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Burundi

Burundi
Republic of Burundi
Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime, health, and political violence. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime, health, and political violence. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory. 

Do Not Travel to:

  • The former Central Market located on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore in Bujumbura due to the risk of violent crime.  
  • Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces and Kibira National Park due to potential armed violence.

Country Summary:  Violent crimes, such as assault, carjacking, home invasion, grenade attacks, and armed robbery, have been reported in Burundi. Criminals at times target foreigners and residents suspected of having large sums of cash. 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.  Even relatively minor health problems may necessitate a medical evacuation at the traveler’s expense. Medical evacuation insurance valid for travel to Burundi is strongly recommended.

Although political unrest and instability in Burundi have diminished in recent years, the risk of potential violence remains. Police and military checkpoints are common and can restrict freedom of movement. Police have conducted weapon searches in the homes of private citizens. The borders 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 outside Bujumbura Mairie during hours of darkness (typically 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.).  The U.S. government may not be able to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the following areas:  the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke and Kibira National Park (including the park’s southernmost part in Muramvya province)

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

If you decide to travel to Burundi:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Prepare contingency plans for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.  

The former Central Market located on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Violent crimes, such as grenade attacks and armed robbery, can occur.

The former Central Market located on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore is off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel at all times

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces and Kibira National Park – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Armed actors exploit porous borders and forested areas between Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for movement and activities.  U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from travel to the following areas without special permission: the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke and Kibira National Park (including the park’s southernmost part in Muramvya province).

Due to travel restrictions on U.S. Embassy personnel, the U.S. government may be unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these areas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Minimum 6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One visa page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes, also available upon arrival.

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) 22-207-000 
(Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. – 12:30p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(257) 22-207-000 
Email: BujumburaACS@state.gov

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport.
  • Travelers can obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival at the Bujumbura Airport for USD 90.
  • This can be extended in-country by applying in person at the Burundian Commissariat Général des Migrations. Renewal visas issued in Burundi cost US 70 per month. Visit the Burundian Commissariat Général des Migrations website to make a visa renewal appointment.  
  • Those staying longer than 30 days can also apply for a three-month visa at the Burundian Embassy in Washington, DC.
  • Visa applicants should have a World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination. Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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, including minors, who intend to stay one year or more are required to register their presence and obtain the appropriate residence permits in person at the main office of the Commissariat Général des Migrations in Bujumbura. Contact their office at +257 22 25 79 00 for more information. Failure do so may result in fines.

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

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

Traveling with Multiple Electronic Devices: Travelers with more than one of any type of electronic device (i.e., two or more laptops, tablets, phones, etc.), regardless of the intended purpose, have reported that their devices were confiscated upon arrival. Import duties may not be calculated upon arrival at the airport and the items may remain in customs for an extended period of time.

COVID-19 Requirements

  • There are no COVID-related entry requirements for U.S. citizens. 

Safety and Security

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

Incidents of violence occur.

  • Grenades and small arms have been used in some acts of violence in Burundi.
  • Armed groups opposed to the Burundian government operate in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and have in the past launched attacks inside Burundian territory. DRC armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue to conduct combat operations against rebels, militia, and ISIS-aligned groups in Eastern DRC. As a result, Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces, and the portion of Bujumbura Rural province that borders DRC, are vulnerable to armed violence.
  • Armed actors may also exploit porous borders and forested areas between Burundi and Rwanda and the DRC for illicit activities. U.S. Embassy personnel follow increased security protocols when visiting the following areas: the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke, and Kibira National Park (including the park’s southernmost part in Muramvya province), even when just transiting through the park to reach Kayanza via RN-10.

Searches: Security forces routinely search vehicles and homes, including those of foreigners and U.S. citizens. Residential searches are routine and generally occur 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 solicitations, intimidation, and (though rare) 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 and attempt to keep originals. It is common practice for police to retain personal or vehicle identification documents in return for a ticket to ensure payment. Documents are returned following payment of the fine at Emmaus Pathway on Blvd Mwanbutsa or at other approved locations.
  • Do not drive away until instructed to do so.
  • Report harassment to the U.S. Embassy.

Crime: Crimes of opportunity (mainly for financial gain) are the most reported incidents of crime against U.S. citizens in Burundi. In recent years, there have been two incidents of violent crime against U.S. citizens. Most criminal incidents involve theft, burglary, and robbery. Petty crime may be more likely in public places. Criminal elements do not typically single out U.S. citizens, but may view them as targets of opportunity based on perceived affluence or vulnerability. U.S. citizens should take these precautions:

  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked (at home and in vehicles).
  • If threatened, particularly by an armed assailant, do not refuse or resist—your life is worth more than your belongings.
  • Prior to your departure, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Avoid being out alone late at night.
  • Exercise caution when carrying and/or displaying possessions, especially valuable ones.

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.

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 against petty crime.
  • Monitor news and consular alerts.

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

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 always 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 arrested, expelled, 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.

If stopped by the police, you are expected to produce an acceptable form of identification.

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 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, including via a drone. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and 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 to register 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 2009. Examine U.S. bills to ensure they are legitimate.

Be aware that hotels will require payment in U.S. dollars from foreigners not resident in Burundi.

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 relations 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 sidewalks 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. Center Seruka and Center Nturengaho provide shelter and counseling to survivors of rape and domestic violence. Several international NGOs provide free medical care for survivors, 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

Health facilities throughout the country are well below the U.S. standard of care. Training of staff and general hygiene and sanitation remain a problem. Adequate health facilities for basic medical care are available in Bujumbura and at some other locations. 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.

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.
  • 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.

 

The U.S. Government does not pay private 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 the type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance for medical evacuations.

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 available at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Air pollution is a moderate problem in several major cities in Burundi. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling, if appropriate. Respiratory issues have been reported more frequently when the air quality is worse, particularly in the drier months. 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 for basic care are available in Bujumbura, but health care throughout the country is below U.S. standards. Public medical clinics often lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors often require cash payment up front, prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not available.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • In general, minimal staffing is available overnight in non-emergency hospital wards. Consider having family spend the night with patients, 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.

Pharmaceuticals

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over-the-counter and those requiring prescriptions 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. According to current guidance from civil authorities, if a child were born through surrogacy in Burundi, the surrogate mother would be listed as the birth mother on the birth certificate. She could then 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 from 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:

Other diseases that may be present, but are not prevalent:

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

HIV/AIDS: HIV transmission within Burundi is lower in comparison to other countries in sub–Saharan Africa; however, the risk of transmission remains higher than in the United States. Visitors should exercise caution 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 vary in condition from good to very poor. 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 of the country are in disrepair. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Bujumbura before 05:00 and after 18:30. There is a general lack of:

  • Lighting
  • Traffic signals
  • Road signs
  • Road shoulders

The above conditions make driving dangerous, particularly outside of cities and at night. Poor driving standards and pedestrians, cyclists, and livestock on the roads create further hazards. There have also been recent incidents of pedestrians struck and killed by minibuses. Exercise extra caution while walking on or alongside a road.

Motorists in Burundi should be careful to keep their doors locked and windows closed when driving around the capital. Fuel shortages are common, leading to very long lines at service stations that can last for hours or days. Outside Bujumbura, service stations are scarce, and fuel is often unavailable. Professional roadside assistance is limited 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 and passengers may emerge into traffic.

There are many right-hand drive vehicles in Burundi, although Burundi is a left-hand drive country.

In the case of an accident, call and attempt to have police respond. If a hostile crowd forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed to the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident you see or come upon.

 

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 the fare with your hotel or before entering a taxi.

 

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: June 27, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

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