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U.S. Embassy Kigali
30 KG 7 Avenue
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
To receive Alerts and other information from the Embassy during your stay in Rwanda, please sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) online at step.state.gov.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Rwanda for information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.
Requirements for Entry:
For information regarding the application process for a residency permit or work permit in Rwanda, please visit the Rwandan Immigration website.
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.
The U.S. Embassy advises all travelers to review the following information:
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.
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.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
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 participate in activities 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.
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.
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 1994 genocide in Rwanda 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. Please refer to the Rwandan Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement’s website for additional information regarding this topic.
Human Rights Observers, Journalists, NGO workers, and Students: Rwandan authorities may subject you to more scrutiny at immigration upon arrival 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 strictly 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.
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. Travelers entering Rwanda with drones, must declare the drone upon arrival, will be subject to additional scrutiny, and will be asked to present their permit.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following web pages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTQI+ events in Rwanda. However, LGBTQI+ individuals may face societal discrimination and abuse, including harassment by neighbors and police.
Travelers with Disabilities: Rwandan law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, and the government generally enforces these provisions. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure. 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.
Women Travelers: Domestic violence is common. Although many incidents are not reported or prosecuted, government officials encourage its reporting. Call the Rwanda National Police hotline at 112. See our tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Rwanda.
For emergency services in Rwanda, dial 112 for police, 113 for traffic accidents, or 116 to report abuse by a police officer.
Ambulance services are:
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. 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, be 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 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 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:
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:
Traffic Laws: An international driving permit and third-party insurance are 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 at least 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.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Rwanda’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards for oversight of Rwanda’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.