STEP
March 22, 2020

Enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)

COVID-19 Travel
August 6, 2020

For COVID-19 Travel Information click here

COVID-19 Alert
November 3, 2020

Update on U.S. Passport Operations

International Travel

English

Country Information

Rwanda

Rwanda
Republic of Rwanda
Exercise increased caution in Rwanda due to COVID-19. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory

Exercise increased caution in Rwanda due to COVID-19. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Rwanda due to COVID-19.  

Rwanda has resumed most transportation options (including airport operations and re-opening of air borders - land borders remain closed), and business operations (including daycares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within Rwanda. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Rwanda.

Exercise Increased Caution in:

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

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Rwanda:

Rwanda-Burundi Border—Exercise Increased Caution

The Nyungwe Forest National Park abuts the border with Burundi. Borders may not be clearly marked. It is required to obtain permits from the Rwanda Development Board prior to entry. Relations between Burundi and Rwanda are tense and there have been cross-border incursions and armed clashes.

Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Border—Exercise Increased Caution

Armed rebel and militia groups operate in DRC’s North and South Kivu provinces and Virunga Park. Borders may not be clearly marked and there have been cross-border incursions and armed clashes. It is required to obtain permits from the Rwanda Development Board prior to entry to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, which is adjacent to Virunga Park.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

... [READ MORE]

Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Yes. Yellow fever vaccination if entering from a country where yellow fever is endemic and/or where there is an active outbreak of yellow fever.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kigali

2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
Kigali
Telephone:
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
Email: 

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

For specific COVID-19 related information on Rwanda, including COVID-19 specific entry, testing and quarantine requirements, please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page.

Requirements for Entry: 

  • U.S. passports must be valid for six months after the date of entry into Rwanda.  
  • Travelers can obtain a Rwandan visa through the following procedures: 
    • Obtain a 30-day tourist visa at the port of entry for $50 (single entry) or $70 (multiple entry). Credit cards are generally accepted at the Kigali International Airport but are not accepted at some land borders. The U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers arrive at the Kigali International Airport travel with sufficient cash in U.S. dollars to pay for the visa in case credit card transactions are not possible at the time of your arrival. Additional information about this process can be found here
    • Obtain 30-day, 90-day, or 10-year tourist visa through the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C. Additional information about this process can be found on the Rwandan Embassy’s website.  
  • Immunizations: World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination if entering from the countries listed on the Rwandan Immigration website.  

For information regarding the application process for a residency permit or work permit in Rwanda, please visit the Rwandan Immigration website.  

Contact the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigrationin Kigali within 15 days of arrival to extend your visa, or apply online through the application portal.  

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda; however, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens enter the country on 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.

Safety and Security

The U.S. Embassy advises all travelers to confirm information regarding border openings and closures on the Embassy’s COVID-19 website, and discourages inter-country land border crossings during the time of COVID-19.

  • Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border, including parts of Volcanoes National Park:  Multiple armed groups opposed to the Rwandan government operate in eastern DRC and have launched occasional incursions into Rwandan territory. Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue to conduct combat operations against rebels, militia, and ISIS-aligned groups in DRC’s North and South Kivu provinces, which abut Rwanda. Violence, rape, kidnapping, killing, pillaging, armed robbery and roadside criminality occur in these areas and often target civilians.
  • Rwanda-Burundi border, including parts of Nyungwe National Park: Relations between Burundi and Rwanda are tense. There is a risk of cross-border incursions and armed clashes. 
  • Due to frequent tension along the land border between Rwanda and Uganda, travelers intending to cross the land border should exercise increased caution.

Precautions: 

  • Avoid demonstrations and remain vigilant while traveling, especially outside of cities. Even peaceful gatherings can become violent.
  • Exercise extreme caution in border areas as the border may not be clearly marked. 
  • Monitor local news and Embassy alerts.
  • Obtain permits before entering Rwanda’s national parks. 

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

Precautions: 

  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark. 
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.  
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed. 
  • Always carry a photocopy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location. 

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

Victims of Crime: If you are in immediate danger, your first call should be to the Rwandan police through the emergency hotline number 112. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should also contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the Rwanda National Police at 078-831-1124 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 250-252-596-400. 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 request 
  • 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 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. 

Additional Resources: 

  • Kigali City emergency hotline number is 112. Be aware that victims are often directed to the nearest police station to register a complaint in person. 
  • The hotline number for traffic accidents is 113.  
  • The hotline number to report abuse or attempted bribery by a police officer is 116. 
  • See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali’s website
  • Ambulances: 

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

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are uncommon. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and 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 only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. Additionally, ambulance services are limited and unreliable. Tourists are considered to be participating at their own risk. 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 while in Rwanda. 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.  

The police may detain you if you are not carrying an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana) result in long prison sentences and heavy fines. 

Furthermore, some offenses 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. 

Local Attorneys: You can find a list of local attorneys on the U.S. Embassy’s website.  

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 seven years in prison and fines of 500,000 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 only accept U.S. bills printed after 2009, 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 Ready.gov.   
  • During rainy season from February to May and September to December, Rwanda may experience heavy rains that lead to flooding and landslides. You can monitor weather warnings on the Rwanda Meteorology Agency.  

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

Drones/Photography: A permit is required to fly a drone recreationally or commercially in Rwanda. Please visit the Rwandan Government’s Tourism website for additional information. Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is prohibited. 

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

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on 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 common 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.

Health

Please visit the State Department’s COVID-19 Traveler Information before departure.  

For specific COVID-19 related information on Rwanda, please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page.

Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health website for Rwanda 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/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. 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. 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 Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority to ensure the medication is legal in Rwanda. 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. 

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

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, especially if the traveler has visited any of the countries on this list

The following diseases are prevalent in Rwanda

Use the CDC-recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays. 

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection that can be spread in fresh water, is found in Rwanda. The CDC recommends travelers avoid swimming in fresh, unchlorinated water, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers. 

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

Further Health Information:

Health Facilities in General:

  • Adequate health facilities are available in Kigali and other major cities but health care, especially in rural areas, may be below U.S. standards. 
  • Some 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 always available. 
  • Private hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.  
  • While English is widely spoken in Rwanda, in certain areas in the country medical staff may speak little or no English. 
  • Generally, in public hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight in non-emergency wards. 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 

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 review Rwandan rules on medication on the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority website.  

Water Quality 

  • 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. 

Food

Locally available fruit and vegetables may be contaminated with disease-causing organisms. In addition, these items may also have been treated with pesticides. It is important that all fruits and vegetables be adequately cleaned and prepared before consumption.

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 mudslides 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 
  • absence of professional roadside assistance. 

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 roadblocks 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.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

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

Last Updated: November 20, 2020

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kigali
2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
Kigali
Telephone
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
250-252-596-400, and dial 1
Fax
250-252-596-591

Rwanda Map