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Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Malawi

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XYZ Consular Info: Malawi

Malawi Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 29, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Malawi is a developing African nation. Tourist facilities are limited. Aging infrastructure and lack of investment have rendered electricity, water supply, and telecommunications unreliable in rural areas. Credit cards are not commonly accepted outside major cities. Dress codes against short skirts on women and long hair on men no longer exist, but travelers may wish to dress modestly, especially when visiting remote areas.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport, return ticket, and adequate funds are required. A 30-day visa, which can be extended up to an additional 60 days, is issued at point of entry. There is a $20 airport departure tax (payable only in U.S. dollars) for all non-Malawians. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Malawi, 2408 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 797-1007. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Malawian embassy or consulate.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Spontaneous civil disturbances, primarily related to labor and student strikes, occur, but they are uncommon. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
CRIME INFORMATIION: Even though Malawi is known as "the warm heart of Africa," both residents and visitors need to bear in mind that there is a criminal element present. Carjackings and residential break-ins are two crimes prevalent throughout Malawi. Perpetrators of these crimes are usually well armed and may resort to violence with little provocation. Petty street crime (robbery and pickpocketing) is common. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are basic in urban areas and poor to non-existent in rural areas. Some medicines are in short supply or locally unobtainable. Travelers should be aware that, contrary to the frequent claims of the local tourist industry, Lake Malawi does contain the parasite schistosomiasis, aka bilharzia. Malaria is endemic throughout Malawi. HIV/AIDS is also prevalent.
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. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services.
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. 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: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site 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 Malawi is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Malawi's principal highways are generally in good condition, though the lack of shoulders constitutes a safety hazard. Secondary roads are in poor repair and may be impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles during the rainy season (November-April). Given Malawi's high road accident rate, travelers should drive defensively and avoid road travel outside cities at night. Road support networks for stranded drivers do not exist.
Land routes through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean and Zimbabwe, including the Tete Corridor, can be dangerous. Incidents of carjacking and other violent crimes, including murder, have occurred. Four-wheel-drive utility vehicles are targeted at a higher rate than other types of vehicles. Travelers should plan their trip to ensure they travel only during daylight hours. Travelers are encouraged to convoy with other vehicles, if possible. Persons traveling overland to Malawi should contact the U.S. Embassy consular sections in both Malawi and the proposed countries of transit to ensure that they have the most current information.
For specific information concerning Malawi driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Malawi in Washington, D.C. at telephone 202-797-1007. For international driving permits, please contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
For additional information about road safety, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Malawi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Malawi's 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'a Internet web site 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 1-618-229-4801.
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 Malawi's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malawi are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
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: Americans living in or visiting Malawi are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Malawi and obtain updated information on travel and security within Malawi. The U.S. Embassy is located in Area 40, City Center, Lilongwe; telephone numbers are (265) 773-166, 773-342 and 773-367; fax (265) 774-976. The Embassy's mailing address is P.O. Box 30016, Lilongwe, Malawi.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 11, 2000, to add or update the sections on Country Description, Entry Requirements, Crime Information, Medical Facilities, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Registration/Embassy Location.