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Zimbabwe - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Zimbabwe due to crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Central Business District of Harare
Following the inauguration of the new President on August 26, 2018, the situation in the Central Business District and in other parts of Zimbabwe remains calm. However, demonstrations and post-election political rallies may be organized.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Border with Mozambique
Do not stray from the main roads near the Zimbabwe–Mozambique border, as the risk of crime and theft is high.
Marange mining area
Access to the Marange diamond mining fields in Chiadzwa is restricted by armed forces. Don’t attempt to enter the area.
Crime is common and includes:
- house robberies
- passport theft
- pickpocketing and bag snatching
Criminals target both foreigners and residents.
Highway robberies are common, particularly at night.
Be particularly cautious when leaving banks and ATMs, on the road to and from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and when travelling through the Beitbridge area.
Be vigilant at all times, avoid travelling alone at all times and avoid walking after dark:
- in the larger cities such as Harare and Bulawayo
- at tourist sites such as Victoria Falls and Honde Valley waterfalls (including Mterazi Falls and Pungwe Falls) popular safari camps in the Hwange and Mana Pools national parks
Ensure that your personal belongings are secure at all times, particularly in crowded places. Keep your passport in a secure location and carry a photocopy.
Most roads do not have street lights so driving after dark is not advised.
Traffic lights frequently do not work, and drivers do not treat non-functioning lights as four-way stops. Pay close attention before proceeding through an intersection.
Potholes are common and cause many road accidents. Poorly serviced vehicles and dangerous driving habits also contribute to accidents.
Drivers sometimes do not have functioning lights on their cars, which makes driving at night even more dangerous.
Pedestrians often walk on the roads, even at night. Domestic and wild animals roam major roads, also posing a risk.
If you suspect that your vehicle is being followed by an unknown driver, drive to the nearest police station. Do not leave personal belongings or travel documents unattended in vehicles.
Drive with your doors locked and windows up at all times, and park in a guarded parking lot overnight.
If you intend to drive through Mozambique to reach the ocean, read our Mozambique Travel Advice.
Security forces can erect roadblocks anywhere without notice.
Drive carefully and always cooperate if you are stopped.
You could be subject to arbitrary detention or arrest if you don’t have copies of your travel documents (passport identification page and visa) and vehicle police clearance certificate with you at all times.
Security forces can search you and your vehicle any time, as well as any person travelling with you. Security forces can seize any items they deem suspicious during a search. Police officers may ask you to accompany them to the police station or to pay a fine on the spot.
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.
Avoid using intercity bus and rail services, as they are dangerous.
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 are safe for intra-city travel. Taxis recommended by hotels are normally reliable and in good condition. Taxi service is only available in major cities and taxis will normally not take you more than 20 km outside the city limits.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Safaris and organized tours
Wildlife viewing poses risks, particularly on foot or at close range.
- Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife
- Only exit a vehicle when a professional guide or warden says it is safe to do so
- Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators
- Closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice
There have been fraud attempts through emails originating from Zimbabwe. Carefully scrutinize any unsolicited business proposal.
General safety situation
Many regions experience long and frequent interruptions to the electrical and water supplies.
Local police are often unable to travel to the site of a reported crime. When reporting a crime, the police are likely to ask you to travel to a local police station to file a report, or that you make arrangements to transport police officers to your location.
Food and fuel shortages occur. Keep supplies of food, water and fuel on hand in case of lengthy disruptions.
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 Zimbabwean 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 Zimbabwe.
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 be in possession of a visa.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Work permit: Required
Residential visa: Required
You can obtain a single-entry visa, valid for 30 days, at a port of entry into Zimbabwe or at a Zimbabwean embassy. You can apply for 2 consecutive 30-day extensions (90 days) at any Zimbabwean Department of Immigration office.
Zimbabwe Department of Immigration
Travellers on a Zimbabwe business visa or work permit cannot extend the visa from within Zimbabwe. You will need to exit the country and re-enter as a visitor, or apply for a new business visa or work permit and wait for its delivery before attempting to re-enter.
Working or living in Zimbabwe
If you plan on working or living in Zimbabwe, you must contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe 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 Canadian citizens require a business visa is required to engage in these activities.
Foreign media organizations must obtain prior accreditation for their journalists visiting or working in Zimbabwe. 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.
If you are seeking registration to enter Zimbabwe as a journalist, contact the nearest Zimbabwean diplomatic office well ahead of your planned departure.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Cholera in Africa and Western Asia (Yemen) - September 13, 2018
Released: February 19, 2018
The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently monitoring an outbreak of typhoid in Zimbabwe. Most cases are being reported from the capital of Harare. If you plan to travel to Zimbabwe, it is recommended that you consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before you travel.
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.
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 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!
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 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 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 medical supplies in Zimbabwe are limited.
There is a significant shortage of prescription medication. Make sure you bring enough prescription medication for the duration of your stay.
Almost all medical services, such as doctor visits, hospitals and air ambulance medical evacuation, must be paid for immediately in cash, as overseas medical insurance payments are rarely accepted.
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.
Illegal and restricted activities
Demonstrations and assemblies, even for private meetings, are illegal in Zimbabwe if not pre-approved by the government. Authorities have taken bystanders into custody at such events.
The penalties for possession and trafficking of illegal drugs include arrest, detention and prosecution.
Photography of the following is prohibited unless permission is granted from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Information:
- the State House
- government offices
- military establishments
- official residences and embassies
- police officers
- armed forces members
Special permits may be needed for other photography. Observe all restrictions, as authorities strictly enforce them. If in doubt, do not take a picture.
It is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to make derogatory or insulting comments about the president or the Zimbabwean government. Any person making such comments is liable to arrest and prosecution. Possession or importation of pornographic material is forbidden.
Zimbabwean law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Zimbabwe.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Zimbabwe.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Zimbabwe, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Traffic drives on the left.
Using a cellular telephone without a hands-free device while driving is illegal and may result in a fine.
You should carry an International Driving Permit.
The U.S. dollar and government-issued bond notes are legal tender in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a severe currency shortage. It is impossible to withdraw money from ATMs. Bring sufficient funds in cash for the duration of your stay.
You can only leave the country with a maximum of US$2,000 in cash, or the equivalent in other foreign currencies, unless you completed a blue Baggage Declaration form upon entry. These forms, which are available in the baggage claim area at the airport, allow you to leave the country with as much money as you declared upon entry.
Government-issued bond notes have no monetary value outside of Zimbabwe, and exchange bureaus and vendors don’t usually exchange them for foreign currencies. You should spend your bond notes before leaving Zimbabwe.
Debit cards and credit are not widely accepted for payments, but some large vendors, such as supermarkets, may accept payment by credit card.
Counterfeit notes can be found in circulation. For safety reasons, do not attempt to change currency at unregistered currency exchange offices or outlets.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from November to March. Flash floods can occur and make some roads impassable. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial 999.
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.
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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