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Zambia - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Zambia. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime and frequent demonstrations.
Areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola and Mozambique - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to areas bordering the DRC, Angola and Mozambique. The possibility of border conflicts and/or the presence of refugees and armed combatants make these areas potentially dangerous and unstable. Carjacking and armed assaults also pose a risk. Landmines present a risk in Zambia's border areas with Angola and Mozambique.
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Incidents of looting and violence have been reported in a number high density residential areas / compounds around Lusaka since April 18, 2016. Non-Zambian businesses have been targeted. The affected areas include Zingalume, George, Chawama, Jack, Matero, Chaisa, Kabanana, Mandevu, Chipata, Ngombe, Mutendere and Bauleni. Stay away from areas affected by unrest and remain vigilant.
Areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola and Mozambique (see Advisory)
The possibility of border conflicts and/or the presence of refugees and armed combatants make these areas potentially dangerous and unstable. Carjacking and armed assaults also pose a risk.
The risk of landmines is high in Zambia's border areas with Angola and Mozambique, and you should exercise caution when venturing off the main roads in these areas. If you are contemplating overland and cross-border travel, seek advice from local authorities and the High Commission of Canada in Lusaka.
Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatchings, and vehicle break-ins are common, particularly in and around bus and railway stations, nightclubs, some shopping areas in Lusaka, the Copperbelt towns, other main cities and tourist centres. Ensure personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times.
Serious crimes occur, such as armed muggings, home invasions and sexual assault. The use of date rape drugs at bars and restaurants has been reported in Lusaka. Carjackings are a concern, particularly in urban areas, on the roads to and from Lusaka and on the roads in the Copperbelt. Remain alert to your surroundings and maintain a high level of personal security awareness. If you suspect you are being followed, travel directly to the closest police station or public area. Avoid walking alone after dark.
Car doors should be locked and car windows closed at all times. Police roadblocks are common throughout the country and identity documents may be requested.
Demonstrations occur regularly 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 instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Many roads are severely potholed. Traffic accidents occur frequently throughout the country, especially on the Great East Road in Lusaka. Pedestrians, poorly lit and maintained vehicles, driving habits and stray animals pose risks. Avoid overland travel to rural areas after dark.
As there is no emergency service for stranded drivers, you should carry a cellular phone when travelling outside of main cities. However, the use of a cell telephone while driving is prohibited.
Exercise caution when using public transportation, especially buses, which are often overloaded. Taxi fares are expensive and should be paid in local currency. Do not share taxis with strangers.
Rail service is limited.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
An airport tax is charged upon departure from Zambia. The National Airports Corporation Limited has added a new security charge to all departing passengers, payable at all NACL airports. The cost is US$3 per person for domestic flights and US$5 for international flights. Some major airlines incorporate the tax into the ticket price.
General safety information
Illegal drug trafficking occurs on a limited scale. Do not accept packages from strangers or carry parcels if you are unsure of their contents.
Wild animals can pose risks. Observe all park or nature reserve regulations and instructions given by your tour guides. Avoid swimming in lakes and rivers due to the presence of crocodiles.
Tourist facilities are limited outside well-known game parks. You should ensure that valuables, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times and avoid showing signs of affluence.
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 Zambian 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 of the Republic of Zambia or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Zambia, which must be valid for at least for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from the 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.
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.
Canadians must also be in possession of a valid visa. Persons overstaying their visa may be subject to heavy fines, arrest, imprisonment or deportation.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You can obtain a single- or double-entry tourist visa on arrival in Zambia, which you can pay for in U.S. dollars.
You must obtain a business visa prior to departure if you intend to engage in volunteer activities.
Travellers must pay airport taxes and fees upon departure from Zambia; however, they are usually included in the ticket cost of most international flights. Taxes and fees for domestic flights must be paid at the airport, in cash in local currency.
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.
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 low potential for yellow fever exposure 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 may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- 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.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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 East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East 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 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 East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole 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.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and 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 care is not up to Western standards. Government hospitals and clinics are often understaffed and lacking supplies. Private clinics are adequate, but evacuation may be required for major medical emergencies.
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.
The possession or use of narcotics, including “soft” drugs such as marijuana, is strictly prohibited. Convicted offenders could face stiff penalties, including long jail sentences and/or deportation.
Do not carry non-prescription medication containing diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, as this ingredient is on the Zambian list of controlled substances. Some travellers have been charged with drug trafficking and have been incarcerated.
Prescription medicine should always be carried in the original container along with a copy of the prescription; ensure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are included. A doctor's note describing why you are taking the medication is also recommended. Failure to do so could result in arrest and imprisonment.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia, and offenders may be jailed and/or deported.
Avoid military zones. Photography of military installations is prohibited. Ask permission before photographing individuals.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Vehicles must be equipped with two metallic emergency triangles, white reflector stickers in front and red reflector stickers in back. Failure to comply may result in heavy fines.
Les véhicules doivent être équipés de deux triangles de sécurité en métal, d’autocollants réflecteurs blancs à l’avant et d’autocollants réflecteurs rouges à l’arrière. Les conducteurs qui ne respectent pas ces directives sont passibles de lourdes amendes.
Turning left at a red light is prohibited. Penalties for drunk driving are severe.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Zambia. If local authorities consider you a Zambian 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 Zambian 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.
The currency is the Zambian kwacha (ZMW). Canadian currency and traveller's cheques are not accepted anywhere in Zambia. You should carry cash in U.S. dollars, U.K. pounds, or South African rand. Major credit cards are accepted in larger supermarkets, restaurants, stores and hotels in large urban centres only.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from December to April. Rural roads may become impassable during this period. You should follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services outside of Lusaka. If you are in Lusaka dial:
- police: 991
- medical assistance: 991 / 995
- firefighters: 993
For all other areas, research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
Lusaka - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Lusaka 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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