Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Zimbabwe is hazardous. Zimbabweans drive on the left side of the road and people often drive over the speed limit. Avoid driving at night. The Traffic Safety Council reports there are 40-50 vehicle accidents in Harare every night. Although the main roads throughout Zimbabwe are generally in fair but deteriorating condition, most lack passing lanes, shoulders, breakdown lanes, lighting, reflectors, and similar safety features.
Hazards you will encounter while driving (especially after dark):
- Pedestrians (in dark clothing) and animals walking along or on the roads.
- Motor vehicles with no headlights or taillights.
- Restricted visibility when passing.
- Faded lane markers and non-working streetlights and traffic lights.
- Service stations lacking fuel and spare parts.
- Numerous potholes.
There is no national network of roadside emergency service. However, the Automobile Association (AA) of Zimbabwe is willing to provide roadside emergency service to nonmembers for a fee. They can be contacted at 263-4-752-779. AA Zimbabwe?s 24-hour emergency roadside helpline is 263-4-707-959. Travelers can also contact the Road Angels, another roadside assistance service, at 263-4-334-304 and 263-4-334-418.
Traffic Laws: It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Zimbabwe. Drivers are required to wear seat belts or helmets if driving motorcycles. Car seats are not legally required for small children. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) enforcement does not generally exist, resulting in high rates of impaired drivers, especially at night.
Public Transportation: U.S. Embassy staff is prohibited from using ?Kombis? ? the minibuses that service main routes ? due to safety concerns. Inter-city commuter bus travel, except on ?luxury coaches,? is dangerous due to overcrowding, inadequate maintenance, and unsafe drivers. Public bus drivers are often fatigued, fail to adhere to local speed limits, and often fail to obey traffic rules or regulations.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Air Travel: Flights on the national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, have been subject to unannounced schedule changes and may continue to be unreliable. This is particularly true for domestic flights to/from Harare, Bulawayo, and Victoria Falls. To avoid possible inconvenience, travelers may wish to explore traveling by road between Harare and Bulawayo.
There are currently no other airlines operating flights between Harare and Bulawayo, although South African Airways has flights between Johannesburg and Bulawayo, and the budget airline carrier, FastJet, flies from Harare to Victoria Falls.
Aviation Safety Oversight: ****U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from travel on Air Zimbabwe because of safety concerns that include improper or overdue maintenance and lack of a computerized record-keeping system. Travel for U.S. Embassy personnel on Air Zimbabwe is suspended until such time as the deficiencies are rectified.****
As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Zimbabwe?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.
The public medical infrastructure in Zimbabwe is subpar and medical facilities are limited. Provincial hospitals in rural areas are rudimentary and not equipped to care for serious injuries. Serious illnesses or injuries require medical evacuation to South Africa.
- Bring medications sufficient for the duration of your trip in original packaging;
- Carry your prescriptions;
- Be prepared to pay up front for medical services
- Be prepared to arrange your own transportation to medical facilities.
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 government of Zimbabwe to ensure the medication is legal in Zimbabwe. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
The power supply in Zimbabwe is 220 volt 50 Hz and unreliable. Travelers who use electrical medical devices should consider alternatives and verify with lodging accommodations that your needs can be met.
The following diseases are prevalent:
The CDC has been tracking several cases of cholera and typhoid in recent months and will issue Travel Notices should they become a significant concern. Monitor the CDC website for current information.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Zimbabwe can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect average jail sentences of three to seven years and heavy fines. Authorities may detain you for questioning if you don?t have your passport with you or for taking pictures of government buildings and police stations.
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.
Photography: Photographing the Munhumutapa Building, which houses the President?s offices, is punishable by a jail term and there is no provision for paying a fine. It is not always apparent what the police deem sensitive and they have detained people for photographing anything they view as sensitive, no matter how innocuous it may seem. You should seriously consider the risks of taking pictures anywhere in Zimbabwe other than game parks and other obvious tourist attractions.
Political Sensitivities: U.S. citizens have been detained and threatened with expulsion for administering humanitarian aid and expressing political opinions or criticism of former President Mugabe. The streets around the President?s residence and the Botanical Gardens are closed to vehicle, bicycle, and foot traffic from 6 pm to 6 am daily. President Mnangagwa and senior government officials travel around Harare with large and aggressive motorcades that have been known to run motorists off the road. Security personnel occasionally beat and harass drivers who fail to pull out of the way quickly. Move quickly off the road and come to a complete stop if overtaken by a motorcade.
Currency: You should carefully review the U.S. sanctions program currently in place prior to engaging in the purchase/sale or transfer of money and other assets with a Zimbabwean citizen or entity. U.S. citizens are advised to consult the Department of Treasury?s Office of Foreign Assets Control for up-to-date information on these sanctions.
Roadblocks: The number of roadblocks has significantly reduced under the new administration however, government frequently uses marked and unmarked road blocks to enforce order and collect fines, particularly in urban centers and on major roads. Quickly comply when instructed by police or security officials to stop at a roadblock.
Game Parks: Safety standards and training vary at game parks and wildlife viewing areas. You should ascertain whether operators are trained and licensed. All animal should be respected as wild and extremely dangerous. Travelers should keep a safe distance from animals and remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when visiting game parks.
Hunting: Tourists wishing to hunt in Zimbabwe must be accompanied by a licensed operator. You should request and check the authenticity of their license by contacting the Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO). Hunters should confirm that they are not hunting on illegally seized land or on a nature conservancy as you may be subject to arrest, lawsuits, fines, seizure of possessions, and imprisonment. You should also contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. to determine what permits are required by the Government of Zimbabwe for importing weapons into the country.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: The constitution of Zimbabwe outlaws marriage between people of the same gender and allows for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Consensual sex between men is criminalized in Zimbabwe, with both parties subject to fines of 5,000 USD or a year imprisonment or both. While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, societal violence and harassment against LGBTI individuals is pervasive. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The Zimbabwe constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, access to public places, and the provision of services. However, the law is not widely known, poorly implemented, and rarely enforced. Persons with disabilities face harsh societal discrimination and widespread physical barriers. Many public buildings do not have wheelchair ramps, operational elevators, or suitable restroom facilities. Public transportation does not include lifts or access by wheelchair. Road crossing aids for the disabled are nonexistent and sidewalks in urban areas are in disrepair and cluttered with numerous obstacles.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Crime: Criminals operate in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas of major cities and tourist areas such as Victoria Falls. The downtown sectors of Harare, and its high-density residential suburbs, are particularly high-crime areas.
While in Zimbabwe:
- Always secure your possessions in public areas.
- Avoid displaying or carrying unnecessary valuables and large sums of money.
- Leave your passport and valuables in the hotel safety deposit box or room safe.
For your safety while driving/riding in a car:
- Be alert for ?smash and grabs,? where thieves break car windows while you are stopped at intersections and take things within reach.
- Keep car doors locked and windows rolled up.
- Put valuable things under car seats or in the trunk.
- Leave sufficient room between cars to maneuver and drive away from danger.
- If you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or other protected public area for assistance.
- Reduce your time at traffic lights at night by slowing in anticipation of the light change.
- Be cautious of ploys to lure you out of your car and of drivers in vehicles without license plates who stop to render aid or cause minor accidents.
- Drive to a well-lit and populated area before making repairs or exchanging information following an accident.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to police at the Harare Central Police Station, 777-777, and contact the U.S. Embassy at + 263 04 250 593. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
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.
Entry exit Requirementsh
You need a passport, visa, return ticket, and adequate funds to cover your intended stay in order to enter Zimbabwe. If you are traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business, or transit, you may obtain a visa at the airports or other border ports-of-entry. There is currently no option of getting a Zimbabwean tourist visa in advance through the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington. You can expect to pay USD $30 for a 30-day/single-entry visa, USD $45 for a 45-day/double entry visa or USD $160 for a 12 month/ multiple-entry visa. Extensions of the 30-day and 45-day visas are possible, and require visiting the Zimbabwe Immigration Office’s public window. Travelers who intend to engage in any non-tourism related activity require a visa in advance of entry. Contact the Department of Immigration Zimbabwe for further details and information on other types of visas and entry permits.
If you are planning to arrive to Zimbabwe via South Africa, please ensure that you have at least 6 blank pages in your passport. South Africa requires two clean, consecutive pages for each transit through South Africa. You will need two pages to transit South Africa in each direction, and two pages to enter Zimbabwe. South African officials take this requirement very seriously and will turn you around if you do not have sufficient pages. Additionally, South Africa has updated its laws regarding visiting or transiting the country with minor children. See the country information page for South Africa for details.
Zimbabwe has implemented measures to stem the flow of U.S. dollars from the country. Tourists and visitors who do not have bank accounts in Zimbabwe should:
- Note that all domestic transactions should be settled in Zimbabwe dollars, in accordance with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Legal Tender) Regulations, Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019. Travelers may have to exchange U.S. dollars for Zimbabwe dollars at exchange bureaus; use of U.S. dollar cash for transactions in Zimbabwe is restricted.
- Bring cash sufficient for the duration of your trip; the importation of any currency into Zimbabwe by travelers is not restricted. However, all travelers are encouraged to complete a Customs Declaration Form (Form 47) and declare the currency in their possession at the time of entry.
- Note that the amount of currency that a person who is about to leave Zimbabwe may possess, without authorization in the departure lounge of an airport or any other port is a total of USD $2000 in any currency or combination of currencies or in bond notes or coins, unless declared/documented upon entry;
- Prepay expenses such as hotels, flights and tours by credit or debit card;
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zimbabwe. Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Zimbabwe for information on U.S. – Zimbabwe relations.