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Travel Security Advice for Tanzania

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tanzania_mapTanzania_Overview 


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

Tanzania is a developing East African nation noted for both its history of stability and its astounding natural beauty.  A robust tourist industry provides all levels of tourist amenities, although higher-end facilities are concentrated mainly in the cities and selected game parks.  The United Republic of Tanzania was formed in 1964 with the union of the mainland country of Tanganyika and the Zanzibar archipelago, which comprises the islands of Unguja and Pemba.  Unguja is the much larger and more populous of the two islands and it is commonly referred to as Zanzibar, as is its main city, Stonetown.  Zanzibar enjoys an autonomous status in many areas of governance and has a separate legal system from the mainland.  The legislative capital of Tanzania is Dodoma.  The U.S. Embassy is in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, the location of most government offices, and the commercial center of the country.  Please read the Department of State Background Notes on Tanzania for additional information.



ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

A passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania.  U.S. citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials.  The current fee for a visa is $100 for a 12-month multiple-entry tourist visa to reciprocate the fee the United States charges visa applicants.  This could rise again as the U.S. application fee rises.  Some border posts and embassies may have technical difficulty in producing the 12-month visa.  They may make hand-written annotations on the computer printed visa.  U.S. passports should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date the visa is obtained, whether it is acquired beforehand or at the port of entry.  Also, foreigners may be required to show their passports when entering or exiting Zanzibar. The web site of the Embassy of Tanzania in Washington, DC states that yellow fever vaccination is required only for persons from, or those who have visited yellow fever endemic countries.

Tanzanian law is very strict on visa categories.  A recurring problem encountered by Americans is that volunteer activity – even if the traveler is paying for the volunteer opportunity – is prohibited on a tourist visa.  Americans who are traveling to Tanzania for short or long term volunteer projects should review their status with the sponsoring organization before entering the country.

Travelers are reminded to safeguard their U.S. passports while in Tanzania.  Passport loss can lead to delays in departing the country and can cause disruption of travel.  Tanzanian authorities require that travelers who are not in possession of the visa and entry stamps obtained upon admission to Tanzania visit the immigration office prior to departure to regularize their status.  Persons attempting to depart the country without proper documentation may be subject to fines or delays in departure.

Visit the Embassy of Tanzania website for the most current visa information.

HIV/AIDS restrictions:  The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Tanzania.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Terrorist incidents in the recent past highlight the continuing threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out such attacks.  On August 7, 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, Kenya.  On November 28, 2002, terrorists bombed a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, approximately 50 miles north of the Kenya -Tanzania border, and unsuccessfully attempted to shoot down an Israeli charter plane departing Mombasa Airport.  U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets including usual gathering places of tourists and Westerners.  At all times, travelers should maintain a high level of security vigilance.  They should avoid political rallies and related public gatherings.  In the past, peaceful demonstrations have turned violent with little or no warning as riot police clashed with demonstrators.

The population in Zanzibar is majority Muslim and holds traditional values.  Some Zanzibar newspapers have warned that women who dress immodestly may be subject to harassment.  American citizens are advised to dress modestly and to refrain from intemperate public behavior.  As in Dar es Salaam, Americans in Zanzibar should also avoid political rallies and related public gatherings. 

The area near Tanzania's borders with Rwanda and Burundi has been the site of minor military clashes.  There have been a number of incidents of criminal and violent activity in the region.  Travelers to this area should exercise caution.  U.S. officials, in keeping with UN security procedures, request police escorts on parts of the Rusomo to Kahama road near the Rwandan border because of an increase in armed bandit attacks.

Inter-city transportation routes between major destinations such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam are serviced by a variety of carriers that offer differing levels of safety and comfort.  U.S. citizens who travel by bus are urged to select carriers who use modern equipment and to avoid riding in vehicles that are in obvious disrepair.  Americans on long-haul bus routes in Tanzania have been victims of “druggings” in which drug-laced food and drink are used to sedate unsuspecting passengers so their belongings can be stolen easily.  Travelers are cautioned not to accept food or beverages from fellow passengers.

In-town transportation is best accomplished using taxis or hired drivers from a reputable source.  Travelers should be wary of using the ubiquitous microbuses (dala-dalas), which are frequently overcrowded, poorly maintained, a common site of petty theft, and whose operation is generally unsafe.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website,

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.



CRIME:

Crime is a serious problem in Tanzania, and visitors should be alert and cautious.  Street crime in Dar es Salaam is common and includes mugging, vehicle theft, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles, armed robbery, and burglary.  Thieves and pickpockets on buses and trains steal from inattentive passengers.

Crime involving firearms is becoming more common.  A series of robberies involving increasing levels of violence has occurred along the coast and on Zanzibar.  Robbers have held up tour buses and dive boats at gunpoint.  In the spring of 2008, there were a string of armed robberies in hotels along the east coast of Ungunja (the main island) in Zanzibar.

Pedestrians on beaches and footpaths, both in isolated areas and in popular tourist venues, are often targeted for robbery or assault.  This is especially true on Zanzibar and in Dar es Salaam and its environs.  Visitors should limit the amount of cash they carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other secure place.  Cameras are highly coveted by thieves, and should be guarded carefully.  Because of the potential for fraud, credit cards should only be used in reputable tourist hotels. 

Sexual assaults involving tourists are also an increasing concern.  Travelers should contract only with legitimate tour guides, preferably arranged by a known travel agency or hotel.  Travelers are advised to be wary of “spontaneous” offers of sightseeing and to avoid being alone with “friendly” strangers who propose special, customized sightseeing trips.

A continuing concern is Tourè Drive on Msasani Peninsula in Dar es Salaam.  It is the beach front road leading from the Sea Cliff Hotel into town and provides an inviting view of the ocean.  However, there are regular reports of daytime muggings, pick-pocketing, and theft from cars.  This road continues to be an area of concern any time of day, on foot, or in vehicles.  U.S. government personnel are expressly advised to avoid walking or running along Tourè Drive.  In Arusha, the high number of foreign tourists attracts pickpockets and bag snatchers. 

Occasionally, these crimes escalate into violence.  While very frightening, the number of these attacks is small and the majority of American tourists enjoy Tanzania in peace.  Travelers are always urged to practice common sense security and remain vigilant of their surroundings.  If a situation does not seem right, travelers should follow their instincts and leave the scene.

Travelers are strongly encouraged not to walk around at dusk or later, and to avoid the section of Arusha on the far side of the Themi River at all times on foot.  Long time residents say that crime in Arusha peaks around the December-January holiday season.  Travelers should be even more vigilant during these months.

Americans residing in Arusha report a steady increase in crimes targeting the homes of expatriates living in the region.  These armed home invasions usually involve some violence and some victims have received serious injuries.  Americans choosing to reside in the area should ensure that their homes have a safe haven – a secure area with reinforced barriers into which inhabitants can retreat and remain safe if the intruders come into the home.  Residents in Arusha strongly recommend retaining a professional security company with 24-hour guards and roving patrols.

Carjacking has occurred in both rural and urban areas.  Visitors are advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up.  Travelers are urged not to stop between populated areas and to travel in convoys if possible.

There have been several recent cases of American businesspersons who have fallen victim to scams involving the sale of copper and other resources at cut-rate prices.  Potential buyers are urged to be very cautious of good deals offered by agents based in Tanzania.  Such precautions as using an escrow account arranged by an attorney outside of Tanzania should be considered.



INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Tanzania is 111.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

 While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Every year, thousands of Americans have a truly awe-inspiring experience in Tanzania enjoying its natural wonders.  However, these activities do have inherent risks.  A handful of tourists are mauled or killed by wild animals.  Climbers are injured or killed in rockslides or succumb to altitude sickness or hypothermia.  Safaris and mountain expeditions in general require sustained physical exertion and can aggravate existing chronic health problems.  In past years, Americans have died while on safari in accidents or from natural causes related to the exertion of the trip or environmental factors.  Most tour operators offer structured, safe excursions into parks, the mountains, and other wildlife areas.  Travelers must also play a responsible role in maintaining their safety.  Travelers are reminded to maintain a safe distance from animals and to remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.  Persons with chronic health problems should weigh the risks before joining an extended trip in the African wilderness.  Climbers should familiarize themselves with the signs of altitude sickness and heed the advice of the professionals organizing the ascents.

U.S. citizens should carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, they have readily available proof of identity and U.S. citizenship.  Travelers and U.S. citizens resident in Tanzania are strongly urged to maintain legal immigration status while in Tanzania to avoid difficulties with local immigration authorities.  U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained have the right to have the U.S. Embassy notified of their situation and should request that notification be made.

Credit cards may be used at some major hotels, but are not widely accepted in Tanzania.  In the larger urban areas, ATM machines are usually available at major banks.  However, travelers should exercise caution when using ATM, debit, and credit cards in Tanzania.  There have been numerous recent reports from American citizens of fraud, particularly against U.S. dollar denominated accounts.  Travelers should bring sufficient cash or traveler’s checks for their trip if they will be spending time outside of the large cities.  Those using Travelers Checks should be advised that reputable financial institutions require that the holder of Travelers Checks present the original receipt for the checks and proof of identity, such as a passport, before the institutions will complete a transaction.

Photography of military installations is forbidden.  Individuals have been detained and/or had their cameras and film confiscated for taking pictures of hospitals, schools, bridges, industrial sites, and airports.  Installations that are prohibited from being photographed are not always marked.

In response to several inquiries from same-gender couples considering traveling to Tanzania, the Embassy provides the following advice.  Tanzania is a very conservative society.  Public displays of affection between persons of the opposite gender garner serious disapproval.  Public displays of affection between persons of the same gender would risk violence.  Discretion will greatly reduce the chance of any problems.  Public professions of sexuality of any type are not well-received and there is no openly gay community in Tanzania.  Same gender sexual relations are illegal in Tanzania although no one has been arrested or prosecuted for such activities in decades.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical facilities are limited and medicines are sometimes unavailable, even in Dar es Salaam.  There are hospitals on Zanzibar that can treat minor ailments.  For any major medical problems, including dental work, travelers should consider obtaining medical treatment in Nairobi or South Africa where more advanced medical care is available.

Cholera is prevalent in many areas of Tanzania, and several strains of malaria are endemic.  Malaria prophylaxes are advised, and travelers are strongly advised to carry malaria prophylaxes with them.  Visitors should consult their physicians before traveling to learn about prophylaxis and the possible side effects of various available medications.

In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk.  Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medications they have been taking.  For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please see the
malaria information on the CDC travel health web site.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Tanzania.  For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on TB.

Tap water in Tanzania is unsafe to drink.  Travelers are strongly urged to use bottled water for drinking and food preparation.

The HIV infection rate in the population is around seven percent.  The infection is even more prevalent among prostitutes and their clients.  Travelers should be aware of the related health and legal risks.

East African Trypanosmiasis (sleeping sickness) is carried by the tse-tse fly, which is endemic to the northern safari circuit of Tanzania.  The disease itself is very rare but present.  Travelers are advised to use normal precautions to avoid insect bites.  Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential if there is an infection.  If symptoms appear, even months later, health care practitioners should be told of the visit to East Africa and the possibility of exposure.  See the CDC web site for more information on sleeping sickness.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s website For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website Further general health information for travelers is available from the WHO.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Tanzania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Road and traffic conditions in Tanzania differ markedly from those found in the United States and present hazards that require drivers to exercise continual alertness and caution.  Traffic in Tanzania moves on the left.  Drivers and pedestrians alike must maintain vigilance, looking both ways before turning or crossing a road.

Drivers are advised against nighttime travel.  Roadways are often not marked and many lack both streetlights and shoulders.  Pedestrians, cyclists, and animals are often encountered on unlit roads after dark, as are slow-moving trucks and cars traveling without lights.  Carjacking and other related crimes are more common during the nighttime hours.  Traveling in rural areas after dark is strongly discouraged.

Although a number of inter-city highways are periodically repaved and maintained, maintenance schedules are erratic and even good roads may deteriorate precipitously in periods of inclement weather.  During the rainy season (late March to mid-June), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

In urban areas, it is common to find main arterial roads paved and maintained, while secondary streets are severely rutted and passable only with high-clearance vehicles.  Traffic lights are often out of order, and care should be exercised at any traffic intersection, whether controlled or not, as many drivers disregard signals.  Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles pose serious traffic hazards.

Tanzanian law requires all motor vehicle operators to be in possession of a valid driver’s license.  Persons staying in Tanzania for six months or less may use a valid U.S. driver’s license after validation by local traffic authorities, or an international driver’s license.  Persons intending to remain in Tanzania for more than six months are required to obtain a Tanzanian driver’s license.  All vehicles are required to carry third-party liability insurance.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Tanzania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Tanzania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Tanzania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Tanzania.   Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The U.S. Embassy is located at 686 Old Bagamoyo Road, Dar es Salaam.  The Embassy’s Consular Section can be contacted by telephone at [255](22) 266-8001 x 4122 (After hours U.S. citizen emergencies should call [255](22) 266-8001 and wait for the operator to answer); by fax [255](22) 266-8238; contacted by emailThe Embassy website is http://tanzania.usembassy.gov/.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Tanzania dated November 1, 2008, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, and Special Circumstances.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Tanzania HERE......

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)..........

There is also a Malaria Warning for Tanzania HERE.......

Regards

The SW Team....... 

 

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