See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Rwanda for information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.
Requirements for Entry:
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Rwanda.
Borders may close without notice. Note of the following security conditions:
Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border:
Volcanoes National Park/Nyungwe Forest:
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 allow them entrance.
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.
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. Report crimes to:
See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali’s website.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
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.
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 Ready.gov.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.