Foreign travel advice

Zambia

Important COVID-19 travel guidance

From 5 November to 2 December 2020, travelling away from home, including internationally, is restricted from England except in limited circumstances such as for work or for education. Different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You must follow all the rules that apply to you.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides guidance on COVID and non-COVID risks overseas. The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. You should check the travel advice for your destination.

Travel disruption is possible worldwide. Other countries may bring in new measures with little notice such as border closures, movement restrictions or quarantine rules. Travellers should be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.

Safety and security

Political situation

There have been demonstrations, riots and civil disturbances across Zambia, including in parts of Lusaka, Chingola and the Copperbelt region. Security forces have been deployed and there have been reports of the use of live rounds to disperse demonstrators in Lusaka, resulting in the death of a passer-by on 15 February 2020. The unrest follows a series of attacks on private residences, schools and other properties, some of which have included the use of gas by perpetrators. You should be vigilant, make sure your accommodation is secure and check security arrangements in your local area. If you’re affected by an incident involving gas, seek medical assistance immediately and report it to the local authorities. Monitor local media and this travel advice for updates.

There are reports of individuals being targeted by vigilante groups in urban and rural areas on suspicion of being responsible for these attacks.

Demonstrations and protests occasionally take place in Zambia, more commonly in Lusaka and other urban areas. They can disrupt local transport, and have the potential to escalate into violence. Don’t attempt to cross protester roadblocks as this commonly provokes a violent reaction from demonstrators.

Protests and large gatherings can happen without warning and occasionally result in disorder. You should avoid them and leave the scene as soon as possible if a crowd develops. You should exercise caution and follow the guidance and instructions of local authorities. Monitor local and international media and keep up to date with this travel advice by subscribing to email alerts.

Crime

Travel in major cities, as well as the major game parks is generally safe during daylight hours. However, serious crimes can and do occur, like armed robberies, home invasions and sexual assault. It is important to remain vigilant at all times. Vehicle hijackings happen across the country from time to time. Take particular care when approaching locked gateways at night. Don’t stop to give lifts to people at the roadside. Watch out for objects that have been placed to block the road.

Be vigilant, keep all vehicle doors locked and windows closed when driving, and remain aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.

Bag snatching, pick pocketing and theft from parked cars are common at some restaurants and internet cafes in downtown areas, particularly near bus and railway stations and in some shopping areas. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and phones out of sight. Don’t change large sums of money in busy public areas. Thieves have followed people after they have withdrawn money from banks and later robbed them at gunpoint.

Security risks increase after dark, especially in tourist areas and city centres.

Keep valuables and originals of important documents in a safe place and carry a copy of your passport and immigration permit.

Use reputable banks, bureaux de change or ATMs to exchange money.

Local travel

Take care when travelling in rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark. Using legitimate border crossings in these areas is generally safe, although Congolese officials may ask for payment to cross the border. Avoid travelling in the bush along this border for hunting or prospecting.
 
There is a risk of explosive remnants of war in remote areas near the borders with Angola, Mozambique and DRC. Take care if you venture off road in these areas.
 
Wild animals in the bush, including venomous snakes, are unpredictable and do kill. Whether you are travelling on land or water, you are at risk of potentially fatal animal attacks. Always observe local regulations and follow your tour or safari guide’s instructions.
 
Adventure sports, including in the Victoria Falls area, carry risks. Serious accidents and deaths sometimes occur. The quality of medical care varies greatly. Follow safety instructions closely and make sure your insurance policy covers you.

Road travel

You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer, you will need to get an International Driving Permit or a Zambian driving licence.

Take care when driving. Vehicles are often poorly lit, inadequately maintained and badly driven. Drink driving and driving while talking on a mobile phone is illegal but commonplace. The Road Traffic and Safety Agency will prosecute traffic offenders through a fast track court system.  
Road travel at night in rural areas can be hazardous. Abandoned vehicles, pedestrians and stray animals are a danger. Many roads are severely pot-holed or otherwise unsafe, especially during the rainy season (November-April) when bridges and roads risk being washed away by sudden floods. There are frequent fatal crashes. Don’t drive at night outside the main towns.
 
Travel by long-distance public transport can be dangerous due to poor standards of driving, lack of rest periods for drivers, the poor quality of vehicles and poor road conditions. Minibuses used in urban areas are usually severely overcrowded, poorly maintained and badly driven.

Air Travel

The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

The European Union ban on Zambian air carriers was lifted in June 2016.