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Zambia - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Zambia due to crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Areas bordering Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Despite Zambia being declared a landmine-free country in 2009, there may still be landmines and unexploded ordinance in areas bordering Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Avoid driving off the main roads in these areas.
Given the porous nature of the Zambia–DRC border, instability in the DRC has resulted in carjackings and armed assaults on the Zambian side of the border.
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, Copperbelt towns, other main cities and tourist centres. Ensure personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times.
Serious crimes such as armed muggings, home invasions and sexual assault occur, particularly after dark. The use of “date rape” drugs at bars and restaurants occurs in Lusaka. Carjackings are a concern, particularly in urban areas, on the roads to and from Lusaka and on the roads in Copperbelt. Thieves sometimes follow people after they withdraw money from banks or automated banking machines (ABMs). Avoid using ABMs at night and, if possible, have someone accompany you to watch the area during your transaction.
Remain alert to your surroundings and maintain a high level of personal security awareness. Avoid showing signs of affluence. If you suspect you are being followed, go directly to the closest police station or public area. Avoid walking alone after dark.
Keep car doors locked and windows closed at all times. Theft often occurs at traffic chokepoints by thieves reaching through unlocked doors, open windows or unsecured cargo. Police roadblocks are common throughout the country. Police officers can request to see identity documents.
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 Lusaka’s Great East Road. 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 nation-wide emergency service for stranded drivers, you should carry a cellular phone when travelling outside of main cities.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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 tour guides. Avoid swimming in lakes and rivers due to the presence of crocodiles.
Tourist facilities are limited outside well-known game parks.
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 Zambian 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 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Zambia.
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.
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, payable in U.S. dollars. For more than two entries, you must obtain a visa from a Zambian High Commission, prior to arrival.
You must obtain a business and an employment visa prior to arrival in Zambia if you intend to engage in volunteer activities.
You must obtain an employment visa if you intend to work in Zambia.
Check with the Department of Immigration for more details on Zambian visas and employments.
You must carry the original or a certified copy of your passport and immigration permit at all times. Certified copies may be obtained from the office that issued the permit or any local police station.
Airport taxes and fees
You 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
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo - August 9, 2018
- Polio : vaccine advice - June 29, 2018
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 and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
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 professional.
- 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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care professional the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
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 visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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 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 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, ebola, 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 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
Public medical services and facilities are substandard. 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 must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Illegal or restricted activities
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.
Don’t carry non-prescription medication containing diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, as this ingredient is on the Zambian list of controlled substances. 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.
The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia. Offenders may be jailed and/or deported.
Photography of military installations is prohibited. Ask permission before photographing individuals.
The laws of Zambia prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Convicted offenders can face up to life imprisonment. Consult Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
The new Zambian constitution of 2016 recognises dual citizenship, however mechanisms for the implementation of the policy have not yet been created. 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.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Vehicles must be equipped with two metallic emergency triangles, and white reflector stickers in front and red reflector stickers in back. Failure to comply may result in heavy fines.
Turning left at a red light is prohibited.
Penalties for drunk driving are severe.
The use of a cell telephone while driving is prohibited.
The currency is the Zambian kwacha (ZMW). Traveller’s cheques are not accepted 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 or 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. 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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