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Zambia

If you’re travelling to Zambia, 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 Zambia.

Latest Travel News

There is, at present, a heightened risk of political demonstrations in Zambia.

Irish citizens are advised to avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large gatherings.

If you are in an area where you believe your safety is threatened, leave immediately.

Keep yourself informed by monitoring local media.

Additional care is advised if driving during the rainy season (November to April) as roads and bridges can be washed away.

Emergency Assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Zambia 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 Zambia by dialling 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

Latest Travel News

On 5 July, the President of Zambia issued a constitutional declaration relating to threatened emergency. On 11 July, the Parliament of Zambia endorsed that declaration.

The declaration widens the powers of government and the police to preserve public security. Failure to comply with instructions of local authorities can carry heavy penalties.

Parliament's approval gives legal effect to the declaration for 90 days (until 9 October) – though they may renew its application.

There is no evidence, as yet, of the measures having direct adverse effects for Irish citizens. Irish citizens are advised to comply with guidance and instructions of local authorities, avoid any political rallies, demonstrations, or large gatherings.

Keep yourself informed of what's going on around you by monitoring local media.

If you are in an area where you believe your safety is threatened, leave immediately.

Social unrest

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). Keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Zambia is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Landmines

There is a risk of landmines near Zambia’s borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, and on the Angolan side of the Zambia-Angola border. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with your local contact or tour operator before travelling to affected regions.

Crime

Pick pocketing and general theft is common particularly at some restaurants and internet cafes near the bus and train stations in Lusaka and Livingstone. Always take sensible 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’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Only use reputable banks or bureaux de change to exchange money or use ATMs as counterfeit notes are in circulation
  • 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. Avoid walking after dark particularly in downtown areas
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations
  • Be aware a high proportion of the civil population is armed

Reporting crime

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

We advise all Irish citizens resident in Zambia to continue to take the usual precautions at their homes, in vehicles and when walking in public. Please remain vigilant and contact the Police or the Embassy if you have any concerns.

Prescription Medication

There have been reports of tourists being detained for possession of prescription medication, without the doctor prescription. If you require medication and will travel with sufficient supply for your stay, be sure to retain and carry the appropriate documentation.

Road Safety

Road accidents are the major cause of fatalities in Zambia. Driving in urban areas during the day is relatively safe, but driving at night outside of main towns should be avoided where possible. Hazards include poor-standard of driving generally, poorly maintained vehicles, poor road conditions, pedestrians walking on the road without reflective clothing, stray animals and tired, distracted or drunk drivers.

Extra care is advised during the rainy season (November to April) as roads and bridges can be washed away.

Caution should be exercised if considering the use of public transport, the safety standards of the vehicle and driving may be lead to unnecessary risk, especially on long journeys. Public transport in urban areas can be severely overcrowded.

Practical advice:

 

  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and your international driving permit 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
  • There are occasional incidents of armed robberies and vehicle hijackings. Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights
  • Do not leave valuables visible when parking your car
  • It is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving

 

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).

Public transport

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

Wild animals

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.

Adventure sports

There are many adventure sport operators in Victoria Falls and serious accidents and deaths occasionally occur. Check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of death or injury to yourself or a third party.

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

The possession, smuggling and/or use of narcotics, including marijuana, is strictly prohibited in Zambia and can result in severe punishments. Possession of even small quantities may result in sentences up to five years in prisons where conditions are very poor.

Pornography

Possessing pornography is illegal in Zambia.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and can result in long prison sentences. Caution and discretion are advised at all times.

Photography

Be careful of photographing sites deemed sensitive by the authorities, 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.

National Parks

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.

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.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Zambia are poor, especially in rural areas.  Even basic drugs and clean needles may not be available. Take particular care if travelling with children. 

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.

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. When you arrive, customs officials may ask to see prescriptions for medications brought into the country.

Malaria

Malaria is a threat in Zambia. Before travelling, ask your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication. And after arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

Cholera and dysentery

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. Avoid food from street vendors. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Zambia you should seek immediate medical attention.

Rabies and TB

These are common in Zambia.

HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS are prevalent in Zambia, with current rates estimated at 13.5% of the adult population. If you’re engaging in activities that expose you to possible HIV infection, make sure you take adequate precautions. If you suspect that you have been exposed, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Make sure that your visa covers your whole stay. Visitors are usually allowed to remain in the country for the period that corresponds with their air ticket information when they arrive at the port of entry.  Please ensure you check the validity of the visa you are given while still at the Visa Counter.  Mistakes can be costly and difficult to rectify afterwards. Visas may be extended at the discretion of the immigration department up to a maximum of 90 days. Don’t overstay your visa as you risk a court appearance, imprisonment, fine and/or deportation.

Passports

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

The Zambian constitution does not recognise dual nationality.

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 Lusaka 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.

Journalists

If you want to bring in specialist/professional video recording equipment you 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 is prudent to advise the Embassy of your arrival and departure dates with a minimum of three weeks’ notice prior to the date of arrival. If you don’t have the proper documentation and clearance, you may have your equipment confiscated when you arrive.

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.

Money

Since the beginning of 2013, the Zambian currency was rebased using a rate of 1,000 old Kwacha = 1 new Kwacha.  From 1 July 2013 the old Kwacha is not recognised as legal tender. Check that you get the correct change when paying for goods or services because 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.