certain illnesses or offer assistance in an accident or emergency.

You will need to pay upfront before you are admitted, even for emergency treatment.

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

The rainy season is November to April when flooding may occur.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • 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 about your welfare and whereabouts.

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 insurer. 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
  • Police: phone 999 or 777-777 (Harare Central Police Station ) or visit the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism products and services

To complain 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. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Harare.

Australian Embassy, Harare

1 Green Close
Borrowdale, Harare, Zimbabwe
Telephone: +263 (024) 2 853 235 55
Facsimile: +263 (024) 2 870 566
Email: zimbabwe.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Website: zimbabwe.embassy.gov.au

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

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

Additional information

Additional resources