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.