BurundiOfficial Name: Republic of Burundi
Six months from date of arrival
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Suite 408, Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Telephone: +(257) 22-20-7000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(257) 79-938-841
Fax: +(257) 22-24-3467
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burundi is a small, francophone, densely populated central African nation bordering Lake Tanganyika, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Burundi was plagued by a civil war from 1993 to 2006 that often involved non-governmental and non-combatant targets. In 2009, the last rebel group agreed to demobilize and register as a political party. Between May and September 2010, Burundi held a series of five elections covering elected offices at all levels of government which domestic and international observers considered to be credible. Years of fighting have devastated a historically fragile economy that depends on subsistence agriculture. Poor public health and education, weather disasters such as drought and floods, crop diseases, soaring food and fuel prices, and lack of infrastructure exacerbate the effects of conflict and delay recovery. Limited facilities for tourism are slowly becoming available around the capital city, Bujumbura. Outside the capital, particularly towards the southern town of Rumonge, tourist facilities are developing along the lakeshore. However, road and safety guidelines should be considered when traveling outside of Bujumbura. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Burundi for additional information on U.S.-Burundi relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport valid for at least six months and evidence of immunization against yellow fever are required for entry into Burundi. Please visit the CDC for other country specific vaccination information.
As of April 2015, visitors are no longer able to obtain a Burundian visa upon arrival at port of entry. Travelers to Burundi should inquire about visa procedures with their nearest Burundian Embassy or Immigration Office before planning a trip. Travelers with an expired visa are not permitted to leave the country without acquiring an exit visa prior to departure.
The latest information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 408, Washington, DC 20007, telephone (202) 342-2574, or from the Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations in New York at telephone (212) 499-0001 and 0002. Visit the Embassy of Burundi website for visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burundi.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
See the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Burundi. In October 2009, al-Shabaab publically threatened to attack Burundi to retaliate for its participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The U.S. Embassy in Burundi takes this threat seriously and regularly reviews the security posture for U.S. government personnel and travel warnings for U.S. citizens in the region. U.S. citizen in Burundi should remain vigilant while performing daily activities or while traveling outside of major cities to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime or other violent acts.
Public demonstrations in Burundi are generally nonviolent and well controlled by the police. However, any demonstration or spontaneous gathering has the potential to become violent. A “jogging” protest on March 8, 2014, in response to proposed changes to the constitution for the 2015 elections, resulted in life sentences for 21 of the protesters and a ban on jogging in groups. Burundi has elections scheduled from May through August of 2015. Based on recent elections, it is anticipated that the risk of political violence will likely increase before during and immediately after the elections.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Burundi on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime poses a high risk for foreign visitors to Bujumbura and Burundi in general. Due to insufficient resources, local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance in emergencies. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dusk or using local public transportation. Foreigners, whether in vehicles or at home, are always potential crime targets. Common crimes, often committed by groups of armed bandits, include mugging, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing, burglary, automobile break-ins and carjacking. Don’t leave valuable items unattended in a hotel room. Many criminal incidents involve armed attackers. Criminals in Bujumbura often operate in pairs or in small groups involving six or more individuals.
The Department of State advises you to use caution when traveling, paying particular attention when traveling to and from frequent destinations including work, home, and popular shops or restaurants. You should also avoid establishing routines and vary routes between regularly-traveled destinations in order to reduce vulnerability to targeted criminal or terrorist acts. You should pay close attention to your personal security at locations where foreigners are commonly known to congregate and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. U.S. citizens living and working in Bujumbura should take this opportunity to ensure your security and emergency action plans are up-to-date.
Likewise, outside of Bujumbura, vulnerability to criminal attacks on the roads continues to be a serious concern. The U.S. Embassy strongly cautions against traveling outside of towns after nightfall. When traveling upcountry, the best practice is to use convoys of multiple vehicles to prevent becoming a victim of crime in the event of mechanical failure or emergency while traveling. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy recommends travelers be equipped with satellite telephones, maps, and navigation equipment, medical gear to include trauma supplies, and vehicle maintenance and recovery equipment, especially when traveling off main routes.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Burundi is 112. In practice the number often goes unanswered and you may wish to seek police assistance in person; there is no comparable number outside the capital.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Burundi, you are subject to local laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from those in the United States. Persons violating Burundian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Burundi are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In Burundi, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. It is illegal to take pictures of certain sensitive buildings/installations in Burundi. If you see Burundian Police near an installation, it’s safer to seek permission before taking photographs. If you break local laws in Burundi, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Burundi, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. embassy of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. embassy.
Currency: There are a few international ATMs in Burundi. However, frequent power outages and connectivity issues prevent ATMs from being a reliable source for currency. Additionally, most Burundian hotels and businesses do not accept credit cards. Some hotels in Bujumbura accept payment in U.S. dollars or Euros from non-Burundians. Travelers should be aware that Burundian banking practices prohibit the acceptance of U.S. currency printed before the year 2006.
Photography: The U.S. Embassy recommends that you not photograph airports, military installations, or other government buildings, and that you obtain permission from individuals before taking their photographs.
Power Shortages: At times, the power supply in Bujumbura can be a serious problem, particularly during the dry season and after nightfall.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on our Women Travelers page.
LGBT RIGHTS: The Government of Burundi adopted a penal code in April 2009 that criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, with penalties ranging from a fine to imprisonment. To date, however, there are no reports that anyone has been prosecuted for such activities. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Burundi you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Burundi, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Although local law prohibits discrimination against people with handicaps, this law is not enforced. Furthermore, there are no laws requiring access to transportation, communication, or public buildings for persons with disabilities. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts. Most buildings do not have functioning elevators. People living in Burundi with disabilities must rely on their families for support.
Medical facilities in Burundi do not meet United States standards. You should carry an ample supply of properly-labeled prescription drugs and other medications with you, as certain medications and prescription drugs are unavailable or in short supply. Locally acquired pharmaceuticals are frequently found to be counterfeit and may contain none of the listed medication. Sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Ambulance assistance is non-existent and emergency services are all but unavailable. Hospital care in Burundi should be considered in only the most serious cases and when no reasonable alternatives are available.
The risk from mosquito borne illnesses such as Yellow Fever and malaria can be minimized by prevention of bites and Yellow Fever immunization. Travelers should carry and use mosquito repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET or picaridin, and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets if possible.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is highly prevalent throughout Burundi in all months of the year. Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended and you will need to discuss with your doctor the best ways for you to avoid malaria. Methods to prevent malaria include the following:
- Taking a prescription antimalarial drug,
- Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites, and
- Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms and using insecticide treated bed nets.
Due to widespread resistance, chloroquine cannot be used to prevent malaria in Africa;
Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine are appropriate medications for Burundi. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.”
All routine United States immunizations should also be up to date prior to arrival in Burundi. This includes measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis A and tetanus, all of which are more common in Burundi than in the United States. In addition to the required Yellow Fever vaccine it is also recommended that all travelers receive typhoid immunization but it is not required for entry.
Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Even in urban areas dogs may have rabies and bites and scratches from dogs, bats or other mammals should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and medical attention sought to determine if rabies preventive therapies are indicated.
Schistosomiasis, transmitted by waterborne larvae that penetrate intact skin, presents significant risk throughout the country, especially in Lake Tanganika, northeastern lakes near Rwanda, and surrounding areas. Travelers should avoid freshwater exposure.
Tuberculosis (TB) is common in all developing countries. However, Burundi has an incidence of over 100 cases per 100,000 population – the highest risk category. Travelers planning to stay more than one month should have pre-departure tuberculin skin test status documented. Travelers should avoid crowded public places and public transportation whenever possible. Domestic help should be screened for TB. TB is an increasingly serious health concern in Burundi. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
There is a very high incidence of diarrheal diseases throughout the country including in luxury hotels in major cities. Travelers can protect themselves by following good hygiene and safe food preparation. These include scrupulous washing of hands under running water, especially before food preparation and eating, thorough cooking of food, boiling or treatment of drinking water, and use of sanitary facilities. Above all, be very careful with food, especially raw vegetables and leafy salads which are frequently contaminated.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Burundi, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Burundi is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
While travel on most roads is generally safe during the day, travelers must maintain constant vigilance. There have been reports of violent attacks on vehicles traveling the roads throughout the country outside of Bujumbura. U.S. Embassy personnel are required to have their trips pre-approved by the Embassy's Regional Security Officer, and to carry a satellite phone with them. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel on the national highways from dusk to dawn. Drivers without valid permits, and the ease with which a driver's license can be acquired without training, make Burundian drivers less careful, predictable, or mindful of driving rules than U.S. drivers may expect.
There are no functioning traffic signals in Bujumbura, and virtually nothing of the kind elsewhere in the country. Roadways are not marked, and the lack of streetlights or shoulders makes driving in the countryside at night especially dangerous.
Additionally, drivers may encounter cyclists, pedestrians, and livestock in the roadway, including in and around the capital. Mini-vans used as buses for 18 persons should be given a wide berth as they start and stop abruptly, often without pulling to the side of the road.
Large holes or damaged portions of roadway may be encountered anywhere in the country, including in Bujumbura. When driving in the countryside off main roads, travelers should carry multiple spare tires. During the rainy season, many side roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Burundi’s supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel are imported predominantly from Kenya and Tanzania, and are relatively expensive due to high transportation costs. Service stations are rare outside of the major cities.
Third-party insurance is required, and it will cover any damages in the event of an accident (property, injury, or death). If you are found to have caused an accident, you automatically will be fined 10,000 Burundian francs (approximately $6.50 USD) and your driver's license will be confiscated until the police investigation is completed. Although the law provides for the arrest of drunk drivers, in practice, the police do not act on this law.
In the city of Bujumbura, the number for police assistance is 112, although frequently calls to this number are unanswered; there is no comparable number outside the capital. If you are involved in an accident causing death, it is advised that you leave the scene of the accident and proceed to the nearest police station.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Burundi’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.