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Travel & living abroad

Sub Saharan Africa

Swaziland

Flag of Swaziland
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 18 October 2010


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Safety and Security - Political Situation section. The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Swaziland.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary


  • There is no British High Commission in Swaziland. In case of an emergency you should contact the British High Commission in Pretoria. There is an Honorary British Consul in Mbabane, but he should be contacted for consular emergencies only. See Contact Details.

  • Do not drive at night along the N4 or other isolated roads en route to or within Swaziland as there is a risk of being hijacked. Livestock and unlit, parked vehicles pose additional hazards. See Safety and Security - Local Travel -  Road Travel .

  • Swaziland has the world's highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS. You should be alert to the dangers of unprotected sex.

  • Most visits are trouble-free. Crime levels are relatively low for the southern Africa region but sensible precautions are needed. See Crime.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance.

Safety and security

Safety and Security - Terrorism
 There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

See our Terrorism Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Crime

You should avoid travelling into or out of Swaziland by road at night.  There have been numerous incidences of car hijacking on major routes from South Africa and Mozambique.
 
The level of crime is low in Swaziland compared to its immediate neighbours.  But street crimes and burglaries do occur, sometimes involving violence.  There have also been incidents of vehicles being taken at gunpoint.  Avoid walking in the downtown areas of Mbabane and Manzini after dark and do not picnic in remote rural areas unless in a large group.

Keep valuables in a safe place and avoid carrying large amounts of money or wearing conspicuous jewellery. 

See our
Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Political Situation
Swaziland Country Profile

The political situation is stable, but periodically there are organised demonstrations relating to labour and political issues in the Kingdom. Certain political parties have been banned and designated terrorist organisations. We advise visitors to avoid gatherings which, if regarded as unauthorised demonstrations, could be dispersed by the police authorities using a degree of force.
 
Safety and Security - Local Travel  
All areas of Swaziland are accessible by road, though care should be taken in rural areas (see Road Travel below).

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel

UK or international driving licences (provided the latter are in English) are acceptable.
 
The standard of driving is lower than in the UK. Drivers often cross the central reservation to avoid obstructions. Speeding by other drivers is a problem (the maximum speed limit is 120 km on motorways and 80 km on other unrestricted roads). Minor roads are not well maintained and road markings are poor.
 
On rural roads there have been a number of serious accidents and deaths as a result of animals straying onto roads. Avoid driving on rural roads at night. As well as the risk of hitting animals, there is the additional risk of abandoned unlit trailers and poorly lit heavy vehicles.
 
Do not use public transport (buses and taxis). Vehicles are, generally, poorly maintained and overloaded.
 
Be wary of anyone who offers you help if you breakdown or need to change a tyre as it presents the opportunity for theft, muggings and hijackings. You should park in well-lit areas. Do not pick up strangers. Do not stop to assist apparently distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers. Instead, report the incident to the police. For more general information see Driving Abroad.
 
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community. You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel - European Commission Transport - Air.

For more general information see Airline Security.

Local laws and customs

Drug taking (dagga/marijuana) and smuggling, though common in local culture, are illegal.  Foreign nationals have been imprisoned on drug offences. Punishments can be severe.  Homosexuality is legal. For more general information for different types of travellers see Your Trip.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visa
British passport holders and most Commonwealth citizens do not require visas for Swaziland. Visitors will normally be given entry permission for up to thirty days. This can be extended at the Swaziland Immigration Department in Mbabane. All Swaziland border posts open daily throughout the year but hours of operation are variable.

Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months and have several blank pages remaining on arrival. Applications for new passports are accepted by the Consular Section at the British High Commission in Pretoria in person or by courier (if a courier is used, the cost is borne by the applicant).

Entry Requirements - South Africa
South African authorities state officially that only one blank passport page is required for entry. But there have been reports that some South African officials insist on two blank pages. We recommend you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival in South Africa.

Entry Requirements - Vehicles
If you travel in a vehicle other than one registered in Swaziland, you will have to complete a customs declaration form at Swazi border posts on entry and departure for customs purposes. A road fund levy, currently E50 (n.b. the Swazi currency is pegged to the South African Rand), is payable at the border for all non-Swazi registered vehicles. You must carry with you in the vehicle at all times proof of your customs declaration and payment of the road fund levy. Vehicles may be searched at the borders. You may also be stopped on the roads for police checks on vehicle and driver documentation (including proof of payment of the road fund levy) and/or vehicle road worthiness.  

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

Health

Basic healthcare is available in Swaziland, but there are increasing shortages of even common medications. Medical evacuation to South Africa is necessary for serious accidents and emergencies. Local private hospitals can arrange evacuation but only if you are fully insured or you can produce funds in advance to pay for evacuation and treatment.

Rabies occurs in most African countries. You should also be aware of the risk of tick bites in the bush.

Malaria is endemic in the lowveld and visitors are advised to see their doctors to obtain the prescribed prophylactic before their visit. Drinking water may not be safe, especially in rural areas. Bilharzia, a tropical flat worm found in water and which is parasitic in humans, exists in some rivers. There is also a risk of cholera. You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Swaziland you should seek immediate medical attention.

In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 170,000 adults aged 15 or over in Swaziland were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 26.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Swaziland and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health page.

Natural disasters


In the wet summer months (November to April) violent thunderstorms with lightning and heavy rains are common in the highveld areas.

General

General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see Travel Insurance.

If things do go wrong when you are oversees then see When Things Go Wrong.

General - Registration
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.

General - Representation
There is no British High Commission in Swaziland, but there is an Honorary British Consul in Mbabane, who can be contacted for assistance with consular emergencies only.

Frank Pettit

PO Box 41
Eveni
Mbabane
H103
Swaziland

Telephone +268 404 3469
Fax: +268 551 6247
E-mail: Frank.Pettit@fconet.fco.gov.uk

All other enquiries should be directed to the British High Commission in Pretoria, which covers Swaziland.

General - Money
The local currency (Emalangeni) is not convertible. South African notes (but not coins) are legal tender, as are most major credit cards. ATM machines are readily available.

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Contacts

Swaziland, Mbabane

Address:

Honorary Consul Swaziland

P O Box 41
Eveni
Mbabane H103
Swaziland

Telephone:

Tel: 00 (268) 404 3469

Cell: 00 (268) 614 3044

Fax:

Fax: 00 (268) 551 6247

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0600-1500
Fri: 0600-1030

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1700
Fri: 0800-1230

Website: http://ukinsouthafrica.fco.gov.uk/en/

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