COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Swaziland is a small developing nation in Southern Africa. Several well-developed facilities for tourism are available. The capital is Mbabane. Read the Department of State’s information on bilateral relations with Swaziland for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Swaziland, please take the time to tell our embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local Embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Mbabane
Central Bank Building
P.O. Box 199
Emergency after-hours telephone: 268-7602-8414
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A passport is required. Visas are not required for tourists and business travelers arriving in Swaziland for short visits
(less than 60 days) on standard U.S. passports. Most travelers visiting Swaziland enter through South Africa.
Please note: Travelers to South Africa are strongly encouraged to have several unstamped visa pages left in their passports. South Africa requires two unstamped visa pages, excluding amendment pages, to enter the country. Visitors who do not have enough free visa pages in their passport risk being denied entry and returned to the United States at their own expense.
Travelers to Swaziland who are transiting South Africa should note that if they are transiting a country with yellow fever
(such as when on the United States-Johannesburg flight that transits Dakar, potentially even when passengers remain on the
plane), they must have proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Visit the website of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Swaziland at 1712 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009; phone (202) 234-5002, for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Swaziland.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please readour Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Public protests, demonstrations, and strikes occur from time to time in Swaziland and are mostly in response to on-going labor relations/difficulties. Armed law enforcement personnel have been known to use force to disrupt such events. During the course of such events, police may not distinguish between “innocent bystanders” and protesters. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Violent crime is a concern and is the most significant threat to U.S. citizens visiting or working in Swaziland. Incidents
of petty crime and violent crime are prevalent throughout Swaziland. Criminals will resort to force if necessary, including
deadly force, in order to accomplish their goal. Gangs are not deterred by confrontations with their intended victims. Carjackings
occur in Swaziland, and as with other crimes may become violent if victims do not immediately cooperate.
Congested, dark urban areas are particularly dangerous at night, but daytime attacks are not uncommon. The presence of other people on the street should not be misinterpreted as an indication of security. Many victims report being robbed in the presence of witnesses. Pedestrians are cautioned not to wear jewelry or carry expensive or unnecessary valuables in public. U.S. citizens are also advised against displaying cell phones and large sums of cash, because they are targets for thieves. Money should only be converted at authorized currency exchanges and never with street vendors. Exercise caution when using local taxis. Ensure the taxi you use is from a reputable company. Never enter a taxi that is occupied by anyone else besides the driver. It is good practice to call a friend to let them know the plate number of the taxi you are using.
Crime tends to increase during the holiday season from December to January.If you are the victim of a crime, you should immediately report the incident to the nearest police station. If there is an emergency, the police can be contacted by dialing 999.
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 U.S. embassy. We can:
For further information on crime in Swaziland, please refer to our victim’s assistance flyer.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Swaziland is 999.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Swaziland, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Swaziland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Persons violating Swaziland’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Swaziland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained in Swaziland.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Swaziland does not have any unusual customs/currency regulations or any visa registration requirements. It is illegal to photograph Swaziland’s government buildings, members of the Swazi armed forces, royal residences and official ceremonies without prior permission from government authorities. Additional laws related to sedition against the monarchy are also enforceable in Swaziland.
Accessibility: While in Swaziland, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. Swaziland currently has no formal legislation mandating access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities; however Mbabane City Council has recently adopted regulations mandating special access for persons with disabilities in new public buildings.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are limited throughout Swaziland and emergency medical response capabilities (including ambulance transport) are almost non-existent. Although the Mbabane Clinic in the capital is small, it is well-equipped and well-staffed for minor procedures, as is the Manzini Clinic in Matsapha. For advanced care, U.S. citizens often choose to go to South Africa where better facilities and specialists exist. Most prescription drugs are available locally or can be imported from South Africa, but travelers are advised to bring sufficient quantities of their own required medication. A doctor’s note describing the medication may be helpful if questioned by authorities.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Swaziland. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB. Malaria is present in the lowveld in eastern Swaziland.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Swaziland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Swaziland is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic accidents in Swaziland may pose an even greater hazard than crime. Visitors should use extreme caution when driving, given the relatively high rates of speed of drivers on major thoroughfares. Other hazards include poor lighting and irregular traffic signals; presence of pedestrians, animals, and slower moving vehicles; aggressive driving behavior; and erratic stopping for pedestrian and animals. Traffic drives on the left in Swaziland, which requires U.S. drivers to exercise particular caution. Special care should be used in driving at night and in fog, especially in rural areas. Rural and suburban areas are poorly lit and pose additional safety hazards as pedestrians and animals cross the road. Many vehicles are poorly maintained and lack headlights.
Extreme caution is recommended if/when using mini-bus taxis, which follow fixed routes and are flagged down by passengers almost everywhere on the streets and roads of Swaziland. Many of these vehicles fail to meet minimal safety standards. Drivers frequently overload the vehicles and travel at excessive speeds. Fatal accidents involving these conveyances are very common.
The Royal Swaziland Police Service sets up periodic road blocks and use radar to monitor your speed. Respect the local laws. If you are pulled over for a moving violation you will be responsible for the consequences. Always drive with your driver’s license. Failure to do so will result in a fine.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Swaziland’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Swaziland’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Swaziland dated December 16. 2011, and updates sections on safety and security and crime.