Rwanda 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 Rwanda Traveler Information guide.
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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6 months.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: 1 page.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes.
VACCINATIONS: Yellow fever if coming from a country where yellow fever is endemic and/or where there is an active outbreak of yellow fever.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru),
Telephone: 250-252-596-400-7000 (Monday through Thursday, 8:15 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 250-252-596-400, and dial 1
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Rwanda for information on U.S.-Rwanda relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
Requirements for Entry:
- Passport: Must be valid for six months after entry into country
- Visa: Obtain visa before traveling or a 30-day tourist visa at port of entry for $30. Credit cards are not accepted at all land border crossings.
- World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination if entering from the countries listed on the Rwandan Immigrationwebsite.
Visit the Embassy of Rwanda/Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration websites or the nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work or residency visas.
Contact the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali within 15 days of arrival to extend your visa.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda; however, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens enter using their U.S. passport.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Rwanda.
Safety and Security
Borders may close without notice. Note of the following security conditions:
Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border:
- Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against rebel and militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. Violence, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging targeting civilians sporadically occurs.
- The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda operates in eastern DRC.
- Relations between Burundi and Rwanda are tense. There is a risk of cross-border incursions and armed clashes.
Volcanoes National Park/Nyungwe Forest:
- Armed groups operate on the DRC side of Virunga park. Exercise extreme caution; the border may not be clearly marked.
- Obtain permits from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks prior to entry.
- Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance while traveling, especially outside of cities and along border areas. Even peaceful events can become violent.
- Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
- Monitor news and alerts.
Crime: Most reported incidents involve petty theft, and residential and hotel room robberies. Burglars may break and enter, or domestic staff and residential security guards may allow them entrance.
- Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
- Do not display cash and valuables.
- Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
- Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy and the Rwanda National Police.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. Report crimes to:
- Kigali police 078-831-1124 and U.S. Embassy 250-252-596-400.
- Kigali City emergency hotline 112. Be aware that victims are often directed to the nearest police station to register a complaint in person.
- Abuse or attempted bribery by a police officer hotline 116.
See the complete list of brigade numbers on Embassy Kigali’s website.
- Emergency Medical Service (SAMU) 912
- King Faisal Hospital +250 788-309-003
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written request
- 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 case 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 is unevenly regulated, and adequate safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and 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 only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. Additionally, ambulance services are limited and unreliable. Tourists are considered to be participating at their own risk. 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. You may be detained for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana, which is illegal) result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.
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.
Genocide speech: Laws about appropriate speech regarding the genocide are strictly enforced. Promoting ideas based on “ethnic, regional, racial, religious, language, or other divisive characteristics” is prohibited. Public incitement of “genocide ideology” or “divisionism,” including genocide denial, discrimination, and sectarianism, is punishable by five to nine years in prison and fines of 100,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandan francs.
Human Rights Observers, Journalists, NGO workers, and Students: Rwandan authorities may subject you to more scrutiny if you meet or plan to meet with individuals or organizations who are critical of the government.
Photography: Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is prohibited.
Currency: The Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency, though U.S. dollars may also be used. Most vendors and banks will take only U.S. bills printed after 2006, and exchange bureaus and hotels may refuse bills smaller than $100.
Plastic shopping and grocery bags are banned and may be confiscated upon arrival.
Natural disasters: Rwanda is in a seismically active region, including Mount Nyiragongo volcano in Virunga National Park. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency: Earthquakes and at Ready.gov.
Akagera National Park and Wildlife Areas: Heed all instructions given by guides or trackers. Approaching wild animals, even in a vehicle, can result in injury or death.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following web pages 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: There are no legal restrictions on consensual same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Rwanda. However, LGBTI individuals may face societal discrimination and abuse, including harassment by neighbors and police.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited, though newly-constructed buildings in Kigali have improved facilities, including elevators. Sidewalks are not ubiquitous outside of Kigali and do not include curb-cuts.
Women Travelers: Domestic violence is common. Although many incidents are not reported or prosecuted, government officials encourage its reporting. Call the Rwandan National Police hotline at 112. See our tips for Women Travelers.
Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website prior to travel.
See list of medical facilities on the Local Resources tab of Embassy Kigali’s website.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Healthcare providers require payment in U.S. dollars/Rwandan francs before services are performed.
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.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Rwanda to ensure they are legal in Rwanda. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the CDC. While the CDC does not generally recommend the yellow fever vaccination for travel to Rwanda, the U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers bring proof of yellow fever vaccination. The Rwandan government retains the right to turn travelers without the immunization away.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Main roads between Kigali and other major towns are generally in good condition. Many secondary and unpaved roads are accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, but lack shoulders and become impassible during the rainy season, February to May and September to December, when flooding and mud slides occur. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of cities after dark. Street lighting is limited, and it is difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists, and roaming animals. Additional risks include:
- poor vehicle maintenance
- headlights that are extremely dim or not used
- excessive speeding
Professional roadside assistance is not available.
Traffic Laws: An international driving permit and third-party insurance is required. For specific information concerning Rwandan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, visit the website of the Rwanda Development Board.
Cell phone use while driving is illegal, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device. After-market tinted window treatments are prohibited on all vehicles.
Accidents: Call the police and remain inside the vehicle until they arrive. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly.
- Drivers are responsible for damages if involved in an accident resulting in injuries, even if the driver is not at fault.
- Causing a fatal accident could result in up to eight years imprisonment.
- Drunk drivers are jailed for 24 hours and fined up to $400.
Police road blocks are common throughout the country. Travelers may be stopped and vehicles and luggage searched.
Public Transportation: Use only official Kigali city buses, and licensed taxis, which are orange-striped. Confirm the fare before departure. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to use motorcycle-taxis or mini-bus taxis. They are unsafe due to overloading, reckless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the risk of petty crime. Reputable car services are available for hire. Travel agencies and local hotels may be able to arrange private transport on your behalf.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Rwanda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Rwanda’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization 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
For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.