Botswana Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Botswana Traveler Information guide.
At AARDY we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following Botswana Traveler Information should help you make the most of your trip to Botswana.
Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6 months.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: Three or more unused pages; one blank page per entry.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: No.
VACCINATIONS: Yes, if entering from yellow fever endemic countries.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
Embassy Drive, Government Enclave
Telephone: +(267) 395-3982
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(267) 395-7111
Fax: +(267) 318-0232
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Botswana for information on U.S. - Botswana relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
A passport with at least six months of validity remaining is required. U.S. citizens are permitted stays up to 90 days total within a 12-month period without a visa. Travelers who attempt to enter Botswana with a temporary passport must have a visa to enter. Visas cannot be obtained upon arrival in Botswana, and U.S. citizens without a visa in a temporary passport will face fines and long administrative delays.
For additional information on entry requirements and the most current visa information, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 244-4990/1, fax (202) 244-4164 or the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Botswana to the United Nations, 103 E. 37th St., New York, N.Y., 10016, telephone (212) 889-2277, and fax (212) 725-5061. There are also honorary consuls in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston. Travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport. Visit the Embassy of Botswana’s webpage for the most current visa information.
Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if entering from a country where yellow fever is endemic. The Government of Botswana advises, but does not require, an updated TPD (tetanus, polio, diphtheria) and a Hepatitis A vaccine. See the CDC’s web site for additional information.
Requirements for Minors Entering Botswana
- a certified copy of the child’s unabridged birth certificate;
- a valid passport with at least 1 blank page per entry;
- a parental consent form from the parent or parents not accompanying the child.
See the Embassy of Botswana’s webpage for complete details.
Requirements for Minors Transiting South Africa
South Africa requires:
- an unabridged birth certificate for minors traveling to or through South Africa;
- a parental consent form from the parent or parents not accompanying the child;
- at least two blank passport pages per entry.
See South Africa’s Country Specific Information for further information.
Residency Applicants and Document Certification for Botswana
Original or certified copies of one’s birth and marriage certificates are required for residency applications, per Botswana’s Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs website. U.S. citizens applying for residency in Botswana should have their birth and marriage certificates apostilled by the U.S. state where the documents were issued before coming to Botswana.
Only the Secretary of State in the State where the birth or marriage certificates were issued is authorized to apostille those documents. A list of these authorities in each state can be found on the Hague website. Teachers moving to Botswana to teach should contact the issuing educational institution registrar’s office to obtain certified copies of their transcripts.
Please see also the Department of State website regarding the types of documents that can and cannot be authenticated by the U.S. Embassy.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Botswana. However, students beginning their studies at the University of Botswana are required to take an HIV test.
Safety and Security
CRIME: Petty street crime and crimes of opportunity, primarily the theft of money and personal property, are common. Home invasions, break-ins, “smash and grabs” from vehicles at intersections and from locked cars in shopping mall parking lots, cell phone thefts, and muggings - often at knife point, are routinely reported to police. Hotels and lodges are not immune from criminal activity. Visitors should remain alert and take reasonable precautions to safeguard personal property (particularly money and electronic equipment). Crime is also reported in game parks, nature reserves, and remote areas frequented by tourists.
- avoid walking alone, particularly at night
- exercise caution near the Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill (a popular hiking site) in Gaborone due to frequent criminal incidents;
- promptly comply if confronted by criminals as resistance may result in severe injury;
- avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations;
- maintain security awareness at all times.
Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should be aware of serious and continuing baggage pilferage problems at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports. You should:
- use an airport plastic wrapping service;
- avoid placing valuables in checked luggage;
- make an inventory of items in checked baggage to file claims if theft does occur;
- If asked to gate check a piece of hand luggage, transfer high value items and prescription drugs into a carry-on bag.
Travelers over-nighting in Johannesburg before departing for Botswana should exercise vigilance when departing the airport as a number of foreigners have been the victims of “follow home” robberies, as described here.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to local police at 999 and the U.S. Embassy at + (267) 395-3982.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry in Botswana is unevenly regulated. Many tourism operators provide top quality equipment and facilities; however, authorities conduct annual safety inspections for equipment and facilities inconsistently. Hazardous areas/activities are often, but not always, identified with appropriate signage, and some staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available in the capital, Gaborone, and in the cities of Maun, Francistown, and Kasane. First responders are generally able to access areas outside of the capital and to provide medical treatment, however there may be delays reaching remote areas. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Power and water: Power outages can leave areas without electricity for several hours, and may affect home security systems, garage doors and gates, and kitchen equipment. Power surges may harm computers, televisions, or other electrical appliances. In times of drought, the Water Utilities Corporation may ration water.
Game and Animal Trophies: Botswana strictly enforces its laws controlling trade in animal products, often by means of spot checks for illegal products on roadways or at airports. Violators are subject to arrest and may face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and substantial fines. Unwitting U.S. citizens have been arrested and prosecuted under this law.
- Hunting in public and privately controlled areas is not permitted.
- It is illegal to possess or remove any living or dead animal or animal trophy (any horn, ivory, tooth, tusk, bone, claw, hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg, or other durable portion of an animal) without a government permit.
- Travelers departing the country with a trophy must have a receipt from a store licensed to sell such items.
- Ivory and endangered rhinoceros horn products may not be removed from the country under any circumstances.
- Elephant hair jewelry may be removed only with the appropriate license from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: The law does not explicitly criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts, but it includes language criminalizing some aspects of same-sex sexual activity. What the law describes as “unnatural acts” is criminalized with penalties up to seven years’ imprisonment. There are no reports of police targeting persons suspected of same-sex sexual activity. There is stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons particularly in villages and rural areas outside the capital. LGBTI travelers should exercise caution with regard public displays of affection. Seeour LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance:The government mandates access to public buildings and transportation for persons with disabilities, but civil society sources report access for persons with disabilities is limited. Many privately owned buildings and business, and older government buildings remain inaccessible. The law does not specifically include air travel with other modes of transportation but in general, persons with disabilities are provided access to air transportation.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Adequately equipped private medical facilities, emergency rooms, and trained physicians are available in Gaborone for simple medical problems but services are rudimentary elsewhere. Ability to pay for care must be established before you will receive medical care. More advanced care is available in South Africa. Many South African manufactured prescription drugs are available in Gaborone.
Avoid drinking tap water and ice made from tap water. Many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe to drink.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Check with the government of Botswana to ensure the medication you are carrying is legal in Botswana. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in major population centers are generally good but rural roads can be in poor condition. Traffic lights and street lamps often do not work properly. Approach traffic lights with caution as opposing traffic frequently continues well after a red light. The combination of long stretches of two-lane highways without shoulders or lights, high speed limits, free-range domestic animals, intoxicated drivers, and large numbers of pedestrians and hitchhikers in the roadways make fatal accidents a frequent occurrence, especially on weekends and end-of-month Friday paydays.
Traffic Laws: Traffic circulates on the left in Botswana. A valid international driver’s license, along with vehicle registration documents, is required to drive in Botswana and drivers should always carry them. Traffic accidents should be reported to the Botswana Police Service.
Public Transportation: Local citizens travel around and out of Gaborone in low-cost, cash-only “combis” and taxis that are typically flagged down on the roadside. Tourists do not typically take combis. Taxis are generally safe and can be arranged through hotels or at the airport. Scheduled coach bus service is available between Botswana and South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia and is generally a safe mode of transport. Internal bus services, typically used by local citizens, link many towns and villages across Botswana.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered Botswana, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Botswana’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Botswana. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”
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