Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Uganda International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Uganda for information on U.S. – Uganda relations.
Visas and residency permits are not available at Entebbe Airport upon arrival. Visitors must apply on the Government of Uganda’s Electronic Visa/Permit Application System website for all immigration services such as visas, permits, and passes at least two weeks prior to travel.
U.S. citizens of Somali origin/born in Somalia will be turned around at the entry point if they arrive without the electronic visa.
For the most up-to-date visa information including fees, contact the Embassy of Uganda at 5911 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011; telephone (202) 726-7100 or visit their website. Travelers may also contact the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in New York. Overseas, inquiries can be made at the nearest Ugandan embassy or consulate.
Ugandan immigration imposes a fine of approximately $30 per day for visa overstays and may detain individuals who overstay their visas until the fine is paid. Be aware that the Ugandan immigration officer at the port of entry determines the length of authorized stay, which is generally from two weeks to three months for tourists. Immigration policies are not always consistently applied and may change without notice. Extensions of duration of stay may be requested at Ugandan immigration headquarters, Jinja Road, in Kampala. For more information on immigration issues, please see the Directorate of Citizen and Immigration Control website or call + 256 414 595 945. Avoid any offers by private individuals claiming that they can assist with visa issues.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Uganda.
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, is common, especially in larger cities including Kampala and Entebbe. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime. Kidnapping of foreign citizens is a concern, though it is a rare occurrence. In April 2019, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the southwest region of Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.S. citizen was later released unharmed. Additionally, there is a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region. U.S. citizens should avoid large public gatherings.
Northern and Eastern Uganda: The South Sudan-Uganda border is porous, and there are frequent reports of criminal trade and movement of people across the border. Due to the influx of refugees from South Sudan into Uganda, there is a strain on the region’s health, education, and security resources.
Crime has increased in areas of Karamoja and Lira in north central Uganda in recent years. The Uganda People’s Defense Force actively engages criminals in the Karamoja Region, and armed confrontation between police and criminal elements can occur. Emergency medical care and auto repair services are lacking in remote areas of the Karamoja Region.
Southwestern Uganda/Western Uganda: U.S. citizens traveling in southwestern Uganda along Uganda’s western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be aware that armed militia groups are active in eastern DRC. Travelers should review the country information page and Travel Advisory for the DRC. Refugee flows across the border can number in the thousands, and there is a risk of incursions by armed combatants.
There is a potential for violence related to ethnic and tribal tensions in the western districts of Bundibuguyo, Ntoroko and Kasese, near the border with the DRC. U.S. citizens should be vigilant and monitor local media for the latest news.
The Government of Uganda closed the Rwanda-Uganda border for extended periods of time in the last year. Some shut downs are 24 hour closures and others are only overnight closures. Travelers should ensure the border is open when attempting to travel to Rwanda from Uganda.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations in Kampala and other cities periodically occur in response to local political developments. Police routinely use tear gas – and sometimes live ammunition, resulting in deaths – to disperse protests in urban areas. U.S. citizens are urged to monitor media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Avoid demonstrations, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent without notice.
Involvement in Local Social Issues: All U.S. citizen travelers to Uganda should ensure that they have the correct visa for their visit to Uganda. Missionary and NGO work frequently require a work visa. Travelers who plan to engage in religious or civil society activities should obtain the appropriate visa from the Embassy of Uganda before departing the United States. The Government of Uganda has shown an increased interest in the activities of foreigners working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Local authorities have been known to detain, question, and arrest foreigners in Uganda, and some visitors have been ordered removed from the country.
Crime: Pick pocketing, purse snatching, and thefts from hotel rooms, parked vehicles, and vehicles stalled in traffic jams are common. Armed robberies of pedestrians and car jackings also occur, sometimes during daylight hours and in public places. Victims are generally injured only if they resist.
Food and drinks should never be left unattended in public. Women have reported being drugged and taken to another location and sexually assaulted. Similar tactics are used to rob individuals on public transportation. Remain with a group of friends in public, as single individuals are more likely to be targeted.
Financial crime is common in Uganda. Wire transfer, check, and credit card fraud are widespread. ATM machines are often tampered with or compromised, and advance fee fraud is perpetrated via email. U.S. vendors are cautioned against accepting third-party checks as payment for goods to be shipped to Uganda and should check with the Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Section to verify the legitimacy of Ugandan companies.
See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.
Victims of Crime: Victims of sexual assault should seek medical assistance and counseling immediately regarding prophylactic treatment to help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A list of local medical providers can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (256) (0) 414-306-001.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the 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 do not commonly occur. 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. 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. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 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.
Currency: U.S. currency notes in denominations less than $100 may be exchanged at a less favorable exchange rate. Travelers cannot exchange or use U.S. currency printed earlier than 2006. Western Union, MoneyGram, and other types of money transfer facilities are available in Kampala and other cities throughout the country. ATMs are available, but many only function for customers who have an account with a specific Ugandan bank.
Pets: Ugandan Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the importation of pets. Contact the Ugandan Embassy for specific information.
Charities/NGOs: U.S. citizens planning to work for or donate money to an NGO should have the charity provide references of past volunteers whom they may contact. U.S. citizens have reported intimidation and harassment by directors of organizations when questioned about the organization's activities or use of donated funds.
Information about registering an NGO can be obtained from the Ugandan NGO Bureau, which has offices within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They can be reached at (256) (0) 414 253 446. If a Certificate of Good Conduct/Criminal Background Check is needed to start or work for an NGO, you can obtain it by contacting your local police or on the FBI website before traveling.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Uganda. Social acceptance of homosexuality remains very low. LGBTI individuals or suspected LGBTI individuals could face harassment, imprisonment, blackmail, and violence. Individuals or organizations viewed as supporting LGBT rights also face harassment. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Accessibility to public transportation may be difficult for those with mobility issues. Foot paths and road crossings present barriers. There are no free or reduced taxi fares, or other accommodations in communication, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafes, bars, or other tourist spots.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Medical facilities in Uganda are limited and only equipped to handle minor medical emergencies. Surgical capabilities are inadequate, and blood supplies may be insufficient. Outside Kampala, hospitals are scarce and offer only basic services. Travelers should carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. A list of medical providers is available at the U.S. Embassy website.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
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 Embassy of Uganda to ensure the medication is legal in Uganda. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are known to occur in Uganda
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Nighttime travel should be avoided whenever possible. Highway travel at night is particularly dangerous, including on the roads between Entebbe Airport and Kampala. The Embassy recommends caution on these roads and use of a reliable taxi service to and from the airport. With the exception of the Kampala-Entebbe airport road, U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from driving at dark on roads outside the limits of cities and large towns. Alcohol is frequently a contributing factor in road accidents, particularly at night.
Pedestrians often walk in the roads and may not be visible to motorists. Large branches or rocks in the road sometimes indicate an upcoming obstruction or other hazards. Ugandan law requires that the drivers stop and exchange information and assist any person injured in an accident. Mob anger and violence against the driver perceived to be at fault may occur. In these instances, Ugandans often do not get out of their cars, but drive to the nearest police station to report the accident.
Road conditions in the rural areas are poor. The use of four wheel drive vehicles is encouraged in Uganda, and vehicular accidents occur at a high rate. Masaka Highway has been identified as one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Public Transportation: Most inter-city transportation in Uganda is by small van or large bus. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training, and some are reckless. Vans and buses are often poorly maintained, travel at high speeds, and are the most common vehicles involved in the many deadly single- and multi-vehicle accidents along Ugandan roads. Accident victims have included U.S. citizens traveling in vans and personal cars, as passengers on motorcycle taxis locally known as "boda bodas" and as pedestrians. U.S. Mission employees and their dependents are prohibited from using boda bodas and matatus (minibus taxis) due to accident and crime risks. Large trucks on the highways are often overloaded with inadequately secured cargo and poor braking systems.
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 Uganda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Uganda’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.