COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Zambia is a developing country in southern Africa with a representative government. Outside of Lusaka, Livingstone (Victoria Falls), and well-known game parks, tourist facilities are not fully developed. Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Zambia for additional information on U.S. – Zambia relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or traveling to Zambia should enroll in STEP so that the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka can provide updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the Embassy. STEP allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
The Embassy’s main telephone number for calls, including emergency calls after business hours, is 0211-357-000, or, from the
United States, 011-260-211-357-000. If you are unable to get through at the above number and you have an after-hours emergency,
please call 0966-877-805 or, from the United States, 011-260-966-877-805.
Mailing address: Embassy of the United States of America, P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, Zambia.
Routine services for U.S. citizens (e.g., passport renewals, reporting the birth of a child, or notarizing documents) are available by appointment, via the Embassy’s web page. U.S. citizens with urgent travel needs who are unable to schedule an appointment online can email the Embassy or call the Embassy at the above number to make an appointment. For emergency services at any time of day, call the Embassy at the number listed above.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required to enter Zambia. The passport must be valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure from Zambia and have at least two blank pages. A single-entry visa may be obtained at the port of entry for $50, but travelers must apply in advance at a Zambian Embassy or consulate for a multiple-entry visa. The fee for a three-year multiple-entry visa is $80. Tourists visiting for the day from a neighboring country (such as those visiting Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe) can obtain a $20 day-trip visa at the border. Tour organizers may arrange multiple-entry visas in advance for their clients. Bring exact change whenever practical as change may not be available. Travelers have the right to request a receipt and can report any concerns to Zambia Immigration Headquarters in Lusaka (near the Intercontinental Hotel).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zambia is at “low risk” for yellow fever. The risk areas are primarily along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). To date, there have been no reported cases of yellow fever in Zambia, although the Zambian government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination or a valid waiver certificate for all visitors. For travelers transiting South Africa on their way to and from Zambia, the South African government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination at least 14 days prior to arrival in South Africa; those without proof may be turned around at the South African port of entry. (For complete entry/exit requirements for South Africa, please see our Country Specific Information for South Africa ). See the Medical Facilities and Health Information section below for more information on vaccines. The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zambia.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia requires travelers to have at least two blank visa pages in their passport upon entering Zambia. Likewise, travelers transiting South Africa should ensure that their passports contain at least one completely blank (unstamped) visa pages each time entry is sought. These pages are in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport. South African immigration authorities routinely turn away travelers who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passports.
You should closely follow immigration guidelines, including visa requirements for travel to Zambia. Tourist visas allow for a thirty day entry and may be extended for up to ninety days in a period of twelve months. Foreigners coming to Zambia for business are entitled to a free thirty day visa. Business visas may be obtained by presenting a letter of invitation from the organization that is sponsoring the traveler that specifies the nature of the intended business. Business visitors intending to stay longer than thirty days must apply for a temporary employment permit.
A number of U.S. citizens have encountered difficulties with Zambian Immigration officials as a result of their volunteer or business activities in Zambia. U.S. citizens who wish to engage in voluntary service or business in Zambia, even on a short-term basis, are reminded that they must enter Zambia on a business visa. If you engage in activities that are not permissible on a tourist visa, you are subject to fines, possible incarceration, and deportation by the Zambian Department of Immigration.
At the time of entry, the immigration officer will scan your fingerprints and stamp your passport with the permitted length of stay. Typically, an immigration officer will admit an U.S. citizen for the exact number of days requested, up to a maximum of thirty days. If you wish to stay longer than your allowed period of entry, you may visit an immigration office in any of the 73 districts to obtain an extension. There is no charge for this service. Avoid using “consultants” who may provide you with fake documents and request fees for what is an otherwise free service at local immigration offices. Foreigners are allowed no more than two thirty-day extensions (for a total time of 90 days). If you wish to stay in Zambia more than three months, you must apply for a National Registration Card (NRC); this blue-colored card for non-Zambians is the equivalent of the standard green-colored NRC carried by Zambian citizens and costs approximately $10 in local currency.
Zambian Immigration officials insist that visitors carry the original or a certified copy of their passport and immigration permit at all times. Certified copies must be obtained from the immigration office that issued the permit. If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Zambia, visit the Zambian Department of Immigration office to apply for a replacement entry permit before attempting to depart the country; there is no charge for this permit.
A provision in the 2010 Zambia Immigration and Deportation Act could result in substantial fines and possible jail time for U.S. citizens who stay in Zambia beyond their permitted time or who conduct activities that are inconsistent with their visa (for example, conducting business on a visiting visa). According to Zambia Immigration, the fines are up ZMW 18,000 (approximately $3,600) per person. This fine will be decided at a court hearing, and it is possible that a U.S. citizen whose permit has expired could be jailed pending a court date. The U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to take steps to stay in proper immigration status and to contact Zambia Immigration with any questions. A full copy of the 2010 Immigration and Deportation Act is available at the Zambian Department of Immigration website.
The Zambian government requires that all individuals intending to reside in Zambia, including for voluntary work, be able to show a police clearance, including fingerprints, from their home country. As this process can be time-consuming, U.S. citizens may consider getting a police clearance, with fingerprints, from their local police station in the United States prior to departure for Zambia. U.S. citizens who are unable to present valid police clearances with fingerprints from their U.S. police station will be required to request fingerprint card results from the FBI. This process can take at least six weeks, and some U.S. citizens have had to leave Zambia while waiting for clearance to avoid being in violation of Zambian immigration regulations. The U.S. Embassy is unable to assist with taking fingerprints for police clearances.
If you receive a work permit, it is limited to the validity of your passport; if you subsequently replace your U.S. passport, you must ask Zambian Immigration to extend your work permit by paying for a new work permit that will be placed in your new passport. U.S. citizens should plan their trips well in advance and visit the Embassy of Zambia website for the most current visa information.
Currently, the Zambian constitution does not recognize dual nationality. Zambian-Americans who retain Zambian citizenship are expected to enter and exit Zambia on their Zambian passport. However, the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens may be limited if the citizen is traveling on a Zambian or other foreign passport.
Certain over-the-counter medications such as the anti-histamine Benadryl may not be brought in to the country without permission. See the Criminal Penaltiessection below, including information on getting advance permission to bring medications into the country.
All U.S. citizens, except resident diplomats, must pay an airport departure tax which is collected in local currency. For international flights, this tax is included in the cost of the ticket; the passenger will receive a “no-fee” receipt reflecting this payment. For domestic flights, the passenger pays prior to entering the departure hall.
The National Airports Corporation collects an additional security charge of $3 per domestic flight within Zambia and $5 per international flight, payable only in Zambian Kwacha, from all departing passengers at the airport, prior to departure.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please readour Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers exercise caution when visiting Western Province. Relations between some residents and the government remain tense over rights under the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. In January 2011, protests in the provincial capital of Mongu and Limulunga turned violent resulting in two deaths, several injuries, and hundreds of arrests. The government of Zambia considers it treasonous for anyone to discuss the Barotseland Agreement or Barotseland autonomy/secession.
Spontaneous demonstrations occasionally take place in Lusaka and elsewhere in the country. Remember, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid the vicinity of demonstrations. You should also stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
The Embassy has received several reports of the use and attempted use of “date rape” drugs on unsuspecting females in a variety of bars and restaurants. There are several “date rape” drugs on the market, and these are easily purchased or obtained in Zambia. Common symptoms of these drugs are: drunken feeling, loss of consciousness, memory problems, confusion, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, and loss of motor skills. Rapists use the drug to render a victim easier to attack. If you feel that you have been a victim of a "date rape" drug attack, seek medical attention immediately. The Embassy maintains a list of medical professionals.
The U.S. Embassy discourages travelers from driving off-road or on remote, lightly-used tracks near the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and Angola as there may still be undetected land mines and unexploded ordnance. U.S. citizens who must drive in these areas are encouraged to drive in convoys and carry satellite telephones. See our Country-Specific Information for Congo and Angola for additional information on travel to these countries.
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CRIME: Travel in many sections of Lusaka, Livingstone, and most other major cities, as well as in the major game parks, is generally safe during daylight hours. However, expatriates have been the victim of armed robberies in Livingstone, Copperbelt Province, and elsewhere. Though victims are seldom seriously injured, the incidents can be frightening and stolen property is rarely recovered. Carjacking remains an ongoing problem, especially in Lusaka and Livingstone. In most cases, carjackers will block the rear of a victim’s vehicle while it waits to pass through a security gate into a residence and then assailants will threaten the driver and take the car. In some cases, the victim has been held and assaulted. Drivers are advised to lock their car doors, close their windows, and remain vigilant when entering or exiting a residence.
Travelers using public transportation or visiting high pedestrian traffic areas are advised to be vigilant against robbery and pick-pocketing. Vehicle thefts and burglaries occur throughout the country.
You should use caution when traveling near the border with Congo. Although rebel militias are no longer active in the Katanga province of Congo, armed criminal elements remain in the border area.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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 line in Zambia is 999. Police response, particularly outside major cities, may be delayed due to a lack of vehicles and other resources.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Zambia, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning. It is illegal to take pictures of certain government structures, particularly presidential residences or offices, oil refineries, bridges, mines, railways, electrical power supply buildings, and military facilities. Often, these sites are not clearly marked and the first notification that a tourist would receive is a police officer demanding his/her camera memory card, film and/or camera. Authorities may also challenge photography of areas other than tourist attractions.
In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States; for example, 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 also a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Zambia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not legal wherever you travel.
Possession of more than 0.5 grams of an illegal substance can constitute drug trafficking in Zambia. The Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has detained a number of U.S. citizens for possession of antihistamines such as Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications, which contained small quantities of diphenhydramine, an active ingredient that is on Zambia’s list of controlled substances. Although unaware of these restrictions, U.S. citizens have been charged with drug-trafficking offenses, had their passports confiscated, and have been jailed. While government officials have told the Embassy that carrying such over-the-counter medications with a doctor’s prescription is permitted, U.S. citizens visiting Zambia should consider leaving such medications behind. When traveling with prescription medications, U.S. citizens should likewise carry a doctor’s prescription and ensure that the medication is in its original bottle. A complete list of controlled substances banned in Zambia is available via the U.S. Embassy website on the web page Living in Zambia. U.S. citizens carrying any of these banned drugs for medical purposes should contact the Government of Zambia’s Pharmaceutical Authority to request advance permission to bring the drugs into the country by emailing the Director General at email@example.com or writing to: Director General Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority, Box 31890 Lusaka. The office is located at Plot No 6903 Tuleteka Road, off Makish Road. Any U.S. citizen stopped by the Drug Enforcement Commission for possession of over-the-counter medications should contact the Embassy as soon as possible. Additional information about controlled substances may be found at the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission website.
It is against both Zambian and U.S. law to buy, possess, or transport the following animal products: tortoise shells, rhino horns, elephant ivory, tusks of any animal, or any items made out of these materials. While many of these items are sold in open markets particularly aimed at foreign tourists, it remains the responsibility of the customer to ensure that he/she is not purchasing a prohibited item. The Zambian Wildlife Authority has screeners at international ports of entry/exit and WILL prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law with penalties ranging from large fines to five year prison sentences.
If you are arrested in Zambia, you should seek the assistance of an attorney. The Embassy maintains a list of attorneys in major cities, but cannot recommend the services of a particular lawyer.
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.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Zambian law requires that all domestic transactions in Zambia be carried out using the local currency: kwacha. In an effort to reinforce the kwacha as the legal tender of Zambia, it is unlawful to quote, pay, or demand to be paid in foreign currency. Doing so can result in a fine or a ten year prison sentence. Foreign currency can still be legally exchanged.
On January 1, 2013, the local Zambian currency (kwacha) was rebased (dropping three zeros) and the new kwacha became legal tender and the medium of exchange. According to the Bank of Zambia, both old and rebased currencies will be accepted as legal tender until June 30, 2013. Following this conversion period, financial institutions will continue to exchange old currency for the rebased kwacha at no fee through December 31, 2013.
On May 5, 2013, the Zambian government signed Statutory Instrument 32 regarding Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Monitoring of Balance of Payments Regulations, which will become effective July 1. The new legislation focuses on monitoring foreign exchange transactions and imposes additional obligations on financial service providers and importers and exporters of goods and services regarding the reporting of transactions exceeding $10,000. Failure to properly report transactions covered by the regulations could result in the loss of foreign exchange and/or trading privileges, along with possible fines and imprisonment. The U.S. Embassy advises companies and foreign investors who may be affected to contact their financial service providers for additional information on how to comply with the new regulations.
You should carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, you can provide proof of your identity and U.S. citizenship. Foreign tourists have frequently been the target of small-scale financial scams involving bogus “fees” to be paid to various Zambian officials and groups. You should make sure that you receive an official receipt from the Government of Zambia for any fines and duties you pay. Often, travelers will be told that the official does not have a receipt book or that this type of fine is not receipted. Polite but firm insistence on a Zambian government receipt will often result in these fines disappearing.
MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted at major supermarkets, restaurants, stores, and hotels in Lusaka and Livingstone (Victoria Falls). Credit card fraud is increasing in Zambia and there have been several cases involving fraudulent charges, including some at major hotels catering primarily to foreign visitors. Many businesses use carbonized paper documents to process payment. These documents are not secure and can pose a threat to cardholders. You should be cautious when using debit or credit cards at any point of purchase, especially if the transaction is not processed electronically. U.S. citizen travelers can withdraw money (in local currency) from ATMs in major cities in Zambia using their ATM cards or credit cards from the United States. Occasionally, banks lose their connections with the credit card exchanges, thus making withdrawals impossible. U.S. citizens have also been victims of ATM fraud, whereby criminals gain access to the U.S. citizen's pin number and make withdrawals. Zambian banks and bureaux de change will not accept dollar-denominated notes issued before 2000 (i.e., those without the larger, off-center portraits). Travelers’ cheques are generally not accepted by banks in Zambia.
Service providers in Zambia, including the tourism sector, are not subject to the same standards of safety oversight that exist in the United States; visitors should evaluate risks carefully. Large numbers of travelers visit tourist destinations, including South Luangwa National Park and Livingstone (Victoria Falls), without incident. However, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid rafting and other whitewater boating activities on the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls during the high-water season, February through June. During periods of high water, the Batoka Gorge section of the river becomes unpredictable and several tourists have been involved in fatal accidents. Please observe local or park regulations and heed all instructions given by tour guides. Even in the most serene settings, wild animals can pose a threat to life and safety. In particular, the baboons on the trails near Victoria Falls can be aggressive with tourists, and in one case led to a traveler’s death.
Special Issues for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Zambia, and the law provides penalties of 15 years to life imprisonment. A lesser charge of “gross indecency” carries penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment. Zambian authorities have arrested and prosecuted suspected LGBT persons for such activities. Although in general, non-Zambians have not been targeted for LBGT activities, the political and cultural environment is generally hostile towards LGBT persons. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
Accessibility for the Physically-Impaired: While in Zambia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is available in the United States. In 2012, the Zambian government passed legislation (the Persons with Disability Act) to promote equal opportunities in the civil, political, economic, and social spheres for persons with disabilities and to incorporate disability issues into the national policy and developmental framework. As the law is new, implementation may take a long time. It is important to note that, although Zambia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Zambian government has not mandated accessibility to public buildings and services for persons with disabilities; public buildings, schools, and hospitals generally do not accommodate persons with disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Government hospitals and clinics are often understaffed and lack supplies. Private medical clinics in major cities can provide reasonable care in many cases, but major medical emergencies usually require medical evacuation to South Africa, Europe, or the United States. The nearest air ambulances are based in South Africa. In addition to purchasing medical insurance that covers medical evacuation (see below), U.S. citizens may wish to register with a medical rescue/ambulance service in Zambia, as this can facilitate quick action in an emergency. Some lodges in Zambia may do this on behalf of travelers automatically. Basic medical care outside of major cities is extremely limited. Throughout the country doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. See the Embassy’s list of health care providers in Zambia, including ambulance service.
Travelers should carry their prescription drugs and medications in the original labeled containers, as well as the written prescription from their physician. Travelers who cannot get a doctor’s note for their over-the-counter medications may wish to leave them behind or risk possible arrest. Refer to the section onCriminal Penaltiesabove for more information about over-the-counter medications.
Rabies, a preventable but fatal illness most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, is prevalent in Zambia. While rabies vaccine is available in some parts of Zambia, the post-exposure prophylaxis rabies immunoglobulin is NOT available in Zambia. You should consult with your health care professional about vaccination prior to your trip. If you have not been vaccinated and are bitten, post-exposure prophylaxis should be sought urgently outside Zambia. U.S. citizens in Zambia have been bitten by monkeys, baboons, dogs, and other animals which potentially carry the rabies virus.
See the above section on Entry/Exit Requirements regarding yellow fever. Additionally, while not required for entry, you should be up to date on routine vaccinations, including, but not limited to: influenza, chickenpox (varicella), polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR); diphtheria/pertusis/tetanus (DPT), and typhoid. For additional information on vaccines, please consult the CDC’s information on vaccines.
You can find good 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.
Malaria is endemic in Zambia. Visitors should take antimalarial prophylactic medication. 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 antimalarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and antimalarial drugs, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health website.
Visitors have also contracted African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) from tsetse fly bites in or near national parks. See the CDC’s information on trypanosomiasis.
Frequent outbreaks of cholera occur during the rainy season (end of October to mid-March) throughout the country but are unlikely to affect U.S. citizen visitors, unless they eat or drink in areas with questionable water sources and hygiene. For further information on cholera, consult the CDC’s information on cholera.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) are also serious health concerns in Zambia. For further information on HIV, consult the CDC’s information on HIV ; for further information on TB, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Risk of typhoid fever is high in some areas of Zambia, particularly in the Copperbelt Province. Typhoid fever is easily preventable if you avoid unsanitary foods and drinks and get vaccinated. For further information, please consult CDC’s information on typhoid.
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 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 Zambia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In Zambia, vehicles drive on the left side of the road and vehicles in traffic circles travel clockwise. It is illegal to turn left on a red light. Driving on Zambian roads can be hazardous. Most roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks, forcing pedestrians and livestock to use the roadways both day and night. It is a traffic violation to splash a pedestrian when driving through water. While the main roads in Lusaka and the principal highways linking Lusaka with the major provincial capitals are generally maintained, many secondary roads are in poor repair. During the rainy season (end of October to mid-March), travelers who do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle will encounter problems driving on rural roads. Even in daylight, passing another vehicle can be particularly dangerous given the general condition of roads.
Driving on Zambian roads can be hazardous. Most roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks, forcing pedestrians and livestock to use the roadways both day and night. It is a traffic violation to splash a pedestrian when driving through water. While the main roads in Lusaka and the principal highways linking Lusaka with the major provincial capitals are generally maintained, many secondary roads are in poor repair. During the rainy season (end of October to mid-March), travelers who do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle will encounter problems driving on rural roads. Even in daylight, passing another vehicle can be particularly dangerous given the general condition of roads.
Driving at night can be hazardous and is discouraged. Even in Lusaka there are few streetlights, and pedestrians on the edge of the road are difficult to see. When breakdowns occur, local drivers place a few branches behind the car to indicate trouble but these are difficult to see after dark. As a result, many drivers use their high beams at night to detect stopped vehicles and pedestrians but often fail to dim their high beams when approaching other cars. Cars with a non-functioning headlight are another hazard.
U.S. citizens have been involved in a number of serious car accidents. There are no emergency services for injured or stranded drivers. Car accident victims are vulnerable to theft by those who pretend to be helpful. It is advisable to have a cell phone when undertaking a trip outside of town, although some parts of the country do not yet have cell phone service.
City traffic is comprised mostly of cars and minibuses; motorcycles are rare. Some luxury buses travel between Lusaka and Livingstone and the Copperbelt. Minibuses serve as the primary means of inter-city travel in Zambia but are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and seldom punctual. Drivers often pass using road shoulders or opposing traffic lanes and frequently stop with little or no warning to pick up or drop off passengers. If you hear sirens indicating an official motorcade while you are driving, you should come to a stop and, if possible, pull to the side of the road.
Seat belts are mandatory, as are helmets for motorcyclists. A child's seat is not mandatory by law but is essential for safeguarding children. Using a cell phone while operating a vehicle is illegal and carries a minimum fine equivalent to $60. The speed limit is 50 km/30 mph in Lusaka and 100 km/60 mph outside of city limits; however, speed limits are rarely respected, and most cars drive 80 km/50 mph in the city and 120 km/75 mph outside of town. Many vehicles operate at even faster speeds on the road from Lusaka to Livingstone.
If you are stopped by police while driving and asked to pay a fine, you should be provided an official receipt or directed to the nearest police station where you can make payment. Drivers under the influence of alcohol who are involved in accidents are tested at Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and then taken to court.
To take a vehicle into Zambia, you must obtain a temporary import permit (TIP) at the border, or, depending on the country of origin, a carnet de passage. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you must have a letter from the owner authorizing the use of the vehicle in Zambia. You must also purchase third-party insurance at the border. Residents of Zambia should obtain a driver’s license after obtaining a residence or study permit. Cars must have small reflective stickers attached to the bumper (white on front, red on back), and drivers should always carry two reflective triangles (used to warn other drivers if your car breaks down). Traffic officer checkpoints are fairly frequent outside of urban centers and you risk a fine if found to be driving without reflective stickers, triangles, a spare tire, or non-working headlights or indicator lights.
For additional information on travel to and within Zambia, see Zambia’s Tourism Board travel page.
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 Zambia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Zambia’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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Zambia dated February 6, 2013, to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Threats to Safety and Security, Crime,Victims of Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.