Criminal Penalties in Zambia

While you are traveling in Zambia, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning. It is illegal to take pictures of certain government structures, particularly presidential residences or offices, oil refineries, bridges, mines, railways, electrical power supply buildings, and military facilities. Often, these sites are not clearly marked and the first notification that a tourist would receive is a police officer demanding his/her camera memory card, film and/or camera. Authorities may also challenge photography of areas other than tourist attractions.

In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States; for example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is also a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Zambia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not legal wherever you travel.

Possession of more than 0.5 grams of an illegal substance can constitute drug trafficking in Zambia. The Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has detained a number of U.S. citizens for possession of antihistamines such as Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications, which contained small quantities of diphenhydramine, an active ingredient that is on Zambia’s list of controlled substances. Although unaware of these restrictions, U.S. citizens have been charged with drug-trafficking offenses, had their passports confiscated, and have been jailed. While government officials have told the Embassy that carrying such over-the-counter medications with a doctor’s prescription is permitted, U.S. citizens visiting Zambia should consider leaving such medications behind. When traveling with prescription medications, U.S. citizens should likewise carry a doctor’s prescription and ensure that the medication is in its original bottle. A complete list of controlled substances banned in Zambia is available via the U.S. Embassy website on the web page Living in Zambia. U.S. citizens carrying any of these banned drugs for medical purposes should contact the Government of Zambia’s Pharmaceutical Authority to request advance permission to bring the drugs into the country by emailing the Director General at pharmacy@pra.gov.zm or writing to: Director General Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority, Box 31890 Lusaka. The office is located at Plot No 6903 Tuleteka Road, off Makish Road. Any U.S. citizen stopped by the Drug Enforcement Commission for possession of over-the-counter medications should contact the Embassy as soon as possible. Additional information about controlled substances may be found at the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission website.

It is against both Zambian and U.S. law to buy, possess, or transport the following animal products: tortoise shells, rhino horns, elephant ivory, tusks of any animal, or any items made out of these materials. While many of these items are sold in open markets particularly aimed at foreign tourists, it remains the responsibility of the customer to ensure that he/she is not purchasing a prohibited item. The Zambian Wildlife Authority has screeners at international ports of entry/exit and WILL prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law with penalties ranging from large fines to five year prison sentences.

If you are arrested in Zambia, you should seek the assistance of an attorney. The Embassy maintains a list of attorneys in major cities, but cannot recommend the services of a particular lawyer.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

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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