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Travel & living abroad

Sub Saharan Africa

Zambia

Flag of Zambia
Still current at: 04 September 2011
Updated: 04 August 2011


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary and Safety and Security – Political situation (tri-partite elections to be held in Zambia on 20 September 2011) and General - Consular Assistance Statistics (updated statistics).The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in this travel advice for Zambia.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


  • Zambia will hold tri-partite elections on 20 September 2011. We advise you to avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large gatherings which can on occasion become violent.

  • Any non-Zambian national overstaying their visa, not renewing their residence permit or working without a permit, including volunteer workers, risk arrest, imprisonment and deportation. A number of British nationals have been arrested and charged with immigration offences.

  • You should exercise caution when travelling in the rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark. You should also be aware that there is a risk of landmines on the Angola side of the Zambia/Angola border, as well as on the Zambia/Mozambique and Zambia/DRC borders.

  • Around 60,000 British tourists visit Zambia every year (Source: Zambia Tourist Board). See General - Consular Assistance Statistics.

  • 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 - 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
There are occasionally incidents of armed robberies and vehicle hijackings. Remain vigilant at all times. You should be particularly careful when approaching locked gateways at night. There have been reports of car-jackings by Congolese gangs on the Mufulira to Ndola road that runs parallel with the DRC border. Stay alert and do not, for example, stop to give lifts to people flagging you down at the roadside. Exercise caution where objects appear to have been placed to block the road. When driving keep windows closed and doors locked.
 
Bag snatching and theft from parked cars are common at some restaurants and internet cafes in downtown areas, particularly near bus and railway stations and in some shopping areas. This is particularly the case in Lusaka and Livingstone. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight. Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas. Keep originals of important documents in a safe place and carry copies of passports and immigration permits in a separate place to the documents themselves.

Walking after dark, particularly in tourist or down town areas, can be dangerous. Avoid the Cairo Road area of Lusaka, including Chachacha, Freedom Way and Lumumba Roads, as violent robberies occur in this area, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Tourists are occasionally attacked in remote locations.

You should use reputable banks and bureaux de change to exchange money or use ATM's, as counterfeit US$100 and Zambian Kwacha 50,000 notes are in circulation.

See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.
 
Safety and Security - Political Situation
Zambia Country Profile

Zambia will hold tri-partite elections on 20 September 2011. We advise you to avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large gatherings, which can on occasion become violent.  

Trouble on the streets can be spontaneous. There are occasional student demonstrations, which can lead to violence, at the University of Zambia on the Great East Road, which is the main route to and from Lusaka International Airport.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
On 21 April 2011, the Zambian police restricted movement to and from Mansa in Luapula Province due to ongoing rioting which has resulted in six deaths. The unrest appears to be due to alleged rumours of ritual murders in Luapula’s provincial centre.

There was violent civil unrest following a dispute in the town of Mazabuka on 1 March 2011. In the same month, we were also aware of reports of violent demonstrations in Mpulungu (near Lake Tanganyika) due to public discontent over incidents of crime.  In January 2011, two people died in an outbreak of violence in the Western Province. For those travelling to the border area between Zambia and Zimbabwe, including the Victoria Falls area, please also read our Travel Advice for Zimbabwe.

You should exercise caution when travelling in the rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark.  The use of legitimate border crossings in these areas is safe, though Congolese officials may request payments to cross these borders. Travel in the bush along this border for hunting or prospecting is not advised.
 
The risk of landmines is high in Zambia's border areas, particularly those neighbouring the DRC and Mozambique. There is also the risk of landmines on the Angola side of the Zambia/Angola border. You should exercise caution when venturing off the main roads in these areas.
 
Wild animals in the bush, including poisonous snakes, are unpredictable and do kill.  Whether travelling on land or water, you are at risk of potentially fatal animal attacks.  Always observe local regulations and follow your tour or safari guide’s instructions.
 
Adventure sports, such as those on offer in the Victoria Falls area, carry inherent risks.  Serious accidents and deaths occasionally occur. The medical care available in such emergencies varies greatly in quality. Participants should follow operators’ safety instructions closely. Your insurance policy must cover any adventure sports you may wish to undertake.
 
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
The Zambian Road Traffic Commission allows holders of UK driving licences to drive in Zambia for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer than 90 days you need to obtain an International Driving Permit or a Zambian driving licence.
 
Drink driving is against the law, as is driving while talking on a mobile telephone.
 
Road travel at night in rural areas can be hazardous.  Abandoned vehicles, pedestrians and stray animals are a danger to road users. Many roads are severely pot-holed or otherwise unsafe, especially during the rainy season (November-April) when bridges and roads risk being washed away by sudden floods.  There are frequent fatal crashes.
 
There are also dangers in urban areas, including in Lusaka: vehicles are often poorly lit, inadequately maintained and badly driven. There have been incidents of road rage.
 
Travel by long-distance public transport can be hazardous owing to poor standards of driving, lack of rest periods for drivers on long journeys, dilapidated vehicles and poor road conditions. Minibuses used in urban areas are usually severely overcrowded, poorly maintained and badly driven.

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
With effect from 15 July 2009, all Zambian airlines have been refused permission to operate services to the EU. This decision, by the EU Air Safety Committee, followed an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit of Zambia, which discovered significant shortcomings in the ability of the Zambian civil aviation authorities to ensure the safe operation of airlines licensed by them. It is recommended that you avoid flying with any airline from Zambia if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists. If you already have a flight booked with an airline from Zambia and it is part of a journey which commenced in the EU you should consult your travel agent. The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community: European Commission Transport - Air.

See Airline Security.

There are a number of over the counter drugs that are available in the UK that are not legal in Zambia. Check ingredients carefully and consider leaving non-essential items at home. If medication is essential we advise you to contact the Government of Zambia’s Pharmaceutical Authority to request advance permission to bring the drugs into the country; you can e-mail the Director General at pharmacy@pra.gov.zm or write to: Director General Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority, Box 31890, Lusaka. Customs may ask to see prescriptions for any medication brought into the country.

The possession or use of narcotics, including soft drugs such as marijuana, is strictly prohibited. Drug taking and smuggling are offences. Punishments can be severe. Prisons conditions are very poor.
 
The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia and offenders may be jailed and/or deported.
 
Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and those caught engaging in homosexual acts can be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
 
It is an offence to drive after drinking alcohol and to use a mobile telephone whilst driving.
 
The Zambian authorities do not always inform the British High Commission when British Nationals have been arrested. If you are detained, you may insist on your right to contact a British consular officer.

You should avoid taking pictures of sites deemed sensitive by the Zambian Government. These include power stations, explosives factories, pumping stations, army barracks, government buildings, river junctions, road and rail bridges, the Ndola Oil refinery, mining areas and airports. If in doubt, do not take pictures.

See our Your Trip page.

Entry Requirements - Visas
British passport holders require a visa to enter Zambia. Visas can be obtained from the Zambian High Commission in London (address below). Visa fees for British nationals are US$50 for a single entry visa and US$80 for a double-entry visa. Single entry visit visas are available at all ports of entry, but multi-entry visas are not and must be applied for before travelling. It is possible to obtain a double entry visa at ports of entry for US$80. It is important to carry the exact amount with you, as change may not be available. For further information on Zambian visa requirements, you should contact the Zambian High Commission in London or visit Zambia Department of Immigration, rather than relying solely on advice from sponsoring organisations and local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). On leaving Zambia, non-residents pay a departure tax of US$25. This is now normally included in the cost of an air ticket but you will be asked to pay this separately in US Dollars if it is not.  With effect from 1 January 2011 the National Airports Corporation has added a Security Charge to all departing passengers payable at all NACL airports.  Cost is US $3 per person per sector for domestic flights and US $5 per person for international flights.  Fees can be paid in US Dollars or Kwacha equivalent or any other major currency.  All major credit cards are accepted.  The fee will not be included in the ticket price at this stage.

Volunteer workers should obtain business visas from the Zambian High Commission in London prior to departure. Any non-Zambian national overstaying their visa, not renewing their residence permit or working without a permit, including volunteer workers, risks arrest, imprisonment and deportation.  Agents claiming to be able to obtain residence and work permits from the Immigration Department for foreign nationals may be bogus and the documents they provide may be forged.

Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months on arrival and have at least two blank pages. We are aware of a number of cases of British nationals being turned back due to the fact that their passport did not comply with this requirement. Zambia does not recognise dual nationality and it is important to be able to produce a passport bearing the exit stamp from the country from which you have travelled.

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. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Zambian High Commission in London.

Medical facilities and communications in Zambia are poor, especially in rural areas. Even basic drugs and clean needles may not be available.  Emergency services are limited. You should know your blood group and carry a sterile medical kit including needles, dressings etc.

On arrival in Zambia, customs officials may ask to see prescriptions for any medication brought into the country.

Malaria, Rabies and Tuberculosis (TB) are common to Zambia. There has been a recent outbreak of measles which is particularly affecting the young. You should take particular care if you are travelling with children. Cholera and Dysentery are common to Zambia, especially during the rainy season (November-April). You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. You should only eat food, which has been thoroughly cooked, and for which basic hygiene precautions have been taken.  Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.  If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Zambia you should seek immediate medical attention.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 860,000 adults aged 15 or over in Zambia were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around  13.5 of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage 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.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Zambia 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 (NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel) or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health page.

General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance, which should include cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance.  Check for any exclusions and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  For more general information see Travel Insurance.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas, see When Things Go Wrong.

General - Registration
Long-term visitors and residents should register LOCATE 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 - Money

ATMs are available within Lusaka and some of the major towns in Zambia, though these tend to only accept Visa and not Mastercard. The major credit cards are increasingly accepted by the larger shops, hotels, restaurants and tour operators though paper rather than electronic transactions are the norm. Many companies charge a 5% fee for the use of credit cards to pay for goods or services. You should ensure that credit cards are swiped no more than necessary and that all carbons are destroyed. In Lusaka you should use reputable banks and bureaux de change to exchange money or use ATMs, as counterfeit US$100 and Zambian Kwacha 50,000 notes are in circulation.

General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Around 600,000 British tourists visit Zambia every year (Source: Zambia National Tourist Board). 38 British nationals (residents and tourists) required consular assistance in Zambia in the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident; 24 deaths; one hospitalisation; and three arrests.

Contact Details

Address:
British High Commission
5210 Independence Avenue
PO Box 50050
15101 Ridgeway
Lusaka
Zambia
Telephone: (+260) (211) 423200

Facsimile:
(260) (211) 423291 (Management/Press and Public Affairs/ Development
(260) (211) 423273 (Chancery)

E-mail: 
General Enquiries - LusakaGeneralEnquiries@fco.gov.uk
Consular Enquiries - LusakaConsularEnquiries@fco.gov.uk
Visa Enquiries - LusakaVISAEnquiries@fco.gov.uk
Press Enquiries - LusakaPressEnquiries@fco.gov.uk
Projects - LusakaProjects@fco.gov.uk

Office hours: GMT: Monday-Thursday: 0600-1100 / 1200-1445; Friday: 0600-1100; Local Time: Monday-Thursday: 0800-1300 / 1400-1645; Friday: 0800-1300.

Out of hours: the British High Commission answer machine gives an emergency contact number.

Website:  UK in Zambia

Contacts

Zambia, Lusaka, British High Commission

Address:

British High Commission
5210 Independence Avenue
PO Box 50050
15101 Ridgeway

Telephone:

(+260) (211) 423200

Fax:

(+260) (211) 423291 Management/Press and Public Affairs
(+260) (211) 423273 Chancery

 

Office hours:

Office hours: British Summer Time (BST): Monday-Thursday: 0600-1100/1200-1445
Friday: 0600-1100
Local: Monday-Thursday: 0800-1300/1400-1645
Friday: 0800-1300


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

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