Safety and security
Opportunistic crime like burglaries, muggings, drive-by bag snatches and thefts from vehicles occur in Uganda. There have been a few cases of individuals being drugged and robbed on public transport and in bars. Don’t accept food and drink from strangers. Foreign visitors and residents may be targeted by scam artists. Be wary of strangers approaching you or your accommodation or contacting you by phone asking for personal information or financial help. There are regular reports of criminal kidnaps, these very rarely target foreign nationals.
Don’t carry large sums of cash or wear expensive looking jewellery or watches. Take particular care of your passport. Take extra care when going out on foot and avoid walking after dark wherever possible.
Keep car doors locked and windows shut when driving in towns. There have been a number of thefts from cars and taxis while stationary in traffic. Don’t leave valuables in vehicles. If you are stopped by armed criminals, don’t resist.
Political rallies, protests and violent demonstrations can occur without warning, causing loss of life and injury, anywhere in Uganda. Incidents are more likely around elections. The police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators. You should take great care and avoid all demonstrations and rallies where possible.
In November 2020, there were election-related protests in Kampala and other locations across Uganda, with incidents of violence and a number of deaths. Country-wide internet shut-downs have been implemented around elections, other political events and during protests. Disruption to social media sites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp) have also taken place in Uganda.
Certain colours; for example red and yellow, are strongly associated with political parties in Uganda. You should be cautious about wearing these colours in public.
If you find yourself caught up in a political demonstration, remain calm and try to move away from the area by the safest possible route. If you’re travelling in a vehicle, ensure that the doors are locked and windows are up. If you’re in your accommodation and there’s a demonstration nearby, remain inside if you judge that leaving your accommodation is threatening or unsafe. Familiarise yourself with the security procedures in place at your accommodation, and make sure appropriate precautions are deployed as necessary.
Local travel - north-east Uganda
There is an ongoing military operation in northeast Uganda in the Karamoja sub-region (districts of Kaabong, Kotido, Abim, Moroto and Nakapiripirit) against armed cattle theft and intercommunal violence. Military and civilians have been killed during the operation. Armed raids to steal cattle have also been reported in districts that neighbour Karamoja in the Teso and Acholi sub-regions. Foreigners are not usually the target of attacks but you should remain vigilant, exercise caution and, like in the rest of Uganda, avoid any travel at night.
The north east is particularly susceptible to flooding during the rainy season (from March to May and October to November). Monitor local media and take care in all remote areas including the use of suitably equipped 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Local travel - northern and western Uganda
Take great care near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda and against all travel to South Sudan.
Uganda and DRC began joint military action against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of eastern DRC, near to parts of the Ugandan border, on 30 November 2021. Ugandan troops are present on both sides of the border as part of the joint operations.
This operation may affect the function of some border crossing points which could close at short notice. There is also a risk of banditry. If you are in these areas you should be vigilant and keep your security situation under constant review.
Local travel - west Uganda
There have been a number of incidents of violent clashes in western Uganda, particularly the Kasese area, in recent years. There has been no suggestion that tourists or foreign nationals have specifically been targeted in these incidents, but if you plan to visit this area, which is close to popular tourist destinations including Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Kibale National Parks, you should remain vigilant, exercise caution, avoid crowds and follow local media for updates on the current situation.
On 12 December 2022, an armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) carried out an attack in the vicinity of Bweramule Parish in Ntoroko District, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you are in the area, which is close to Semuliki National Park and Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, you should exercise caution and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
Local travel - south west Uganda
The parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo immediately neighbouring southwest Uganda have a history of instability and violent conflict can flare up with little notice. Take care when travelling in the area. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda.
On 27 October 2022 there was renewed fighting between Democratic Republic of Congo government forces and the armed group M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo very close to the Ugandan border. Both the Bunagana border crossing and the Kitagoma/Buszana border crossing in Kisoro district are controlled by the M23 armed group on the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the border. If you are in this area you should be vigilant and keep your security situation under constant review. There were previous clashes on 12 June 2022, 23 May 2022 and 29 March 2022 and border crossing points were temporarily suspended. They could be closed again at short notice.
On 2 April 2019 a foreign national and a Ugandan national were kidnapped from the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both were released 7 April 2019.
Local travel - eastern Uganda
Travel to eastern Uganda is largely trouble free, but during heavy rains there is a risk of landslides particularly in Bulucheke sub-county in Bududa District near Mount Elgon National Park, a popular tourist destination.
Local travel - National Parks
Use reputable, registered tour operators and contact the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) for up to date advice and information before you travel. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks are in the extreme south west of Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It’s routine practice for security personnel to accompany tourists on gorilla-tracking visits in this area.
Some gorilla trekking operators cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo. You should avoid taking these tours. The FCDO advises against all travel to the provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo that border Uganda, this includes Virunga National Park.
You can drive in Uganda using a UK driving licence for up to 3 months, after which you will need to get a Ugandan driving licence from the Uganda Revenue Authority or an International Driving Permit.
Travelling by road can be hazardous, particularly outside the main cities. Driving standards are poor, vehicles are often poorly maintained and the accident rate is high. Other road users may be driving without lights and livestock roam across the roads. The Jinja - Kampala and the Kampala - Masaka roads are particular accident black spots.
Speed limits in built-up areas are generally 50km/h and out of town 80km/h. The police enforce this law and breaking speed limits can result in a fine, imprisonment or both.
For reasons of road safety and security you should avoid travelling outside of the main towns after dark, except on the roads between Kampala and Entebbe International Airport.
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and stocked with items you might need in case of a breakdown or other incidents.
There have been a number of serious accidents involving Ugandan long distance bus services, linking Kampala with other towns in Uganda and internationally with Nairobi, Kigali and Dar es Salaam. Some overnight buses have been robbed after being forced to stop by roadblocks or by criminals posing as passengers.
You should avoid using matatus (minibus taxis following a particular route) and boda-bodas (motorbike taxis). Though cheap, matatus and boda-bodas don’t meet western safety standards, are generally in poor condition, badly driven and often don’t have proper insurance cover. Accidents are common, and can be fatal. There have been recent incidents of foreign nationals being mugged whilst using boda-bodas, some of which have involved violence and the use of weapons.
Large numbers of ferry passengers have died in accidents on Lakes Albert and Victoria in recent years often due to overloading of passengers and goods.
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.
Contacting the British High Commission
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Read the FCDO’s How to deal with a crisis overseas page for more information and advice.