Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

Skip to main content

Uganda

If you’re travelling to Uganda, 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. You should be aware that many adventure sports operators in Uganda are unregulated, so only choose reputable tour companies.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Uganda.

We no longer advise against all but essential travel to the Karamoja region of north-eastern Uganda. However, if you are travelling to this region, you should be aware that inter-communal violence and occasional attacks on security forces do happen; foreigners are not usually the target of violence but you should exercise caution.

Demonstrations and rallies have been taking place in various locations in Uganda including Kampala since 21 September 2017, in connection with the parliamentary debate on constitutional amendments. Further demonstrations and rallies are possible. You should remain vigilant, avoid large crowds and public demonstrations and follow local media for updates.

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens can get a visa on arrival in Uganda; there is no fee. Irish citizens are not currently required to apply for a visa online, however, this subject to change and we advise citizens to check back here and on the website of Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration regularly. It may be useful to print off this page from Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration should any issue be encountered at your point of embarkation or transit.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Kampala.

If you phone outside of working hours, you should call the out of hours Emergency Consular Assistance number +256 772 744 400

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 if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Practical advice

  • Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
  • Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency

Political unrest

You are advised that political demonstrations in Uganda can take a violent turn without warning. You should avoid all political gatherings including demonstrations and rallies, remain vigilant at all times, and follow local media for updates.

Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational and stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may be prohibited.

Crime

Opportunistic crime like burglaries, muggings, drive-by bag snatches and thefts from vehicles do occur in Kampala and other areas of Uganda. The Embassy advice is to remain vigilant at all times regarding personal security, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events.

You should report suspicious activity to local authorities. When travelling by road keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic snatching if you’re stopped at traffic.

You are advised to take the following precautions:

  • 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 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 are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • 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 walking after dark and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Bag snatches by thieves on motorbikes are becoming more common; always remain aware of your surroundings, day and night.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Uganda, 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 Uganda, 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, a lack of traffic signs, wandering animals, pedestrians and inadequate lighting.

  • Remember that traffic drives on the left.
  • Avoid travel by road outside major towns at night and avoid, if possible, travelling between Kampala and the airport at Entebbe between midnight and dawn.
  • Inside major towns and cities, other common forms of public transport are common. Matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) though cheap are generally in poor condition, badly driven and often without proper insurance cover; accidents are common sometimes resulting in fatalities or very serious injuries requiring medical evacuation, especially where helmets are not worn. In addition, there have been recent incidents of foreign nationals being mugged whilst using matatus and boda-bodas.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving 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 keep your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped in traffic.

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).

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism across the East Africa region from the Somali based Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The Ugandan authorities have issued a number of alerts warning of a heightened risk of terrorism. Terror attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Large crowds of people and public places may also be targets.

Regional travel

Travel can be difficult and dangerous so don’t go outside the main towns unless you are well prepared. We recommend that you don’t travel outside of towns after dark.

We no longer advise against all but essential travel to Karamoja in north eastern Uganda. However, if you are travelling to this region, you should be aware that inter-communal violence and occasional attacks on security forces do happen; foreigners are not usually the target of violence but you should exercise caution.

If you’re thinking of travelling to northern and western Uganda, we advise you to research the security situation very well and take appropriate precautions, particularly near the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. In the past there have been violent incidents involving Ugandan forces and Allied Democratic Forces rebels in and around the Rwenzori mountains. Seek local advice before you set off to these areas.

Avoid the DRC border area around Lake Albert unless all the arrangements have been made in advance with the Ugandan and DRC authorities. If you’re travelling with a gorilla-trekking operator, please ensure they don’t cross into eastern DRC.

Before travelling to the border area of Kisoro and Kanugu Districts please contact Ugandan Wildlife Authority and your lodge/hotel for the latest advice. 

National parks

Please contact the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for up to date security information before travelling to any of the National Parks.

For Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it is normal for security personnel to accompany tourists when gorilla tracking. 

Get local travel advice before travelling to Bundibugyo District, Semiliki National Park and Wildlife Reserve in western Uganda.

Travel to the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park should only be undertaken in the company of an armed game warden who has functional communications equipment.

Kidnapping

Foreign nationals are potential targets for kidnapping so you should take particular care when travelling in Uganda:

  • Get advice from your local contacts about staying safe
  • Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
  • Vary your routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
  • Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities

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.

Local culture

Uganda is a friendly, if socially conservative country. Overt displays of affection, in general, are not encouraged.

Bribery and corruption

Certain Irish laws, such as those relating to the bribery of foreign public officials, apply to Irish nationals overseas: if you commit these offences while abroad you may be prosecuted in Ireland. 

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity is illegal and there is very little social tolerance of homosexuality in Uganda.

Illegal drugs

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

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • If you’re travelling to Uganda, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents 

Rainy season

The rainy seasons in Uganda normally run from March to May and from October to November. You should pay close attention to local and international weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Flooding

Flooding and mudslides may happen throughout the country as a result of heavy rains. If you’re travelling to Uganda, monitor local weather forecasts and know what to expect 

Volcano

Uganda is located in a seismic zone and natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. At the moment, Mount Elgon is stable. You should pay careful attention to all warnings issued.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens can get a visa on arrival in Uganda; there is no fee. Irish citizens are not currently required to apply for a visa online, however, this is subject to change and we advise citizens to check back here and on the website of Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration regularly. It may be useful to print off this page from Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration should any issue be encountered at your point of embarkation or transit.

Immigration officials may give permission to stay for three months if they believe you are entering solely for tourism purposes; however, you should be aware that recent practice has been to give one month permissions. It is important to make sure that your passport is stamped on arrival as there have been recent cases where this was not done.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Uganda; you may be refused entry at the border or when trying to board a flight to Uganda if you have less than 6 months validity.  Irish Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Uganda. 

Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from all countries. Irish citizens will be asked to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination upon arrival and departure. Passengers without Yellow Fever certificates/cards shall be vaccinated at their own cost.

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Uganda, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Uganda.

Health

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.

Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We cannott advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.

Quality medical care services are limited, especially outside Kampala 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.

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 a serious and sometimes fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes. You cannot be vaccinated against malaria. Malaria can be contracted throughout the year and anywhere in Uganda, including in Kampala. 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 suitable antimalarial tablets.
  • If you develop a fever, 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

Drink or use only boiled or bottled water.

Adventure sports

If participating in extreme adventure sports (white water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping etc.), you should check whether these activities are provided for in your insurance, and arrangements for accessing medical facilities in case of emergency.  Travellers should be aware that many of these adventure sports operators are unregulated and so care should be taken in selecting reputable tour companies.