Botswana Register Travel insurance Destinations
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Latest updates: Safety and security - Removal of the information about the October 23, 2019 elections
Botswana - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Botswana.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Pickpocketing, theft and “smash and grab” robberies occur.
Theft of parked cars or their contents occurs. Thieves also reach into vehicles, including taxis, stopped at red lights to steal belongings.
- Keep car doors locked, windows up and your belongings out of sight
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Store valuables and important documents in a hotel safe
- Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash
Violent crime, residential break-in and carjacking do occur, but tourists are rarely targeted.
- Be vigilant at all times
- Avoid walking alone after dark, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
National parks and wildlife
Travel to and within national parks is generally safe. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, however, and take your safety seriously in national parks. In general, there are no guides provided when you enter a park on your own.
Wildlife areas are not always fenced and there are few warning signs. Wildlife viewing poses risks, particularly on foot or at close range.
- Closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice
- Don’t walk alone or unescorted after dark because of the threat from nocturnal predators, particularly lions, hyenas and leopards
- Don’t swim in rivers or lakes, to avoid catching potential water-borne diseases and possible wildlife attacks, particularly from crocodiles and hippopotamuses
- Share your itinerary with a family member or friend
- If you leave the camp area, notify a family member or friend of when you expect to be back to camp
- Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators
- Buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- Obtain detailed information on designated routes before departure
- Use a GPS navigation system, if possible
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country.
Road conditions are generally good in urban areas, but dangerous outside major centres.
Drivers can sometimes be extremely aggressive and/or reckless. Driver fatigue also poses hazards, particularly at night.
Pedestrians and livestock can often be found walking on the sides of roads, including on major highways. This is particularly the case in Chobe district, Ghanzi, Okavango Delta, Pandamatenga and the Savuti area.
Conditions in the desert and in remote areas are harsh.
- Don’t undertake travel to remote areas without a guide
- If travelling to remote areas, plan in advance
- If travelling to remote areas, ensure that you travel in a four-wheel-drive vehicle that is well-equipped with provisions, fuel and water
Reliable private roadside assistance - Medical Rescue International -Botswana
Some hotels operate a minibus service between Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and Gaborone. Verify whether your hotel provides this service and reserve the transfer in advance. You can rent a vehicle at the airport in Gaborone.
In major towns, taxis are generally safe, but the fare should be determined before departure.
There are reliable buses for long-distance journeys to Harare, Zimbabwe; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Lusaka, Zambia. These buses depart from the main bus rank in Gaborone.
Mini buses to Johannesburg leave at hourly intervals from Gaborone’s main bus rank. Long-distance buses normally leave in the early hours, around 6 a.m. For reliable transportation to Johannesburg from Gaborone, you must book at least one day before the travel date.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Botswana authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date you expect to leave Botswana.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
If you stay in the country for more than 90 days, you must request an extension from local immigration authorities.
Children and travel
Travelling by air
Both parents travelling with child under 18
Parents travelling with children under the age of 18 must show the child’s unabridged birth certificate.
One parent travelling with child under 18
If only one parent is travelling with the child, you must show the child’s unabridged birth certificate, as well as a valid passport. You must also produce a sworn affidavit from the other parent (as registered on the birth certificate) authorizing you to enter or depart Botswana with the child.
Parent(s) who are widowers or travelling with adopted children under 18
You may be subject to additional requirements. Contact the High Commission for the Republic of Botswana before travelling with children to verify the latest requirements.
Travelling by road
Be aware of specific regulations for travel with children under the age of 18. Consult the South Africa Travel Advice and Advisories for more information.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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!
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- 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 professional 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 professional.
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 and supplies are limited outside major centres. Private facilities may request proof of insurance or advance payment before commencing treatment. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.
Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury. Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
You must carry photo identification, such as a photocopy of your passport. Keep another photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Botswana.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Botswana, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
Illegal and restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect harsh punishments, including mandatory minimum jail sentences.
Prior permission is required to import firearms and munitions.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Photographing military and government installations
It’s prohibited to take photographs of military and government installations. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.
Removal of any animal from Botswana
Botswana law strictly regulates the sale, possession or removal from the country of any animal (dead or alive). You must obtain a government permit or a receipt from a licensed shop.
The law also applies to animal trophies, including a horn, tooth, tusk, bone, claw, hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg or any other durable portion of an animal, processed or not. It is strictly prohibited to remove elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products.
Upon departure, you will need to present a receipt from a licensed store for all souvenirs.
Traffic drives on the left.
Failure to obey traffic signs, driving while intoxicated or not being in possession of a valid driver’s licence may result in arrest and heavy fines.
You should carry an international driving permit.
Botswana law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely accepted in Botswana.
The currency in Botswana is the pula (BWP).
If carrying at least P10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies when crossing a Botswanan border control point, you must make a declaration to customs.
Many hotels and lodges accept major foreign currencies. They may apply a high surcharge.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
There are two seasons in Botswana: summer (September to April), with frequent rains and thunderstorms, and winter (May to August), with cold and dry days and nights.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 999
- medical assistance: 997
- firefighters: 998
Harare - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe in Harare and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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