Botswana - Consular Information Sheet
June 28, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Botswana is a southern African country
with a stable democratic government and a growing economy. Facilities
for tourism are widely available.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. U.S.
citizens are permitted stays up to 90 days without a visa. For
additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact
the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, 1531 - 1533 New Hampshire
Ave, N.W., 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, NY,
telephone (212) 889-2277, fax (212) 725-5061. There are also honorary
consuls in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Overseas inquiries
should be made to the nearest Botswanan Embassy or Consulate.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil unrest and disorder are rare.
In the wake of the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa
and the ongoing worldwide threat to U.S. Government facilities,
the American Embassy in Gaborone has increased its security precautions
and counter-terrorism measures.
CRIME: Violent crime remains relatively infrequent in
Gaborone, the capital. Residential burglaries and car theft, however,
are increasing. Prudent security measures, such as alarms and
immobilizers, may deter such crimes. In addition, a spate of carjackings
at gunpoint in the capital during the first half of 2001 prompted
the Embassy to warn American citizens of the need for increased
vigilance while driving in urban areas, particularly after dark.
Petty street crime and crimes of opportunity, primarily the theft
of money and personal property, remain the most common forms of
crime in Botswana. Visitors to Gaborone, as to any foreign city,
should avoid walking at night in unfamiliar areas.
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 by mail 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 in Gaborone and
Francistown are adequate, but available facilities in other areas
are limited. For advanced care Americans often choose to travel
to South Africa. Most prescription drugs are available.
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 whether 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. Further, 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 such as medical evacuations.
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 U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses 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)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international
travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via 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 Botswana 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: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Traffic circulates on the left in Botswana, as elsewhere in the
region. While the roads in major population centers in Botswana
are generally good, travel by automobile outside of large towns
may be dangerous. The combination of long, tedious stretches of
two-lane highways, high speed limits, and poor lighting make driving
at night on rural highways particularly hazardous. Free-range
domestic animals and large numbers of pedestrians and hitchhikers
in the roadways make fatal accidents a frequent occurrence. There
has also been a spate of carjackings in Gaborone, requiring drivers
to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times
while getting into and out of vehicles in the city.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page
at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For
specific information concerning Botswana driver's permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Botswana
national tourist organization offices in New York via the
Internet at http://www.botswanatourism.org.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Botswana, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Botswana's
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
the FAA Internet home page 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 DOD at (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
Botswana's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Botswana are strict and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines. Botswana's laws mandate harsh
punishments for unlawful dealing and possession of cannabis (known
locally as motokwane or dagga). Botswana also has a well-publicized
policy of zero tolerance for corruption, and any requests for
the payment of bribes should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
ANIMAL TROPHIES: Botswana strictly enforces its law protecting
animal trophies. Under this law, it is not permitted to possess
or remove from Botswana, without a government permit or a receipt
from a licensed shop, any living or dead animal or trophy from
an animal. A trophy is any horn, ivory, tooth, tusk, bone, claw,
hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg, or other durable portion
of an animal, whether the item has been processed or not. Curio
shops and vendors throughout the country sell items such as animal
skins, plain and decorated ostrich eggs and egg shells, and carved
bones or teeth of animals protected by this law. All of the souvenirs,
although widely sold, are subject to the national trophy law.
Travelers departing the country with a trophy must have a receipt
from a store licensed to sell such items. Elephant hair, ivory
and rhinoceros horn products obtained in Botswana may not be removed
from the country under any circumstances. Trophies may not be
taken from the wild. Violators are subject to arrest and may face
a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a substantial fine.
DANGERS POSED BY WILD ANIMALS: Tourists should bear in
mind that, even in the most serene settings, the animals are wild
and can pose a threat to life and safety. Tourists should use
common sense when approaching wildlife, observe all local or park
regulations, and heed all instructions given by tour guides. In
addition, tourists are advised that potentially dangerous areas
sometimes lack fences and warning signs. Exercise appropriate
caution in all unfamiliar surroundings.
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
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or
visiting Botswana are encouraged to register at the Consular section
of the U.S. Embassy Botswana and obtain updated information on
travel and security within Botswana. The U.S. Embassy is located
in Gaborone on Embassy Drive, Government Enclave. The mailing
address is P.O. Box 90, Gaborone, telephone (267) 353-982; fax
(267) 356-947, and the after-hours emergency telephone (267) 357-111.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 18,
2001, to add information on carjackings in the paragraphs on Crime
and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.