- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Zambia.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- The situation remains calm in Zambia, however, you should avoid large crowds, political rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border areas with the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of armed criminal gangs, and the border areas with Angola and Mozambique because of landmines near these borders.
- The level of HIV/AIDS infection in Zambia is high.
- Australia has a Consulate in Lusaka headed by an Honorary Consul which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Zimbabwe provides full consular assistance to Australians in Zambia.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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 Zambia for the most up-to-date information. Further information on visa requirements is available on Zambia's Department of Immigration website. Foreigners are allowed a maximum of two, thirty day extensions (for a total of 90 days) on entry visas. To stay longer than 90 days, foreigners must apply for a National Registration Card.
Zambia’s three main airports were renamed in September-October 2011. Lusaka International Airport is now known as Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Livingstone Airport is now known as Harry Nkumbula Airport and Ndola Airport has been renamed Simon Kapwepwe Airport.
From January 2011 the National Airports Corporation introduced an additional airport tax that must be paid by all departing passengers on both domestic and international flights. Travellers are advised that the airport tax is not included in airline tickets at present. Fees can be paid on departure in US dollars and Zambian Kwacha. These fees may change without notice.
Travellers may be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccinations if they have visited a country where yellow fever is present.
South African authorities require travellers from Zambia to show proof of yellow fever vaccination. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required from all visitors and includes travellers who are transiting through South Africa. Failure to produce a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate may result in being placed in quarantine or refusal of entry.
Failure to adhere to immigration requirements, such as not renewing a residence permit or working (including volunteer work) without a permit could result in arrest, imprisonment or deportation. Travellers should exercise caution if using an immigration agent to obtain visas or permits. Some immigration agents operating in Zambia have been known to issue documents that are not authentic.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. It is a requirement of the Zambian government that your passport has two blank pages. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas. Provisional travel documents are no longer accepted for travelling or transiting through South Africa.
Safety and security
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 large crowds, political rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should monitor local media for information about possible safety and security risks.
Crime does exist in Zambia. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Tourists may be targeted by pickpockets and bag snatchers. Armed robbery, carjacking, petty crime and residential break-ins occur throughout the country. There have been violent robberies (some involving fatalities) along the Cairo Road area of Lusaka, including Chachacha, Freedom Way and Lumumba Roads. When travelling by car, you should keep the doors locked and the windows up at all times. Valuables should be kept out of sight.
Thieves particularly target luxury 4WD vehicles and travellers in bus and railway stations and shopping areas. You should avoid changing money in busy public areas. Security risks increase after dark, especially in tourist areas and city centres. Avoid walking alone or travelling after dark.
Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.
Commercial fraud scams are common in Zambia. Individuals have been the victims of extortion after being persuaded to travel to Zambia on business. If you receive a message that sounds too good to be true - don't be fooled, it probably is. Our International Scams travel bulletin provides details on the type of scams that may originate in Zambia.
The use of date rape drugs has been reported at bars and restaurants in Lusaka.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways of accessing your money in Zambia. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Credit cards are accepted at some hotels, restaurants and shops in major urban centres. Many companies charge a 5% fee for the use of credit cards. ATMs accepting international cards are only available in the capital, Lusaka. Use only reputable banks and Bureaux de Change to exchange money or use ATMs as counterfeit US$100 and Kwacha 50,000 notes are in circulation. Credit card fraud does occur in Zambia. Be sure to keep your card in sight at all times while payments are being processed, make sure that credit cards are swiped no more than necessary and that all carbons are destroyed.
Since May 2012 it has been Zambian law that all domestic transactions in Zambia be carried out using the local currency: kwacha. While foreign currency can still be changed in Zambia, it is against the law to quote, pay or demand to be paid or receive foreign currency as legal tender for goods, services or any other domestic transaction. Doing so can result in a fine or a 10 year prison sentence.
On 1 January 2013 the kwacha was rebased (dropping three zeros) and the new kwacha became legal tender and medium of exchange. Financial institutions will continue to exchange old currency for the rebased kwacha at no fee until 31 December 2014.
Zambian banks and foreign exchange agents will not accept bank notes issued before 2000.
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, including 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.
Driving in Zambia can be dangerous as many roads in rural areas are in disrepair. Bad driving habits, poorly maintained vehicles, pedestrians, animals wandering onto roads and inadequate road lighting also pose safety risks when driving. Traffic accidents occur regularly along the Great East Road in Lusaka. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
When hiring a motor vehicle, you should ensure it is equipped with two metallic emergency triangles with white reflective stickers on the front and red reflective stickers on the back. Drivers face heavy fines for non-compliance. Police road blocks are common and identity documents may be requested.
When taking a vehicle into Zambia, you must obtain a temporary import permit (TIP) and purchase third-party insurance at the border. If you are not the owner of the vehicle you must have a letter from the owner authorising the use of the vehicle in Zambia.
The safety standards Australians might expect of tour operators are not always met especially for activities such as adventure sports. Sufficient life jackets and adequate safety equipment may not be provided. Recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Particular care should be taken when rafting near Victoria Falls.
When visiting Victoria Falls, you should take care to protect your passport from exposure to water. You may face difficulties if you try to travel using a damaged passport, and you may have to pay for a replacement.
Border areas with Angola, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border areas with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola and Mozambique because of the presence of landmines near these borders. Landmines can make off-road travel hazardous in these areas, and may not be marked. Local authorities can provide advice on affected areas. There are armed criminal groups in the area near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For further information, please refer to our Aviation Safety and Security travel bulletin.
When you are in Zambia, 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.
Zambian authorities do not always advise the Australian Embassy when an Australian citizen is detained or arrested. If you are detained, you have the right to contact an Australian Embassy consular official.
Police and immigration officials can request to see your passport and immigration stamp/visa at any time. Failure to produce these documents may result in detention. We recommend you carry your passport and visa or immigration permit at all times or obtain certified copies from the immigration office where the permit was issued.
Penalties for drug offences can be severe and include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Zambia and penalties include up to 14 years imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia. penalties include a jail sentence and/or deportation.
It is illegal to photograph around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel.
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
Zambia does not recognise dual nationality. Australian citizens holding Zambian citizenship will be regarded solely as Zambian citizens by the Zambian authorities. This may limit the ability of Australian officials to provide consular services to Australians who have retained their Zambian citizenship, particularly if they are detained or arrested.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
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 in Zambia is poor, especially in rural areas. Most doctors and hospitals will require up-front cash payment regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Medical supplies are limited and some prescription medicines may not be available. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the required facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable. Make sure you know your blood type and carry a sterile medical kit including needles, dressing etc.
You may be asked by Zambian Customs to produce prescriptions for any medication brought into the country. Failure to do so may result in arrest and imprisonment. Some medications that do not require a prescription in Australia may be controlled in Zambia, including those containing diphenhydramine. We recommend you carry either a letter from your doctor or your prescription with you. For more information see the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission website, or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Zambia for more information.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has upgraded the risk of yellow fever in Zambia from “No risk” to “Low risk”. Travellers should be aware that the South African Government may require passengers in transit to and from Zambia to show proof of having received a yellow fever vaccination at least 14 days prior to arrival in South Africa. Those without proof may be denied entry. Further information can be found in our travel advice for South Africa.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Zambia is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Zambia. Other insect-borne diseases (including plague and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to 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 and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, haemorrhagic fevers, and rabies) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and 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 Lusaka headed by an Honorary Consul which provides limited consular assistance (not including the issue of passports). Contact details for the Consulate are:
Australian Consulate, Lusaka
Al Jahazi Villas
155 Kabulonga Road
Telephone (+260 211) 261144
You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Harare:
Australian Embassy, Harare
If you are travelling to Zambia, 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 Embassy 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.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season is November to April when flooding may occur and roads may become impassable. You should monitor local media for information, follow the advice of authorities and consider leaving an area for higher ground if flooding worsens and if it is safe to do so.
Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.