Do you or someone you know need help?
If you are in Australia
Call 1300 555 135
If you are overseas
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
A volcano erupted on White Island, New Zealand on 9 December 2019. Follow the instructions of local authorities. Updates are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
Call 1300 555 135
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in Malawi overall.
Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.
Exercise normal safety precautions in Malawi overall.
Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
Petty crime, such as bag snatching and theft, is common, including on public transport. Keep your valuables out of sight.
Violent crime includes burglary, carjacking and food and drink spiking. Crime hotspots include bus and ferry terminals, and the walk between Lilongwe Old Town and the Capital City. Avoid walking at night, particularly in urban areas. Don't accept food or drink from strangers.
The Mulanje district is a high-risk area for crime. Dangers include unrest, property damage, intimidation and violence. Before climbing Mount Mulanje, contact the Mountain Club of Malawi for safety advice.
Protests often occur in market areas. They can turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings.
Full travel advice: Safety
Malaria is common and occurs year-round. Consider taking anti-malarial medication.
Other insect-borne diseases include filariasis, plague and African sleeping sickness. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
Lake Malawi contains schistosomiasis. Take precautions if you visit the lake region.
The risk of HIV/AIDS is high. Take precautions if you're taking part in activities that could expose you to the virus.
Foodborne, waterborne and other infectious diseases include cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies. Drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid raw or undercooked foods.
Public medical facilities are limited. Private facilities in Lilongwe and Blantyre may not meet Australian standards. If you're seriously ill or injured, you'll need medical evacuation. Ensure your travel insurance covers this.
Full travel advice: Health
Don't use or carry illegal drugs, including cannabis. Penalties include long prison sentences.
Always carry your passport and visa or immigration permit with you. You'll need to show it if a police officer or immigration official asks.
Follow local laws. It's illegal to buy or export uncut precious stones, import ivory or import pornography.
Take care when taking photos. It's illegal to photograph government buildings, airports, places of worship, bridges and military installations.
Same-sex relationships are illegal. Avoid public displays of affection.
Some areas have conservative dress and behaviour standards. If you're a woman, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your legs and shoulders.
Full travel advice: Local laws
Visitor visas can be purchased on arrival in Malawi. For further information on fees see Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services Republic of Malawi. If you can't apply in Australia, contact the Malawi Embassy in Tokyo for up-to-date information.
If you're coming from a country where yellow fever is present, carry your yellow fever vaccination certificate. You'll need to show it to enter Malawi.
The local currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MWK). Declare all your foreign currency when you arrive and depart. When you leave, officials will take any that you didn't declare on entry.
You can drive in Malawi with your Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). Get your IDP before leaving Australia.
While driving, always carry your driver's licence and a copy of your passport and visa or residence permit. You may need to show them if you're stopped at a police roadblock.
Use local guides on Mount Mulanje.
Full travel advice: Travel
Petty crime is common, including on public transport.
Common crimes include:
Burglaries are common in residential areas. Criminals often carry weapons and may become violent. Lock your accommodation, even when you are in it.
If you're a victim of violent crime, especially sexual assault, seek immediate medical help. The risk of HIV infection is high.
Carjacking is a hazard. Take care if you're driving:
in urban areas, especially if you are in a 4WD vehicle
along the Tete corridor of Mozambique (between Malawi and Zimbabwe)
on Kenyatta Drive in Lilongwe
To protect yourself against road-based crime:
always keep your windows up and doors locked
keep your valuables out of sight
never offer a lift to strangers
Don't resist if your vehicle is attacked.
Criminals are active:
at bus stations in Lilongwe and Blantyre
along the main ports for the Ilala ferry
on the walk between Lilongwe Old Town and the Capital City
Other crimes include:
theft from accommodation
robbery by criminals pretending to be tour guides in major cities and at tourist destinations
robbery or assault after travellers' food or drink was spiked
To protect yourself from crime:
avoid walking at night, particularly in urban areas
don't leave drinks or food unattended
never accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or people you've just met
look out for suspicious behaviour, especially in Blantyre and Limbe
Malawi police have reported many incidents in the Mulanje district since September 2017. Sometimes criminals target travellers.
Dangers in the Mulanje district include:
Risks increase after dark.
Before climbing Mount Mulanje, contact the Mountain Club of Malawi for safety advice.
Demonstrations can happen at any time. They often take place in market areas.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
avoid all crowds and demonstrations
monitor the media and avoid protest areas
be alert to unrest, especially in markets
follow the instructions of local authorities
If you come across a protest, leave the area when it's safe to do so.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards.
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
check if your travel insurance policy covers it
ask about and insist on minimum safety requirements
always use available safety gear, such as life jackets or seatbelts
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Paths on Mount Mulanje aren't marked. Use a registered local guide.
Respect wildlife laws. Maintain a safe and legal distance when watching wildlife, including marine animals and birds.
Use well-known and professional guides or tour operators.
Follow park rules and the advice of wardens.
Malawi experiences earthquakes.
Get to know what to do in an earthquake.
The rainy season is from November to April.
Flooding may occur. Roads can become impassable.
In March 2019, Cyclone Idai caused flooding in parts of southern Malawi.
If you're travelling to affected areas:
take extra care
monitor weather updates
follow the advice of local authorities
If a natural disaster occurs:
keep your passport on you, but in a waterproof bag
monitor local media and other sources
follow the advice of local authorities
keep in touch with your friends and family
register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
what activities and care your policy covers
that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
have a basic health check-up
ask if your travel plans may affect your health
plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Malawi. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:
what the medication is
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
Malaria is common and occurs year-round.
Other common insect-borne diseases include:
To protect yourself from disease:
check your accommodation is insect-proof
use treated mosquito nets
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
consider taking medicine to prevent malaria
Visit a doctor if you have a fever, muscle pain, a rash or a bad headache.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is high.
Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.
Outbreaks of cholera are common during the rainy season, from November to April.
Other waterborne, foodborne and infectious diseases sometimes occur, including:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
avoid ice cubes
avoid raw and undercooked food, such as salads
don't swim in fresh water
avoid contact with dogs and other mammals
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get medical help straight away.
Get medical help if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Public medical facilities are limited.
There are some private clinics in Lilongwe and Blantyre. They may not meet Australian standards.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
You face severe penalties for using or carrying illegal drugs, including cannabis. Penalties include long prison sentences in local jails.
You must always carry your passport or a copy of your passport and visa or immigration permit with you.
You must, by law:
show your passport and visa or immigration permit when a police officer or immigration official asks for it
meet your visa conditions or other immigration rules
In Malawi it's illegal to:
buy or export uncut precious stones
It's illegal to photograph:
Currently laws banning same-sex sexual activity have been suspended, however this could change.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Malawi does not currently recognize dual nationality of adults. Children under the age of 21 can hold dual citizenship.
Some areas have modest standards of dress and behaviour. Take care not to offend.
Dress modestly. If you're a woman, wear loose clothing that covers your legs and shoulders.
Avoid public displays of affection.
Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Malawi and carries harsh penalties. Society can be hostile to the LGBTI community. Avoid public attention.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can't help you.
You need a visa to enter Malawi.
Visas can be attained upon entry to Malawi. More information on visas and fees can be found at the Malawi Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services website.
If you can't apply in Australia, contact the Malawi Embassy in Tokyo for up-to-date information.
Get the right visa and meet all visa conditions.
You can only cross land borders during daylight hours. Check border opening times before you cross to confirm that immigration and customs services will be available.
You must have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if you're arriving from an area or country with yellow fever.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MWK).
Declare any foreign currency when you arrive and depart. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash. When you leave, authorities will take any foreign currency you didn't declare on entry.
You're allowed to export foreign currency that you declare on entry. You're also allowed to export both:
up to 3000 US dollars with approval from a bank
an approved amount of Kwacha, but authorities will take any amount over your limit when you leave
Ask Malawian authorities for advice if you want to export currency.
The US Dollar is the most easily exchanged foreign currency.
Credit cards and traveller's cheques aren't widely accepted in Malawi. Before you arrive, ask your host, hotel or tour operator about the best ways to pay.
ATMs are increasingly common but they often run out of cash. Some ATMs accept some Australian cards.
Ask your bank if your cards will work in Malawi.
To drive in Malawi, you need both:
a valid Australian driver licence
an International Driving Permit (IDP)
Get your IDP before leaving Australia.
If you'll be in Malawi for an extended period, you'll need to apply for a local driver's licence.
You're 6 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Malawi than in Australia.
Driving in Malawi is dangerous, particularly at night.
poor road conditions
poorly maintained vehicles without lights
poorly lit roads
pedestrians, animals and abandoned vehicles on roads
Road accidents are a common cause of death.
Petrol and diesel shortages have occurred. Roadside assistance organisations don't exist for stranded drivers.
Police regularly conduct breathalyser tests on drivers. Main roads have speed cameras.
Drivers caught speeding or over the 0.08% alcohol limit face immediate:
fines and imprisonment
Police place roadblocks throughout the country. If stopped, you may need to show:
a valid driver's licence
a copy of your passport and visa or residence permit
Before you drive:
check that your travel insurance will cover you
find out about local traffic laws and practices
To protect yourself while driving:
stay alert to possible hazards
be aware of animals and pedestrians straying onto roads
avoid driving at night if possible
Check if your insurance policy covers you for the vehicle you intend to ride. You might need extra cover for an accident on a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Use only registered taxis. Book them through your hotel.
Malawi has limited and unreliable public transport, particularly in rural areas.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Malawi's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
Call 199 or 997.
Call 199 or 997 or go to a hospital.
Call 199 or 997 or visit the nearest police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Check the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia has an Honorary Consul in Lilongwe. If you require assistance, please contact Australian.Consulate.Malawi@gmail.com or on 265 0 999960120.
The Australian Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, provides consular and passport services to Australians in Malawi. Contact the embassy in Harare for dates of the next consular visit to Malawi.
1 Green Close
Phone: +263 24 853 235 55 or +263 24 285 247 16
Fax: +263 24 2870 566
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Zimbabwe
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.