BurundiOfficial Name: Republic of Burundi
Six months from date of arrival
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes, including yellow fever vaccination
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. Ten years after emerging from a brutal civil war into a transitional democracy, Burundi remains a fragile country with a tenuous security situation. Facilities for tourism are limited. 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.
As of April 2015, visitors are no longer able to obtain a Burundian visa upon arrival at port of entry. For visa information, contact the Embassy of Burundi. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Burundi embassy or consulate.
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, Travel Alert for Burundi, and the Worldwide Caution for the current security situation. The terrorist organization al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, has threatened to conduct terror attacks in Burundi. U.S. citizens in Burundi should remain vigilant while performing daily activities and while traveling outside of major cities to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime or other violent acts. Official U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using local public transportation, walking on the streets after dusk and driving outside the capital at night.
Burundi has elections scheduled from May through August though they may extend to September 2015. It is anticipated the risk of political violence will continue to increase before, during, and immediately after the elections - based on observations from recent and past elections, reports of protests that have turned violent, and ongoing civil unrest. Public demonstrations in Burundi are generally nonviolent and well controlled by the police. Any demonstration or spontaneous gathering, however, has the potential to become violent, especially in the current politically-charged environment. Demonstrations and protests have become a regular feature of life in the capital and are expected to continue through the summer 2015 election cycle.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Burundi on Twitter and Facebook.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime poses a high risk for foreign visitors to Bujumbura and Burundi in general. Foreigners, whether in vehicles or at home, are always potential crime targets. Many criminal incidents involve armed attackers. Common crimes, often committed by groups of armed bandits, include mugging, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing, burglary, automobile break-ins, and carjacking. Do not leave valuable items unattended in a hotel room.
Use caution when traveling; pay particular attention when traveling to and from frequent destinations including work, home, and popular shops or restaurants. 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 personal security and emergency action plans are up-to-date.
Outside of Bujumbura vulnerability to criminal attacks on the roads continues to be a serious concern. Avoid traveling outside of towns after nightfall. When traveling upcountry, use convoys of multiple vehicles to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime in the event of mechanical failure or emergency. Furthermore, travel gear should include satellite telephones, maps, and navigation equipment, medical and trauma supplies, and vehicle maintenance and recovery equipment, especially when traveling off main routes.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: In general, response or recourse for victims of crime is extremely limited or non-existent. Local authorities, not the U.S. government, are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes against U.S. citizens.
- Assist you in seeking medical assistance and provide a list of doctors.
- Assist you in reporting the crime to the police, explain legal processes in general terms, and provide a list of lawyers.
- Contact relatives or friends at your request and with your written consent.
- Replace a stolen passport.
The emergency number in Burumbura 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: Travelers are subject to local laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from those in the United States. Persons violating local laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Travelers may be taken in for questioning if stopped by the police and unable to produce their passport or for taking pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lead to arrest. If you break local laws in Burundi, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. The U.S. government cannot get you out of jail.
Regardless of local law, it is a crime prosecutable in the United States to:
- engage in sexual conduct with children and use or disseminate child pornography in a foreign country
- knowingly take a girl younger than 18 years old outside of the United States for the purpose of performing female genital mutilation/cutting (so-called FGM “vacation cutting”)
- buy pirated goods
In the event of an arrest or detention, ask the police and prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible.
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. Burundian banking practices prohibit the acceptance of U.S. currency printed before the year 2006 (due to counterfeiting).
Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of certain sensitive buildings/installations such as airports, military installations, or other government buildings. If you see Burundian Police near an installation, seek permission before taking photographs. Ask 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.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: The law criminalizes same-sex sexual acts with penalties ranging from a fine to imprisonment of three months to two years, with or without a fine. To date, however, there are no reports that anyone has been prosecuted for such activities. See 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: 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.
Consult the CDC website prior to travel for the most up to date health information. Travelers should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling for applicable vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. Make sure health insurance provides coverage while overseas. Consider supplemental insurance that includes medical evacuation. The U.S. government cannot pay travelers’ medical bills.
Medical facilities do not meet United States standards. Sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Ambulance assistance is non-existent and emergency services are not always available. Hospital care should be considered in only the most serious cases and when no reasonable alternatives are available. Carry an ample supply of properly-labeled prescription drugs and other medications in their original containers, as they may be unavailable or in short supply. Locally acquired pharmaceuticals are frequently found to be counterfeit and may contain none of the listed medication.
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. 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. This includes measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis A, and tetanus. In addition to the required Yellow Fever vaccine it is also recommended that all travelers receive typhoid immunization.
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. Domestic help should be screened for TB. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Diarrheal diseases are prevalent throughout the country even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Follow scrupulous hygiene and safe food preparation. Wash hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food, and after using sanitation facilities. Avoid cooked food served at room temperature. Water is safe if it has been boiled or chemically treated. Avoid raw food, including raw vegetables unless they can be washed thoroughly in boiled or treated water. Drink only beverages from sealed bottles or cans. Avoid ice unless made from bottled/disinfected water.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI): HIV/AIDS is estimated to be present in 23 percent of sex workers in the capital city. Travelers should clearly understand STI concepts and risks for HIV transmission.
For further health information:
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 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. Official U.S. government personnel are not allowed to travel without prior approval and are required to carry a satellite phone. Avoid 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. Although the law provides for the arrest of drunk drivers, in practice, the police do not act on this law. 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.
Road conditions are poor in both the capital and countryside. 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 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 are common throughout the country. Vehicles should be equipped with multiple spare tires and recovery equipment. 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.
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.