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Botswana - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Botswana. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Pickpocketing, theft and “smash and grab” robberies occur. Violent crime, residential break-ins and carjacking also occur, but tourists are rarely targeted. Be vigilant at all times. Avoid walking alone after dark, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas.
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. Valuables and important documents should be stored in a hotel safe. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
National parks and wildlife
Travel to and within national parks is generally safe; however, wild animals can pose risks. Observe all local or park regulations and instructions given by tour guides. Wildlife areas are not always fenced and there are few warning signs. Do not walk alone or unescorted after dark because of the threat from nocturnal predators, particularly lions, hyenas and leopards.
Do not swim in rivers or lakes to avoid catching potential water-borne diseases and possible wildlife attacks, particularly from crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
You are entirely responsible for your safety if you travel to national parks. There are generally no guides provided when you enter the parks on your own. If you intend to travel to national parks:
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary and when you expect to be back to camp
- always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company (guides are provided by private camps or mobile safaris when you fly directly into the Okavango Delta or similar conservancy areas, as they are part of the commercial or guided safari packages)
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- obtain detailed information on designated routes before setting out
- use a GPS navigation system, if available
Road conditions are generally good in urban areas, but overland travel outside major centres can be dangerous.
Travel by road can be hazardous. Drivers can sometimes be aggressive and reckless, and pedestrians and livestock can often be found walking along the sides of roads, including on major highways. Driver fatigue caused by driving on long stretches of highway and poorly lit roads also pose hazards, particularly at night.
A reliable private roadside assistance service called Medical Rescue International is available by calling 992 or 390-1601.
Pedestrians and roaming livestock or wild animals may pose a hazard on rural roadways, particularly in Chobe, Ghanzi, Okavango, Pandamatenga and Savuti areas.
Desert conditions and conditions in remote areas are harsh. You should not undertake travel to these areas without a guide, if possible, serious planning in advance and a four-wheel-drive vehicle well-equipped with provisions, fuel and water.
Some hotels operate a minibus service between the airport and Gaborone. You should verify whether your hotel provides this service and reserve the transfer in advance. Vehicles can be rented at the airport in Gaborone. In major towns, taxis are generally safe, but the fare should be determined before departure.
Passenger train service in Botswana has been discontinued. 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. As well, 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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Botswana authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for the Republic of Botswana and its consulate for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Botswana, which must be valid for at least six 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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Business visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Student visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Canadians who stay in the country for more than 90 days must request an extension from local immigration authorities.
Children and travel
Parents travelling with children under the age of 18 must produce the child’s unabridged birth certificate, which includes the child’s information and that of his or her parents. If only one parent is travelling with the child, he or she must also produce a sworn affidavit from the other parent registered on the birth certificate authorizing him or her to enter into or depart from Botswana with the child. You may be subject to additional requirements if travelling with adopted children or if you are a widower. Contact the High Commission for the Republic of Botswana before travelling with children to verify the latest requirements.
If you are travelling by road and travelling through South Africa, be aware of specific regulations for travel with children under the age of 18. Consult South Africa Travel Advice and Advisories for more information.
See Children for more information on special documentation requirements.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 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 - 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 provider.
- 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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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 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 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. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Botswana. If local authorities consider you a Botwanan citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Botwanan passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Persons convicted of unlawful dealing in or possession of illegal drugs, such as cannabis (known locally as motokwane or dagga), are subject to harsh punishments, including mandatory minimum jail sentences.
Prior permission is required to import firearms and munitions.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
It is prohibited to take photographs of military and government installations. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.
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. All souvenirs are subject to the National Trophy Law, and travellers must present a receipt from a licensed store upon departure. It is strictly prohibited to remove elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products.
The laws of Botswana prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, but these laws are seldom upheld by the police or prosecuted in court. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Botswana.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
Traffic drives on the left.
An international driving permit is recommended.
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.
The currency is the pula (BWP).
If you are 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.
Automated banking machines in Botswana work well, are reliable and are easily accessible across the country. Credit cards are generally accepted at shops and restaurants and towns.
Many hotels and lodges accept major foreign currencies, but 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 in Harare, Zimbabwe 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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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