Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Botswana International Travel Information
On August 28, 2022 the Government of Botswana announced that the wearing of masks, proof of vaccination, and testing at port of entry for unvaccinated travelers is no longer required in Botswana. A negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) is not required and there are no health screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry.
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. The total stay permitted for each visit is recorded on the entry stamp by Botswana immigration officials and may be less than 90 days. Travelers who attempt to enter Botswana with a temporary passport must have a visa to enter. Visas cannot be obtained upon arrival in Botswana, and U.S. citizens without a visa in a temporary passport will face fines and long administrative delays.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Botswana. However, students beginning their studies at the University of Botswana are required to take an HIV test.
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. 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. Visit the Embassy of Botswana’s webpage for the most current visa information.
Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if entering from a country where yellow fever is endemic. The Government of Botswana does not require other vaccinations. See the CDC’s web site for additional information.
Requirements for Minors Entering Botswana
See the Embassy of Botswana’s webpage for complete details.
Requirements for Minors Transiting South Africa
South Africa requires:
See South Africa’s Country Specific Information for further information.
Residency Applicants and Document Certification for Botswana
Original or certified copies of one’s birth and marriage certificates are required for residency applications, per Botswana’s Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs website. U.S. citizens applying for residency in Botswana should have their birth and marriage certificates apostilled by the U.S. state where the documents were issued before coming to Botswana.
Only the Secretary of State in the State where the birth or marriage certificates were issued is authorized to apostille those documents. A list of these authorities in each state can be found on the Hague website. Teachers moving to Botswana to teach should contact the issuing educational institution registrar’s office to obtain certified copies of their transcripts.
Please see also the Department of State website regarding the types of documents that can and cannot be authenticated by the U.S. Embassy.
CRIME: Non-confrontational 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 shopping mall parking lots, cell phone thefts, and muggings - often at knife point, are routinely reported to 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.
Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should be aware of serious and continuing baggage pilferage problems at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports. It is suggested that you:
Travelers transiting and staying overnight in Johannesburg before departing for Botswana should exercise vigilance when departing the airport as foreigners have been the victims of “follow home” robberies.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to local police at 999 and if American Citizen Services assistance is required, contact the U.S. Embassy at + (267) 395-3982. The Botswana Police Service is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
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. If you are at risk for bodily injury, contact the Botswana Police Service immediately for assistance
Tourism: The tourism industry in Botswana is unevenly regulated. Many tourism operators provide top quality equipment and facilities; however, authorities conduct annual safety inspections for equipment and facilities inconsistently. Hazardous areas/activities are often, but not always, identified with appropriate signage, and some staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available in the capital, Gaborone, and in the cities of Maun, Francistown, and Kasane. First responders are generally able to access areas outside of the capital and to provide medical treatment, however there may be delays reaching remote areas. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
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 electricity 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 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 substantial fines. Unwitting U.S. citizens have been arrested and prosecuted under this law.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBQTI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTQI+ events in Botswana.
In November 2021, the Botswana Court of Appeals ruled to officially decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. There are no reports of police targeting persons suspected of same-sex sexual activity. There is stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons particularly in villages and rural areas outside the capital. LGBTQI+ travelers should exercise caution with regard to public displays of affection.
Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Botswana prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, and the law is enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure.
The government mandates access to public buildings and transportation for persons with disabilities, but civil society sources report access for persons with disabilities is limited. Many privately owned buildings and business, and older government buildings remain inaccessible. The law does not specifically include air travel with other modes of transportation but in general, persons with disabilities are provided access to air transportation.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
For emergency services in Botswana, dial 999 for the Police, 998 for Fire, and 992 for Ambulance (MRI).
Ambulance services are:
Adequately equipped private medical facilities, emergency rooms, and trained physicians are available in Gaborone for simple medical problems but services are rudimentary elsewhere. Ability to pay for care must be established before you will receive medical care. More advanced care is available in South Africa. Many South African manufactured prescription drugs are available in Gaborone, although there have been recent shortages of routine prescription drugs.
Avoid drinking tap water and ice made from tap water. Many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe to drink.
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. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority to ensure the medication is legal in Botswana.
Check with the government of Botswana to ensure the medication you are carrying is legal in Botswana. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are present:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Health facilities in general:
Adequate health facilities are available in Gaborone and other major cities but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards.
Hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.
Generally, in public hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.
Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery:
U.S. citizens have suffered serious complications or died while seeking medical care from non-traditional “healers” and practitioners in Botswana. Ensure you have access to licensed emergency medical facilities in such cases.
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy:
Although surrogacy agencies/clinics claim surrogacy is legal in Botswana, there is no legal framework for foreigners or same-sex couples to pursue surrogacy in Botswana. As a result, surrogacy agreements between foreign or same-sex intending parents and gestational mothers are not enforced by Botswana courts.
In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
General Health Language:
Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in major population centers are generally good but rural roads can be in poor condition. Traffic lights and streetlamps 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.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Visit the website of Botswana’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 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.