COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tanzania is a developing East African nation noted for its history of stability and astounding natural beauty. A robust tourism 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 Ungunja and Pemba. Unguja is the much larger and populous of the two islands and is commonly referred to as Zanzibar. The main city of Zanzibar is known as Stonetown. Although part of the union government, Zanzibar has its own president, court system, and legislature, and exercises considerable autonomy. The U.S. Embassy is in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, the location of most government offices, all embassies, and the commercial center of the country. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Tanzania for additional information on U.S. – Tanzania relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Tanzania, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here's the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Emergency after hours: U.S. citizen emergencies should call 255- (0)22- 229-4000 and wait for the operator to answer.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Note: The Ministries of Health in Tanzania and Zanzibar changed their yellow fever policies in 2012. Yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers from yellow fever endemic countries/regions. All individuals in transit for twelve (12) hours or more and/or who leave the immediate airport vicinity in a yellow fever endemic area are required to show proof of vaccination upon arrival in any port of debarkation here in Tanzania. Direct arrivals from non-endemic countries in Europe and North America are not required to show the certificate. Please refer to the CDC website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
A valid passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania. United States citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials. The U.S. Embassy highly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain their visas before arriving in Tanzania to avoid potentially long delays at entry points. The current fee for a visa is $100 for a 12-month multiple-entry tourist visa. Some border posts and embassies may make hand-written annotations on the computer printed visa due to technical difficulties. Passports should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the visa issuance date. Be prepared to show your passport when entering or departing Zanzibar.
Tanzanian law governing visa categories is very strict. Volunteer activity – even if the traveler is paying for the opportunity – is prohibited on a tourist visa. U.S. citizens who are traveling to Tanzania for short or long-term volunteer and research projects should ensure they have the right type of visa through careful coordination with by working with the sponsoring organization before entering the country. Contact the Embassy of Tanzania in Washington, D.C. prior to departure to obtain the most current visa information. Read the page on visas and immigration to ensure you will have the correct status during your visit to Tanzania.
For information on obtaining a residence permit, please contact the Tanzanian Immigration Department's Ministry for Home Affairs
website or by telephone.
Dar es Salaam: 255 (0) 22 2850575/6
Zanzibar: 255 (0) 24 223 9148
Maintain control of your U.S. passport while in Tanzania. If you do not have the right type of visa and entry stamp when you leave Tanzania, you may need to visit the immigration office, incurring possible delays and financial obligations.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Past terrorist incidents highlight the continued threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and underscore the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out such attacks against Westerners. Although the lethal 1998 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi may seem remote, U.S. citizens should be aware of the ongoing risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. Avoid political rallies and public gatherings throughout Tanzania. Peaceful demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning, not only when riot police clash with demonstrators, but also when crowds gather.
The population in Zanzibar is 98 percent Muslim and holds traditional values. The Embassy has learned of western women being harassed for dressing immodestly in public. United States citizens are advised to dress modestly and to keep a low profile in public. The incidence of criminal and violent activity has sharply increased in the past year. Travelers should exercise caution.
Near the Rwandan border, United States officials in compliance with UN security procedures, request police escorts on segments of the Rusomo-Kahama road border because of armed bandit attacks.
Inter-city transportation 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. United States citizens who travel by bus are urged to select carriers with modern equipment and avoid riding in vehicles that are in obvious disrepair. United States citizens report being robbed on long-distance buses in Tanzania after accepting apparently drug-laced food and drink offered to them from other passengers. Road travel in Tanzania is extremely dangerous, especially at night.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to use taxis or hire a driver from a reputable source for transportation. United States citizens have been victims of robberies when using taxis in Dar es Salaam. A common scenario involves the driver picking up another passenger who then threatens and robs the victim, forcing the person to make a series of ATM withdrawals until reaching the daily limit. If a taxi stops to allow another person to enter, exit immediately. Do not ride in taxis which already carry a passenger. We have reports of assaults originating at the Tazara train station, Ubungo bus station, Dar es Salaam airport, downtown ferry terminal area, and even Msasani Peninsula.
Travelers should also avoid using dala-dala microbuses and bajaji three-wheeled taxis which are poorly maintained and unsafe. When traveling in a car, lock your doors and hide your valuables from sight.
Ferries traveling between the mainland and Zanzibar have been known to capsize, resulting in drownings and injuries. Marine rescue and emergency response capabilities are limited. If you travel by ferry to Zanzibar, opt for the high-speed ferry. Purchase your tickets in the ferry terminal, not from vendors outside. Your ticket should include your name, date of travel, and class of travel. Travel during daylight with good visibility, fair weather, and calm water. Avoid overcrowded vessels or those which lack sufficient life vests, easy access to exits, and a functioning communications system. Some vessels are not maintained regularly and may lack basic safety and navigational aids.
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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, bag snatching, vehicle theft, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles, armed robbery, burglary, and home invasions. Thieves and pickpockets on buses, trains, and streets, steal from inattentive passengers. Prowlers enter occupied and unoccupied houses, looking for open windows and doors to gain access to dwellings (and hotel rooms) to steal electronics, jewelry, and money.
Firearm-related crimes are becoming more common, although criminals often use machetes and sticks. A series of robberies involving increasing levels of violence has occurred along the coast and on Zanzibar. In 2008 - 2009, we received reports of robbers holding 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.
Sexual assaults involving tourists are also a concern. Travelers should hire only legitimate tour guides, preferably arranged by a known travel agency or hotel. Be wary of “spontaneous” offers of sightseeing from new contacts and avoid being alone with “friendly” strangers who propose special, customized sightseeing trips. Practice common sense and remain vigilant regarding your surroundings. If a situation does not seem right, follow your instincts and leave the scene immediately.
Muggings, Robberies, and Assaults: Pedestrians on deserted or crowded beaches, footpaths, and roads are often targeted by criminals. This is especially true on Zanzibar, in Dar es Salaam, and Arusha. Stay with a buddy as much as possible. Avoid carrying a bag, wearing flashy jewelry, or using or displaying electronics while walking in public. If you must carry a bag, hold it by the handle loosely so, if someone grabs it, you can let go quickly and not be injured. Limit the amount of cash you carry for that specific activity. Secure valuables, such as passports, jewelry, and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other location. Carefully guard your camera and phone. Credit cards should only be used in reputable tourist hotels. Whereas long-term residents used to note a seasonal spike in crime (December - January), reports of robbery and violent assault now occur year-round.
Home Invasions: U.S. citizens residing in Arusha and Dar es Salaam report a steady increase in crimes targeting the homes of expatriates. These armed home invasions usually involve some violence and some victims have been seriously injured. U.S. citizens should ensure that homes have a safe haven, a secure area with reinforced barriers where inhabitants can retreat and remain safe if intruders enter the home. Residents in Arusha and Dar es Salaam strongly recommend retaining a professional security company with 24-hour guards and roving patrols. If you have access to a house alarm, use it. Routinely check your doors and windows to ensure they are locked and the grills are intact.
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.
Business Scams: There have been several recent cases of U.S. businesspersons who have fallen victim to scams involving the sale of gold, diamonds, gemstones, minerals, and other resources. Potential buyers are urged to be very cautious of seemingly lucrative business opportunities offered by agents based in or with ties to Tanzania and neighboring countries. Many U.S. citizens have reportedly lost sizable amounts of money on such deals, ranging from a few hundred thousand to a few million U.S. dollars.
Dar es Salaam: Be very careful in the Coco Beach area of Touré Drive on Msasani Peninsula, the scenic beachfront road leading from the Sea Cliff Hotel into town. We receive regular reports of muggings, pick-pocketing, and thefts from cars. This road is a concern any time of day or night, whether you are on foot or in a vehicle. U.S. government personnel are cautioned against walking or running along Touré Drive and Haile Selassie Road on the Msasani Peninsula due to the prevalence of assaults. Avoid areas where there aren't houses or buildings on both sides of the road as assailants like to hide in areas covered by brush.
Zanzibar: Beware of pickpockets, assaults, and bag snatching on Zanzibar. Wear modest dress and keep a low profile in this Muslim-majority nation, especially on Friday afternoons, the traditional time to attend mosque.
Arusha: In Arusha, the high number of foreign tourists attracts pickpockets and bag snatchers.
You are strongly discouraged from walking around at dusk or at night, and to avoid the section of Arusha on the far side of the Themi River at all times on foot. Many muggings have occurred near the clock tower in the center of town.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Whether transactions involving such products are legal or illegal under local law, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency telephone number in Tanzania is: 111
Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Tanzania, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own.In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Tanzania, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Persons violating Tanzania's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tanzania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. For example, simple possession of marijuana carries a penalty of a five-year sentence with additional fines. Driving under the influence is against the law. A maximum blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is permitted. Law enforcement is becoming more sensitive to this issue due to the high rate of motor vehicle accidents. Using a cell phone while driving is not against the law, but ill-advised.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Click here to access a list of attorneys from the Embassy website.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Every year, thousands of U.S. citizens have a truly awe-inspiring experience in Tanzania enjoying its natural wonders. However, these activities do have inherent risks such as being mauled or killed by wild animals, being injured or killed in rockslides, or succumbing to altitude sickness or hypothermia. Safaris and mountain expeditions in general require sustained physical exertion and can aggravate existing chronic health problems. U.S. citizens 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. You are responsible for your safety. Maintain a safe distance from animals; stay in the vehicle or protected enclosure 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. Don't try to save money by selecting a tour guide who offers a faster ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet above sea level) or Mt. Meru (14,977 feet). Your body needs the extra day or two to acclimate to the altitude. If you experience altitude sickness, descend the mountain immediately and seek medical help. Have a complete physical before attempting exercise at high altitude.
Carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times to prove your identity and U.S. citizenship, if needed. 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.
Tanzania is primarily a cash economy. Using a credit or debit card can make you vulnerable to fraud. Some major hotels accept credit cards, but they are not the norm in larger urban areas, ATMs are often available at major banks. Do not use stand-alone ATMs, only those attached to a bank. Exercise caution when using ATM, debit, and credit cards in Tanzania. Monitor your account balance regularly and immediately report unusual activity. There have been numerous recent reports from U.S. citizens of fraud, particularly against U.S. dollar denominated accounts. We have heard of ATMs retaining cards and accounts being emptied in addition to the apparent use of skimming devices on ATMs. You should bring sufficient cash or traveler’s checks for your trip if you will be spending time outside of the large cities. Reputable financial institutions will require the bearer of a Travelers Check to present the original receipt for the checks and proof of identity before completing 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.
If a public official attempts to solicit the payment of a fine from you, ask to travel to the nearest police station to file a report regarding the incident. Obtain a receipt and a written report of any such transactions.
Concerns for LGBT Travelers: Tanzania is a traditional society. Public displays of affection between persons of the opposite gender garner serious disapproval; those between persons of the same gender could risk violence. Consensual same-sex activity is illegal on the mainland and in Zanzibar. On the mainland acts of “gross indecency” between persons of the same sex are punishable by up to five years in prison. Same-sex intercourse carries a prison sentence of 30 years to life. The law in Zanzibar establishes a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment for men who engage in same-sex sexual activity and five years for women. Since the burden of proof in such cases is significant, the law is rarely applied. In the past individuals suspected of being gay or lesbian have instead been charged with loitering or prostitution. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons faced societal discrimination that restricted their access to health care, housing, and employment. There is no openly gay community in Tanzania; discretion will greatly reduce the chance of any problems. Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Tanzania. LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
Accessibility: While in Tanzania, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Tanzanian constitution prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. In 2010, the government passed the Persons with Disability Act to address the overall protection of disabled persons. Although the government mandates access to public buildings, transportation, and government services for persons with disabilities, few accommodations exist. Sidewalks are nearly non-existent and there are frequent power outages.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are limited and medicines are sometimes unavailable, even in Dar es Salaam. There are hospitals and clinics on Zanzibar capable of treating minor ailments, but, for anything serious, return to Dar es Salaam or travel to Nairobi or South Africa. If you are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Tanzanian capacity for emergency medical response is extremely limited and you may need to descend the mountain on your own to get help. For any significant medical problem in Dar es Salaam, travelers should travel to Nairobi or South Africa where more advanced medical care is available. U.S. citizens are advised to travel with a sufficient supply of prescription medication. Pharmacies (known as "duka la dawa") may carry recognizable brands, but the supply is inconsistent.
Cholera is prevalent in many areas of Tanzania, and several strains of malaria are endemic. Anti-malarial medication is advised.
Consult your physician before traveling. Use insect repellents and mosquito nets to help to reduce the risk of malaria. 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 as soon as possible. Tell your doctor your travel history and describe the medication
you have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please
visit the CDC travel health web site.
Schistosomiasis (or, bilharzia) is a disease endemic in Africa and caused by parasitic worms hosted by fresh-water snails. Avoid swimming, bathing, or wading in fresh-water lakes and streams.
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. Be careful when consuming raw foods as they may not have been properly refrigerated and handled, and they may harbor unsafe bacteria.
The HIV infection rate in the population is almost six percent. The infection is even more prevalent among prostitutes and their clients, intravenous drug users, and men who have sex with men. Travelers should be aware of the related health and legal risks.
East African Trypanosomiasis (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. Avoid wearing dark colors which attract the insect. 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 following CDC link for African sleeping sickness for more information.
Click here to access the list of medical facilities in Tanzania from the Embassy website.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. 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'sCivil 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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Tanzania dated July 16, 2012 to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Threats to Safety and Security, Crime, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, Accessibility, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.