Swaziland

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 11 November 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with minor editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Swaziland.

Swaziland overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Swaziland.
  • You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia, and monitor the media and other sources for information on local travelling conditions.
  • The level of HIV/AIDS infection in Swaziland is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
  • Avoid travelling into and out of Swaziland at night due to the risk of carjacking.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Swaziland. The Australian High Commission in South Africa provides consular assistance to Australians in Swaziland.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers
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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 Swaziland High Commission in South Africa for the most up-to-date information.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for travellers arriving in Swaziland within six days of visiting a country with yellow fever infected areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a list of yellow fever countries.

Australians travelling to or from Swaziland 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).

You may be refused entry into Swaziland by local officials if you attempt to enter the country as a same-sex married couple.

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

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

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

Demonstrations occur periodically and can lead to violent clashes between protestors and security forces. You should avoid all large public gatherings and street demonstrations.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and robbery is common in major towns, particularly Mbabane and Manzini. Incidents of violent crime, including armed assault and carjacking, also occur. Security risks are greater at night, including on roads and in rural areas.

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

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.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Australians should avoid travelling into or out of Swaziland by road at night due to the risk of carjacking.

Driving in Swaziland can be dangerous due to poor driving practices, speed, lack of street lighting, inadequately maintained vehicles and the presence of pedestrians and livestock on the roads. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Australians should avoid travelling alone in remote rural areas. Buses and taxis should be avoided as they are poorly maintained and often overloaded.

Airline safety

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Swaziland, 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. Research local laws before travelling.

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 in Swaziland are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.

Serious offences, such as murder and treason, carry the death penalty.

It is illegal to possess pornographic material.

Photography of government buildings, military installations, Swazi armed forces, royal residences and official ceremonies is prohibited.

Homosexual acts between men are illegal and penalties include a minimum of two years imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

The law in Swaziland gives the courts discretion to impose a sentence of corporal punishment, particularly where an offender is less than 18 years of age.

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

Swaziland does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Swaziland 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.

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.

The standard of medical facilities throughout Swaziland is limited. There can be shortages of basic medications. Hospitals will require confirmation of insurance cover or a guarantee of payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the required facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

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

Malaria is prevalent throughout the year in most areas of Swaziland except the capital Mbabane and the highlands (Highveld). Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis, plague and African sleeping sickness) are also common. Consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites including using 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, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If there is an emergency you can contact the local police on 999.

Australia does not have a High Commission in Swaziland. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in South Africa:

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street
Arcadia
Pretoria 0083, Republic of South Africa
Telephone: (27 12) 4236000
Facsimile: (27 12) 3428442
Website: www.southafrica.highcommission.gov.au

If you are travelling to Swaziland, 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 High Commission 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 additional general and economic information to assist travelling in Swaziland, see the following links:



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.