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Travel & living abroad

Sub Saharan Africa

Rwanda

Flag of Rwanda
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 16 December 2010


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Safety and Security and Air Travel sections (grenade attacks; updated list of carriers flying to/from Rwanda). The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to specific parts of Rwanda and against all but essential travel to other specific parts of Rwanda.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary



  • We advise against all travel to the rural border areas with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), except to the towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu. We advise against all travel to Eastern DRC except for Goma and Bukavu.  We advise against all but essential travel to Goma and Bukavu.  This is because of the risk of cross-border incursions by armed guerrillas operating from DRC’s Kivu provinces and ongoing instability in Eastern Congo. Please see the Local Travel section for advice on gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

  • We advise against all but essential travel to the rural border areas of Burundi.  See Burundi Travel Advice if you are planning to visit Burundi.

  • Rwanda is generally safe but there have been recent incidents of street crime. You should exercise caution at night.  

  • 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 the General (Insurance) section of this Travel Advice.

Safety and security

Safety and Security – Grenade Attacks

There have been reports of random grenade attacks throughout the year, most recently in early December 2010, resulting in fatalities and injuries.  It remains unclear who is behind these attacks and we advise travellers to maintain a high level of personal security awareness.

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.

Safety and Security - Crime  

Levels of crime remain relatively low in Rwanda.  There has, however, been an increase in reports of bag snatching and mugging incidents targeting expatriates and tourists.  

You should take sensible precautions i.e. exercise caution when walking at night, arrange transport, do not carry large amounts of money and do not leave cars unsupervised in the town centre.  Take care who you talk to, who you invite to your home or hotel and who you hire as a taxi driver just as you would in UK.

See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
Areas bordering Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
We advise against all travel to the rural border areas with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), except to the towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu. This is because of the risk of cross-border incursions by armed guerrillas operating from DRC’s Kivu provinces and the ongoing trouble in Eastern Congo where there is a UN peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, operating and the presence of various rebel groups. The visa requirements at the border between DRC and Rwanda have changed. Please see DRC Travel Advice for more details.  Please monitor FCO’s Travel Advice section for any updates.

Safety and Security - Gorilla Trekking

It is  safe to visit the gorillas or climb volcanoes in the Parc National des Volcans (also known as Volcanoes Park) in Rwanda, The Parc National des Volcans is well protected, and if you are gorilla trekking or climbing volcanoes you must be part of an organised tour.

Safety and Security - Burundi

We advise against all but essential travel to the rural border areas of Burundi. This is because there is a risk of cross-border incursions by rebel groups based in Burundi. Please see the Burundi Travel Advice for more details. 

Safety and Security - Road Travel

UK and international driving licences are acceptable for three months, after which you should apply for a Rwandan licence. The road infrastructure from Kigali to all major towns is good. There can be landslides on some of the major roads during the annual rains in late spring and autumn. Road travel after dark should be avoided as roads are unlit and driving standards are poor. Shared taxis (mini-vans) and motorbike taxis are the most common form of public transport within towns and around the country.  However, they are also the most vulnerable to accidents, and incidents.

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Air Travel

Five carriers fly in and out of Rwanda: Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways, Rwandair, Ethiopian Airlines and KLM.

Before using internal or regional flights that are not with major international carriers, you should check the airline’s accreditation and see whether the airline operates in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) safety standards. Rwandair leases its aircrafts from GECAS.

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.

Political Situation
Rwanda Country Profile 

Local laws and customs

Photography of government buildings is prohibited. Due to environmental reasons, plastic bags have been banned. Visible plastic bags will be confiscated on arrival at the airport.

For more general information for different types of travellers see Your Trip.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Rwanda for up to three months. If you intend to travel to Rwanda more frequently or you are working there you should contact the Rwandan Immigration Department for a longer duration visa. Further information is available from the Rwandan High Commission.

Please note that if you are planning to apply for resident/business or missionary multiple entry visas upon entry to Rwanda you will need to obtain UK police clearance. We strongly advise you to obtain police clearance before travelling as this takes a minimum of 40 working days to process.  

Entry Requirements - Yellow fever vaccination certificate

You may be asked for your yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival at Kigali International Airport, especially if you are entering Rwanda from a country where yellow fever is present.

Health

Only limited medical facilities are available. In the event of serious accident or illness an evacuation by air ambulance to Kenya or South Africa may be required. Malaria is common to Rwanda.

In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 130,000 adults aged 15 or over in Rwanda were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 2.8% 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. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

Seek medical advice before travelling to Rwanda 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 NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health page.

Natural disasters

Natural Disasters - Earthquakes
The last reported earthquake was on 3 February 2008. It was 6.0 magnitude and recorded in Bukavu (eastern DRC) and a second earthquake of magnitude 5.0 struck near the Lake town of Cyangugu in South-West Rwanda.

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. See our Travel Insuranc page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Registering with the British High Commission

All British nationals should register at the British High Commission on arrival. You may also 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.

General - Passports

You should be aware that the British High Commission in Kigali offers only an Emergency Passport service.

General - Money

Credit cards are not used widely and few cash machines take foreign credit cards.

General - Consular Assistance

Four British nationals required consular assistance in Rwanda in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident; death (1 case); and arrest (1 case). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports.  

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Contacts

Rwanda, Kigali, British High Commission

Address:

British High Commission
Parcelle No 1131
Boulevard de l'Umuganda
Kacyiru-Sud
BP 576 Kigali

Telephone:

(+250) 252 556000

Fax:

(+250) 252 582 044

Email: embassy.kigali@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0600-1000/1100-1500
Fri: 0600-1000

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1200/1300-1700
Fri: 0800-1200
Emergency number out of office hours (+250) (0) 252 556999

Website: http://ukinrwanda.fco.gov.uk

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