Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Zambia International Travel Information
A passport and visa are required to enter Zambia. Passports must be valid for at least six months upon arrival and have at least three blank pages upon each entry. Travelers transiting other countries on the way to Zambia, particularly South Africa, should refer to their Country Information pages for additional blank page requirements.
Zambian entry visas can be obtained online through the Department of Immigration’s e-Services website or upon arrival at any port of entry. Visit the Embassy of Zambia’s website or the Department of Immigration’s website for information on all types of visas and their costs, as well as the most current visa information.
You must carry the original or a certified copy of your passport and immigration permit at all times. Certified copies must be obtained from the office that issued the permit. If your passport is lost or stolen, visit the Zambian Department of Immigration to obtain a replacement entry permit before attempting to depart the country.
Departure Tax/Security Charge: U.S. citizens must pay an airport departure tax in local currency. This tax is included in the cost of international flight tickets. For domestic flights, passengers pay a nominal charge in Zambian kwacha prior to entering the departure hall, only for chartered flights.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zambia.
Zambia is rated Level 1 for security (exercise normal precautions) and has few major security concerns. Visitors can avoid criminal activity by utilizing common sense measures provided below.
Political activity, especially during national and local elections, can lead to civil unrest and low-level violence. Spontaneous demonstrations occasionally occur and are often exacerbated by police action. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence. To stay safe, you should:
Crime: The most commonly reported crimes committed against Westerners in Lusaka are non-violent confrontations characterized as crimes of opportunity (theft of unattended possessions in public places or hotel rooms, confidence scams). Pickpockets operate in crowded markets and on public transportation, and visitors have reported snatch attacks of bags and smartphones on busy city streets as well as smash-and-grabs of valuables from vehicles idling in slow traffic and from parked cars. Other crimes, including thefts, violent attacks, including home invasions/robberies, and sexual assaults have occurred on many occasions. Victims are, on occasion, followed from banks, nightclubs, and ATMs and robbed at gunpoint, on the street, or upon arrival at their residence. Walking alone is not advisable in the downtown areas, high-density residential neighborhoods referred to locally as a “compound”, public parks, and other poorly illuminated areas, especially at night.
Be aware of:
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Zambia. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
Border Areas: Travelers should not drive off-road or in remote areas near the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola because of the danger of undetected land mines and unexploded ordnance. If you must travel to these areas, you should drive in convoys and carry satellite telephones. Parts of the DRC border area can be plagued with unrest and/or armed criminal elements. See the Country Information pages for the DRC and Angola for additional information.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crime to the local police at 991 or 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (260) 011-357-000 or + (260) 966-050-123.
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.
The legal age of marriage in Zambia is 16 for boys and girls with parental consent and 21 without consent. The law also prohibits Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) for women and girls and criminalizes rape and other sexual offenses, and courts have discretion to sentence convicted rapists to life imprisonment with hard labor. The law however does not include provisions for spousal rape. The penal code criminalizes domestic violence between spouses and among family members living in the same home. It also provides for prosecution of most crimes of gender-based violence, and penalties for conviction range from a fine to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the severity of injury and whether a weapon was used.
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 and there are no trauma facilities in the country. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are advised 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. 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.
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.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Drugs: Possession of small quantities of an illegal substance can constitute drug trafficking in Zambia. A list of controlled substances in Zambia is included in the Local Resources section of the U.S. Embassy Lusaka's webpage. When visiting Zambia, you should consider carrying any prescribed medications in their original bottles with a doctor’s prescription.
Wild Animal Products: It is illegal to purchase tortoise shells, rhino horns, elephant ivory, or any items made out of these materials. Other wildlife products, such as hippo teeth, crocodile teeth or skins, flat skins, horns, or animal bones, should only be purchased from animal product vendors licensed with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, which provide certification of purchase. Failure to produce a valid and legitimate certificate for these prescribed trophies can result in a five-year minimum prison sentence. Travelers must present the items and certification of purchase in person to Department of National Parks and Wildlife officials within 45 days of departure to obtain an export permit. Permits for items derived from CITES regulated species, such as hippo or crocodile, may take a number of days to obtain, may include additional fees, and may require an import permit from a destination country. Wildlife products with no export permit will be confiscated upon departure and the Government of Zambia will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law with penalties ranging from large fines to minimum five-year prison sentences. It is illegal to export game meat in any form: dried, processed, or raw.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: Zambian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity and penalties for conviction of engaging in “acts against the order of nature” are 15 years to life imprisonment. The lesser charge of “gross indecency” carries penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment.
LGBTQI+ persons in particular are at risk of societal violence due to prevailing prejudices, misperceptions of the law, lack of legal protections, and inability to access health services.
Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Zambia prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities, but the law is not effectively enforced. The Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities was created to promote awareness relating to the prevention of disabilities and the care of persons with disabilities; to cooperate with other government ministries in providing preventive, educational, training, employment, and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. Cultural attitudes toward disability vary, but in general social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Despite some improvements in largely urban areas, physical accessibility to services remains a pervasive problem across most of Zambia. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure. Contact the US Embassy in Zambia to receive a list of providers.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Zambia.
Private medical clinics in major cities provide reasonable care, but major medical emergencies usually require medical evacuation to South Africa, Europe, or the United States. The nearest air ambulances are based in South Africa. Government hospitals and clinics are often understaffed and lack supplies. Basic medical care outside of major cities is extremely limited. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.
For emergency services in Zambia, dial 999 for General Emergency, 991 for Police and 993 for Fire.
Ambulance services are:
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. 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 the Dangerous Drugs Act, or consult the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority to ensure the medication is legal in Zambia.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
HIV/AIDS: Zambia has a very high burden of HIV. Travelers are generally at low risk for getting HIV but certain practices such as having unprotected sex or sharing needles with people who are or might be infected with HIV can significantly increase the risk of HIV transmission. For more information on what you can do before and during travel to prevent HIV infection please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
There are shortages of medicine and medical supplies throughout Zambia.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Zambia.
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 at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
Road Conditions and Safety: Vehicle travel is extremely hazardous under normal conditions but particularly at night and in inclement weather.
When traveling in Zambia, please be aware:
Public Transportation: City traffic is comprised mostly of cars and privately operated minibuses; motorcycles are rare. Some relatively nice buses travel between Lusaka and Livingstone and the Copperbelt. Minibuses serve as the primary means of intra-city travel in Zambia but are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and seldom punctual.
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 Zambia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of the Republic of Zambia’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 Zambia. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.