Uganda 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 Uganda 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 for entry stamp.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes.
VACCINATIONS: Yellow Fever; Polio (for children under 5).
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
Plot 1577 Ggaba Road
Telephone: +(256)(0) 414-306-001 and +(256)(0)312-306-001
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(256)(0) 414-306-001 and +(256)(0)312-306-001
Fax: +(256)(0) 414-259-794
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Uganda for information on U.S. – Uganda relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 Information page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Uganda.
Visitors are strongly encouraged to apply on the Government of Uganda’s Electronic Visa/Permit Application System website for all immigration services such as visas, permits, and passes at least two weeks prior to travel to Uganda. The government of Uganda indicated a move to eliminate visas upon arrival at the airport, in favor of the electronic visa only, but in practice they continue to make visas upon arrival available. All travelers to Uganda must have a valid yellow fever immunization card. U.S. citizens of Somali origin/born in Somalia will be turned around at the entry point if they arrive without the electronic visa.
For the most up-to-date visa information, including fees, contact the Embassy of Uganda at 5911 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011; telephone (202) 726-7100 or visit their website. Travelers may also contact the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in New York. Overseas, inquiries can be made at the nearest Ugandan embassy or consulate.
Ugandan immigration imposes a fine of approximately $30 per day for visa overstays and may detain individuals who overstay their visas until the fine is paid. Be aware that the Ugandan immigration officer at the port of entry determines the length of authorized stay, which is generally from two weeks to three months for tourists. Immigration policies are not always consistently applied and may change without notice. Extensions of duration of stay may be requested at Ugandan immigration headquarters, Jinja Road, in Kampala. For more information on immigration issues, please see the Directorate of Citizen and Immigration Control website or call + 256 414 595 945. Avoid any offers by private individuals claiming that they can assist with visa issues.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to Uganda or foreign residents living in Uganda.
Safety and Security
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, is common, especially in larger cities including Kampala and Entebbe. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime. Kidnapping of foreign citizens remains a concern, though such incidents occur infrequently. In April 2019, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the southwest region of Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The U.S. citizen was later released unharmed. Additionally, there is a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region. U.S. citizens should avoid large public gatherings.
Northern and Eastern Uganda: The South Sudan-Uganda border is porous, and there are frequent reports of criminal trade and movement of people across the border. Due to the influx of refugees from South Sudan into Uganda, there is a strain on the region’s health, education, and security resources. Sporadic clashes may occur along the shared border, which may be poorly demarcated; a section is under dispute in the Moyo area of northwestern Uganda, abutting the KajoKeji area of South Sudan.
Crime has increased in areas of Karamoja in northeastern Uganda in recent years. The Uganda People’s Defense Force actively engages criminals in the Karamoja Region, and armed confrontation between police and criminal elements can occur. Emergency medical care and auto repair services are lacking in remote areas of the Karamoja Region.
Southwestern Uganda/Western Uganda: U.S. citizens traveling in southwestern Uganda along Uganda’s western border with the DRC should be aware that armed groups, including those aligned with terrorist organizations, are active in eastern DRC. Travelers should review the country information page and Travel Advisory for the DRC. Refugee flows across the border can number in the thousands, and there is a risk of incursions by armed combatants and criminals.
There is a potential for violence related to ethnic and tribal tensions in the western districts of Bundibuguyo, Ntoroko, and Kasese, near the border with the DRC. U.S. citizens should be vigilant and monitor local media for the latest news.
The Governments of Rwanda and Uganda closed the Rwanda-Uganda border for extended periods of time in the last year. Some shutdowns are 24-hour closures and others are only overnight closures. Travelers should ensure the border is open when attempting to travel between Rwanda and Uganda.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations in Kampala and other cities periodically occur in response to local political developments, are more likely to occur during election periods, and often escalate to violence. General elections are slated for January, 2021; clashes at large gatherings and outbreaks of violence have recurred around past general elections in Uganda. Police routinely use tear gas – and sometimes live ammunition resulting in deaths – to disperse protests in urban areas. U.S. citizens are urged to monitor media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Avoid demonstrations, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent without notice.
Involvement in Local Social Issues: All U.S. citizen travelers to Uganda should ensure that they have the correct visa for their visit to Uganda. Missionary and NGO work frequently require a work visa. Travelers who plan to engage in religious or civil society activities should obtain the appropriate visa from the Embassy of Uganda before departing the United States. The Government of Uganda has shown an increased interest in the activities of foreigners working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Local authorities have been known to detain, question, and arrest foreigners in Uganda, and some visitors have been ordered removed from the country.
Crime: Pick pocketing, purse snatching, and thefts from hotel rooms, parked vehicles, and vehicles stalled in traffic jams are common. Armed robberies of pedestrians and car jackings also occur, sometimes during daylight hours and in public places. Victims usually remain unharmed if they do not resist. Assaults and property snatching by boda boda (motorcycle operators and passengers) are routinely reported.
Food and drinks should never be left unattended in public. Women have reported being drugged and taken to another location and sexually assaulted. Similar tactics are used to rob individuals on public transportation. Remain with a group of friends in public, as single individuals are more likely to be targeted.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Uganda. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
- Lucrative sales
- Gold purchase
Victims of Crime: Victims of sexual assault should seek medical assistance and counseling immediately regarding prophylactic treatment to help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A list of local medical providers can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (256) (0) 414-306-001.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(256)(0) 414-306-001. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting 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 is unevenly regulated, and 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. 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. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
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.
Currency: U.S. currency notes in denominations less than $100 may be exchanged at a less favorable exchange rate. Travelers cannot exchange or use U.S. currency printed earlier than 2006. Western Union, MoneyGram, and other types of money transfer facilities are available in Kampala and other cities throughout the country. ATMs are available, but many only function for customers who have an account with a specific Ugandan bank.
Charities/NGOs: U.S. citizens planning to work for or donate money to an NGO should have the charity provide references of past volunteers whom they may contact. U.S. citizens have reported intimidation and harassment by directors of organizations when questioned about the organization's activities or use of donated funds.
Information about registering an NGO can be obtained from the Ugandan NGO Bureau, which has offices within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They can be reached at (256) (0) 414 253 446. If a Certificate of Good Conduct/Criminal Background Check is needed to start or work for an NGO, you can obtain it by contacting your local police or on the FBI website before traveling.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our 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: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Uganda. Social acceptance of homosexuality remains very low. LGBTI individuals or suspected LGBTI individuals could face harassment, imprisonment, blackmail, and violence. Individuals or organizations viewed as supporting LGBT rights also face harassment. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Accessibility to public transportation may be difficult for those with mobility issues. Foot paths and road crossings present barriers. There are no free or reduced taxi fares, or other accommodations in communication, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafes, bars, or other tourist spots for disabled tourists.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Uganda.
Medical facilities in Uganda are limited and only equipped to handle minor medical emergencies. Surgical capabilities are inadequate, and blood supplies may be insufficient. Outside Kampala, hospitals are scarce and offer only basic services. Travelers should carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. A list of medical providers is available at the U.S. Embassy website.
For emergency services in Uganda, dial 999
Ambulance services are
- not widely available and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid 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.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of Uganda to ensure the medication is legal in Uganda. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are known to occur in Uganda:
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow fever
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Marburg hemorrhagic fever
- Pneumonic plague
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
- Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in Uganda. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you, and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.
- The air quality varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the dry season (December-February and June-July). People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
- Infants, children, and teens
- People over 65 years of age
- People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
- People with heart disease or diabetes
- People who work or are active outdoors
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals [https://ug.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/doctors/]. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Nighttime travel should be avoided whenever possible. Highway travel at night is particularly dangerous, including on the roads between Entebbe Airport and Kampala. The Embassy recommends caution on these roads and use of a reliable taxi service to and from the airport. With the exception of the Kampala-Entebbe airport road, U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from driving after dark on roads outside the limits of cities and large towns. Alcohol is frequently a contributing factor in road accidents, particularly at night.
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 hazards. Ugandan law requires that the drivers stop and exchange information and assist any person injured in an accident. Mob anger and violence against the driver perceived to be at fault may occur. In these instances, Ugandans often do not get out of their cars, but drive to the nearest police station to report the accident.
Road conditions in the rural areas are poor. The use of four-wheel drive vehicles is encouraged in Uganda, and vehicular accidents occur at a high rate. Masaka Highway has been identified as one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Public Transportation: Most inter-city transportation in Uganda is by small van or large bus. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training, and some are reckless. Vans and buses are often poorly maintained, travel at high speeds, and are the most common vehicles involved in the many deadly single- and multi-vehicle accidents along Ugandan roads. Accident victims have included U.S. citizens traveling in vans and personal cars, as passengers on motorcycle taxis locally known as "boda bodas," and as pedestrians. U.S. Mission employees and their dependents are prohibited from using boda bodas and matatus (minibus taxis) due to accident and crime risks. Large trucks on the highways are often overloaded with inadequately secured cargo and poor braking systems.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Uganda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Uganda’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 Uganda. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.