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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 112 or 999.

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

Unrest

The political situation in Tanzania is reasonably stable but there is a potential for terrorist activity and civil unrest in East Africa including on mainland Tanzania and the Zanzibar islands. In recent years localised rioting has occurred in and around Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar and in Dar-es-Salaam following political unrest. There were violent disturbances in Mtwara in May 2013 and explosions in Arusha, both resulting in the deaths of Tanzanian citizens.

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 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.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
  • 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

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. 

In August 2013 two British women were victims of an acid attack in Stone Town, Zanzibar, the motive for which, was unclear. There have been reports of increasing violent crime in the Kigamboni area of Dar-es-Salaam, so take extra care and avoid the area completely after dark. 

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 or use unlicensed taxis. 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.

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 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).

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. If you have any concerns about the seaworthiness of the vessel or feel that it’s overloaded, get off immediately.

There have been two passenger-ferry disasters off the coast of Zanzibar, in September 2011 and July 2012, both resulting in large loss of life, including foreign tourists. In both cases it has been reported that these ferries were seriously overloaded.  

Camping

Tanzania’s national parks are popular destinations for tourists. When camping, use official sites only. Make sure you’re properly equipped and seek local advice when entering isolated areas.

Information about travel away from areas regularly frequented by foreigners can be patchy. We advise you to invest in an up-to-date travel guide and use only the services of reliable tour companies.

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.

Muslim culture

There is a high proportion of Muslims in Tanzania, especially along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba.

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

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.

Women travellers

Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts and in Stone Town.

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity is illegal in Tanzania, including Zanzibar.

Illegal drugs

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


 

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)

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. 

For business/volunteer/working visas, contact the nearest Tanzanian Embassy or High Commission.

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.

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.

Climate

Tanzania has a tropical climate.

Earthquake

Tanzania lies on a fault line (Rift Valley fault) and earthquakes can occur. 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 slum districts of the larger cities there is a risk of severe flooding in low-lying areas during the rainy season.