Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Uganda
» » View Travel Tips by Destination * » » View Travel Tips by Topic
XYZ Consular Info: Uganda
Uganda Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 29, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Uganda is a developing east African nation.
Infrastructure is adequate in Kampala, the capital, but it is limited in
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. U.S. citizens can
obtain a visa either at the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Washington,
D.C. or on arrival at Entebbe Airport, near Kampala Further information may
be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda,
5909 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011; telephone (202) 726-7100;
web site: www.ugandaembassy.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information may
also be obtained at the Ugandan Permanent Mission to the United Nations,
telephone (212) 949-0110. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest
Ugandan embassy or consulate.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: U.S. citizens living in or planning to visit Uganda
should be aware of threats to their safety from insurgent groups,
particularly in the northern region near the border with Sudan, and the
western region near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
These groups have at times specifically targeted U.S. citizens. They have
engaged in murder, armed attacks, kidnapping, and the placement of land
mines. Although isolated, incidents occur with little or no warning. Armed
banditry is common in Karamoja (northeastern Uganda).
Due to potential security concerns, U.S. government employees must have
permission from the Chief of Mission to visit the following districts:
Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiritpiriti, Apac, Lira, Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Arua,
Nebbi, Kisoro, Kanungu, Kasese, Yumbe, Moyo, Adjumani, and Bundibugyo. The
above-named districts include districts containing all or part of several
national parks. Tourists contemplating travel in any of these districts are
advised to seek the latest security information from Ugandan authorities,
tour operators, and the U.S. embassy.
The Government of Uganda has taken significant steps to improve security in
national parks since the 1999 attack in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National
Park that claimed the lives of American and other tourists. Continuing
instability in Congo and parts of northern Rwanda make parks in the border
area potentially vulnerable to incursion by rebel and vigilante groups
operating in Congo and Rwanda. The Ugandan army, charged with the safety
and welfare of travelers, accompanies tourists on gorilla tracking and has
greatly increased its presence in the parks. The U.S. Embassy currently
recommends against travel to Mgahinga National Park due to continuing rebel
activity across the Congolese/Rwandan border. There are security concerns
associated with pre-dawn driving if one chooses to use accommodations
located far away from the gorilla parks. In addition to the general risks
of higher accident rates, pre-dawn and nighttime driving also increase the
risk of banditry. Rwenzori National Park has recently been reopened by the
Ugandan Government in response to decreased rebel activity on the eastern
slope of the Rwenzori Mountains and environs.
There have been periodic bomb attacks at various public places in Kampala,
most recently in March 2001, when three bombs were detonated. As a general
rule, U.S. citizens in Kampala should exercise caution and be alert when
visiting both indoor and outdoor public facilities such as bars,
restaurants, hotels, and markets, as well as when using local and inter-city
public van service ("matutus") and larger buses.
The Peace Corps, which suspended operations in May 1999, resumed operations
in March 2001.
REGIONAL TERRORISM: Rwandan rebel factions with anti-Western and
anti-American ideologies are known to operate in areas of the Democratic
Republic of Congo that border Uganda. One such rebel group is believed to
be responsible for the March 1999 kidnapping and murder of several tourists
in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in western Uganda, as well as the August 1998
abduction of three tourists in a Congolese national park contiguous with
Uganda's Mgahinga National Park.
CRIME: Armed home burglaries sometimes turn violent. In two separate home
burglary incidents in 2001, one American was shot dead and two were wounded
by gunshots. Incidents of armed vehicle carjackings and armed highway
robbery are frequent throughout the country. Although these attacks are
often violent, victims are generally injured only if they resist. U.S.
Embassy employees are generally advised against using roads at night in
non-urban areas. Carjackings sometimes take place on the road from Entebbe
Airport to Kampala. Females traveling alone are particularly susceptible to
crime. Crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and thefts from
parked vehicles or vehicles stalled in traffic jams are common. These
offenses also occur on public transportation. Passengers should not accept
food or drink from a stranger, even a child, because such food may contain
narcotics used to incapacitate a victim and facilitate a robbery.
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. The
pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan
Africa," provide useful information on personal security while traveling
abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available at the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page, http://travel.state.gov, and from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
D.C. 20402 or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Uganda, including Kampala, are
limited and not equipped to handle most emergencies, especially those
requiring surgery. Outside Kampala, hospitals are scarce and offer only
basic services. Equipment and medicines are often in short supply or
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 whether 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 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's 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 Uganda is provided
for general reference only and 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
Most inter-city transportation in Uganda is by small van or large bus. Many
drivers of these vehicles have little or no training and are often reckless.
These vehicles are usually poorly maintained, travel at high speeds, and are
the principal ones involved in the many single and multi-vehicle accidents
along Ugandan roads. Large trucks on the highways are often precariously
over-loaded with cargo inadequately secured. Alcohol frequently is a
contributing factor in road accidents, particularly at night. Drivers are
advised to take extra care when driving. Driving standards are low,
vehicles are often poorly maintained, large potholes are ubiquitous, and
adequate signage and shoulders are almost non-existent. Highway travel at
night is particularly dangerous. Pedestrians often walk in the roads and
may not be visible to motorists. Large branches or rocks in the road
sometimes indicate an upcoming obstruction or other hazard.
Traffic accidents draw crowds. Ugandan law requires that the driver stop
and exchange information and assist. In some cases where serious injury has
occurred, there is the possibility of mob anger. In these instances,
Ugandans often do not get out of their cars, but drive to the nearest police
station to report the accident.
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. For
specific information concerning Ugandan driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Uganda Tourist Board,
IPS Building 14, Parliament Avenue, Kampala, Uganda; telephone
256-41-242-196/7. You may also consult the web site:
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 Uganda, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed Uganda'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's 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 (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Ugandan customs authorities may enforce strict
regulations concerning the importation of pets. A Ugandan import permit is
required along with a current USDA certified health certificate and
vaccination certificates. It is advisable to contact the Ugandan Embassy in
the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
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 Ugandan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Uganda are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and
heavy fines. Once imprisoned in Uganda, there are frequently long delays in
judicial processing. Food, sanitation, and medical care in the overcrowded
Ugandan prisons are poor.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: ATM machines in Uganda are available, particularly
in downtown Kampala, but they do not yet function with overseas accounts.
PHOTOGRAPHY PROHIBITION: Photography in tourist locations is permitted.
However, taking pictures of military/police installations or personnel is
prohibited. Military and police officers have also detained tourists for
taking photographs of part of Entebbe Airport and of the area around Owen
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children
and international parental child abduction, please refer to our web 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
U.S. Embassy in Kampala and to obtain updated information on travel and
security in Uganda. The chancery is located at Gaba Road, Kansanga,
Kampala; telephone 256-41-234-142;
fax 256-41-258-451; e-mail: email@example.com.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet of March 16, 2001 to update the
Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Regional Terrorism, Crime, Medical
Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations, and