Exercise normal precautions in Rwanda. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Reconsider travel to:
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Rwanda:
Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border
The armed group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda operates in eastern DRC near the border.
Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against armed groups in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Violence targeting civilians sporadically breaks out including rape, kidnapping, and pillaging.
Visit our website for infromation on Travel to High-Risk Areas
Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Rwanda for additional information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Visit the Embassy of Rwanda/Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration websites or the nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work or residency visas.
Contact the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali within 15 days of arrival to extend your visa.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda; however, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens enter using 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.
Borders may close without notice. Be aware of the following security conditions:
Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border:
Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans)/Nyungwe Forest:
Grenade attacks have occurred sporadically over the last five years. Genocide memorial sites, markets, bus stops, and taxis have been targets in Kigali and Ruhengeri (Musanze).
Crime: Most reported incidents involve robbery, pick-pocketing, petty theft, theft from hotel rooms, and residential burglaries. Burglars may break and enter, trick domestic staff into allowing them entrance, or convince residential security guards to participate.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
Report crimes to:
See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali's web page under Local Resources.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
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 taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest Notification: If 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 have publicly opposed the government.
Photography: Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is prohibited. Such sites are not always clearly marked. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have equipment confiscated without notice.
Telecommunications: Cell phones are widely used. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone. The three main providers are MTN, Tigo, and Airtel. Internet service is increasingly available, but high-speed connections are expensive.
Currency: The Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency, though U.S. dollars and euros may also be used. Most vendors and banks will take only bills printed after 2006, and exchange bureaus and hotels may refuse bills smaller than $100. Travelers' checks can be cashed at commercial banks. Most ATMs accept only Visa; MasterCard may be used for cash withdrawals at Access Bank co-located with Western Union offices. Beware of ATM skimmers.
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 when in a vehicle, can result in injury or death.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following web pages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on consensual same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events. 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 website for Rwanda prior to travel.
In the capital, King Faisal Hospital offers basic medical and emergency care including ambulances, referrals, and medical evacuation. King Faisal and the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali are adequate for routine procedures. Ambulance services are available, but do not administer medical treatment. Some medicines are in short supply or unavailable.
Hospitals outside of Kigali are sufficient for routine care. See list of facilities on the Local Resources tab of Embassy Kigali's web page.
You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Healthcare providers, including ambulances, require payment in U.S. dollars/Rwandan francs before services are performed.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.
Malaria is endemic. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents including 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers.
The following diseases are prevalent:
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.
The use of a cell phone 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.
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 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.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
Please check back for update
A hospital birth certificate or attestation by a midwife identifying the name of the mother and gender of the child is brought for registration at the sector level within 15 days, to register the child’s name with the government authorities. Rwandans can request an attestation de naissance (attestation of birth), valid for 3 months at a time, but the unlimited acte de naissance (birth certificate) is more detailed with an additional layer of certification that goes back and confirms the original sector-level registration. An attestation is equivalent to a birth affidavit in the United States, may be obtained at any time with no supporting documentation or verification of facts, and is often erroneously translated as a birth certificate. An acte de naissance is issued by Rwandan civil registrars in the sector where the birth occurred on oversized paper with no security features. The acte de naissance is the only legal birth certificate in Rwanda and is the only birth document accepted by Embassy Kigali.
If a child’s parents do not register the birth with sector authorities within 15 days, they must petition the court to obtain an acte de naissance for the child. Court-ordered actes de naissance are often dated several years after the birth and are often based on unreliable attestations. Courts require little proof of identity, dates of birth, or parentage in order to issue court judgments permitting the creation of a birth document. As such, late-dated court-ordered actes de naissance may not serve as legal proof of parentage or of age of an individual.
Note on naming conventions: Names and surnames are often swapped; surnames in families are virtually never the same; variations in spelling are common; “r’s” and “l’s” are interchangeable; and dates of birth are often unknown, especially for older individuals. Places and dates of birth may also change from one passport to the next.
A hospital death certificate is taken to sector officials for an attestation de decès (attestation of death). Hospital death certificates are most often the source document for actes de decès (death certificates), and Rwandan authorities usually trust that they are authentic. If the deceased did not die in a hospital, municipal authorities or other witnesses who know of the decedent can register the death before sector officials to obtain the attestation. Civil registry officials in the local municipality where the death occurred register deaths and provide both the acte de decès and attestation de decès.
An attestation is equivalent to an affidavit or statement in the United States and may be obtained with no supporting documentation. It may be issued in any sector, not necessarily the one where the death occurred. An acte de decès is a more detailed document issued at the sector where the death occurred, which goes back and confirms the original registration of death. It is issued on oversized paper with no security features, and serves as full legal documentation of death. The acte de decès is the only legal death certificate issued in Rwanda and is the only death document accepted by U.S. Embassy Kigali.
Marriage procedures: Engaged couple must bring an attestation de celibat (attestation of celibacy), or certification of singleness, to sector officials. (Americans marrying Rwandans may request this at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. While consular officers cannot vouch for individuals’ availability to marry, they can notarize sworn statements to this effect.) Rwandan officials do not typically verify individuals’ eligibility to marry; this is more of a formality and deception or fraud would generally be dealt with by the couple themselves. When presenting themselves to a civil registrar to marry, celebrants must show their birth certificates. In some cases, civil registrars require that the celebrants also show proof that they published a public announcement stating their intent to marry. Upon completion of the requirements, civil registrars present the celebrants with a livret de mariage (marriage book), which documents their marriage. The livret de mariage is not legal proof that a marriage occurred.
Marriage certificates: Couples can request an attestation de mariage (attestation of marriage), valid for 3 months at a time, but this only identifies the couple and the issuing authority. An attestation, which is equivalent to a marriage affidavit or statement in the United States, may be obtained at any time with no supporting documentation or verification of facts, and is often erroneously translated as a marriage certificate. An acte de mariage (marriage certificate) is a more detailed document issued at the sector level where the marriage occurred which goes back and confirms the original registration. It is issued on oversized paper with no security features. The acte de mariage is the only legal marriage certificate issued in Rwanda and is the only marriage document accepted by U.S. Embassy Kigali.
Valid marriages: Rwandan law does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, and thus Rwandan officials do not issue documents to same-sex couples for the purpose of marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. Rwandan law also does not recognize religious marriages; only marriages properly registered with civil authorities are considered legal.
Divorces are granted by local courts at the request of one of the celebrants to a marriage. Once the court issues a divorce judgment, the individual presents it to the civil registrar at the location where the marriage was celebrated. The civil registrar then provides an attestation de divorce (attestation of divorce) to the celebrant. Legal proof of divorce includes the court divorce judgment and the attestation of divorce. Actes de divorce (divorce certificates) are no longer issued.
Divorce decrees issued by foreign courts must first be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (known as MINAFFET) before they can be presented to a civil registrar.
Adoptions are registered by local municipalities, known as sectors, resulting in an acte d’adoption (adoption certificate). The adoption must then be confirmed (the term in French is homologué) by a court. Only once the adoption is confirmed is it considered legal. A complete adoption package will include the acte d’adoption and the court judgment confirming and finalizing the adoption.
Rwanda has been closed to intercountry adoption since 2010, so adoption certificates cannot legally be issued to foreigners for the purpose of adopting children who are Rwandan nationals.
Rwandan digital national ID cards were released in August of 2009. They resemble a plastic driver’s license, with the Rwandan flag on one top corner and the government seal on the other, just above a large photo of the bearer surrounded by a white oval halo. There is a smaller copy of the photo on the bottom corner on the same side as the flag. The main design, in the center of the card behind the identifying details, is a sunburst. The rays are green with a yellow / orange sphere in the background. Blue “rays” extend to the edges of the card. The writing on the card, in both English and Kinyarwanda, is as follows: Republic of Rwanda (top of the card between the flag and seal), National Identity Card, Names, Date of Birth, Sex, Place of Issue, Signature, and along the bottom, National ID No., which starts with a 1, then the year of birth of the holder, followed by 10 additional numbers.
The back of the card features a digital scan strip, another small copy of the bearer’s photo, the government seal in blue placed over the flag, and an orange sun in the center. The writing on the bottom of the government seal reads: “Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugo”.
The veracity of Rwandan national ID cards relies heavily upon breeder documents, such as actes de naissance, which are easily counterfeited. Embassy Kigali is unaware of any fraud prevention activities undertaken by the Rwandan National Identification Agency to authenticate such documents prior to issuing an ID card. As such, the ID card is only as reliable as the breeder document presented to obtain it.
The Criminal Record is considered a substitute.
A comprehensive national-level criminal record, called the extrait du casier judiciaire or criminal record clearance, is issued by the Prosecutor General’s office and is available by request at the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Kigali. This document states whether the named has any pending criminal charges against them in Rwanda or whether the subject was previously convicted of a crime, including crimes related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It can also be requested via the Rwandan Embassy in Washington. The French and English records are equivalent; only one is necessary. There is no other criminal history document routinely available in Rwanda.
The Criminal Record is considered a substitute.
Military records are difficult to obtain, especially for those who recently left the military or for those who served in military prior to 1994.
All Rwandan passports are issued by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. Rwandans who reside overseas may renew their passport at the nearest Rwandan embassy. Rwandan passports are valid for five years. All currently valid Rwandan passports conform to the descriptions below.
The 48-page regular passport has a blue cover with the Rwandan state seal imprinted in gold leaf in the center. The country name is printed above the seal in Kinyarwanda (bold text), English (regular text), and French (italic text). Page forty-seven is laminated and contains machine printed passport information and next to the passport number a sunburst in color change ink. A photo of the bearer is on the left side of the page, and a faded copy is behind the gender and place of issuance on the right side of the page. Pages 1-46 include perforations matching the passport number at the top. On the inside front and back cover, the side profile of a walking highland gorilla is visible under UV light in the printed mountain range.
Service passports have the same features, but have a black cover instead of blue. They are issued to any individual going on travel paid by the government, upon authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Service passports are generally held by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration when the bearer is not traveling. The Rwandan government has been known to issue official passports to individuals who are neither government employees nor individuals representing the Rwandan government in official travel.
Diplomatic passports feature red covers and are reserved for high-ranking members of government and parliament. They include the same security features as regular and service passports.
The veracity of Rwandan passports relies heavily upon breeder documents, such as actes de naissance and actes de mariage, which are easily counterfeited. Embassy Kigali is unaware of any fraud prevention activities undertaken by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration to authenticate such documents prior to issuing a passport. As such, the passport is only as reliable as the breeder document presented to obtain it.
Kigali, Rwanda (Embassy)
Tel: (250) 596-400
Fax: (250) 596-591
All visa categories for all of Rwanda.