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Latest travel advice for Botswana including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2016-10-27T11:21:23.465+01:00: Latest update: Entry requirements section – the Botswana government has introduced new immigration rules from 1 October 2016; children travelling into or through Botswana must provide a certified copy of their full unabridged birth certificate; if the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren’t present will need to provide an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travel

Around 42,000 British nationals visit Botswana every year. Most visits are trouble free.

Wildlife and livestock on roads are a hazard, particularly at night. See Road travel.

Carry some form of identification with you at all times. A photocopy of your passport is sufficient.

Attacks on tourists are rare, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty and violent crime. See Crime.

There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Safety and security

Crime

Attacks on tourists are rare, but petty and violent crime is increasing particularly in the major towns of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. Hold-ups and robberies of restaurants during peak hours and house burglaries, often by armed gangs, are becoming more frequent.

Theft from parked cars does occur and thieves target cars waiting at traffic lights to smash and grab handbags, phones or laptops. Keep valuables out of sight and in a safe place. If you are attacked, don’t resist. Use a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place.

There have been isolated room break-ins and robbery from lodges in the Chobe area, particularly river-fronting lodges. Lock your room when you can and secure valuables.

There have been incidences of rape and other sexual offences. Seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured. Women, in particular, should not walk alone at night.

Local travel

You should avoid large demonstrations and gatherings. In 2011 police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests.

Game reserves and other tourist areas are generally secure, but be alert to unpredictable behaviour by wild animals. Follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. Avoid bathing in rivers and lakes, because of the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne diseases.

If you travel to remote areas plan your trip carefully, make transport and accommodation arrangements in advance and seek local security advice. Take emergency supplies (including water and fuel) and be prepared for off-road driving conditions. In very remote areas travel in convoy or with a satellite phone in case of breakdown.

Road travel

You can drive using an International Driving Permit for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should apply for a Botswana driving licence.

Botswana has good tarmac roads covering most of the country but you should be careful when driving off-road. The standard of driving is lower than in the UK and many drivers ignore road safety rules. Dangerous driving, including speeding (the maximum speed limit is 120kmh) and drink driving, cause frequent serious and often fatal accidents.

Driving, particularly outside the major urban areas, can be dangerous due to stray wildlife and livestock. This is a particular risk at night, so take extra care if you are driving  after dark.

In major towns taxis are generally safe to take. You should agree a price before setting off. 

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Drug taking and smuggling is a serious offence. The punishments can be severe.

Taking photographs or using video equipment near military and government installations is prohibited. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people in Botswana.

Homosexuality is illegal in Botswana.

You should carry some form of identification with you at all times. A photocopy of your passport is sufficient.

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts. Those caught hunting, purchasing or trafficking such goods will face severe prosecution.

Botswana authorities often do not inform the British High Commission when British nationals have been arrested. If you are detained, you may insist on your right to contact a British consular officer and have access to lawyer. There is currently no comprehensive legal aid scheme and you would need to pay for any lawyer yourself.

Botswana residence and work permits are only valid when held with a valid passport. Don’t allow your passport to expire whilst staying in Botswana. If you send your British passport for renewal, make sure you have a certified copy that you can present if needed.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals do not need a visa to enter Botswana for stays of up to 90 days. Overstaying can cause delays on departure. If you wish to extend your stay, seek an extension from the Department of Immigration.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Botswana.

The Botswana government has stated that dual nationals using two different passports can only enter the country on the same passport they used to exit the previous country.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Ebola

The Botswana government continues to impose measures to screen travellers arriving from Ebola affected countries. Travellers arriving from Ebola affected countries may be denied entry to Botswana or put into quarantine on arrival. Further information is available from the Botswana Ministry of Health.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are valid for entry into Botswana. However, unlike with a full validity UK passport, ETD holders must apply for the appropriate Botswana visa or be in possession of a residence permit before travelling to Botswana.

Travel to or from South Africa  

If you are planning to enter South Africa before or after you visit Botswana, you should be aware that while South African authorities state officially that only 1 blank passport page is required for entry, some officials insist on two blank pages. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport if you are travelling through South Africa.

Travelling with children

The Botswana government has introduced new immigration rules from 1 October 2016. Children (under 18 years of age) who are travelling into or through Botswana must provide a certified copy of their full unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport (an abridged (short) birth certificate won’t be accepted).

If the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren’t present will need to provide an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travel. For more information please contact the Botswana Embassy.

Travelling with children via a South African airport

If you’re transiting through a South African airport with children, see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Health care in Botswana is good in major towns, but medical facilities and communications are limited in rural areas. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa may be necessary. Private hospitals will not treat patients unless you can pay, and the cost of health care may be high. Outpatients must pay cash before receiving treatment. You will only be accepted as an emergency patient if you have full insurance cover. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

There are occasional outbreaks of anthrax amongst wild animals. Don’t touch dead animals or carcasses. If you suspect that you have come into contact with anthrax, seek urgent medical advice.

If you intend to camp or walk in the bush you should be aware of the risk of tick bites.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 997 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Money

Travellers’ cheques are accepted at some banks. ATMs are available in the major towns and larger villages, but most only accept Visa. Maestro cards are not generally accepted. Major credit cards are accepted at many shops and restaurants in towns.

You can’t exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in Botswana.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British High Commission Gaborone

    Title:British High Commission Gaborone
    Email:ukinbotswana@gmail.com
    Address:

    Plot 1079-1084,
    Main Mall
    off Queens Road,
    Gaborone
    Gaborone,
    Botswana

    Contact: Enquiries: Telephone +267 3952841
    Enquiries: Fax +267 3956105
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)

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