ZimbabweOfficial Name: Republic of Zimbabwe
Passport must be valid. No minimum requirement.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
No minimum requirement
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yellow fever, if traveling from or through countries where yellow fever is a risk
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
$5,000 U.S. equivalent
Embassies and Consulates
172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
Telephone: +(263) (4) 250-593
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(263) (4) 250-593
Fax: +(263) (4) 250-343
U.S. Citizen Emergency What’sApp: +(263) 0772-124-896
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa, bordered by the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. The official language is English; however, the majority of the population speaks Shona, with many in the southern and western areas speaking Ndebele. Zimbabwe has a fragile political environment, and the Zimbabwean economy is underdeveloped due to decades of economic mismanagement and political uncertainty. Although Zimbabwe offers popular tourist attractions in Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, and selected game parks, much of the country's infrastructure is in disrepair and emergency medical care is limited. Please read the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Zimbabwe for additional information on U.S. – Zimbabwe relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
You need a passport, visa, return ticket, and adequate funds to enter Zimbabwe. If you are traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business, or transit, you usually can obtain a visa at the airports or other border ports-of-entry, or in advance by contacting the Embassy of Zimbabwe at 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; telephone (202) 332-7100. Visit the Embassy of Zimbabwe website for the most current visa information.
Zimbabwean Immigration officials at Harare airport and other ports of entry are authorized to admit U.S. citizens without an entry visa in most cases. U.S. citizens entering Zimbabwe for tourism only can expect to pay $30 for a single-entry, 30-day duration of stay permit upon entering the country. A 60-day multiple entry permit is also available for $60. Extensions are possible, and require a personal visit to the Zimbabwe Immigration Office's public window, located at the second floor of Liquenda House at Nelson Mandela Avenue/First Street in the center of Harare. U.S. citizens who intend to make use of this privilege are strongly urged to read this section carefully as the failure to adhere strictly to Zimbabwean immigration law can lead to arrest, prosecution, detention, fines, seizure of possessions, and removal. Allow for sufficient time for an extension review, as staying past the authorized dates of stay has resulted in imprisonment for foreign nationals.
If you plan to engage in any of the following activities, you should seek the appropriate business, student, or work visa before entry: attend a business meeting; attend a training session or course of studies or seminar of any type; take pictures of anything but tourist attractions; volunteer medical work; assist animal/wildlife conservancies or parks; help build a church/school; work in a community to build/construct/consult on any matter including schools and churches; and any other activities other than pure tourism. Any U.S. citizen who intends to engage in any non-tourism related activity, such as work, consulting, or meeting with churches, businesses, or NGO partners, should contact a Zimbabwean embassy or consulate, or the Zimbabwean Immigration Department, to determine which visa class corresponds with his or her intended activities, and how to apply. Before engaging in any type of work, paid or unpaid, including volunteerism, U.S. citizens should have proper work authorization from the Zimbabwean Immigration Department. Please visit the Zimbabwe Immigration website for more information.
Even if you arrive without a visa and make your intent to participate in non-tourism activities clear to the Immigration official at the port of entry, you may still be in violation of Zimbabwean Immigration law. In the past, Zimbabwean officials arrested, prosecuted, fined, and deported a U.S. citizen for attending a five-day wildlife interest course while on a visitor visa. Another U.S. citizen faced similar treatment for taking a picture while attending a national holiday celebration. Both individuals had items of significant value seized. We recommend obtaining personal property insurance for high-value items both because such items may be seized by government officials and crime is prevalent in Zimbabwe (see below).
Whether you hold a visa or not, you should plainly state the purpose of your visit to Zimbabwe to Immigration upon entry. Any attempt to enter Zimbabwe under false pretenses, including those who misuse a visitor permit/visa, may result in detention, arrest, imprisonment, conviction, fines, and/or deportation.
Important Information for U.S. citizens working for Non-Governmental, Religious, and Health Organizations: U.S. citizens are receiving increased scrutiny from Immigration officials upon arrival to Zimbabwe. Some U.S. citizens associated with non-governmental, religious, and health groups have been denied entry. All U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to obtain a visa from a Zimbabwean embassy or consulate prior to traveling to Zimbabwe.
Foreign health workers and social volunteers have been repeatedly detained and/or deported for their work in unregistered charity and developmental activities. U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe to work in health, aid, charitable, or development projects (including short-term volunteers) should ensure they have proper permission and documentation from the Zimbabwean government before entering Zimbabwe. Health practitioners must obtain a license to practice in Zimbabwe from the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ). If you need to take personal medications into Zimbabwe, you must also obtain approval from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ). If you plan to support HIV/AIDS clinical care or treatment activities, you must coordinate with the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s AIDS and TB unit to ensure adherence to national protocols and guidelines. The unit can be reached by phone at: +263 (0)4 792 981. If you intend to travel through or visit South Africa, be aware that South African law requires travelers to have at least two blank (unstamped) visa pages in your passport to enter the country. Travelers are advised to have at least three blank pages; two for the South African temporary residence permit sticker that is issued upon entry to the country, and an additional page to allow for South African exit stamps. Additional pages are needed for other countries to be visited en route to South Africa or elsewhere in the region. Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense. South African authorities have denied diplomatic missions access to assist in these cases. Also, South Africa has recently updated its laws regarding traveling to or transiting the country with minor children. See the Country Specific Information on South Africa for additional information.
If you intend to reside or work in Zimbabwe, you must obtain a work permit approved by the Zimbabwean Chief Immigration Officer before entering the country. Work permit applications should be submitted by the employee's sponsor at any Zimbabwean immigration office. Typically, work permits take a minimum of six weeks to process, and have a $500 application fee. The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C., is unable to process work permit applications. Since January 2008, several U.S. citizens applying for or renewing residency or work permits have had their applications denied without explanation and were forced to depart the country.
Upon arrival in Zimbabwe, you should keep all travel documents readily available, as well as a list of residences or hotels where you will stay while in Zimbabwe. You must carry some form of identification at all times while in Zimbabwe.
U.S. citizens who intend to conduct activities in Zimbabwe which might be viewed within the realm of journalism should contact the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington, D.C., for information about accreditation at least one month in advance of planned travel. The Government of Zimbabwe uses a very broad definition of journalism, and any interviews, filming, or photography may be considered “presenting oneself as an accredited journalist,” a crime punishable by arrest or detention. Journalist and media accreditation is controlled by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which also sets applicable fees. Journalists can expect to pay approximately $100 in application and accreditation fees for a limited-duration journalist accreditation.
According to government regulations, a journalist who has applied for accreditation, but has not yet received a response from the Ministry of Media, Information, and Publicity should not travel to Zimbabwe until obtaining a clearance.
Individuals and journalists engaged in activities related to elections, political events, or demonstrations can expect to encounter increased scrutiny from Zimbabwean authorities. We strongly advise journalists to contact the Zimbabwean Embassy for guidance and accreditation and we advise others to pay close attention to the information above on journalists’ activities, including filming and photography.
U.S. citizen students and faculty at educational and other institutions who wish to do research in Zimbabwe should contact a host educational or research institution for affiliation prior to applying for a visa. Despite fulfilling all such requirements and receiving appropriate permission, legitimate researchers have been detained in the past by the police because the subject of their research was believed to be sensitive.
Zimbabwe is a cash society, with only hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies in major tourist destinations accepting international credit or debit cards. ATMs in the country are limited and, although often safe, are sometimes unreliable. Traveler's checks and check cashing facilities are effectively nonexistent. Visitors are required to declare the amount of currency that they are carrying into and out of the country. While there is no set legal limit on the amount of foreign currency that a person can carry into Zimbabwe, the maximum foreign currency that can be taken out of the country is U.S. $5,000.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zimbabwe
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
The political, social, economic, and security situation in Zimbabwe is unpredictable and could deteriorate quickly without warning. While the country is relatively stable, the government may use force to disperse civilian demonstrations and protests. U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe should avoid all crowds, public demonstrations, and protests.
You should carefully evaluate travel around Zimbabwe by road, particularly at night (please see the Traffic Safety and Road Conditions section below). If traveling by road, you should make sure you have working communication devices, evidence of your citizenship, and a valid visa. Such evidence should include photocopies of the biodata page of your passport and your Zimbabwe visa approval stamp. You should also notify a trusted friend or family member of your itinerary, including expected departure and arrival times.
Communications infrastructure in Zimbabwe is unreliable. Telephone and cell phone outages are common and, while cell phones usually work in most urban areas, there can be outages in those areas and large sections of Zimbabwe are without reliable coverage.
Resident and visiting U.S. citizens have been arrested, detained, and threatened with expulsion for activities that would not be considered crimes in the United States, including the administration of humanitarian aid and the expression of opinions regarding the current political regime in Zimbabwe. Criticism of the President of Zimbabwe is a crime in Zimbabwe. The streets around State House, the official residence of the president, and the Botanical Gardens are particularly sensitive, and are closed to vehicle, bicycle, and foot traffic from 6 pm to 6 am daily. Drivers and pedestrians in that area should exercise caution. Taking photographs around State House is strictly prohibited. President Mugabe and other senior government officials travel around Harare accompanied by large and aggressive motorcades that have been known to run motorists off the road. Security personnel occasionally beat and harass drivers who fail to pull out of the way quickly enough. U.S. citizens are advised to be aware of police vehicles and police motorcycles flashing lights and sirens, and should move quickly off the road and come to a complete stop if overtaken by a motorcade.
U.S. citizen visitors have been detained under suspicion of operating as journalists without accreditation for photographing cultural sites and areas that may not immediately appear to be sensitive. Tourists may also be subject to harassment or arrest for photographing police, roadblocks, occupied commercial farms, and government buildings or military installations, official residences or embassies, including the president’s residence. Get prior written permission from the appropriate government office before taking such photographs. It is not always immediately apparent what the police deem sensitive. Police have detained U.S. citizens for photographing any subject they view as sensitive no matter how innocuous it may seem to the photographer. You should be very aware of your surroundings and seriously consider the risks of taking any pictures outside game parks and known tourist areas.
The government frequently uses marked and unmarked (ad hoc) road blocks to enforce order and collect fines, particularly in urban centers and on major roads. Even though these road blocks are manned by uniformed police officers, be cautious when approaching them, particularly at night. When instructed by police or other security officials to stop at a roadblock, comply with these instructions. If possible, carry a mobile phone or other means of communication. Other ongoing security conditions that could affect the safety of tourists in Zimbabwe include crime (see below) and the occupation of commercial farms.
We urge you to take responsibility for your own personal security while traveling overseas. While in Zimbabwe, you should closely monitor the current situation, keep your travel documents up to date, and make your own contingency plans in the event of disturbances. You should make or update complete inventories of your household/personal effects and maintain an adequate supply of food, water, and necessary medications. See the State Department’s information on emergency and crisis planning.
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 Zimbabwe on Twitter and by 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: Property crime is a serious problem in Zimbabwe, driven by the country's depressed economy. U.S. citizens and other foreigners are perceived to be wealthy and are frequently targeted by criminals who operate in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas of major cities and tourist areas such as Victoria Falls. Although the majority of crimes in Zimbabwe are non-violent and opportunistic, perpetrators are generally armed with weapons, which can include firearms. The downtown sectors of Harare, and its high-density residential suburbs, are particularly high-crime areas.
Travelers should always secure their possessions, particularly in public areas such as airports and bus stops. Purse-snatchers will often work in teams of two, with one person acting as a diversion. A typical mugging involves a group of young males who surround and overwhelm their victim in a public area. Avoid displaying or carrying unnecessary valuables, such as expensive jewelry, and do not carry large sums of money. Cell phones are of particular interest to local thieves. Always secure items such as passports, money, jewelry, and credit cards in hotel safety deposit boxes or safes when not being used.
Avoid driving at night. You should be alert for “smash and grabs,” where thieves break the windows of cars stopped at intersections and take visible items from inside the car. Car doors should always be locked and the windows rolled up. Handbags, wallets, and other items should be placed out of sight under car seats or in the trunk of the car. While stopped in traffic, always be aware and look around to identify potential trouble. Drivers should always leave sufficient maneuver room between their vehicle and the one in front so they can drive away from danger. If you suspect your vehicle is being followed you should drive to the nearest police station or other protected public area for assistance. Reducing even the shortest amount of idle times at traffic lights at night by slowing in advance to anticipate the changing of the light is an effective deterrent. Be cautious of people using ploys to lure you out of your car. In one ploy, an assailant will puncture a tire, follow the car, and then offer to help with the flat, particularly on the road to Harare International Airport. (NOTE: “Smash and grabs” are also very common on the Airport Road in Harare.) Beware of drivers in vehicles without license plates who stop to render aid or who cause minor accidents. Always drive to a well-lit and populated area before making repairs or exchanging information.
Travelers are encouraged to make two photocopies of the biographic/identification page and visa stamped page of their passport. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives and carry the second copy with you for identification purposes.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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 Zimbabwe for the police is the Harare Central Police Station at 777-777; for fire fighters 993 or 783-983; and for ambulance 994 or Medical Air Relief Services (MARS) at 771-221.
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 Zimbabwe, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Zimbabwean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Zimbabwe can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect average jail sentences of three to seven years and heavy fines. In Zimbabwe, authorities may take you in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings. Taking pictures of government buildings such as the Munhumutapa building which houses the President’s offices is punishable by a jail term and there is no provision of a fine for those found guilty. In Zimbabwe, authorities also arrest people for taking pictures of other buildings such as police stations and offenders may also be subject to fines or jail time.
There are also some things that might be legal in some countries 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.
Although Zimbabwean authorities are required to notify the nearest U.S. embassy when a U.S. citizen has been arrested, Zimbabwean police do not always provide timely notification to the U.S. embassy in Harare. Further, the Government of Zimbabwe does not always grant immediate or repeated visits to detained or incarcerated U.S. citizens by Embassy consular officers. Individuals may be detained for up to 48 hours without due process, and detainees accused or suspected of political offenses have been repeatedly remanded in 14-day increments. You are encouraged to carry a copy of your U.S. passports with you at all times to be able to provide proof of identity and citizenship if questioned by local officials. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Zimbabwe is a largely cash society without its own currency. The U.S. dollar, South African rand, and Botswana pula (near the Botswana border) are the main means of cash payment for all goods and services. Travelers’ checks are not widely accepted.
With a series of Executive Orders (Executive Order 13288 of March 7, 2003, Executive Order 13391 of November 25, 2005, and Executive Order 13469 of July 25, 2008) the United States placed targeted sanctions on the property and economic assets of certain Zimbabwean individuals and entities deemed most responsible for undermining Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions. U.S. citizens should carefully review the U.S. sanctions program prior to engaging in the purchase/sale or transfer of money and other assets with a Zimbabwean citizen or entity. Under U.S. law, it is illegal for U.S. citizens or residents to engage in any transaction or dealing with the targeted individuals or other entities designated by the Secretary of the Treasury under this sanctions program. It is not otherwise illegal for U.S. citizens to transact business with Zimbabwean firms and individuals. U.S. citizens intending to engage in business or financial transactions in Zimbabwe are advised to consult the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for up-to-date information on these sanctions.
Zimbabwe offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat, and many tour operators and safari lodges offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, safety standards and training vary, and it is a good idea to ascertain whether operators are trained and licensed. Even animals marketed as “tame” should be respected as wild and extremely dangerous. If you participate in nature excursions in Zimbabwe, you should be aware that organized and licensed tour operators may encourage or allow tourists to participate in activities, such as walking or canoe safaris, which could pose risks to personal safety. Travelers should keep a safe distance from animals at all times, and remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.
Tourists who wish to hunt in Zimbabwe must be accompanied by a licensed operator, who is required to be registered and licensed by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Travelers to Zimbabwe should ask for the operator’s license number when booking a hunt and should check the authenticity of the license by contacting the Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO). Visiting hunters are well-advised to seek confirmation that they are not hunting on illegally seized land or on a nature conservancy. Hunting on such lands can expose the hunter to arrest, lawsuits, fines, seizure of trophies, and imprisonment.
U.S. citizens who are temporarily carrying firearms and ammunition into Zimbabwe for purposes of hunting, and who cannot qualify for an exemption under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), may need an approved temporary export license (DSP73) from Department of State's Office of Defense Trade Controls. You should also contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. to find out what permits are required by the Government of Zimbabwe for importing weapons into the country. You are advised to make sure that all of the necessary documentation is in order before departing the United States. The weapons also must be cleared through U.S. Customs when leaving the United States and upon reentry at the conclusion of your trip. All firearms must be packed and transported in an approved firearm case. Ammunition must be packed in a lockable box with a key and placed in checked baggage.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for women travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: The constitution of Zimbabwe specifically outlaws marriage between people of the same gender and allows for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Consensual sex between men is criminalized in Zimbabwe, with both parties subject to fines of $5,000 and a year imprisonment or both. To avoid prosecution in cases where men are arrested for sexual relations, one individual frequently denies his earlier consent, resulting in a charge against the other party of aggravated indecent assault or indecent assault, which carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment. While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, societal violence and harassment against LGBT individuals is pervasive. LGBT travelers are encouraged to exercise discretion when critiquing Zimbabwean laws or attitudes toward same-sex relationships, as both influential religious and political leaders promote intolerance. Criticism of leaders can be construed as “criminal insult” resulting in fines of $300, up to one year imprisonment, or both. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Zimbabwe 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.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Zimbabwe, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations very different from what you find in the United States. The Zimbabwe constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, access to public places, and the provision of services. However, the law is not widely known, poorly implemented, and rarely enforced. Persons with disabilities face harsh societal discrimination and widespread physical barriers. Many public buildings do not have wheelchair ramps, operational elevators, or suitable restroom facilities. Public transportation does not include lifts or access by wheelchair. Road crossing aids for the disabled are nonexistent and sidewalks in urban areas are in disrepair and cluttered with numerous obstacles. Persons with mental disabilities will experience inadequate medical care, medications, and facilities. Nonetheless, many private lodges and hotels have excellent access and facilities for disabled visitors.
The public medical infrastructure is subpar and medical facilities are limited. Most serious illnesses or accidents require medical evacuation to South Africa. All travelers are strongly urged to obtain medical evacuation insurance coverage prior to arriving in Zimbabwe. Doctors, hospitals, and air ambulance medical evacuation services often expect immediate, upfront cash payment for health services. We urge you to bring a sufficient supply of your medications with required prescriptions for your entire trip, as many common medications are unavailable in Zimbabwe. Provincial hospitals in rural areas have rudimentary staffing, equipment, and supplies, and are not equipped to care for victims of serious accidents. Emergency patients often must arrange their own transportation to medical facilities.
Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Make sure to bring diarrhea medicine with you so that you can treat mild cases yourself. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60 percent alcohol).
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Commercially bottled juice should be fine to drink. Avoid tap water.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Make sure food is fully cooked.
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy products.
Zimbabwe requires travelers who have visited or traveled through countries or areas with yellow fever risk to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Many flights from the United States to Zimbabwe via South Africa travel through yellow fever risk countries, and travelers are sometimes required to present proof of yellow fever vaccination on arrival in Zimbabwe. You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Zimbabwe. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
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 Zimbabwe, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Zimbabwe is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Zimbabwe is hazardous, particularly at night. Zimbabweans drive on the left side of the road and many people drive over the speed limit. Although the main roads throughout Zimbabwe are generally in fair but deteriorating condition, most lack passing lanes, shoulders, breakdown lanes, lighting, reflectors, and similar safety features. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) enforcement does not generally exist, resulting in high rates of impaired drivers, especially at night.
Avoid driving at night. Pedestrians (in dark clothing) and animals often walk along and on the roads, and the majority of roads in Zimbabwe are poorly lit. Motor vehicles often have no headlights or taillights and are difficult to see at night. Passing lanes are not always clearly marked, and road visibility at times can be restricted. In urban areas, lane markers are often faded, with non-working streetlights and traffic lights. Potholes are also numerous on most roads. The Traffic Safety Council reports there are 40-50 vehicle accidents in Harare alone every night. Also note, as mentioned above, local police frequently use marked and unmarked (ad hoc) road blocks to enforce order and collect fines, particularly in urban centers and on major roads. Even though these road blocks are manned by uniformed police officers, be cautious when approaching them, particularly at night. When instructed by police or other security officials to stop at a roadblock, comply with these instructions.
The U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Office prohibits its U.S. staff from using “combis,” – the frequently seen minibuses which service main routes, due to safety concerns.
Service stations often lack fuel or spare parts. Inter-city commuter bus travel, except by “luxury coaches,” is dangerous due to overcrowding, inadequate maintenance, and unsafe drivers. Public bus drivers are often fatigued, fail to adhere to local speed limits, and often fail to obey traffic rules or regulations.
It is illegal to operate a cellular telephone while driving in Zimbabwe. Drivers are required to wear seat belts or helmets if driving motorcycles. Car seats are not legally required for small children. Travelers should pack several pairs of latex gloves in the event of a road accident involving serious injuries or bleeding, as Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in southern Africa.
The availability of fuel severely restricts the response capability of police and other emergency services. The Ministry of Transport, Communication, and Infrastructural Development is the government authority responsible for road safety in Zimbabwe. There is no national network of roadside emergency service. However, the Automobile Association (AA) of Zimbabwe, similar to the American Automobile Association, is willing to provide roadside emergency service to nonmembers for a fee. Travelers interested in contacting the service during their stay in Zimbabwe may contact AA Zimbabwe at 263-4-752-779. AA Zimbabwe’s 24-hour emergency roadside helpline is 263-4-707-959. Travelers can also contact the Road Angels, another roadside assistance service, at 263-4-334-304 and 263-4-334-418.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Zimbabwe's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Zimbabwe's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page,