Republic of Botswana
Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.
Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.
Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.
3 or more unused pages; one blank page per entry
Yellow fever vaccination certificate if entering from a country where yellow fever is endemic
A passport with at least six months of validity remaining is required. U.S. citizens are permitted stays up to 90 days total within a 12-month period without a visa. Travelers who attempt to enter Botswana with a temporary travel document (for example, a 12-page emergency passport) must have a visa to enter. It is not possible to obtain a visa upon arrival in Botswana, and U.S. citizens without a visa in a temporary passport will face possible fines and long administrative delays.
For additional information on entry requirements and the most current visa information contact the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 244-4990/1, fax (202) 244-4164 or the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Botswana to the United Nations, 103 E. 37th St., New York, N.Y., 10016, telephone (212) 889-2277, and fax (212) 725-5061. There are also honorary consuls in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston. All travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport.
New Requirements for Minors Entering Botswana
Effective October 1, 2016, minors traveling to Botswana must have a certified copy of their unabridged birth certificate in addition to their valid passport. If only one of the parents listed on a child’s birth certificate is travelling with the child, that parent must have an affidavit of consent for the child’s travel from the non-accompanying parent. See the Embassy of Botswana’s webpage for complete details.
Requirements for Minors Transiting South Africa
South Africa requires unabridged birth certificates for minors traveling to or through South Africa, and parental consent forms from the parent or parents not accompanying the child. See South Africa’s Country Specific Information regarding this and the requirement for at least two blank (unstamped) passport pages per entry.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Botswana.
Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.
CRIME: Petty street crime and crimes of opportunity, primarily the theft of money and personal property, are common. Home invasions, break-ins, “smash and grabs” from vehicles at intersections and from locked cars in parking lots, cell phone thefts, and muggings - often at knife point, are routinely reported to the police. Hotels and lodges are not immune from criminal activity. Visitors should remain alert and take reasonable precautions to safeguard personal property (particularly money and electronic equipment). Crime is also reported in game parks, nature reserves, and remote areas frequented by tourists. Avoid walking alone, particularly at night. Visitors are urged to exercise caution near the Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in Gaborone due to the high number of reported criminal incidents. If confronted by an armed individual, promptly comply as resistance could result in severe injury.
You should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should be aware that there is a serious and continuing baggage pilferage problem at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports. You should use an airport plastic wrapping service and avoid placing valuables in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur. If asked to gate check a piece of hand luggage, transfer your high value items and prescription drugs into a smaller bag to carry onboard the plane.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (267) 395-3982.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Adequately equipped private medical facilities, emergency rooms, and trained physicians are available in Gaborone for simple medical problems but services are rudimentary elsewhere. You must show your ability to pay before you will receive medical care. More advanced care is available in South Africa. Many South African manufactured prescription drugs are available in Gaborone.
Avoid drinking tap water and ice made from tap water. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe to drink. Many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.
If traveling with prescription medication, verify your medication is legal in Botswana. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Power and water: Power outages can leave areas without power for several hours, and may affect home security systems, garage doors and gates, and kitchen equipment. Power surges may harm computers, televisions, or other electrical appliances. In times of drought, the Water Utilities Corporation may ration water.
Game and Animal Trophies: Botswana strictly enforces its laws controlling the trade in animal products, often by means of spot checks for illegal products on roadways or at airports. Violators are subject to arrest and may face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a substantial fine. Unwitting U.S. citizens have recently been arrested and prosecuted under this law.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: The law does not explicitly criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, but it includes language criminalizing some aspects of same-sex sexual activity. What the law describes as “unnatural acts” is criminalized with a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment. There are no reports of police targeting persons suspected of same-sex sexual activity. There is stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons particularly in villages and rural areas outside the capital. It is recommended that LGBTI travelers exercise caution with regard to expressing affection in public. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The government mandates access to public buildings or transportation for persons with disabilities, but civil society sources reported access for persons with disabilities was limited. The law does not specifically include air travel with other modes of transportation, but in general persons with disabilities were provided access to air transportation. While the government mandates access to public buildings or transportation for persons with disabilities, many privately owned buildings and business, and older government buildings remain inaccessible.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in major population centers are generally good but rural roads can be in poor condition. Traffic lights and street lamps often do not work properly. Approach traffic lights with caution as opposing traffic frequently continues well after a red light. The combination of long stretches of two-lane highways without shoulders or lights, high speed limits, free-range domestic animals, intoxicated drivers, and large numbers of pedestrians and hitchhikers in the roadways make fatal accidents a frequent occurrence, especially on weekends and end-of-month Friday paydays.
Traffic Laws: Traffic circulates on the left in Botswana. A valid international driver’s license, along with vehicle registration documents, is required to drive in Botswana and drivers should always carry them. Traffic accidents should be reported to the Botswana Police Service.
Public Transportation: Local citizens travel around and out of Gaborone in low-cost, cash-only “combis” and taxis that are typically flagged down on the roadside. Tourists do not typically take combis. Taxis are generally safe and can be arranged through hotels or at the airport. Scheduled coach bus service is available between Botswana and South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia and is generally a safe mode of transport. Internal bus services, typically used by local citizens, link many towns and villages across Botswana.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Botswana, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Botswana’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.