How to Enter Zambia

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

A passport and visa are required to enter Zambia. The passport must be valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure from Zambia and have at least two blank pages. A single-entry visa may be obtained at the port of entry for $50, but travelers must apply in advance at a Zambian Embassy or consulate for a multiple-entry visa. The fee for a three-year multiple-entry visa is $80. Tourists visiting for the day from a neighboring country (such as those visiting Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe) can obtain a $20 day-trip visa at the border. Tour organizers may arrange multiple-entry visas in advance for their clients. Bring exact change whenever practical as change may not be available. Travelers have the right to request a receipt and can report any concerns to Zambia Immigration Headquarters in Lusaka (near the Intercontinental Hotel).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zambia is at “low risk” for yellow fever. The risk areas are primarily along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). To date, there have been no reported cases of yellow fever in Zambia, although the Zambian government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination or a valid waiver certificate for all visitors. For travelers transiting South Africa on their way to and from Zambia, the South African government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination at least 14 days prior to arrival in South Africa; those without proof may be turned around at the South African port of entry. (For complete entry/exit requirements for South Africa, please see our Country Specific Information for South Africa ). See the Medical Facilities and Health Information section below for more information on vaccines. The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zambia.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia requires travelers to have at least two blank visa pages in their passport upon entering Zambia. Likewise, travelers transiting South Africa should ensure that their passports contain at least one completely blank (unstamped) visa pages each time entry is sought. These pages are in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport. South African immigration authorities routinely turn away travelers who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passports.

You should closely follow immigration guidelines, including visa requirements for travel to Zambia. Tourist visas allow for a thirty day entry and may be extended for up to ninety days in a period of twelve months. Foreigners coming to Zambia for business are entitled to a free thirty day visa. Business visas may be obtained by presenting a letter of invitation from the organization that is sponsoring the traveler that specifies the nature of the intended business. Business visitors intending to stay longer than thirty days must apply for a temporary employment permit.

A number of U.S. citizens have encountered difficulties with Zambian Immigration officials as a result of their volunteer or business activities in Zambia. U.S. citizens who wish to engage in voluntary service or business in Zambia, even on a short-term basis, are reminded that they must enter Zambia on a business visa. If you engage in activities that are not permissible on a tourist visa, you are subject to fines, possible incarceration, and deportation by the Zambian Department of Immigration.

At the time of entry, the immigration officer will scan your fingerprints and stamp your passport with the permitted length of stay. Typically, an immigration officer will admit an U.S. citizen for the exact number of days requested, up to a maximum of thirty days. If you wish to stay longer than your allowed period of entry, you may visit an immigration office in any of the 73 districts to obtain an extension. There is no charge for this service. Avoid using “consultants” who may provide you with fake documents and request fees for what is an otherwise free service at local immigration offices. Foreigners are allowed no more than two thirty-day extensions (for a total time of 90 days). If you wish to stay in Zambia more than three months, you must apply for a National Registration Card (NRC); this blue-colored card for non-Zambians is the equivalent of the standard green-colored NRC carried by Zambian citizens and costs approximately $10 in local currency.

Zambian Immigration officials insist that visitors carry the original or a certified copy of their passport and immigration permit at all times. Certified copies must be obtained from the immigration office that issued the permit. If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Zambia, visit the Zambian Department of Immigration office to apply for a replacement entry permit before attempting to depart the country; there is no charge for this permit.

A provision in the 2010 Zambia Immigration and Deportation Act could result in substantial fines and possible jail time for U.S. citizens who stay in Zambia beyond their permitted time or who conduct activities that are inconsistent with their visa (for example, conducting business on a visiting visa). According to Zambia Immigration, the fines are up ZMW 18,000 (approximately $3,600) per person. This fine will be decided at a court hearing, and it is possible that a U.S. citizen whose permit has expired could be jailed pending a court date. The U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to take steps to stay in proper immigration status and to contact Zambia Immigration with any questions. A full copy of the 2010 Immigration and Deportation Act is available at the Zambian Department of Immigration website.

The Zambian government requires that all individuals intending to reside in Zambia, including for voluntary work, be able to show a police clearance, including fingerprints, from their home country. As this process can be time-consuming, U.S. citizens may consider getting a police clearance, with fingerprints, from their local police station in the United States prior to departure for Zambia. U.S. citizens who are unable to present valid police clearances with fingerprints from their U.S. police station will be required to request fingerprint card results from the FBI. This process can take at least six weeks, and some U.S. citizens have had to leave Zambia while waiting for clearance to avoid being in violation of Zambian immigration regulations. The U.S. Embassy is unable to assist with taking fingerprints for police clearances.

If you receive a work permit, it is limited to the validity of your passport; if you subsequently replace your U.S. passport, you must ask Zambian Immigration to extend your work permit by paying for a new work permit that will be placed in your new passport. U.S. citizens should plan their trips well in advance and visit the Embassy of Zambia website for the most current visa information.

Currently, the Zambian constitution does not recognize dual nationality. Zambian-Americans who retain Zambian citizenship are expected to enter and exit Zambia on their Zambian passport. However, the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens may be limited if the citizen is traveling on a Zambian or other foreign passport.

Certain over-the-counter medications such as the anti-histamine Benadryl may not be brought in to the country without permission. See the Criminal Penaltiessection below, including information on getting advance permission to bring medications into the country.

All U.S. citizens, except resident diplomats, must pay an airport departure tax which is collected in local currency. For international flights, this tax is included in the cost of the ticket; the passenger will receive a “no-fee” receipt reflecting this payment. For domestic flights, the passenger pays prior to entering the departure hall.

The National Airports Corporation collects an additional security charge of $3 per domestic flight within Zambia and $5 per international flight, payable only in Zambian Kwacha, from all departing passengers at the airport, prior to departure.

Special Travel Circumstances in Zambia

Zambian law requires that all domestic transactions in Zambia be carried out using the local currency: kwacha. In an effort to reinforce the kwacha as the legal tender of Zambia, it is unlawful to quote, pay, or demand to be paid in foreign currency. Doing so can result in a fine or a ten year prison sentence. Foreign currency can still be legally exchanged.

On January 1, 2013, the local Zambian currency (kwacha) was rebased (dropping three zeros) and the new kwacha became legal tender and the medium of exchange. According to the Bank of Zambia, both old and rebased currencies will be accepted as legal tender until June 30, 2013. Following this conversion period, financial institutions will continue to exchange old currency for the rebased kwacha at no fee through December 31, 2013.

On May 5, 2013, the Zambian government signed Statutory Instrument 32 regarding Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Monitoring of Balance of Payments Regulations, which will become effective July 1. The new legislation focuses on monitoring foreign exchange transactions and imposes additional obligations on financial service providers and importers and exporters of goods and services regarding the reporting of transactions exceeding $10,000. Failure to properly report transactions covered by the regulations could result in the loss of foreign exchange and/or trading privileges, along with possible fines and imprisonment. The U.S. Embassy advises companies and foreign investors who may be affected to contact their financial service providers for additional information on how to comply with the new regulations.

You should carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, you can provide proof of your identity and U.S. citizenship. Foreign tourists have frequently been the target of small-scale financial scams involving bogus “fees” to be paid to various Zambian officials and groups. You should make sure that you receive an official receipt from the Government of Zambia for any fines and duties you pay. Often, travelers will be told that the official does not have a receipt book or that this type of fine is not receipted. Polite but firm insistence on a Zambian government receipt will often result in these fines disappearing.

MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted at major supermarkets, restaurants, stores, and hotels in Lusaka and Livingstone (Victoria Falls). Credit card fraud is increasing in Zambia and there have been several cases involving fraudulent charges, including some at major hotels catering primarily to foreign visitors. Many businesses use carbonized paper documents to process payment. These documents are not secure and can pose a threat to cardholders. You should be cautious when using debit or credit cards at any point of purchase, especially if the transaction is not processed electronically. U.S. citizen travelers can withdraw money (in local currency) from ATMs in major cities in Zambia using their ATM cards or credit cards from the United States. Occasionally, banks lose their connections with the credit card exchanges, thus making withdrawals impossible. U.S. citizens have also been victims of ATM fraud, whereby criminals gain access to the U.S. citizen's pin number and make withdrawals. Zambian banks and bureaux de change will not accept dollar-denominated notes issued before 2000 (i.e., those without the larger, off-center portraits). Travelers’ cheques are generally not accepted by banks in Zambia.

Service providers in Zambia, including the tourism sector, are not subject to the same standards of safety oversight that exist in the United States; visitors should evaluate risks carefully. Large numbers of travelers visit tourist destinations, including South Luangwa National Park and Livingstone (Victoria Falls), without incident. However, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid rafting and other whitewater boating activities on the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls during the high-water season, February through June. During periods of high water, the Batoka Gorge section of the river becomes unpredictable and several tourists have been involved in fatal accidents. Please observe local or park regulations and heed all instructions given by tour guides. Even in the most serene settings, wild animals can pose a threat to life and safety. In particular, the baboons on the trails near Victoria Falls can be aggressive with tourists, and in one case led to a traveler’s death.

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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