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Burundi
Official Name:

Republic of Burundi

Last Updated: March 3, 2017
Further Safety and Security Information

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.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura

Suite 408, Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Bujumbura, Burundi

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Duration of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes, obtain in advance

VACCINATIONS:

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Yellow fever 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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No

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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No

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura

Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Bujumbura, Burundi

Telephone: +(257) 22-20-7000 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(257) 79-938-841

Fax: +(257) 22-24-3467

Email: bujumburac@state.gov

See our Fact Sheet on Burundi for information on U.S.-Burundi relations.

Requirements for Entry

  • Passport
  • Visa, obtain before traveling
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination

Visit the Embassy of Burundi website or the nearest Burundi embassy or consulate for visa information.

Mandatory Registration: All non-Burundian residents of one year or more are required to register their presence at the main office of the Migration Police -Police de l'Air, des Frontiereset des Etrangers (PAFE) in Bujumbura. Contact the PAFE office at +257 22 25 79 00 for more information.

  • Registrants (including children) must appear in person with their passports.
  • Failure to comply can result in fines.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burundi.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and customs information on our websites.

See the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Burundi.

The overall security situation remains unpredictable since the ongoing political crisis was precipitated by election-related violence and a failed coup d’etat in May 2015.

Violent incidents have occurred throughout the country, but primarily concentrated in Bujumbura, including:

  • grenade attacks in residential neighborhoods
  • targeted political and military assassinations
  • armed clashes between political opposition and security forces, resulting in death or injury
  • extrajudicial killings

International borders may close without notice.

Burundi-DRC border:

  • Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces are vulnerable to cross-border attacks by armed groups from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
  • Areas bordering Lake Tanganyika are a potential haven for smugglers; people walking alone on roads around the lake have been assaulted.

Burundi-Rwanda border:

  • There is a high risk of banditry, cross-border incursions, and armed clashes.

Regional terror groups have threatened U.S. and other Western and Burundian interests and are capable of crossing borders to carry out attacks.

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance around city centers. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution at public gatherings and areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Be wary when traveling outside of cities and along border areas.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

Searches: Security forces have subjected foreigners (including U.S. citizens) to home and car searches. Uniformed police are authorized to conduct home searches between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. only, and must present identification and a warrant. Report improper searches to the U.S. Embassy.

Roadblocks: Police conduct vehicle searches and check identity papers at checkpoints throughout the country. Travelers report harassment, bribe solicitation, intimidation and physical violence, particularly at checkpoints leaving Bujumbura towards the Rwandan border.

  • Comply with the officers’ requests. Remain courteous and calm.
  • Stay inside your vehicle with doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate. Turn on your interior vehicle light at night.
  • Tell the officer you are a U.S. citizen and display color copies of your documents through the window. 
  • Do not leave until instructed to do so.
  • Report harassment to the U.S. Embassy.

Crime: Most crimes are committed at night outside city centers. Armed robberies resulting in fatalities or serious injuries occur daily, although the vast majority do not involve foreigners. Petty theft is also common.

  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Carry your U.S. passport and visa - and photocopies - with you at all times.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Legal response or recourse to crime is limited.

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should first contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

The emergency number in Bujumbura is 112, but it often goes unanswered. To report a crime, seek assistance in person. Police lack the resources to respond appropriately to emergencies.

Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

For further information:

Consult the CDC website for Burundi prior to travel.

Medical facilities and ambulance service are severely limited throughout the country. In the capital, Hopital Bumerec offers medical and emergency care, including referrals and medical evacuation. Medicines are in short supply and may be counterfeit.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Most care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars/Burundian franc before treatment is performed.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

Carry medication in its original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Malaria is endemic. Use CDC recommended mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR-3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is strongly recommended for all travelers, even for short stays. Food-borne and water-borne illnesses are common. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow fever vaccination is required for entry.

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. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and result in long jail sentences and heavy fines. You may be taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., 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 Outages: Power outages occur frequently, and may affect public services such as access to potable water.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and key infrastructure such as airports and border controls. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have your equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of Burundians without their permission.

Phone Service: Cell phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone. Providers include Leo U-com, Econet, and Onamob.

Currency: The Burundian franc (BIF) is the official currency. U.S. dollars and euros are accepted in urban areas. Most transactions are conducted in cash; credit cards are rarely accepted outside of Bujumbura. Most vendor and banking institutions will take only bills in near-mint condition, printed after 2009. Examine U.S. bills to ensure they are legitimate. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. ATMs are available at the international airport and in Bujumbura, but they dispense only Burundian francs.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following web pages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: While the law criminalizes same-sex sexual acts with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment of three months to two years, there have been no prosecutions to date.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Sexual and domestic violence, including rape, is a widespread problem. In some cases, police and magistrates require victims to pay the costs of incarceration for the perpetrator. Center Seruka and Center Nturengaho provide shelter and counseling to victims of rape and domestic violence. Several international NGOs provide free medical care for victims, mostly in urban areas.

See our tips for Women Travelers.

Road Conditions and Safety: National highways are in fair to good condition, though large holes are common. During the rainy season, February to May, many roads become impassable. Flooding and landslides also destroy bridges and block routes. Most roads in the interior are in disrepair. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of cities after dark.

Lack of:

  • lighting
  • functioning traffic signals
  • road signs
  • shoulders

make driving dangerous, particularly outside of towns and especially at night. Poor driving standards and wayward pedestrians, cyclists, and livestock create further hazards.

Rural areas: Be aware of increased risk of ambush and highway robbery. Service stations are scarce and fuel shortages are common. Professional roadside assistance is not available outside the capital. Carry:

  • spare tires
  • food and water
  • satellite phone
  • maps and navigation equipment
  • first aid kit

Traffic Laws: An international driving permit and third-party insurance is required. Long term residents can apply for a Burundi driver’s license. Use of cell phones while driving is illegal.

Give buses and taxis a wide berth as they start and stop abruptly, often without pulling to the side of the road.

Accidents: Call and attempt to have police respond. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident.

Public Transportation: Public transit is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe due to overloading, reckless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the risk of petty crime. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from using public transportation including taxis. Fatal collisions occur frequently. Hire private transport from a reliable source.

Taxis: If you are forced to use a taxi, negotiate the fare before beginning your journey. Taxis are not metered, so confirm with your hotel about fares you should expect on trips.

Hiring a vehicle: Reputable car rental firms will include the services of a driver. Be particularly vigilant at airports, where criminals use luggage tag information in order to present themselves as pre-arranged drivers.

See 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 aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

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