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Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Tanzania

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XYZ Consular Info: Tanzania

Tanzania Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 9, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tanzania is a developing East African nation. Tourist facilities are available in major cities and selected game parks, but they are limited in other areas. The capital is Dar es Salaam.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania. U.S. citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials. Passports should be valid for a minimum of six months from the date the visa is obtained, whether it is acquired beforehand or at the port of entry. Also, foreigners are required to show their passports when entering or exiting the islands of Unguja (more commonly known as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Detailed entry information may be obtained from the Tanzanian Embassy at 2139 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-6125; or the Tanzanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations at 205 East 42nd Street, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 972-9160. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Tanzanian embassy or consulate.
Travelers are reminded to safeguard their U.S. passports while in Tanzania. Passport loss can lead to delays in departing the country and can cause disruption of travel. Tanzanian authorities require that travelers who are not in possession of the visa and entry stamps obtained upon admission to Tanzania visit the immigration office prior to departure to regularize their status. Persons attempting to depart the country without proper documentation may be subject to fines or delays in departure.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Political tension on Zanzibar and Pemba can be extremely high. In the past, riot police have clashed violently with demonstrators on several occasions, and a number of small explosions have occurred on Zanzibar and Pemba islands, as well as on the mainland. U.S. citizens are reminded that violent demonstrations and bombings could recur with little warning. Travelers should maintain a high level of security vigilance at all times and avoid political rallies and related public gatherings because of the potential for violence.
Some of the more recent bombings on Zanzibar have targeted establishments that may be perceived by certain fundamentalist elements to be "decadent." Although, to date, the targets have been bars not generally frequented by Westerners, American travelers should be aware that such attacks have occurred, and the possibility exists that future attacks may not be limited to establishments patronized exclusively by locals. There have also been published threats in some Zanzibar newspapers in recent months warning that women who dress immodestly may be subject to harassment. American citizens are advised to dress modestly and to refrain from intemperate public behavior.
The area near Tanzania's borders with Rwanda and Burundi has been the site of minor military clashes, and refugee flows across the borders into Tanzania continue. There have been a number of incidents of criminal and violent activity in the region. Travelers to this area should exercise caution.
On August 7, 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. As a result, the U.S. Embassy relocated to an interim facility until construction of the new Embassy compound is completed in early 2003. The United States has had excellent cooperation with Tanzanian police and security forces since the bombing. However, Tanzania's borders remain porous, and Americans should remain aware of their surroundings.
GAME PARKS: Tanzania offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat. Many tour operators offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, travelers should bear in mind that they, too, must play a responsible role in maintaining safety. Tourists are mauled or killed each year as a result of having relaxed their vigilance. Tourists are reminded to maintain a safe distance from animals and to remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.
CRIME INFORMATION: Crime is a serious problem in Tanzania, and visitors should be alert and cautious. Street crime in Dar es Salaam is common and includes mugging, vehicle theft, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles, armed robbery, and burglary. Crime involving firearms is becoming more common. Thieves and pickpockets on buses and trains steal from inattentive passengers.
Pedestrians on beaches and footpaths, whether in isolated areas or in popular tourist venues, are often targeted for robbery or assault. This is especially true on Zanzibar and in Dar es Salaam and its environs. Visitors should limit the amount of cash they carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other secure place. Cameras are highly coveted by thieves; so please guard yours carefully. Because of the potential for fraud, credit cards should only be used in reputable tourist hotels.
Carjackings have occurred in both rural and urban areas. Visitors are advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up. Travelers are urged not to stop between populated areas and to travel in convoys if possible.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and medicines are often unavailable, even in Dar es Salaam. There are hospitals on Zanzibar that can treat minor ailments. For any major medical problems, including dental work, travelers should consider obtaining medical treatment in Nairobi or South Africa where more advanced medical care is available.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and insurance companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000 (US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Cholera is prevalent in many areas of Tanzania, and several strains of malaria are endemic. Malaria suppressants are advised. Visitors should consult their physicians before traveling to learn about prophylaxis and the possible side effects of various available medications.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tanzania is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Variable
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Variable
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor/Limited
Road and traffic conditions in Tanzania differ markedly from those found in the United States, and they present hazards that require drivers to exercise continual alertness and caution.
Traffic in Tanzania moves on the left. Drivers and pedestrians alike must maintain vigilance, looking both ways before turning or crossing a road.
Drivers are advised against nighttime travel. Roadways are often not marked and many lack both streetlights and shoulders. Pedestrians, cyclists, and animals are often encountered on unlit roads after dark, as are slow-moving trucks and cars traveling without lights. Car-jacking and other related crimes are more common during the nighttime hours. Traveling in rural areas after dark is strongly discouraged.
Although a number of inter-city highways are periodically repaved and maintained, maintenance schedules are erratic and even good roads may deteriorate precipitously in periods of inclement weather. During the rainy season (late March to mid-June), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles.
In urban areas, it is common to find main arterial roads paved and maintained, while secondary streets are severely rutted and passable only with high-clearance vehicles. Traffic lights are often out of order, and care should be exercised at any traffic intersection, whether controlled or not, because many drivers disregard signals.
Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles pose serious traffic hazards.
Tanzanian law requires all motor vehicle operators to be in possession of a valid driver's license. Persons staying in Tanzania for six months or less may use a valid U.S. driver's license after validation by local traffic authorities, or an international driver's license. Persons intending to remain in Tanzania for more than six months are required to obtain a Tanzanian driver's license. All vehicles are required to carry third-party liability insurance.
Tanzania's traffic regulations are governed by the Road Traffic Act of 1973. Some subsequent legislation has amended the 1973 act by requiring, for example, the use of seat belts. However, other aspects of modern driving, such as the use of child seats, are not addressed or required by Tanzanian law.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Inter-city transportation routes between major destinations such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam are serviced by a variety of carriers that offer differing levels of safety and comfort. U.S. citizens who travel by bus are urged to select carriers who use modern equipment and to avoid utilizing vehicles that are in obvious disrepair.
In-town transportation is best accomplished using taxis or hired drivers from a reputable source. Travelers should be wary of using the ubiquitous microbuses (dala dalas), which are frequently overcrowded, poorly maintained, a common site of petty theft, and whose operation is generally unsafe.
AVIATION SAFETY: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor an economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Tanzania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Tanzanian civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone(618) 229-4801.
Anecdotal reports of poor equipment maintenance, pilot error, and other problems have raised concern over the reliability of local air carriers. Travelers may wish to take this information into consideration when making air travel arrangements within Tanzania, particularly on flights to small airstrips in the interior. Security at Tanzanian airports is lax, particularly in Zanzibar.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tanzanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tanzania are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CONSULAR ACCESS: Although the bilateral consular convention between the United States and Tanzania requires that Tanzanian police and prison officials inform the U.S. Embassy of the arrest or detention of U.S. citizens, they have consistently failed to do so -- especially in rural areas. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. Travelers and U.S. citizens resident in Tanzania are strongly urged to maintain legal immigration status while in Tanzania to avoid difficulties with local immigration authorities. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained have the right, under both the bilateral consular convention and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to have the U.S. Embassy notified of their situation and should request that notification be made if it is not done.
CURRENCY ISSUES: Credit cards are increasingly accepted at major hotels, but advances in the form of U.S. travelers checks or cash (in Tanzanian shillings) are available from just two sources in Dar es Salaam and two branch offices on Zanzibar. Visitors should bring sufficient cash or travelers checks for their trip.
PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Photography of military installations is forbidden. Individuals have been detained and/or had their cameras and film confiscated for taking pictures of hospitals, schools, bridges, industrial sites, and airports. Installations that are prohibited from being photographed are not always marked.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Tanzania. American citizen travelers who are unable to visit the Embassy personally for formal registration are still encouraged to provide information about their planned stay in Tanzania. The U.S. Embassy is located at 140 Msese Road, Kinondoni District Street, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The international mailing address is Post Office Box 9123, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; telephone [255](22) 266-6010 through 5, and fax: [255](22) 266-7285. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Travelers may also contact the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania via email at consulardx@state.gov. Additional information may be found at the Embassy's website at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/tz1/wwwhmain.html.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 22, 2001 to update sections on Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Health Information, Transportation Safety, and Registration/Embassy Location.