Rwanda - Consular Information Sheet
April 18, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Rwanda is a landlocked country in
central/east Africa. It is recovering from a civil war and genocide
in which as many as one million people were killed. Hotels and
guesthouses are adequate in Kigali, the capital, and in other
major towns, but limited in remote areas.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and evidence of yellow
fever immunization are required. Visas are not required for American
citizens entering Rwanda for less than 90 days. U.S. citizens
planning on working in Rwanda should apply for a work permit at
the Department of Immigration as soon as possible after arrival
in Rwanda. Detailed entry information may be obtained from the
Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda, 1714 New Hampshire Avenue,
NW, Washington D.C. 20009, telephone 202-232-2882, fax 202-232-4544,
Internet site: http://www.rwandaemb.org/rwanda/. Overseas inquiries
may be made at the nearest Rwandan Embassy.
Travelers who wish to travel to the neighboring Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) and whose passports contain visas and/or entry/exit
stamps from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda or Zimbabwe may experience
difficulties at the DRC airport or other ports of entry. Some
travelers with those visas or entry/exit stamps have been detained
for questioning in DRC.
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: In July 1999, the Government of Rwanda
reopened the Parc National des Volcans (Viruga National Park).
The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) provides security in the park
against attacks by rebel groups. The RPA also provides military
escorts for visitors viewing the mountain gorillas. Visitors are
not permitted to visit the park without permission from Rwanda's
Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), and are strongly
advised against visits to the park apart from the organized gorilla
tours. Visitors are strongly advised to depart the park before
6:00 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to contact the
Embassy regional security officer for the latest security
information on the park. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
REGIONAL TERRORISM: One of the many Hutu extremist rebel
factions in the Great Lakes region has committed, and continues
to threaten, violence against American citizens and interests.
This faction was responsible for the March 1999 kidnapping and
murder of several Western tourists, including U.S. citizens, in
neighboring Uganda. A Hutu rebel faction was responsible for the
kidnapping of four foreign nationals in August 1998 in a region
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which borders Rwanda.
Hutu rebel factions are known to operate in northeastern DROC
and surrounding areas, including sections of Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania
CRIME: Pick-pocketing in crowded public places is common,
as is petty theft from cars and hotel rooms.
The loss or theft 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 Tip 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 from the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington
D.C. 20402, via the Internet http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited and
some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. Travelers generally
bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive
medicines. A missionary hospital run by Americans is located in
Kibogora, in the southwest of Rwanda, and has some surgical facilities.
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 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, 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 MEDICAL INFORMATION: Malaria is prevalent in Rwanda
and there are periodic outbreaks of meningitis. 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 (1-877-394-8747); fax, 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299); or by visiting the
CDC 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 Rwanda 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: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Excessive speed, careless driving and the lack of basic safety
equipment on many vehicles make driving in Rwanda hazardous. Nighttime
driving is particularly dangerous and is discouraged. Roadways
are often not marked and lack streetlights and shoulders. Day
and night, cyclists, pedestrians and livestock frequently move
out into the road without warning. Drivers should slow down and
use the horn liberally when passing pedestrians, especially in
villages and the countryside. Approach all intersections with
care; stop signs are frequently ignored (especially by motorcyclists).
When making left turns into driveways and small roads, be careful
that the car behind you is not trying to pass you on the left
at the same time. While the main roads in Rwanda are in relatively
good condition, many side roads are passable only with four-wheel
drive vehicles, especially during the rainy season. In the rain
or dark, watch out for potholes; expect any seemingly shallow
wet spot to hide a deep hole. Public transportation by mini-van
taxis and buses is dangerous due to overloading, inadequate maintenance
and careless drivers.
Driving in Rwanda is on the right-hand side, and cars entering
traffic circles have the right-of-way. Travelers may be stopped
at police roadblocks throughout the country and their vehicles
and luggage searched. Third party insurance is required, and will
cover any damages if you are involved in an accident resulting
in injuries and you are found not to have been at fault. If you
are found to have caused the accident, your driver's license can
be confiscated for three months. If you cause an accident that
results in a death, you can be sentenced to three to six month's
imprisonment. Drunk drivers are jailed for 24 hours and fined
FRw 20,000(approximately 45 USD). In the city of Kigali, you can
call the following numbers for police assistance in the event
of an accident: Kigali Center, 08311112; Nyamirambo, 08311113;
Kacyiru, 08311114; Kicukiro, 08311115; Remera, 08311116. Ambulance
assistance is non-existent. Wear your seatbelt and drive with
care and patience at all times. Service stations are available
along main roads.
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 Rwanda driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax
and mandatory insurance, contact the Rwandan Office of Tourism
and National Parks, B.P. 905, Kigali, Rwanda, TEL: +250-76514,
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service at present, or economic authority to operate such
service, between the U.S. and Rwanda, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Rwandan Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet 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 DOD at (618) 229-4801.
COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone communication to and from Rwanda
can be unreliable. Cellular phones and Internet connections are
available in Kigali and large towns and are generally reliable.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: The Rwandan Franc (FRw) is freely
exchangeable for hard currencies in banks and Bureaux de Change.
Several Kigali banks can handle wire transfers from U.S. banks
and Western Union. Credit cards are accepted at only a few hotels
in Kigali and only to settle hotel bills. A very small number
of restaurants accept credit cards. Travelers should expect to
handle most expenses, including air tickets, in cash. Travelers'
checks can be cashed only at commercial banks.
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
Rwandan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Rwanda are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences
and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children, international
parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement
issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone 202-736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens who plan
to travel to Rwanda are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy
upon arrival and to obtain updated information on travel and security
in Rwanda. The U.S. Embassy is located at Boulevard de la Revolution;
the mailing address is B.P. 28, Kigali, Rwanda, telephone 250-505601/505602/505603,