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Zimbabwe - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Zimbabwe. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the unpredictable security situation and carefully evaluate the implications for your security and safety.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Zimbabwe’s governing political party will be holding a national congress in Harare from December 3 to 6, 2014. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, follow the advice of local authorities, and monitor local media.
Border with Mozambique
Do not stray from the main tourist areas near the border with Mozambique, since landmines and unexploded munitions still present a danger in this region.
Avoid large crowds and public gatherings. The situation could deteriorate on short notice.
Crime, exacerbated by a very difficult economic situation, remains a serious problem for foreign visitors and residents alike.
Street crime, such as muggings, house robberies, passport theft, carjacking, pickpocketing and bag snatching is common. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure, particularly in crowded places, and carry a photocopy of your passport. You should be particularly cautious when leaving banks and automated banking machines (ABMs).
Remain vigilant, avoid travelling alone at all times and avoid walking after dark, including in the larger cities such as Harare and Bulawayo, as well as at tourist sites such as Victoria Falls, Pungwe Falls, Mterazi Falls, and the Honde Falls.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to rural areas where violence over forced farm redistribution may occur. Central and local authorities in some rural areas occasionally respond to outsiders with suspicion and hostility.
General situation in the country
Interruptions to the supply of water and electricity are frequent and lengthy in many areas, resulting in considerable hardship.
Food shortages remain a serious problem in rural areas. Keep stores of food, water, fuel and emergency supplies on hand in case disruptions were to strand you in your home for a few days.
If you intend to drive to the ocean through Mozambique, be aware that we advise against non-essential travel to the Mozambican province of Sofala. Furthermore, we recommend that all overland outside of urban centres be avoided due to recent violent incidents. Consult the Mozambique Travel Advice page for more information.
Traffic drives on the left. Roads are not lit so driving after dark is not advised. Due to electrical shortages, traffic lights frequently do not work. In this case, the traffic does not behave as a four-way stop so pay close attention before proceeding through an intersection. Potholes are common and have caused many road accidents. Poorly serviced vehicles and dangerous driving habits also contribute to accidents. Cars may not have adequate lights at night.
Pedestrians often walk on the roads, even at night. Domestic and wild animals roam major roads, also posing a risk. Avoid driving outside of towns after dark, as cattle and broken-down vehicles on the road pose hazards. In the event of a flat tire, drive to a service station or residential area before stopping to make repairs, if possible,.
If you suspect that your vehicle is being followed, drive to the nearest police station. Do not leave personal belongings or travel documents unattended in vehicles.
Drive with your doors locked and windows shut at all times, and park in a guarded parking lot overnight.
Remain vigilant at all times when travelling through the Beitbridge area as highway robberies are common, particularly at night.
As roadblocks can be erected anywhere without notice, drive carefully and be very cooperative at all times. You could be subject of arbitrary detention or arrest and should have your travel documents, such as passport, visas and vehicle police clearance certificate with you at all times. You and your vehicle may be searched at any time, as well as any person travelling with you. Whatever items are deemed suspicious during a search could be seized. You may be asked to pay a fine on the spot or to accompany a police officer to the police station. On-the-spot fines are illegal in Zimbabwe and you should ask for a ticket to be issued. You can then pay the ticket at the nearest police station.
Intercity bus and rail travel are dangerous and not recommended. Buses are overcrowded and inadequately maintained, and the drivers are often reckless. The rail system is underdeveloped and poorly maintained, resulting in numerous accidents. Major hotels usually have their own taxis, which can be used safely for intra-city travel. As well, taxis recommended by hotels are normally reliable and in good condition. Taxi service is only available within major cities and taxis will normally not take you more than 20 km outside the city limits.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Safaris and organized tours
There are inherent risks to viewing wildlife (both marine and terrestrial), particularly on foot or at close range. Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife and avoid exiting the vehicle unless professional guides or wardens say it is safe to do so. Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
There have been fraud attempts through email originating from Zimbabwe. Any unsolicited business proposal should be carefully scrutinized. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Zimbabwean authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Zimbabwe, which must be valid for at least for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa.
A single entry visa may be obtained at a port of entry into Zimbabwe for US$75 or at a Zimbabwe Embassy abroad. A multiple entry visa can be obtained from the Zimbabwe Department of Immigration in any of the immigration Offices in the country for US$130. Tourists can apply for an extension at the nearest immigration office, but renewal is not automatic.
Business visas cannot be extended from within Zimbabwe. Travellers on a Zimbabwe business visa will need to exit the country and re-enter as a visitor or apply for a new business visa/work permit and wait for its issuance outside the country.
A Canadian wishing to work or live in Zimbabwe must contact the Zimbabwe Embassy in Ottawa before arriving, as it is very difficult to arrange a work permit or residential visa after arriving in Zimbabwe. Volunteering and missionary activities are considered work and a business visa is required for a Canadian citizen to engage in these activities while in Zimbabwe.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. In fact, persons over the age of 18 are not permitted to hold both a Zimbabwean passport and a second nationality passport. Doing so could result in heavy penalties, such as a fine, revocation of Zimbabwean citizenship or even incarceration. Travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Under Zimbabwean law, foreign media organizations are required to obtain prior accreditation for their journalists visiting or working in Zimbabwe. Canadians seeking registration as journalists in Zimbabwe should contact the Zimbabwean Ministry of Information and Publicity at 263 (4) 706891/2/3/4 or 263 (4) 707210; fax: 263 (4) 708557) for further information on fees and other requirements. Journalists attempting to enter the country without proper advance accreditation may be denied admission or deported. Journalists working in Zimbabwe without accreditation risk arrest and prosecution.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southern Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Southern Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, chikungunya, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities in Zimbabwe, as well as medical supplies, are very limited.
Travellers requiring medical assistance calling for a blood transfusion, or who suffer any serious illness, or who are involved in an accident may require medical evacuation to South Africa. Ensure that you have adequate travel insurance, including medical air evacuation, for the duration of your stay, and be sure to verify which circumstances and activities are excluded from your policy.
There is a significant shortage of prescription medication, so ensure that you bring your own supplies.
Almost all medical services, such as doctors, hospitals and air ambulance medical evacuation, must be paid for immediately in cash, as overseas medical insurance payments are rarely accepted.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Illegal and restricted activities
Demonstrations and assemblies, even for private meetings, are illegal in Zimbabwe if not pre-approved by the Government. Bystanders have been known to be taken into custody at such events. Police officers may request to attend meetings. Avoid large crowds or gatherings, particularly political meetings or rallies.
Photography of government offices, airports, military establishments, official residences and embassies, in addition to other sensitive facilities, is prohibited unless permission is granted from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Information. Special permits may be needed for other photography. Laws are strictly enforced, and all restrictions should be observed. If in doubt, do not take a picture.
It is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to make derogatory or insulting comments about President Mugabe, a member of his government, or the Zimbabwean government itself. Any person making such comments is liable to arrest and prosecution. Avoid participating in political discussions in public places or engaging in political activity. Note that an open hand is the symbol of the main opposition political party, and that therefore a friendly wave could be misinterpreted as a provocative gesture. Avoid carrying books by banned authors, and in rural areas, do not carry copies of the main independent newspapers, such as the Financial Gazette, the Independent and the Standard.
The use of a cellular telephone without using a hands-free device while driving is illegal and may result in a fine.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Possession or importation of pornographic material is forbidden.
The payment of goods and services in Zimbabwe is now allowed in certain foreign currencies, including the U.S. dollar, South African rand and Botswana pula. The Zimbabwe dollar is no longer in use and is not accepted by stores.
Remain cautious, as counterfeit notes can be found in circulation. For safety reasons, do not attempt to change currency at unregistered currency exchange offices or outlets.
Most hotel charges for foreigners are based on a U.S. dollar rate and must be paid in cash from internationally convertible currency (typically U.S. dollars or British pounds). Credit cards are not widely accepted but some large vendors, such as supermarkets, may accept payment by credit card. Please note, not all Canadian credit cards are compatible with the local banking technology. Consult your travel agent or hotel in advance of your trip for details of your specific cards. Banks accept traveller’s cheques for conversion to cash in foreign currency. Passport photocopies are not accepted by banks for monetary transactions. You will need to show your original piece of identification.
It is not possible to use ABMs to withdraw U.S. dollars with a Canadian debit card. Foreign debit cards are not accepted at points of sale. Local cards which are part of the Zimswitch network may be accepted.
You can send and receive money via Western Union in Zimbabwe. In addition, you can send and receive money using the local cellphone provider, Econet, by depositing money in an account at a local post office. Travellers leaving the country can take out up to US$5,000 cash or the equivalent in other foreign currencies. If you wish to take out additional foreign currency, you are required to seek permission from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Presently, there are no traveller’s cheques in the country.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from November to March. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Harare - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Harare and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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