Namibia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 20 March 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Namibia.

Namibia overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Namibia.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Namibia has been experiencing an outbreak of cholera since November 2013. See the Health section for more information.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Windhoek, headed by an Honorary Consul, which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian High Commission in South Africa provides full consular assistance to Australians in Namibia.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Namibia for the most up to date information.

Travellers should ensure the correct visa and entry period is stamped in their passport for a visit to or transit through Namibia. Issuing visas is the prerogative of the authorities of the country visited. We recommend you check your visa before leaving the immigration counter. Failure to comply with immigration requirements can result in detention and or fines.

If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid Yellow Fever Certificate to be allowed entry into Namibia.

Australians travelling to or from Namibia through South Africa (including transiting) should read the Entry and exit section of our travel advice for South Africa. In particular, you should note South Africa’s Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate requirements and its policy on provisional travel documents (i.e. one page travel documents).

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/Political tension

You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. You should monitor the media and other local information sources for details about possible safety and security risks.

Crime

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Namibia. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

The most common criminal activity is petty crime such as pickpocketing. Foreigners have been the target of muggers, particularly in Windhoek and Swakopmund. Incidents of car break-ins are common, especially in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, and visitors are advised to keep valuables out of sight. The risk of being a victim of crime increases at night. Travellers should avoid walking alone, particularly at night. Be extra vigilant at ATMs. Criminals may attempt to distract you or offer assistance with the aim of stealing money.

Be vigilant when using credit cards as there have been reports of credit card copying or skimming. Do not let your credit card out of your sight when making purchases and check your statements carefully for possibly fraudulent payments.

There have been reports of foreigners being robbed by taxi drivers. It is recommended you use taxis which display the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association logo or are organised through a reputable hotel. When driving keep your personal belongings secure, do not leave valuables in your car, keep car doors locked and car windows closed at all times and any valuables out of sight. Tourists have been the victim of robbery after stopping to assist people seeking help or hitchhiking along roads.

Due to the very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when making purchases.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering and theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Tourists are frequently involved in single-vehicle accidents because of excessive speed and lack of familiarity with local road conditions. Particular care should be taken on Namibia's gravel roads. Other road hazards include poor local driving practices, lack of street lighting, inadequately maintained vehicles, and wild animals or livestock straying onto roads.

While roads between main urban centres tend to be in good condition, roads in rural areas are dirt or gravel. When travelling in desert areas ensure you travel with sufficient supplies of fuel, water and emergency provisions and be aware of local conditions. For further advice, see our road travel page.

In August 2013 the names of some regions in Namibia were changed. The Caprivi Region became Zambezi and the Kavango Region was split into West Kavango Region and East Kavango Region.

In East and West Kavango and Zambezi regions of north-eastern Namibia, particularly in areas bordering Angola, you should stay on well-travelled routes. Unexploded landmines and munitions remain in these regions.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Namibia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy prison sentences.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Namibia but the act of sodomy is illegal. Local communities may be intolerant of same sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Foreigners have been detained for photographing government and/or military facilities.

Unlicensed purchasing or trading in endangered wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horn is illegal and carries severe penalties. Visit the Australian Department of the Environment’s Wildlife Trade website for more information.

There are severe penalties for people convicted of illegal dealings in diamonds and other precious stones. These should only be purchased from licensed shops.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Namibia does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Namibian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Outside the capital, Windhoek, the standard of medical facilities is often limited. Doctors and hospitals generally require cash payment, regardless of whether the patient has travel insurance. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to South Africa, which can cost as much as $A23,000, may be necessary.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Namibia is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Malaria is prevalent in the northern regions of Namibia. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria when travelling in the northern regions. You should take precautions to avoid being bitten by insects, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Namibia has been experiencing an outbreak of cholera since November 2013. In February 2014, cholera was confirmed in the capital Windhoek, with several fatalities reported. Additional cases have occurred in the northern regions of Kunene (Opuwo District), Oshana (Oshakati District) and Ohangwena (Engela District). We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australia has a Consulate in Windhoek, headed by an Honorary Consul, which provides limited consular assistance:

Australian Honorary Consulate, Windhoek

56 Chalcedoon Street
PO Box 86491, Eros
Windhoek, Namibia
Telephone: +264 61 300194
Mobile: + 264 81 2834629
Facsimile: +264 88 640002
Email: Australian.consulate.namibia@gmail.com

You can obtain full consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission in South Africa:

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street
Pretoria
Republic of South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0) 12 423 6000
Facsimile: +27 (0)12 342 8442
Email: pretoria.info@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.southafrica.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Namibia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.