Russia Travel Advisory
July 19, 2022

Do Not Travel and Leave Immediately

International Travel

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Country Information

Burundi

Burundi
Republic of Burundi
Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime, health, and political violence.

Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime, health, and political violence.

Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as grenade attacks and armed robbery, occur frequently. Though Westerners are unlikely to be targeted, the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is high. Local police lack the resources and training to respond effectively to crimes.

Medical services in Burundi fall well below U.S. standards, and there are no adequate trauma services in the country. Emergency medical and fire services are limited or non-existent in some areas of the country.

There are ongoing political tensions in Burundi, causing sporadic violence throughout the country. Police and military checkpoints are common and can restrict freedom of movement. Police have conducted weapon searches in the homes of private citizens. In the provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, as well as Mutimbuzi commune in Bujumbura Rural province, there have been armed attacks primarily conducted by groups operating from the eastern DRC. The border may close without notice.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens throughout Burundi. U.S. Embassy personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in certain areas of Burundi and may be subject to other constraints as security conditions warrant. These restrictions include limitations on all travel during hours of darkness (typically 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) and require prior approval for travel outside of the Bujumbura Mairie Central area. The former Central Market located on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore is off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel at all times, due to high rates of crime.  

Due to travel restrictions on U.S. Embassy personnel, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the following areas: the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke, Kibira National Park (including the park’s southernmost part in Muramvya province), and Ruvubu and Buriri Forest. Embassy personnel are also prohibited from transiting through Kibira National Park to reach Kayanza via the RN-10.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Burundi.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined Burundi has an unknown level of COVID-19.  Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

If you decide to travel to Burundi:

  • Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel and read the U.S. Embassy's web page for country-specific COVID-19 information.
  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Bring a sufficient supply of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
  • Obtain comprehensive medical insurance that includes medical evacuation.
  • Avoid areas where there are large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, and exercise caution in the vicinity of any such gatherings.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings and be vigilant when traveling in unfamiliar areas or outside of cities and along border areas; take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.
  • Consider traveling in pairs and using convoys of multiple vehicles to mitigate the risks related to traveling outside of Bujumbura. Carry additional fuel, spare tires, and provisions. Include a map, navigation equipment, and first aid kit. Service stations are scarce in rural areas. Professional roadside assistance service is not available outside the capital.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Burundi.
  • Prepare contingency plans for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Minimum 6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One visa page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


US$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


US$10,000

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura
Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Bujumbura, Burundi
Telephone:
+(257) 22-20-7000
(Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. – 12:30p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(257) 22-20-7000
Fax: +(257) 22-24-3467
Email: BujumburaACS@state.gov

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Burundi.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • As of December 7, 2021, travelers can obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival at the Bujumbura Airport with a payment of $90 for multiple entries and $70 for a single entry. Those desiring to stay longer than 30 days should apply for a visa at the Burundian Embassy in Washington, DC.World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination. For more details on immunizations go to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.
  • A negative COVID-19 result from a test taken within 72 hours before arrival.

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

Mandatory Registration: All non-Burundian residents who intend to stay one year or more are required to register their presence at the main office of the Commissariat Général des Migrations in Bujumbura. Contact their 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 regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

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

Incidents of violence occur country-wide.

  • Grenades and small arms may be used.
  • International borders may close without notice.
  • Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces, and the portion of Bujumbura Rural province that borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are vulnerable to attacks by armed groups.
  • The land border between Burundi and Rwanda remains closed. · Armed actors may exploit porous borders and forested areas between Burundi and Rwanda and the DRC for movement and activities. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from travel to the following areas: the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke, Kibira National Park (including the park’s southernmost part in Muramvya province). Embassy personnel are also prohibited from transiting through Kibira National Park to reach Kayanza via the RN-10.

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

Precautions:

  • Carry original and color photocopies of your U.S. passport and visa at all times.
  • Avoid large public gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can turn violent.
  • Be vigilant around city centers and cautious when traveling in rural and border areas. 
  • Monitor news and consular Alerts.

Searches: Security forces routinely search vehicles and homes (including those of foreigners and U.S. citizens). Residential searches are allowed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.; police must present identification and a warrant. Report improper searches to the U.S. Embassy.

Roadblocks: Police maintain checkpoints throughout the country. Travelers have reported harassment, bribe solicitation, intimidation, and (rarely) physical violence, especially during heightened security situations.

If stopped:

  • Be compliant, calm, and courteous.
  • Identify yourself as a U.S. citizen.
  • Remain in your vehicle.
  • Provide copies of identification documents if requested; attempt to keep originals.
  • Do not drive away until instructed to do so.
  • Report harassment to the U.S. Embassy.

Crime: Theft, robbery, and burglary are common; armed or violent crime causing injury or fatality occurs often. Petty crime occurs at all hours; serious crimes occur mostly at night. Although rarely targeted, foreigners should take precautions.

Demonstrations occur occasionally. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.

  • Demonstrations can be unpredictable, avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Internet romance and financial scams may occur in Burundi. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:

  • Romance/Online dating
  • Money transfers
  • Lucrative sales
  • Gold purchase
  • Contracts with promises of large commissions
  • Grandparent/Relative targeting
  • Free Trip/Luggage
  • Lotteries
  • Inheritance notices
  • Work permits/job offers
  • Bank overpayments

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police by dialing 117 and contact the U.S.

Embassy at +257 22 20 70 00. Remember that 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
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • 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
  • Support in cases 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 are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place. Tourists participate in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws, regardless of your nationality. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe and result in long jail sentences and heavy fines. You may be questioned by the police if you are 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 you could 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. You must present a copy of your ID and/or passport for registering your SIM card.

Currency: The Burundian franc (BIF) is the official currency although U.S. currency may be required in certain cases. Most transactions are conducted in cash. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside of a few upmarket hotels and restaurants in Bujumbura. Most vendor and banking institutions will take only U.S. bills in near-mint condition, printed after 2017. 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. The U.S. Embassy does not exchange currency for U.S. citizens.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTQI+ Travelers: Burundian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual acts with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment of three months to two years, but prosecutions are rare. People have, however, been detained based on their perceived sexual orientation. There were also reports that members of the LGBTQI+ community were threatened, beaten, and arrested by local administrators and other citizens with the support of security forces.

See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Burundi prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, but the law is rarely enforced. Some groups report that discrimination is prevalent. Expect accessibility to be limited in transportation, lodging, and public buildings with few sidewalk and no curb cuts. 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. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Burundi. 

Most medical facilities in Burundi are inadequate for even routine care. Emergency services are severely limited. If you do need medical care, you will be asked to pay cash in advance and may be denied treatment if unable to do so. Credit cards are generally not accepted; insurance companies are not billed. In an emergency, a medical evacuation would likely be necessary.

There is no single number for emergency medical services in Burundi. Contact a doctor or hospital directly.

Ambulance services are:

  • Not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas
  • Not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • Not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

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 for medical evacuations, especially given the quality of medical care in Burundi.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Burundi Ministry of Public Health to ensure the medication is legal in Burundi.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

 

Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in Burundi, primarily due to the lack of regulation on fuel/vehicle exhaust and burning trash. Consider the impact heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.

The air quality varies considerably depending on proximity to major roads and fires. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:

  • Infants, children, and teens
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • People who work or are active outdoors

Health facilities in general

  • Adequate health facilities are available in Bujumbura, but health care throughout the country may be below U.S. standards. Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors often require payment up front prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not available. All hospitals and medical professionals require cash payment.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • Generally, only minimal staff is available overnight in non-emergency hospital wards. Consider 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

Pharmaceuticals

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
  • Please contact the Burundi Ministry of Public Health for regulations on bringing medication into Burundi.

Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy

  • If you are considering traveling to Burundi to have a child through use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or surrogacy, please see our ART and Surrogacy Abroad page.
  • There are no known cases of surrogacy in Burundi. If a child were born through surrogacy in Burundi, the surrogate mother would be listed as the birth mother on the birth certificate. Then she could decide whether to give the child up for adoption.

Water Quality

  • Tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

Adventure Travel

  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

General Health: The following diseases are prevalent:

Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.

HIV/AIDS: HIV transmission is common in Burundi. Be careful when handling sharp objects like needles and avoid unprotected sexual activity.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Burundi.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals we do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: National highways are in poor to good condition although large potholes are common. During the main rainy season from February to May, many roads become impassable. Flooding and landslides also destroy bridges and block routes. Many roads in the interior are in disrepair. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Bujumbura before 06:00 and after 18:30.

There is a general lack of:

  • Lighting
  • Traffic signals
  • Road signs
  • Road shoulders

The conditions mentioned above make driving dangerous, particularly outside of towns and at night. Poor driving standards and pedestrians, cyclists, and livestock on the roads create further hazards.

Rural areas: When travelling outside of Bujumbura, be aware of increased risks of ambush and highway robbery, which usually happen at night. Motorists in Burundi should be careful to keep their doors locked and windows closed when driving around the capital. Service stations are scarce and fuel shortages are common. Professional roadside assistance is not available outside the capital. Carry with you:

  • Spare tires
  • Food and water
  • Methods of communication
  • Maps and navigation equipment
  • A 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.

Many passenger doors on buses open on the side facing the road since many right-hand drive vehicles are imported to Burundi even though Burundi is a left-hand drive country.

In the case of an accident, 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 vehicle maintenance, and the risk of petty crime. Hire private transportation from a reliable source. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from using public transportation, including taxis, taxi-motos, taxi-bikes and buses. Fatal collisions occur frequently. Due to security concerns, the bus depots near the former Central Market are also off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel.

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

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

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Burundi.  For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

 

Last Updated: April 7, 2022

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura
Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Bujumbura, Burundi
Telephone
+(257) 22-20-7000 (Monday - Thursday 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. – 12:30p.m.)
Emergency
+(257) 22-20-7000
Fax
+(257) 22-24-3467

Burundi Map