How to Enter Zimbabwe

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

You need a passport, visa, return ticket, and adequate funds to enter Zimbabwe. If you are traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business, or transit, you can obtain a visa at the airports or other border ports-of-entry, or in advance by contacting the Embassy of Zimbabwe at 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; telephone (202) 332-7100. Visit the Embassy of Zimbabwe website for the most current visa information.

Zimbabwean Immigration officials at Harare airport and other ports of entry are authorized to admit U.S. citizens without an entry visa. U.S. citizens entering Zimbabwe for tourism only can expect to pay $30 for a single-entry, 30-day duration of stay permit upon entering the country. A 60-day multiple entry permit is also available for $60. Extensions are possible, and require a personal visit to the Zimbabwe Immigration Office's public window, located at thesecond floor of Liquenda House at Nelson Mandela Avenue/ First Street in the center of Harare. U.S. citizens who intend to make use of this privilege are strongly urged to read this section carefully as the failure to adhere strictly to Zimbabwean immigration law can lead to arrest, prosecution, detention, fines, seizure of possessions, and removal. Allow for sufficient time for an extension review, as staying past the authorized dates of stay has resulted in imprisonment for foreign nationals.

If you plan to engage in any of the following activities, you should seek the appropriate business, student, or work visa before entry: attend a business meeting; attend a training session or course of studies or seminar of any type; take pictures of anything but tourist attractions, volunteer medical work; assist animal/wildlife conservancies or parks; help build a church/school; work in a community to build/construct/consult on any matter including schools and churches, and any other activities other than pure tourism. Any U.S. citizen who intends to engage in any non-tourism related activity, such as work, consulting, or meeting with churches, businesses, or NGO partners, should contact a Zimbabwean embassy or consulate, or the Zimbabwean Immigration Department, to determine which visa class corresponds with his or her intended activities, and how to apply. Before engaging in any type of work, paid or unpaid, including volunteerism, U.S. citizens should have proper work authorization from the Zimbabwean Immigration Department. Please visit the Zimbabwe Immigration website for more information.

Even if you arrive without a visa and make your intent to participant in non-tourism activities clear to the Immigration official at the port of entry, you may still be in violation of Zimbabwean Immigration law. Recently, a U.S. citizen was arrested, interrogated, prosecuted, fined, imprisoned, and deported for attending a five-day wildlife interest course while on a visitor visa. Another U.S. citizen faced similar treatment for taking a picture while attending a national holiday celebration. Both individuals had items of significant value seized. We recommend obtaining personal property insurance for high-value items both because such items may be seized by government officials and the prevalence of crime in Zimbabwe (see below).

Whether you hold a visa or not, you should plainly state the purpose of your visit to Zimbabwe to Immigration upon entry. Any attempt to enter Zimbabwe under false pretenses, including those who misuse a visitor permit/visa, may be detained, arrested, imprisoned, convicted, fined, and/or deported.

Important Information for U.S. citizens working for Non-Governmental, Religious, and Health Organizations: U.S. citizens are receiving increased scrutiny from Immigration officials upon arrival to Zimbabwe. Some U.S. citizens associated with non-governmental, religious, and health groups have been denied entry. All U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to obtain a visa from a Zimbabwean embassy or consulate prior to traveling to Zimbabwe.

Foreign health workers and social volunteers have been repeatedly detained and/or deported for their work in unregistered charity and developmental activities. U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe to work in health, aid, charitable, or development projects (including short-term volunteers) should ensure they have proper permission and documentation from the Zimbabwean government before entering Zimbabwe. Health practitioners must obtain a license to practice in Zimbabwe from the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ). If you need to take personal medications into Zimbabwe, you must also obtain approval from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ). If you plan to support HIV/AIDS clinical care or treatment activities, you must coordinate with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare’s AIDS and TB unit to ensure adherence to national protocols and guidelines. The unit can be reached by phone at: 2634792981. If you intend to travel through or visit South Africa, be aware that South African law requires travelers to have one blank (unstamped) visa page in your passport to enter the country. In practice, however, travelers may need more than one page as there have been instances in the past of South African immigration officers requiring travelers to have two blank pages. Travelers are advised to have at least two blank pages; one for the South African temporary residence permit sticker that is issued upon entry to the country, and an additional page to allow for entry and exit stamps for South Africa and other countries to be visited en route to South Africa or elsewhere in the region. Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense. South African authorities have denied diplomatic missions access to assist in these cases.

Zimbabwe requires travelers who have visited or traveled through countries or areas with yellow fever risk to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Most flights from the United States to Zimbabwe via South Africa travel through yellow fever risk countries, and travelers will be required to present proof of yellow fever vaccination on arrival in Zimbabwe.

If you intend to reside or work in Zimbabwe, you must obtain a work permit approved by the Zimbabwean Chief Immigration Officer before entering the country. Work permit applications should be submitted by the person's sponsor at any Zimbabwean immigration office. Typically, work permits take a minimum of six weeks to process, and have a $500 application fee. The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C., is unable to process work permit applications. Since January 2008, several U.S. citizens applying for or renewing residency or work permits have had their applications denied without explanation and were forced to depart the country.

Upon arrival in Zimbabwe, you should keep all travel documents readily available, as well as a list of residences or hotels where you will stay while in Zimbabwe. You must carry some form of identification at all times while in Zimbabwe.

U.S. citizens who intend to conduct activities in Zimbabwe which might be viewed within the realm of journalism should contact the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington, D.C., for information about accreditation at least one month in advance of planned travel. The Government of Zimbabwe uses a very broad definition of journalism, and any interviews, filming, or photography may be considered “presenting oneself as an accredited journalist,” a crime punishable by arrest or detention. Journalist and media accreditation is controlled by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which also sets applicable fees. Journalists can expect to pay approximately $100 in application and accreditation fees for a limited-duration journalist accreditation. According to government regulations, a journalist who has applied for accreditation, but has not yet received a response from the Ministry of Media, Information, and Publicity should not travel to Zimbabwe until obtaining a clearance.

Individuals and journalists engaged in activities related to elections, political events, or demonstrations can expect to encounter increased scrutiny from Zimbabwean authorities. We strongly advise journalists to contact the Zimbabwean Embassy for guidance and accreditation and we advise others to pay close attention to the information above on journalists activities, including filming and photography.

U.S. citizen students and faculty at educational and other institutions who wish to do research in Zimbabwe should contact a host educational or research institution for affiliation prior to applying for a visa. Despite fulfilling all such requirements and receiving appropriate permission, legitimate researchers have been detained in the past by the police because the subject of their research was believed to be sensitive.

Zimbabwe is a cash society, with very few establishments accepting international credit or debit cards. ATMs in the country are limited and unreliable. Traveler's checks and check cashing facilities are effectively nonexistent. Visitors are required to declare the amount of currency that they are carrying into and out of the country. While there is no set legal limit on the amount of foreign currency that a person can carry into Zimbabwe, the maximum foreign currency that can be taken out of the country is U.S. $5,000.

Special Travel Circumstances in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a cash society without its own currency. The U.S. dollar, South African rand, and Botswanan pula (near the Botswana border) are the main means of cash payment for all goods and services. Travelers’ checks are not accepted.

With a series of Executive Orders (Executive Order 13288 of March 7, 2003, Executive Order 13391 of November 25, 2005, and Executive Order 13469 of July 25, 2008) the United States placed targeted sanctions on the property and economic assets of certain Zimbabwean individuals and entities deemed most responsible for undermining Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions. U.S. citizens should carefully review the U.S. sanctions program prior to engaging in the purchase/sale or transfer of money and other assets with a Zimbabwean citizen or entity. Under U.S. law, it is illegal for U.S. citizens or residents to engage in any transaction or dealing with the targeted individuals or other entities designated by the Secretary of the Treasury under this sanctions program. It is not otherwise illegal for U.S. citizens to transact business with Zimbabwean firms. U.S. citizens intending to engage in business or financial transactions in Zimbabwe are advised to consult the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website for up-to-date information on these sanctions.

Zimbabwe offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat, and many tour operators and safari lodges offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, safety standards and training vary, and it is a good idea to ascertain whether operators are trained and licensed. Even animals marketed as “tame” should be respected as wild and extremely dangerous. Most recently, a U.S. citizen tourist was seriously mauled during a lion walk near Victoria Falls in May 2011. U.S. citizens participating in nature excursions in Zimbabwe should be aware that organized and licensed tour operators may encourage or allow tourists to participate in activities, such as walking or canoe safaris, which could pose great risks to personal safety. Travelers should keep a safe distance from animals at all times, and remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.

There have been a few instances in which tourists have faced last-minute cancellations or have had to leave a game park earlier than planned as a result of labor unrest and/or ownership disputes. Land mines along the Mozambique border, situated beyond the main tourist areas, make travel to that border area hazardous.

Tourists who wish to hunt in Zimbabwe must be accompanied by a licensed operator, who is required to be registered and licensed by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Travelers to Zimbabwe should ask for the operator’s license number when booking a hunt and should check the authenticity of the license by contacting the Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO). Visiting hunters are well-advised to seek confirmation that they are not hunting on illegally seized land or on a nature conservancy. Hunting on such lands can expose the hunter to arrest, law suits, fines, seizure of trophies, and imprisonment.

U.S. citizens who are temporarily carrying firearms and ammunition into Zimbabwe for purposes of hunting, and who cannot qualify for an exemption under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), may need an approved temporary export license (DSP73) from Department of State's Office of Defense Trade Controls. U.S. citizens should also contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C., to find out what permits are required by the Government of Zimbabwe for importing weapons into the country. Travelers are advised to make sure that all of the necessary documentation is in order before departing the United States. The weapons also must be cleared through U.S. Customs when leaving the United States and upon reentry at the conclusion of one's trip. All firearms must be packed and transported in an approved firearm case. Ammunition must be packed in a lockable box with a key and placed in the checked luggage.

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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