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

2017-03-22T15:58:02.863+00:00: Latest update: Safety and security section (Road travel) - self-driving in Tanzania can be challenging; consider using taxis instead; if you plan to drive yourself during a visit to Tanzania, you’ll need your UK licence and an International Driving Permit; to drive in Zanzibar you’ll need your UK licence and a local Zanzibar driving permit (which you can get through your hire car company)

Around 75,000 British nationals visit Tanzania every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

A re-run of elections took place in Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) on 20 March 2016. There’s a continuing risk of heightened tension and unrest in Zanzibar.

You should take care, be aware of your surroundings and avoid large crowds or public demonstrations. Make sure you have a means of communication with you at all times and monitor local media for updates.

Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. See Crime

There is a general threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

There is a threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. See River and sea travel

In the last few years there have been 3 ferry disasters in which hundreds of people have died. If you believe a ferry is overloaded or not seaworthy, don’t get on. See River and sea travel

Long distance buses are often involved in accidents which can be fatal. See Road travel

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

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. The British High Commission continues to receive several reports each month of British nationals who are the victims of mugging and bag snatching (especially by passing cars or motorbikes) and armed robbery and burglary have increased throughout the country. In December 2016, a European family were robbed at gun point and their campsite guard killed at south Beach, 20km southeast of Dar es Salaam. In Dar es Salaam, British tourists have been kidnapped, robbed and forced with the threat of violence to withdraw cash from ATMs and arrange cash transfers up to £5,000 through Western Union after being befriended by strangers or using unlicensed taxis.

Walk as far away from the road as possible. If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or other valuables including expensive jewellery or watches. Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy for ID. If you’re attacked, don’t resist. If you carry a bag, it is safer to hold it loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder rather than by securing the strap across your chest. Don’t accept lifts from strangers or use unlicensed taxis. Ask your local hotel to book a taxi and always ask to see the driver’s ID. Avoid walking alone, particularly in isolated areas and on beaches.

Take particular care in places frequented by tourists. In Dar es Salaam, tourists have been targeted in the city centre, at Ubungo bus station, the peninsula area and Coco beach. In Zanzibar incidents have taken place in Stone Town and at hotels and on popular tourist beaches.

Make sure residential property is secure and lock all doors and windows, especially at night. Your security guard should insist on official identification before allowing anyone to enter your property or compound. If in doubt don’t let them in and raise the alarm.

In 2013, two British women were the victims of an acid attack in Stone Town, Zanzibar. This appeared to be the first acid attack in Zanzibar targeting foreigners.

You should remain vigilant at all times.

Local travel

Information about travel in remote areas can be patchy. Invest in an up-to-date travel guide and only use reliable tour companies.

National Parks

Careful planning is important to get the best out of your safari. If you choose to camp, only use official sites. Make sure you are properly equipped and seek local advice when travelling to isolated areas. Some parks are extremely remote, and emergency access and evacuation can be difficult.

There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice, and make sure you have the correct documentation or permit before entering a national park.

Tourism Tax

On 1 July 2016, the Tanzanian government introduced VAT at 18% for all tourism-related services in Tanzania. The change means that services previously not taxed such as tour guiding, park fees, and transport are now subject to VAT. Prior to 1 July VAT applied to some services that tourists pay for such as accommodation and meals.

Trekking

If you are trekking or climbing, only use a reputable travel company, stick to established routes and always walk in groups. Make sure you are well prepared and equipped to cope with the terrain and low temperatures. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness.

Burundi border/Kigoma region

Take particular care in the area bordering Burundi/Kigoma region. There have been armed robberies in this area, including vehicle hijackings. You should only drive in daylight hours. There are few facilities for visitors.

River & Sea travel

In the last few years there have been 3 ferry disasters in which hundreds of people have died. These were ferries travelling between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and between the islands of Zanzibar.

Use a reputable ferry company and if you believe a ferry to be overloaded or unseaworthy, don’t get on. Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures on board and make a note of where the life jackets and emergency exits are located.

You should also beware of aggressive ticket touts at Tanzanian ports.

While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.

Road travel

Road conditions are generally poor and driving standards are erratic. There are a large number of accidents, often involving inter-city buses. There have been a number of serious bus crashes that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to tourists. If you have concerns about the safety of the vehicle, or the ability of the driver, use alternative transport.

If you plan to drive yourself during a visit to Tanzania, you’ll need your UK licence and an International Driving Permit. To drive in Zanzibar you’ll need your UK licence and a local Zanzibar driving permit (which you can get through your hire car company). Carry several copies of your driving licence, permits and insurance documents.

Self-driving in Tanzania can be challenging and the quality of car hire companies is variable. Consider using taxis instead. There are no roadside rescue or breakdown services. Road maps are hard to come by and not always up to date. Service stations are infrequent and may not have supplies of fuel.

Driving conditions in Tanzanian’s national parks can be unpredictable as the roads around the parks, mainly dirt tracks, are generally poor and can become hazardous or impassable after heavy rain. A 4x4 vehicle is often required.

Keep doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, as vehicles are sometimes targeted by thieves. Be particularly careful at night when there is a higher incidence of crime and drunk driving. Avoid driving out of town at night. If you become aware of an unusual incident, or if somebody out of uniform tries to flag you down, it is often safer not to stop.

There are frequent police road blocks. If you’re stopped by the police, ask to see identification before making any payments for traffic violations. If you’re involved in a road accident, co-operate with the local police.

Train travel

There have been several accidents on Tanzanian railways. Seek local advice for any long-distance train travel.

Political situation

Demonstrations and political rallies happen regularly across Tanzania (including on the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba). Some have turned violent and resulted in fatalities. Police may use tear gas for crowd control. Keep up to date with local and international events and avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately and monitor our Travel Advice, Twitter and local media for up-to-date information.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events. Previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed. The Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab based in Somalia poses a threat across the East Africa region.

In 2013, 2 explosions took place on the island of Unguja (Zanzibar) near Mercury’s restaurant by the port and at the Anglican Cathedral in Stonetown.

A bomb attack near a mosque in Stone Town, Zanzibar, killed 1 person and injured several others in June 2014.

There were a number of small scale attacks in Arusha in 2014, targeting bars and restaurants.

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.

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.

Medical facilities are limited, especially outside Dar es Salaam. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation.

There has been a significant increase in the number of cases of cholera in Zanzibar. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Malaria and dengue fever are common to Tanzania. There have also been recent cases of sleeping sickness occurring after bites from tsetse flies in the north, including the Serengeti. Other diseases, such as cholera and rift valley fever, occur mostly in rural areas where access to sanitation is limited.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,200,000 adults aged 15 or over in Tanzania were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 5.6 of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Local laws and customs

Tanzanians are welcoming and well disposed towards visitors, but you should be sensitive to local culture. Loud or aggressive behaviour, drunkenness, foul language and disrespect, especially towards older people, will cause offence.

There is a high proportion of Muslims in Tanzania, especially along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

You should dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts, and particularly in Stone Town and other places where the local population may be offended. There have been cases where women travelling alone and in small groups have been verbally harassed.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar).

Carry identification (a copy of your passport) at all times.

All drugs are illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and those found in possession will be fined. There are severe penalties, including prison sentences, for drug trafficking.

There are criminal laws on the protection of wildlife and fauna in Tanzania. Avoid bringing wildlife products such as jewellery into Tanzania as you risk delay, questioning or detention when trying to leave the country. These products, whether bought or received as a gift in Tanzania, are illegal. Foreigners have been arrested recently for trying to take products, including horns and seashells, out of the country without a certified export permit issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. If you’re caught you may be detained or fined.

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

All British passport holders need a tourist or business visa to enter Tanzania. You should get one from the Tanzanian High Commission before you travel

It is possible to get a tourist or business visa for a single entry on arrival at main ports of entry to Tanzania, but this is subject to the fulfilment of all immigration requirements. You won’t be able to get a multiple entry visa on arrival For further information about visas visit the Tanzanian Ministry of Home Affairs website.

If you are planning to work or volunteer, you will need a valid work permit. Your employer or volunteer organisation should arrange this before you travel.

From December 2015, Carrying on Temporary Assignment (CTA) passes are no longer valid. If you’re working on a short term assignment you must apply to the Ministry of Labour and Employment for a short term work permit. The application should be submitted prior to entering the country.

If you overstay the validity of your visa or permit you can be arrested, detained and fined before being deported.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your visa application.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents, with a minimum of six months’ validity, are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Tanzania.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Natural disasters

Tanzania lies on an active fault line stretching from the north of the country to the south and tremors occur from time to time. The last significant earthquake (magnitude 5.7) happened on 10 September 2016 in the Kagera region, north west Tanzania. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Money

The Tanzanian Shilling is the official currency of Tanzania, but $US are also widely accepted. Dollar notes printed before 2003 are usually not accepted. You can exchange money at many authorised dealers, banks and bureaux de change. Get a receipt after each transaction.

Most banks in major cities have ATMs, but they are not always reliable and sometimes break down or run out of money. To minimise the risk of card cloning, only use ATMs located within the bank. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted.

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 Dar es Salaam

    Title:British High Commission Dar es Salaam
    Email:bhc.dar@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Umoja House,
    Hamburg Avenue, P.O. Box 9200
    Dar es Salaam
    Dar es Salaam
    Tanzania

    Contact: Enquiries: Telephone +255 (0) 22 229 0000
    Enquiries: Fax +255 (22) 211 0102
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Registrations of Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Documentary Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
  • Department for International Trade Tanzania

    Title:Department for International Trade Tanzania
    Email:DarCommercial@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British High Commission
    Umoja House, Garden Avenue
    P.O. Box 9200
    Dar es Salaam
    Tanzania

    Contact: Enquiries: +255 (0) 22 2290000
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • DFID Tanzania

    Title:DFID Tanzania
    Email:enquiry@dfid.gov.uk
    Address:

    Umoja House 5th Floor
    Garden Avenue
    Dar es Salaam
    Tanzania

    Contact: Tel: + 255 (0) 22 211 0141
    Fax: + 255 (0) 22 211 0130
    Visiting:
    Services:

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