Zambia

TRAVEL INSURANCE

The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Zambia. Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.

Summary 

·         Visitors to Zambia should take sensible precautions to protect their personal safety such as keeping vehicles locked and valuable possessions out of sight.

·         Exercise caution when travelling close to the DRC border.

·         It is advisable to limit driving outside main towns to daylight hours.

·         Medical facilities are poor and private clinics are expensive.  There are many health risks in Zambia which visitors should be aware of.

·         Ensure you have up to date medical and travel insurance which covers the activities you intend to undertake in Zambia.

·         Ensure your visa covers your entire stay. Violating Zambian immigration regulations could result in arrest, imprisonment or deportation.

 

Safety and Security

There is a global indiscriminate risk of terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Pick pocketing and general theft is common particularly at some restaurants and internet cafes near the bus and train stations in Lusaka and Livingstone.  Keep high value items out of sight and do not change large sums of money in busy public areas.  Keep originals of important documents in a safe place and carry copies of passports and immigration permits in a separate place to the documents themselves.

There are occasional incidents of armed robberies and vehicle hijackings.  Ensure to keep car windows and doors locked whilst driving.  Stay alert and exercise caution at all times.

Walking after dark should be avoided particularly in down town areas.

Only use reputable banks or bureaux de change to exchange money or use ATMs as counterfeit notes are in circulation.

Avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large gatherings.  There are occasional student demonstrations at the University of Zambia on the Great East Road (which is the main road to the airport).

Exercise caution when travelling in rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the DRC border.  Legitimate border crossings are safe but travel in the bush is not advisable.

There is a risk of landmines near Zambia’s borders with DRC and Mozambique, and, on the Angolan side of the Zambia-Angola border.

Wild animals including poisonous snakes are a constant threat to travellers and residents in Zambia.  Always follow local regulations and follow your safari rangers’ instructions.

If you intend to partake of some adventure sports while in Zambia, please double check that your medical and travel insurance covers same.  There are many adventure sport operators in Victoria Falls and serious accidents and deaths occasionally occur.

Driving can be hazardous in Zambia.  Abandoned vehicles, poorly maintained vehicles, poor driving standards and poor road quality are just some of the challenges to be faced.  We advise against driving at night outside major towns.  Additional care needs to be taken in the rainy season (November to April) when roads and bridges can be washed away.

Minibuses in urban areas are usually severely overcrowded and badly driven.

Medical facilities in Zambia are poor, especially in rural areas.  Even basic drugs and clean needles may not be available. 

Malaria, rabies and TB are common in Zambia.  Take particular care if travelling with children.  Cholera and dysentery are common, especially during the rainy season (November – April).  You should only drink bottled or boiled water and avoid ice in drinks.  Food purchased from street vendors may be best avoided.  If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Zambia you should seek immediate medical attention.

HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Zambia with current prevalence rates estimated at 13.5% of the adult population.

On arrival, customs officials may ask to see prescriptions for medications brought into the country.

 

 

Local Laws and Customs

The possession, smuggling and/or use of narcotics, including marijuana, is strictly prohibited.  Punishments can be severe in prisons where conditions are very poor.

The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia.

It is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and those caught engaging in homosexual acts can be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

Caution should be observed if taking photographs of sites deemed sensitive by the Government of Zambia such as power stations, army barracks, government buildings, river junctions and airports.  It is better to err on the side of caution and not take the photographs. 

Visitors to Zambia’s National Parks should be aware of recent arrests of visitors who removed items from the park such as, for example, a piece of animal bone.  Please respect local laws and do not remove any items from national parks.

 

Natural Disasters and Climate

December to April is hot and wet with torrential downpours in the afternoon.  May to August is dry and fairly cool.  September to November is dry but progressively hotter.

 

Additional Country Info

Zambian legislation requires all local invoices to be issued in Zambian Kwacha – meaning that many service providers for visitors to Zambia such as lodges can no longer invoice locally in US dollars.

On 1st January 2013 the Zambian currency was rebased using a rate of 1,000 old Kwacha = 1 new Kwacha.  Old Kwacha remains legal tender until 30 June 2013.  Visitors should ensure they receive the correct change when paying for goods or services as both the old and new notes use the symbol “K” and some of the new notes use the same colour scheme as the old ones etc.

Ensure your visa is sufficient for the duration of your stay.  Visitors are usually granted permission to remain in the country for a period of time corresponding to their air ticket information on arrival at the port of entry.  Visas may be extended at the discretion of the immigration department up to a maximum of 90 days.  Anyone overstaying their visa risks a court appearance, imprisonment, fine and/or deportation.  

Visitors wishing to travel to Zambia with specialist/professional video recording equipment must apply for press accreditation to film in Zambia.  Temporary clearance must be obtained for camera equipment from the Zambia News and Information Department.  It would be prudent for journalists to advise your Embassy of your arrival and departure dates with a minimum of three week’s notice prior to the date of arrival.  Failure to obtain the requisite accreditation and clearances may result in the confiscation of equipment on arrival.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and punishable by imprisonment. 

The Zambian constitution does not recognise dual nationality.

 

DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS IN ZAMBIA

Contact details for the Embassy of Ireland in Zambia are available here. (Opens in new window)

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We encourage citizens travelling to this destination to register their contact details here
 Zambia

Security Status

  1. Take normal precautions
  2. Exercise caution
  3. Exercise extreme caution
  4. Avoid non-essential travel
  5. Do not travel