There is a moderate level of crime. People travelling alone may be more vulnerable. Mugging, pick pocketing and jewellery theft are common in city centres, especially after dark. Street lighting can be poor. Remain vigilant at Harare International Airport and when leaving banks and cash points. Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
There have been occasional armed robberies targeting foreign residents. Make sure your accommodation is secure at all times.
There have been thefts and smash-and-grab robberies from vehicles, including at the main intersections along the route to Harare International Airport and on the Masvingo-Beitbridge road. You should be particularly vigilant when using these routes. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed. Be careful at night and at filling stations. Don’t leave your vehicle unattended in unguarded areas in towns.
Carry your Zimbabwean residents’ ID or a photocopy of your passport. If you lose your British passport, you will need to get a police report and contact the British Embassy in Harare for a replacement travel document.
Zimbabwe has many safari lodges and game reserves. Safety standards vary and you should check whether operators are trained and licensed. There have been a number of incidents in which animals have attacked visitors, resulting in injuries and, in some cases, death. Some activities, such as walking or canoe safaris, could pose risks to personal safety. You should treat wild animals with caution and respect and keep a safe distance from them at all times.
Flash flooding during the rainy season (November to February) can make some roads impassable.
There are frequent power cuts that affect the whole country, sometimes for days at a time, as well as occasional fuel and water shortages. The Zimbabwean mobile phone network and land lines are unreliable.
Since 2000 most of Zimbabwe’s commercial farms have been occupied or taken over by members of the National War Veterans’ Association and others. Farm invasions continue, often accompanied by violence and looting of property. Take care when visiting farming areas that you are not familiar with.
The diamond mining area in Marange is a restricted area. If you are stopped and told that you may not access a particular area, you should turn back.
You can drive in Zimbabwe using a full UK driving licence. If you are resident in Zimbabwe you may wish to get a Zimbabwean licence to minimise the potential for problems at road blocks.
You must obey police signals, stop at roadblocks and toll-gates and produce identification if asked to do so. It’s an offence to continue driving when the President’s motorcade goes past, no matter which side of the road you’re on. If you see the motorcade, pull off the road or onto the side of the road if this isn’t possible. There have been a number of incidents where people have been assaulted by the security forces for stopping in the wrong place or for not stopping soon enough.
Traffic accidents are a common cause of death and injury in Zimbabwe. There are often deep potholes in the roads. Traffic lights are often out of action. You should avoid driving outside the main towns at night. Vehicles and roads are often poorly lit and roads badly marked. Abandoned unlit heavy goods vehicles, cyclists without lights, pedestrians and stray livestock are particular hazards. Emergency services may provide very limited help in the event of an accident and ambulances are often delayed.
Travel carefully on inter-city roads, always wear seatbelts, lock car doors and carry a comprehensive medical kit. Be careful about stopping at lay-bys, particularly in the Beitbridge area, as there have been incidents of cars being robbed and occupants attacked.
Plan carefully before setting out on long distance journeys and either carry extra fuel or top up your tank whenever possible. Seek up-to-date local advice about any places that you plan to visit.
Public transport and services are unreliable. Buses, especially the smaller commuter omnibuses or “combis” are often overcrowded, inadequately maintained, uninsured and recklessly driven. You should avoid them if possible.
The rail system is underdeveloped and very poorly maintained. Level crossings are poorly marked, resulting in numerous accidents.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation last audited Zimbabwe’s Civil Aviation Authority in 2010. The report found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Zimbabwe was close to the global average.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
We can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
Zimbabwe’s airports suffer electricity cuts. Harare International Airport relies on a generator during cuts. This has an impact on the airport’s ability to light the runway and provide air traffic control facilities. This can result in considerable delays, especially at night.
You should avoid political activity, or activities which could be construed as such, including political discussions in public places, or criticism of the President. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies. In the past the authorities have used force to suppress demonstrations. It is an offence to make derogatory or insulting comments about the President or to carry material considered to be offensive to the President’s office.
European Union Restrictive Measures (sanctions) remain in place against Zimbabwe’s President, the First Lady and the company Zimbabwe Defence Industries. This remains a highly charged political issue.
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those visited by foreigners.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Always carry your identity documentation or a copy of your passport.
Photographing government offices, airports, military establishments, official residences, embassies and other sensitive places is illegal without special permission from the Ministry of Information. Taking photographs of members of police and armed forces personnel and of demonstrations and protests is not permitted. Laws are strictly enforced.
The area around State House in Harare (the President’s official residence) is patrolled by armed members of the Presidential Guard. They don’t allow loitering, by motorists, cyclists or pedestrians, and photography is strictly prohibited. The roads in this area are closed at night (from 6pm – 6am). Avoid using GPS navigation systems around the President’s Residence and if possible avoid the area altogether.
Holding dual nationality (i.e. holding a Zimbabwean and a foreign passport at the same time) has been prohibited under Zimbabwean law since 1984. Following the passage of a new constitution in 2013, this legal position has been subject to some debate and the Constitutional Court recently ruled that some categories of dual nationality were in fact legal. However, the legislation remains inconsistent and it is possible that the Zimbabwean authorities may obstruct, detain or even seek to prosecute those they consider offenders. The British Embassy is not able to provide the full range of consular services to people with dual British and Zimbabwean nationality.
There are laws against indecency, which effectively make homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and offenders can expect heavy fines or jail sentences.
Don’t carry any precious or semi-precious stones without the correct paperwork.
It is against the law for civilians to wear any form of clothing made from camouflage material.
Zimbabwe is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trade in ivory. It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Those caught purchasing or trafficking such goods risk prosecution and prison sentences of up to 9 years.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
You’ll need a visa to visit Zimbabwe. You can get a visa from the Zimbabwean Embassy in London or on arrival in Zimbabwe. Most tourists use the visa on arrival service; take enough cash with you in small notes to pay for your visa at the airport. You can also apply for a visa online before travel.
The UNIVISA system (which allowed travellers to enter both Zimbabwe and Zambia using a dual visa) is currently suspended. If you’re travelling between Zimbabwe and Zambia (more than one entry either way), you should get a double entry visa for both countries. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia issue double entry visas at ports of entry.
Make sure you travel with the correct documentation otherwise you risk arrest and deportation. You’re not allowed to conduct any business or seek employment - including voluntary work - if you have a tourist visa. You must have the correct visa or work permit in order to work. Check current entry requirements with the Zimbabwe High Commission in London before you travel.
Visitors are currently being given entry permission for anything up to 90 days but you should check that the number of days given at the port of entry covers your intended period of stay. You can apply to have this period renewed and extended if required. It’s illegal to give a false statement in support of a visa.
Anyone intending to carry out journalistic activity must arrange prior accreditation through the Zimbabwean Embassy in London. Journalists should not carry out any reporting or official photography without the proper accreditation as there is a risk of arrest, detention in difficult conditions, a possible fine and deportation. The Zimbabwean government has made clear that they will penalise any journalists found to be working in Zimbabwe without accreditation.
The Zimbabwe Government uses a broad definition of journalism. This may include any form of interview, filming or photography. You should also carefully consider risks associated with engaging in social media activities such as posting comments, blogging or sharing photographs, which could be construed as journalism.
If you’re travelling with children to, from or through South Africa, see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.
The KAZA Univisa is valid for travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia and day trips into Botswana. It’s available at Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls airports and at the land borders at Victoria Falls (Zambian border) and Kazungula (Botswana border). It costs US $50 and it is valid for 30 days.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months and have three blank pages left in it to enable you to enter Zimbabwe and exit via one of the neighbouring countries, if leaving at short notice becomes necessary.
Zimbabwe recognises UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) as valid travel documents. ETDs are accepted at ports of entry and exit and must be valid for the period of intended stay. Don’t laminate emergency travel documents as this destroys the security features on them. Airlines may offload passengers with laminated ETDs.
There is an EU arms embargo against Zimbabwe. It is an offence in UK law to take firearms into Zimbabwe at the current time, even if you intend to bring them back to the UK at the end of your visit.
A growing number of British nationals who have travelled from the United Kingdom to Zimbabwe recently on Zimbabwean Emergency Travel Documents have found themselves stranded in Zimbabwe as these documents are not valid for re-entry to the United Kingdom. In some cases this has caused serious inconvenience.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
The provision of health care is unreliable. There is a shortage of drugs and trained medical staff in hospitals, making it difficult for hospitals to treat certain illnesses including accidents and trauma cases. The shortage of fuel has reduced emergency response capabilities. Private clinics will not treat patients until they pay and often require large amounts of cash before they will admit even emergency cases. Even if payment is available some of the best hospitals are often too full to admit patients. Medical costs, particularly for evacuation, can be high. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you are on medication, bring sufficient supplies of your medication to cover the period of your stay. Pharmacies may not be able to provide you with the appropriate drug prescribed by your doctor.
Check the NaTHNaC Outbreak Surveillance database for reports of recent outbreaks.
In 2014 the UN estimated that around 1,600,000 people in Zimbabwe were living with HIV. They estimated the prevalence rate in the 15 to 49 age bracket to be 16.7%. You should exercise usual precautions to avoid exposure to HIV.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, Econet subscribers should dial 112, NetOne subscribers should dial 114 and those using landlines should dial 0800 3222 911. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Financial transactions are mainly conducted in US dollars. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a severe shortage of cash. It’s not currently possible to make cash withdrawals with an international bank card. Credit and debit cards are increasingly being used for transactions, although a growing number of imported items such as fuel will require US dollars in cash.
You should check in advance if a restaurant or hotel will accept cards, especially outside Harare. Make sure you have sufficient funds in US dollar notes for your visit, or check with your tour operator that card payments will be accepted.
Zimbabwe introduced Bond Notes in November 2016 as legal tender alongside the US dollar and other currencies. The Bond Notes are at approximately 1:1 parity with the US dollar, and are only legal tender within Zimbabwe. The Bond Notes are in $2 and $5 denominations including a Bond coin at $1 denomination.
It’s illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than $1,000 (or equivalent) in cash. It’s illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers (eg banks). Carry small denomination notes as change is rarely available in smaller businesses.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.