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 2018, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 15 May and finish on 14 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

You should dress modestly. In Zanzibar and Pemba, 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) and is not tolerated in Tanzania’s conservative society. Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Carry identification (a copy of your passport and visa/permit) at all times. Immigration officials and police have the power to request these documents at any reasonable time. If you’re a resident or longer term visitor, you should consider carrying a certified copy of your passport and visa/permit.

If you’re planning to send your British passport to the UK for renewal/replacement while in Tanzania, the British High Commission recommends that you attend your local Tanzanian Immigration Service office and request a certified copy of your passport bio data page and any work/residence permits you currently hold.

Tanzania (including Zanzibar) has strict laws regarding drug use and those found in possession will be fined. There are severe penalties, including prison sentences, for drug trafficking. For further information see Tanzania’s Drug Control and Enforcement (Amendment) Act 2017

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.