Local laws and customs
Always carry photographic identity documentation or a copy of your passport, rather than the original, when out and about in Zimbabwe.
Photographing government offices, airports, military establishments, official residences, embassies and other sensitive places is illegal without special permission from the Ministry of Information. Taking photographs of members of police and armed forces personnel and of demonstrations and protests is not permitted. Laws are strictly enforced.
The area around State House in Harare (the President’s official residence) is patrolled by armed members of the Presidential Guard. They don’t allow loitering, by motorists, cyclists or pedestrians, and photography is strictly prohibited. The roads in this area are closed at night (from 6pm – 6am). Avoid using GPS navigation systems around the President’s Residence and, if possible, avoid the area altogether.
Holding dual nationality (i.e. holding a Zimbabwean and a foreign passport at the same time) has been prohibited under Zimbabwean law since 1984. Following the passage of a new constitution in 2013, this legal position has been subject to some debate and the Constitutional Court recently ruled that some categories of dual nationality were in fact legal, and Zimbabwean citizens by birth have been permitted to hold dual nationality. However, the legislation remains inconsistent and it is possible that the Zimbabwean authorities may obstruct, detain or even seek to prosecute those they consider offenders. The British Embassy is not able to provide the full range of consular services to people with dual British and Zimbabwean nationality.
Conservative attitudes towards same-sex relations, especially between men, prevail in Zimbabwe. Sex between men is considered to be “sexual deviancy” and an “unnatural sexual act”, which are illegal under local law. Same-sex marriage is explicitly prohibited by the 2013 constitution. However, there is a small but active underground gay scene in Harare and prosecutions are rare. Public displays of affection may cause offence, regardless of gender or sexuality. See our information and advice page for the LGBTQ+ community before you travel. You can also find more local information on the GALZ Association website.
Possession or importation of pornographic material is forbidden.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and offenders can expect heavy fines or jail sentences.
Don’t carry any precious or semi-precious stones without the correct paperwork.
It’s against the law for civilians to wear any form of clothing made from camouflage material.
The use of a mobile phone without a hands-free device while driving is illegal and may result in a fine.
Zimbabwe is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trade in ivory. It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Those caught purchasing or trafficking such goods risk prosecution and prison sentences of up to 9 years.