Intercountry Adoption


Country Information


Republic of Rwanda

Exercise normal precautions in Rwanda.

Reconsider Travel To:

  • The Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border due to armed conflict.

Read the Safety and Security section on the

  • Temporary Reciprocity Schedule
  • Country Acronyms
  • Presidential Proclamations
  • Terrorist Designation Lists
  • State Sponsors of Terrorism
  • Treaty Countries
  • Visa Issuing Posts
  • Rwanda
    Republic of Rwanda
    Quick Facts

    6 months


    1 page




    Yellow Fever





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    Embassies and Consulates

    U.S. Embassy Kigali

    2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
    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

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    Destination Description

    See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Rwanda for information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.

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    Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

    Requirements for Entry:

    • Passport: Must be valid for six months after entry into country
    • Visa: Obtain visa 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.

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    Safety and Security

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

    Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border:

    • Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against rebel and militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. Violence, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging targeting civilians sporadically occurs.
    • The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda operates in eastern DRC, near the border.

    Volcanoes National Park/Nyungwe Forest:

    • Armed groups operate on the DRC side of the park (Virunga). Exercise extreme caution; the border may not be clearly marked.
    • Obtain a permit from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks prior to entry.


    • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance while traveling, especially outside of cities and along border areas. Even peaceful events can become violent.
    • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
    • Monitor news and alerts.

    Crime: Most reported incidents involve petty theft, and residential and hotel room robberies. Burglars may break and enter, or convince domestic staff and residential security guards to allow them entrance.

    • 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 sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy and the Rwanda National Police.

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

    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 hotline 112. Resources are limited victims are often directed to the nearest police station to register a complaint in person.
    • Abuse or attempted bribery by a police officer hotline 116.

    See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali’s website.


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

    We can:

    • help you find appropriate medical care
    • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
    • contact relatives or friends with your written request
    • 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 case of destitution
    • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
    • replace a stolen or lost passport

    Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

    For further information:

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    Local Laws & Special Circumstances

    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 detained for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana, which is illegal) result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.

    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.

    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 are critical of the government.

    Photography: Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is prohibited.

    Currency: The Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency, though U.S. dollars may also be used. Most vendors and banks will take only U.S. bills printed after 2006, and exchange bureaus and hotels may refuse bills smaller than $100.

    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

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

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

    LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on consensual same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Rwanda. 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.

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    Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website prior to travel.

    See list of medical facilities on the Local Resources tab of Embassy Kigali’s website.

    We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Healthcare providers require payment in U.S. dollars/Rwandan francs before services are performed.

    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 Rwanda to ensure they are legal in Rwanda. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

    Malaria is endemic. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers.

    Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the CDC. While the CDC does not generally recommend the yellow fever vaccination for travel to Rwanda, the U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers bring proof of yellow fever vaccination. The Rwandan government retains the right to turn travelers without the immunization away.

    Further health information:

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    Travel and Transportation

    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.

    Cell phone use 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.

    Hague Convention Participation
    Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
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    U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
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    Learn why the Hague Abduction Convention Matters.
    What You Can Do
    Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
    Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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    Embassies and Consulates

    U.S. Embassy Kigali

    2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
    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

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    General Information
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    Hague Abduction Convention
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    Retaining an Attorney
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    Exercising Custody Rights

    While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

    • Endanger your child and others;
    • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
    • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

    The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

    To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

    For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

    Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

    For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

    Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

    DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 


    Hague Convention Participation
    Hague Adoption Convention Country?
    Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
    Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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    Hague Convention Information

    Rwanda is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Rwanda.

    In February 2015, the Government of Rwanda confirmed that the current suspension, which began August 31, 2010, on intercountry adoptions is still in effect. The Government of Rwanda has not provided a timeline for its review of intercountry adoption procedures and has indicated that the suspension will remain in place until the procedures to implement the Convention are finalized.

    The Department of State will provide updated information on this website as it becomes available. Please visit the Rwanda's Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Rwanda and the U.S. Embassy in Kigali’s website for information on consular services.

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    Who Can Adopt
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    Who Can Be Adopted
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    How to Adopt
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    Traveling Abroad
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    After Adoption
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    Contact Information

    Rwanda's Adoption Authority 
    National Commission for Children            
    Kigali, Rwanda

    U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda
    2657 Ave. de la Gendarmerie
    Kigali, Rwanda
    Tel: 250 252 596 400

    Reciprocity Schedule

    Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

    Explanation of Terms

    Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

    Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

    Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

    Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

    Visa Classifications
    Fee Number
    of Applications
    A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
    B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
    B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
    B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
    C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
    C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
    C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
    CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
    CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
    D None Multiple 60 Months
    E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
    E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
    E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
    F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
    G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
    G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
    G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
    G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
    H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
    H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
    H-2A None N/A N/A 3
    H-2B None N/A N/A 3
    H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
    H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    I None Multiple 60 Months
    J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
    J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
    K-1 None One 6 Months
    K-2 None One 6 Months
    K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
    K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
    L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
    M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
    N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
    N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
    NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
    O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
    Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
    R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
    R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
    S-5 7 None One 1 Month
    S-6 7 None One 1 Month
    S-7 7 None One 1 Month
    T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
    T-2 None One 6 Months
    T-3 None One 6 Months
    T-4 None One 6 Months
    T-5 None One 6 Months
    T-6 None One 6 Months
    TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
    U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
    U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
    U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
    U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
    U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
    V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
    V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
    V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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    Country Specific Footnotes

    Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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    Visa Category Footnotes
    1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

      • A-1
      • A-2
      • G-1 through G-4
      • NATO 1 through NATO 6

    2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

      Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

    3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

      Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

      Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

    4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

      Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

      In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

      However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

    5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

      Canadian Nationals

      Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

      Mexican Nationals

      Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

      Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

    6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

    7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

    8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

    9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

      • T-2 (spouse)
      • T-3 (child)
      • T-4 (parent)
    10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

    11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

    12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.



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    General Documents

    Please check back for update

    Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

    Birth Certificate

    A hospital birth certificate or attestation by a midwife identifying the name of the mother and gender of the child is brought for registration at the sector level within 15 days, to register the child’s name with the government authorities.  Rwandans can request an attestation de naissance (attestation of birth), valid for 3 months at a time, but the unlimited acte de naissance (birth certificate) is more detailed with an additional layer of certification that goes back and confirms the original sector-level registration.  An attestation is equivalent to a birth affidavit in the United States, may be obtained at any time with no supporting documentation or verification of facts, and is often erroneously translated as a birth certificate.  An acte de naissance is issued by Rwandan civil registrars in the sector where the birth occurred on oversized paper with no security features.  The acte de naissance is the only legal birth certificate in Rwanda and is the only birth document accepted by Embassy Kigali.   

    If a child’s parents do not register the birth with sector authorities within 15 days, they must petition the court to obtain an acte de naissance for the child.  Court-ordered actes de naissance are often dated several years after the birth and are often based on unreliable attestations.  Courts require little proof of identity, dates of birth, or parentage in order to issue court judgments permitting the creation of a birth document.  As such, late-dated court-ordered actes de naissance may not serve as legal proof of parentage or of age of an individual.

    Note on naming conventions: Names and surnames are often swapped; surnames in families are virtually never the same; variations in spelling are common; “r’s” and “l’s” are interchangeable; and dates of birth are often unknown, especially for older individuals.  Places and dates of birth may also change from one passport to the next. 

    Death Certificate

    A hospital death certificate is taken to sector officials for an attestation de decès (attestation of death).  Hospital death certificates are most often the source document for actes de decès (death certificates), and Rwandan authorities usually trust that they are authentic.  If the deceased did not die in a hospital, municipal authorities or other witnesses who know of the decedent can register the death before sector officials to obtain the attestation.  Civil registry officials in the local municipality where the death occurred register deaths and provide both the acte de decès and attestation de decès.

    An attestation is equivalent to an affidavit or statement in the United States and may be obtained with no supporting documentation.  It may be issued in any sector, not necessarily the one where the death occurred.  An acte de decès is a more detailed document issued at the sector where the death occurred, which goes back and confirms the original registration of death.  It is issued on oversized paper with no security features, and serves as full legal documentation of death.   The acte de decès is the only legal death certificate issued in Rwanda and is the only death document accepted by U.S. Embassy Kigali.

    Marriage, Divorce Certificates

    Marriage Certificate

    Marriage procedures: Engaged couple must bring an attestation de celibat (attestation of celibacy), or certification of singleness, to sector officials.  (Americans marrying Rwandans may request this at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy.  While consular officers cannot vouch for individuals’ availability to marry, they can notarize sworn statements to this effect.)  Rwandan officials do not typically verify individuals’ eligibility to marry; this is more of a formality and deception or fraud would generally be dealt with by the couple themselves.  When presenting themselves to a civil registrar to marry, celebrants must show their birth certificates.  In some cases, civil registrars require that the celebrants also show proof that they published a public announcement stating their intent to marry.  Upon completion of the requirements, civil registrars present the celebrants with a livret de mariage (marriage book), which documents their marriage.  The livret de mariage is not legal proof that a marriage occurred.

    Marriage certificates: Couples can request an attestation de mariage (attestation of marriage), valid for 3 months at a time, but this only identifies the couple and the issuing authority.  An attestation, which is equivalent to a marriage affidavit or statement in the United States, may be obtained at any time with no supporting documentation or verification of facts, and is often erroneously translated as a marriage certificate.  An acte de mariage (marriage certificate) is a more detailed document issued at the sector level where the marriage occurred which goes back and confirms the original registration.  It is issued on oversized paper with no security features. The acte de mariage is the only legal marriage certificate issued in Rwanda and is the only marriage document accepted by U.S. Embassy Kigali.

    Valid marriages: Rwandan law does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, and thus Rwandan officials do not issue documents to same-sex couples for the purpose of marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.  Rwandan law also does not recognize religious marriages; only marriages properly registered with civil authorities are considered legal.

    Divorce Certificate

    Divorces are granted by local courts at the request of one of the celebrants to a marriage.  Once the court issues a divorce judgment, the individual presents it to the civil registrar at the location where the marriage was celebrated.  The civil registrar then provides an attestation de divorce (attestation of divorce) to the celebrant.  Legal proof of divorce includes the court divorce judgment and the attestation of divorce.  Actes de divorce (divorce certificates) are no longer issued.

    Divorce decrees issued by foreign courts must first be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (known as MINAFFET) before they can be presented to a civil registrar.

    Adoption Certificates

    Adoptions are registered by local municipalities, known as sectors, resulting in an acte d’adoption (adoption certificate).  The adoption must then be confirmed (the term in French is homologué) by a court.  Only once the adoption is confirmed is it considered legal.  A complete adoption package will include the acte d’adoption and the court judgment confirming and finalizing the adoption.

    Rwanda has been closed to intercountry adoption since 2010, so adoption certificates cannot legally be issued to foreigners for the purpose of adopting children who are Rwandan nationals.

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    Identity Card

    Rwandan digital national ID cards were released in August of 2009.  They resemble a plastic driver’s license, with the Rwandan flag on one top corner and the government seal on the other, just above a large photo of the bearer surrounded by a white oval halo.  There is a smaller copy of the photo on the bottom corner on the same side as the flag.  The main design, in the center of the card behind the identifying details, is a sunburst.  The rays are green with a yellow / orange sphere in the background.  Blue “rays” extend to the edges of the card.  The writing on the card, in both English and Kinyarwanda, is as follows: Republic of Rwanda (top of the card between the flag and seal), National Identity Card, Names, Date of Birth, Sex, Place of Issue, Signature, and along the bottom, National ID No., which starts with a 1, then the year of birth of the holder, followed by 10 additional numbers.

    The back of the card features a digital scan strip, another small copy of the bearer’s photo, the government seal in blue placed over the flag, and an orange sun in the center.  The writing on the bottom of the government seal reads: “Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugo”.

    The veracity of Rwandan national ID cards relies heavily upon breeder documents, such as actes de naissance, which are easily counterfeited.  Embassy Kigali is unaware of any fraud prevention activities undertaken by the Rwandan National Identification Agency to authenticate such documents prior to issuing an ID card.  As such, the ID card is only as reliable as the breeder document presented to obtain it.

    Police, Court, Prison Records

    Police Record

    The Criminal Record is considered a substitute.   

    Criminal Record

    A comprehensive national-level criminal record, called the extrait du casier judiciaire or criminal record clearance, is issued by the Prosecutor General’s office and is available by request at the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Kigali.  This document states whether the named has any pending criminal charges against them in Rwanda or whether the subject was previously convicted of a crime, including crimes related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.  It can also be requested via the Rwandan Embassy in Washington.  The French and English records are equivalent; only one is necessary.  There is no other criminal history document routinely available in Rwanda.

    Court Record

    The Criminal Record is considered a substitute.

    Military Records

    Military records are difficult to obtain, especially for those who recently left the military or for those who served in military prior to 1994.

    Passports & Other Travel Documents


    All Rwandan passports are issued by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.  Rwandans who reside overseas may renew their passport at the nearest Rwandan embassy.  Rwandan passports are valid for five years.  All currently valid Rwandan passports conform to the descriptions below.

    The 48-page regular passport has a blue cover with the Rwandan state seal imprinted in gold leaf in the center.  The country name is printed above the seal in Kinyarwanda (bold text), English (regular text), and French (italic text).  Page forty-seven is laminated and contains machine printed passport information and next to the passport number a sunburst in color change ink.  A photo of the bearer is on the left side of the page, and a faded copy is behind the gender and place of issuance on the right side of the page.  Pages 1-46 include perforations matching the passport number at the top.  On the inside front and back cover, the side profile of a walking highland gorilla is visible under UV light in the printed mountain range.

    Service passports have the same features, but have a black cover instead of blue.  They are issued to any individual going on travel paid by the government, upon authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Service passports are generally held by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration when the bearer is not traveling.  The Rwandan government has been known to issue official passports to individuals who are neither government employees nor individuals representing the Rwandan government in official travel.

    Diplomatic passports feature red covers and are reserved for high-ranking members of government and parliament.  They include the same security features as regular and service passports.

    The veracity of Rwandan passports relies heavily upon breeder documents, such as actes de naissance and actes de mariage, which are easily counterfeited.  Embassy Kigali is unaware of any fraud prevention activities undertaken by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration to authenticate such documents prior to issuing a passport.  As such, the passport is only as reliable as the breeder document presented to obtain it.

    Other Records

    Not applicable

    Visa Issuing Posts

    Kigali, Rwanda (Embassy)

    B.P. 28,
    Kigali, Rwanda

    Tel: (250) 596-400

    Fax: (250) 596-591


    Visa Services

    All visa categories for all of Rwanda.

    Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

    Washington, DC (202) 232-2882 (202) 232-4544

    New York, NY (212) 679-9010 (212) 679-9133

    Assistance for U.S. Citizens

    U.S. Embassy Kigali
    2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
    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.)
    250-252-596-400, and dial 1
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    Additional Information for Reciprocity

    Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.