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Burundi

If you’re travelling to Burundi, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise against all travel to Burundi and any Irish citizens there should consider their need to remain.

Latest Travel Alert

The situation in Burundi, especially in Bujumbura remains volatile following the attempted coup d'état in May 2015. If you have to undertake essential travel, you should do so after seeking permission and support from the authorities. In a deteriorating situation, we cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there.

Travel after dark should be avoided, with the Kanyosha, Musaga, Kamenge, Cibitoke, Ngagara areas of Bujumbura being considered particularly dangerous at night.

All travel to the Provinces of Bubanza (including Rukoko Natural Park) and Cibitoke (including travelling by car along the R5 from Bujumbura to Bukavu) should be avoided.

Emergency Assistance

Because there is no resident Irish Embassy in Burundi, we are limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, please contact our Embassy in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania or the Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

Other EU Embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries in Burundi for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.  

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates    
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Civil unrest

Burundi has experienced political instability since an attempted coup d'état in May 2015 and the inauguration of President Nkrunziza for a third term in August 2015. The situation remains volatile and sporadic outbreaks of violence and civil unrest continue to occur. You should limit your movements, avoid large gatherings and remain vigilant at all times.

Terrorism

There's a general threat from terrorism in Burundi. Al-Shabaab, the group which claimed responsibility for attacks in Kampala, Uganda, which killed over 70 people, have made public threats against Burundi, specifically the capital Bujumbura.

Kidnapping

There's a high risk of kidnapping near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Armed guerrillas operate in this area. Cross-border incursions by rebel groups also occur.

Crime

Crime levels are increasing in Burundi and muggings at gun and knife point, burglary, and armed car hijackings have all been reported. You should take sensible precautions: 

  • Arrange guards for homes and stay at hotels that have good security
  • Don't carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don't carry your passport unless absolutely necessary. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport and visa, separately and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don't use ATMs after dark, especially if you're alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
  • Avoid walking in the streets after dark, even in Bujumbura city centre

Reporting crime

If you're a victim of a crime while in Burundi, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Dar es Salaam if you need help.

Driving

If you're planning to drive in Burundi, you should be extremely careful and avoid overland travel after dark. The United Nations advises that travel outside Bujumbura should take place in a convoy of at least two vehicles.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver's licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights

Hiring a vehicle

If you're hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you're allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

 

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Homosexuality

Homosexual acts are illegal. We advise travellers to exercise caution and discretion.

Photography

You should request permission before taking photographs of military installations, airports, and government buildings.

 

Health

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Vaccinations

Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We can't advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.

Evidence of vaccination (in the form of a certificate) can be a requirement for entry to some countries.

Medication

Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.

 

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure about the entry requirements for Burundi, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the country's nearest Embassy or Consulate.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It's advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Burundi and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.

If your passport is lost or stolen while you're abroad, we can help.

What we can do:

  • Issue you a replacement passport that will let you finish your trip, or;
  • Issue you with an emergency travel document to get you home.

We'll do our best to help you as quickly as possible but this can take some time. Your location and circumstances may limit the help we can give you. As Ireland does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burundi there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.

You should contact the Embassy in Dar es Salaam to find out what you need to do to apply for a passport. They will also be able to advise you on the fees which apply.

Money

The economy in Burundi is cash-based and credit cards are not widely accepted. While some ATMs can be found, they are unreliable and not secure to use. Euros and US dollars printed after the year 2003 are the most easily-exchangeable currencies.