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Tanzania

If you’re travelling to Tanzania, 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 you to exercise a high degree of caution in Tanzania.

Latest Travel Alert

You are advised to avoid political rallies, large crowds or public demonstrations. You are also recommended to follow the advice of local authorities, keep abreast of local media coverage, monitor your mobile phone for Embassy updates and maintain vigilance at all times. 

Emergency Assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Tanzania before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.  

You can contact the emergency services in Tanzania by dialling 111, 112 or 114 (fire brigade).

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

Terrorism and Political Unrest

The political situation in Tanzania is reasonably stable but terrorist incidents, including the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, as well as occasional attacks by extremists on police stations and mosques, among other targets, highlight the threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and underscore the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out such attacks against foreign nationals.

Extremists linked to the Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab based in Somalia pose a threat across the east Africa region, and are thought to be active in Tanzania. However, many security incidents in Tanzania are of unclear origin and may be conducted by criminal gangs. Most attacks of this nature target the local security forces, although attacks against foreign nationals cannot be ruled out.

Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events, as attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreign nationals.

Although violent protest has not been aimed at tourists, large gatherings of people and political demonstrations should be avoided both on Zanzibar and the mainland. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should avoid the area and keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Crime

Most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free but armed crime is increasing so you should take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together
  • Don’t make yourself an obvious target for muggers and pickpockets – leave spare cash and expensive-looking jewellery or watches in a safe place
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary, rather carry a copy for id purposes, and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Avoid walking alone, especially in isolated areas and on beaches and particularly after dark.
  • Walk as far from the road side as possible to avoid bag snatching. and If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
  • If carrying a bag when walking it is safer to hold it loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder rather than by securing the strap across your chest
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Be alert to the risk of thefts of personal property from cars and taxis stationary in traffic
  • If you are attacked or if someone grabs your bag, don’t resist

Petty and violent crime

Muggings, bag grabs from passing cars, and robberies including forced ATM withdrawals, sometimes accompanied by violence or the threat of violence, have increased throughout Tanzania and Zanzibar, especially in areas frequented by backpackers and expatriates. 

Taxis

Book taxis if possible through your hotel reception desk, or arrange transport in advance if you’re going to arrive at your destination late at night.

Don’t hail taxis in the street, use unlicensed taxis, or accept lifts from strangers. Even if a taxi appears to be licensed you should be cautious, and under no circumstances get into a taxi if there is anybody other than the driver in the vehicle.

Credit card fraud

Credit card fraud is increasing. Theft of credit cards and isolated incidents of cloning (also called 'skimming') do occur. When paying by credit card, don’t let it out of your sight. Keep your cards safe, and do not let anyone know your PIN numbers.

Reporting a crime

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

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Tanzania, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting. During the rainy seasons (late March to mid-June and mid-November to mid-December), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving license 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, windows up, and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
  • Avoid driving out of town at night.
  • If you’re stopped by the police, ask to see identification before making any payments for traffic violations.
  • If you’re involved in a road accident, co-operate with the local police.

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).

Ferries

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly advises all citizens to exercise caution when travelling by sea ferries to offshore isles as overloading of ferries both with passengers and cargo is very common.

If travelling by passenger ferry either between Dar-es-Salaam and the islands of Zanzibar, or on one of Tanzania’s lakes, only use reputable ferry companies. Purchase your tickets inside the ferry terminal, not from vendors outside. If you have any concerns about the seaworthiness of the vessel or feel that it’s overloaded, get off immediately. Once aboard, familiarise yourself with emergency procedures, especially the locations of life jackets and emergency exits.

There have been three passenger-ferry disasters involving ferries travelling between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and between the islands of Zanzibar resulting in large loss of life, including foreign tourists. Reports indicated that these ferries were seriously overloaded.

National Parks

Tanzania’s national parks are popular destinations for tourists. Careful planning is important to get the best out of your safari. There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice, and make sure you have the correct documentation or permit before entering a national park.

Information about travel away from areas regularly frequented by foreigners can be patchy. Be aware that some parks are also extremely remote, and emergency access and evacuation can be difficult. We advise you to invest in an up-to-date travel guide and use only the services of reliable tour companies.

When camping, use official sites only. Make sure you’re properly equipped and seek local advice when entering isolated areas.

If you are trekking or climbing, only use a reputable travel company, stick to established routes and always walk in groups. Make sure you are well prepared and equipped to cope with the terrain and low temperatures. Heed the advice of the professionals organiszing the ascent. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness. If you experience altitude sickness, descend immediately and seek medical help.

Local laws and customs

Tanzanians are welcoming and well disposed towards visitors, but you should be sensitive to local culture. Loud or aggressive behaviour, drunkenness, foul language and disrespect, especially towards older people, will cause offence.

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.

Be conscious of your dress and behaviour if you intend to visit places of worship and take care not to offend local culture or religious beliefs, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals.

During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time. Guide books, local hoteliers and tour guides can be good sources of information for how to behave and dress respectfully.

Consider dressing modestly when in public. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts and in Stone Town in Zanzibar.

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity is illegal in Tanzania, including Zanzibar. Public displays of affection between persons of the same sex may be met with arrest, harassment or violence.

Illegal drugs

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

Animal Products

There are criminal laws on the protection of wildlife and fauna in Tanzania. Avoid bringing wildlife products such as jewellery into Tanzania as you risk delay, questioning or detention when trying to leave the country.

It is illegal to export an animal or animal part (including live or dead animal parts, such as skins and bones, feathers, or shells), whether purchased or received as a gift, without export certification from the government. It is also illegal to gather, collect, or remove any flora or fauna, including seashells, from marine parks. Penalties include fines and/or imprisonment.

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.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required when travelling from is required for all travellers arriving from, or having transited through countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, and will be inspected on arrival in Tanzania. You may also be required to provide a yellow fever certificate on arrival in Zanzibar, if you travel there from the Tanzanian mainland, regardless of the country you have originally travelled to Tanzania from.

For more information on yellow fever see: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/yellowfev/en/

Medical Care in Tanzania

Quality medical care services are limited, especially outside Dar es Salaam and other major urban centres. Medical help at the scene of an accident is also likely to be limited. In the case of serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Adequate insurance can be crucial in helping people get the medical attention required.

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.

Malaria

Malaria is common in Tanzania and is transmitted by mosquitoes. You cannot be vaccinated against malaria. Malaria can be contracted throughout the year and anywhere in Tanzania, including in Dar es Salaam. It is highly advisable to take precautions:

  • Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and sleeping under a mosquito net.
  • Check with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent malaria before traveling.
  • If you develop a fever while in Tanzania, you are advised to seek medical attention promptly
  • If travelling to high risk malarious areas, remote from medical facilities, carrying emergency malaria standby treatment should be seriously considered.

Water

Water quality can be poor in Tanzania and outbreaks of waterborne diseases can occur. Ensure that drinking water is safe before consumption

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens require a visa to enter Tanzania. The current charge for a tourist visa for Irish citizens is US$50. This visa can be obtained on arrival at entry points. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your visa application.

For business/volunteer/working visas, contact the nearest Tanzanian Embassy or High Commission. If you are planning to work or volunteer, you will need a valid work permit. Your employer or volunteer organisation should arrange this before you travel. A separate permit is required if you intend to engage in journalism whilst in Tanzania.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Tanzania 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 a Consulate in Zanzibar there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.

You should contact the Irish 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 Tanzanian Shilling is the official currency of Tanzania. Most banks in major cities have ATMs, but they are not always reliable and sometimes break down or run out of money. To minimise the risk of card cloning, only use ATMs located within the bank. Travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted.

Climate

Tanzania has a tropical climate.

Earthquake

Tanzania lies on a fault line (Rift Valley fault) and earthquakes can occur. The last significant earthquake (magnitude 5.7) happened on 10 September 2016 in the Kagera region, North West Tanzania. If you’re travelling to or living in Tanzania, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Tsunami

In the areas bordering the Indian Ocean there is a risk of tsunamis but these usually occur in deep sea waters and warnings are usually issued in advance.

Flooding

The main rainy season extends from March to May in Tanzania, with a shorter, lighter rainy season in November and December.  If you’re travelling to Tanzania, monitor local weather forecasts and know what to expect. In the districts of the larger cities with a high density of informal settlements there is a risk of severe flooding in low-lying areas during the rainy season.