Republic of Zambia
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.
2 blank pages per entry for Zambia and South Africa
Yellow fever, if entering from a yellow fever endemic country
A passport and visa are required to enter Zambia. Passports must be valid for at least six months upon arrival and have at least two blank pages upon each entry. Travelers transiting South Africa must have at least two blank visa pages upon each entry as well.
A single-entry visa, valid for up to 90 days, may be obtained at a port of entry. Day visitors from neighboring countries can obtain day-trip visas at the border. Business or voluntary service visitors must enter on business visas or they will be fined, incarcerated, and deported.
Visit the Embassy of Zambia’s website for information on other types of visas and the most current visa information.
The South African government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if arriving from or transiting yellow fever endemic countries. You must be vaccinated at least 10 days prior to arrival. Those without proof may be denied entry. Complete entry/exit requirements for South Africa can be found in the Country Specific Information for South Africa.
You must carry the original or a certified copy of your passport and immigration permit at all times. Certified copies must be obtained from the office that issued the permit. If your passport is lost or stolen, visit the Zambian Department of Immigration to obtain a replacement entry permit at no cost before attempting to depart the country.
Departure Tax/Security Charge: U.S. citizens must pay an airport departure tax in local currency. This tax is included in the cost of international flight tickets. For domestic flights, passengers pay prior to entering the departure hall. A security charge ($3 domestic and $5 international) payable in Zambian kwacha is collected from all departing passengers.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zambia.
Spontaneous demonstrations occasionally occur. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
To stay safe you should:
Border Areas: Travelers are discouraged from driving off-road or in remote areas near the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola because of the danger of undetected land mines and unexploded ordnance. If you must travel to these areas, you should drive in convoys and carry satellite telephones. Additionally, the DRC border area is plagued with ongoing unrest and an armed criminal element. See the Country Specific Information for the DRC and Angola for additional information.
Crime: Lusaka, Livingstone, and most other major cities and the major game parks are generally safe during daylight hours. However, armed robberies have occurred in Livingstone, Copperbelt Province, and elsewhere. There have been violent attacks, including home invasions/robberies, and sexual assaults within 2016. Victims were followed from banks, nightclubs, or ATMs and robbed at gunpoint on the street or at their residences.
The most commonly reported crimes against visitors are:
Victims of Crime:
Report crime to the local police at 991 or 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (260) 011-357-000 or + (260) 966-877-805.
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:
Private medical clinics in major cities provide reasonable care, but major medical emergencies usually require medical evacuation to South Africa, Europe, or the United States. The nearest air ambulances are based in South Africa. Government hospitals and clinics are often understaffed and lack supplies. Basic medical care outside of major cities is extremely limited. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Zambia to ensure the medication is legal in Zambia. 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 or arrested.
Special Circumstances: The Zambian constitution does not recognize dual nationality. U.S. citizens who retain their Zambian citizenship are expected to enter and exit Zambia on their Zambian passport. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens may be limited if the citizen is traveling on a Zambian or other foreign passport.
Possession of more than 0.5 grams of an illegal substance can constitute drug trafficking in Zambia. Travelers have been detained for possession of antihistamines such as Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications. You should consider leaving such medications behind.
Wild Animal Products: It is illegal to purchase tortoise shells, rhino horns, elephant ivory, the tusks of any animal, or any items made out of these materials. Even if you see these items for sale in a market and the seller assures you they are legal, do not buy them! The Government of Zambia will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law with penalties ranging from large fines to five year prison sentences.
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.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Zambian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity and penalties for conviction of engaging in “acts against the order of nature” are 15 years to life imprisonment. The lesser charge of “gross indecency” carries penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment.
LGBTI persons in particular are at risk of societal violence due to prevailing prejudices, misperceptions of the law, lack of legal protections, and inability to access health services.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Zambian law prohibits discrimination in general, but no law specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. The Zambian government has not mandated accessibility to public buildings and services for persons with disabilities; public buildings, schools, and hospitals generally do not accommodate persons with disabilities.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Road Conditions and Safety:
When traveling in Zambia, please be aware:
Public Transportation: City traffic is comprised mostly of cars and minibuses; motorcycles are rare. Some relatively nice buses travel between Lusaka and Livingstone and the Copperbelt. Minibuses serve as the primary means of intra-city travel in Zambia but are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and seldom punctual.
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 Zambia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Zambia’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.