How to Enter Rwanda

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

A valid passport and a yellow fever certificate of immunization are required for those 9 months of age and older. You cannot use a passport card to enter Rwanda, and Rwanda will deny you entry if your passport has expired. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens entering Rwanda for fewer than 90 days of tourism. U.S. citizens planning on remaining in Rwanda for more than 90 days must apply for a permit within 15 days of their arrival at the immigration office in Kigali.

If you plan on working in Rwanda you should review the information concerning Rwandan visas before departing the United States, and apply for a work permit at the Directorate of Immigration as soon as possible after your arrival in Rwanda. Any type of work in Rwanda, including volunteer work and unpaid internships, requires a work visa. If you plan to apply for any type of work or residency visa, you will need to bring your police report from your local or state police and/or the FBI with you to Rwanda. Many visa categories (there are more than 20) also require a curriculum vitae or presentation of credentials from a sponsoring institution. You may also be required to present either your original high school or university diploma or a stamped, certified copy. Visa requirements in Rwanda are complex and stringent, and the Rwandan government may deport or heavily fine visa violators.

Detailed entry information may be obtained from Rwanda’s Directorate of Immigration and/or The Embassy of Rwanda, located at 1714 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20009, telephone 202-232-2882, fax 202-232-4544. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Rwandan Embassy or Consulate.

Special Travel Circumstances in Rwanda

Visas: U.S. citizens are permitted to enter Rwanda visa-free for tourism visits up to 90 days. An appropriate visa is required for any other purpose (work, volunteering, religious mission, etc.) and you must apply for it as soon as possible after arrival with the Directorate of Immigration. If you fail to do so, you may be denied an exit stamp, detained, and/or heavily fined.

Telecommunications: Telephone communication to and from Rwanda is generally reliable. Cellular telephones and Internet connections are available in Kigali and large towns. There are three main telecom providers, MTN, Tigo and Airtel. Rwandatel still provides services in some areas.

Plastic bags: Non-biodegradable plastic bags are banned in Rwanda. Travelers carrying them upon arrival at the Kayibanda International airport may have them confiscated and have to pay approximately $4 for a reusable cloth replacement.

Currency: International ATMs are increasingly available, yet unreliable in Rwanda. ATMsin Rwanda accept only Visa ATM cards. The Embassy has received reports of the use of ATM skimmers at some ATMs, which can steal card data for fraudulent use, as well as reports of ATMs outside of Kigali that process withdrawal transactions but do not issue money. The Rwandan franc is easily exchangeable for hard currencies in banks and the Bureaux de Change. There is also an exchange bureau in the airport immediately after the arrivals exit. Several banks in Kigali can handle wire transfers from U.S. banks, including Western Union. Credit cards are accepted at only a few hotels in Kigali, and then only to settle hotel bills. Hotels currently accepting credit cards for payment include the Kigali Serena Hotel, Hotel des Mille Collines, the Laico Umubano, Stipp Hotel, and Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. Please note that there may be an added fee for using a credit card. Travelers should expect to pay for most expenses, including airplane tickets, in cash. Most banks and exchange bureaus will not accept U.S. currency printed before the year 2006. Additionally, many exchange bureaus offer preferential rates for $100 bills and hotels or exchange bureaus may refuse to accept smaller bills. The Embassy recommends traveling with newer U.S. currency notes. We do not recommend attempting to use traveler's checks in Rwanda.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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