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Rwanda
Official Name:

 Republic of Rwanda

Last Updated: February 22, 2017

Embassy Messages

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 Kigali

2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
Kigali

  • Telephone 250-252-596-400-7000 (Monday through Thursday, 8:15 a.m to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
  • Emergency After-Hours Telephone 250-252-596-400, and dial 1
  • Fax 250-252-596-591
  • Email consularkigali@state.gov
  • U.S. Embassy Kigali
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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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None

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U.S. Embassy Kigali

2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru)
Kigali

Telephone: 250-252-596-400-7000 (Monday through Thursday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 250-252-596-400, and dial 1

Fax: 250-252-596-591

Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Rwanda for additional information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport, valid for six months after entry into country
  • Visa, obtain before traveling or a 30-day tourist visa at port of entry for $30. Credit cards are not accepted at all land border crossings.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination if entering from the countries listed on the Rwandan Immigration website.

Visit the Embassy of Rwanda/Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration websites or the nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work or residency visas.

Contact the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali within 15 days of arrival to extend your visa.

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda; however, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens enter using their U.S. passport.

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

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

Borders may close without notice. Be aware of the following security conditions:

Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border:

  • The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed group that includes former soldiers and supporters of the regime that orchestrated the 1994 genocide, operates in eastern DRC, near the border.
  • Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against armed rebel and militia groups in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Violence targeting civilians sporadically breaks out including rape, kidnapping, and pillaging.

Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans)/Nyungwe Forest:

  • Armed groups operate on the DRC side of Volcanoes National Park (Virunga). Exercise extreme caution; the border may not be clearly marked. 
  • Obtain a permit from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) prior to entry. The ORTPN may provide military escorts due to the risk from armed groups.

Grenade attacks have occurred sporadically over the last five years. Genocide memorial sites, markets, bus stops, and taxis have been targets in Kigali and Ruhengeri (Musanze).

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance during your movements around the country. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Be cautious when traveling outside of cities and along border areas.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

Crime: Most reported incidents involve robbery, pick-pocketing, petty theft, theft from hotel rooms, and residential burglaries. Burglars may break and enter, trick domestic staff into allowing them entrance, or convince residential security guards to participate.

  • Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.

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

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Emergency Numbers:

Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

Report crimes to:

  • Kigali police 078-831-1124 and U.S. Embassy 250-252-596-400.
  • Kigali City emergency 112. Resources are limited and police are unable to respond timely to emergency calls. Victims are often directed to the nearest police station to register a complaint in person.
  • Abuse or attempted bribery by a police officer 116.

See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali's web page under Local Resources.

Ambulances

  • Emergency Medical Service (SAMU) 912
  • King Faisal Hospital +250 788-309-003

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 information on victim's compensation programs in the United States 
  • 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 Centers for Disease Control website for Rwanda prior to travel.

In the capital, King Faisal Hospital offers basic medical and emergency care including ambulances, referrals, and medical evacuation. King Faisal and the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali are adequate for routine procedures. Ambulance services are available, but do not administer medical treatment. Some medicines are in short supply or unavailable.

Hospitals outside of Kigali are sufficient for routine care. See list of facilities on the Local Resources tab of Embassy Kigali's web page.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Healthcare providers, including ambulances, require payment in U.S. dollars/Rwandan francs before services are performed.

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

Malaria is endemic. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents including 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers.

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

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 arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Genocide speech: Laws about appropriate speech regarding the genocide are strictly enforced. Promoting ideas based on “ethnic, regional, racial, religious, language, or other divisive characteristics” is prohibited. Public incitement of “genocide ideology” or “divisionism,” including genocide denial, discrimination, and sectarianism, is punishable by five to nine years in prison and fines of 100,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandan francs.

Human Rights Observers, Journalists, NGO workers, and Students: Rwandan authorities may subject you to more scrutiny if you meet or plan to meet with individuals or organizations who have publicly opposed the government.

Photography: Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is prohibited. Such sites are not always clearly marked. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have equipment confiscated without notice. 

Telecommunications: Cell phones are widely used. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone. The three main providers are MTN, Tigo, and Airtel. Internet service is increasingly available, but high-speed connections are expensive.

Currency: The Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency, though U.S. dollars and euros may also be used. Most vendors and banks will take only bills printed after 2006, and exchange bureaus and hotels may refuse bills smaller than $100. Travelers' checks can be cashed at commercial banks. Most ATMs accept only Visa; MasterCard may be used for cash withdrawals at Access Bank co-located with Western Union offices. Beware of ATM skimmers.

Plastic shopping and grocery bags are banned and may be confiscated upon arrival.

Natural disasters: Rwanda is in a seismically active region, including Mount Nyiragongo volcano in Virunga National Park. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency: Earthquakes and at Ready.gov.

Akagera National Park and Wildlife Areas: Heed all instructions given by guides or trackers. Approaching wild animals, even when in a vehicle, can result in injury or death.

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

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on consensual same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events. However, LGBTI individuals may face societal discrimination and abuse, including harassment by neighbors and police.

 

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 though newly-constructed buildings in Kigali have improved facilities, including elevators. Sidewalks are not ubiquitous outside of Kigali and do not include curb-cuts.

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

Women Travelers: Domestic violence is common. Although many incidents are not reported or prosecuted, government officials encourage its reporting. Call the Rwandan National Police hotline at 112.

See our tips for Women Travelers.

 

Road Conditions and Safety: Main roads between Kigali and other major towns are generally in good condition. Many secondary and unpaved roads are accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, but lack shoulders and become impassible during the rainy season, February to May and September to December, when flooding and mud slides occur. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of cities after dark. Street lighting is limited, and it is difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists, and roaming animals. Additional risks include:

  • poor vehicle maintenance
  • headlights that are extremely dim or not used
  • excessive speeding

Professional roadside assistance is not available.

Traffic Laws: An international driving permit and third-party insurance is required. For specific information concerning Rwandan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, visit the website of the Rwanda Development Board.

The use of a cell phone while driving is illegal, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device. After-market tinted window treatments are prohibited on all vehicles.

Accidents: Call the police and remain inside the vehicle until they arrive. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly.

  • Drivers are responsible for damages if involved in an accident resulting in injuries, even if the driver is not at fault.
  • Causing a fatal accident could result in up to eight years imprisonment.
  • Drunk drivers are jailed for 24 hours and fined up to $400.

Police road blocks are common throughout the country. Travelers may be stopped and vehicles and luggage searched.

Public Transportation: Use only official Kigali city buses, and licensed taxis, which are orange-striped. Confirm the fare before departure. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to use motorcycle-taxis or mini-bus taxis. They are unsafe due to overloading, reckless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the risk of petty crime. Reputable car services are available for hire. Travel agencies and local hotels may be able to arrange private transport on your behalf.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Visit the website of Rwanda's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Rwanda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Rwanda’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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