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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Tanzania ( Zanzibar )

Tanzania - Consular Information Sheet
February 22, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tanzania is a developing East African nation. Tourist facilities are available in major cities and selected game parks, but limited in other areas. The capital is Dar es Salaam.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania. U.S. citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania, or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials. Also, foreigners should be prepared to show their passports when entering or exiting the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Detailed entry information may be obtained from the Tanzanian Embassy at 2139 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 939-6125 or the Tanzanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations at 205 East 42nd Street, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone (212) 972-9160. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Tanzanian embassy or consulate.

Travelers are reminded to safeguard their U.S. passports while in Tanzania. Passport loss can lead to delays in departing the country and can cause disruption of travel. Tanzanian authorities require that travelers, who are not in possession of the visa and entry stamps obtained upon admission to Tanzania, visit the immigration office prior to departure to regularize their status. Persons attempting to depart the country without proper documentation may be subject to fines or delays in departure.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Political tension in Zanzibar is extremely high. In the aftermath of the October 2000 presidential elections, riot police have clashed violently with demonstrators on several occasions, and a number of small explosions have occurred on Pemba and Unguja islands. U.S. citizens should bear in mind that violent demonstrations and explosions could reoccur with little warning. Travelers should avoid political rallies and related public gatherings both in Zanzibar and on the mainland because of the potential for them to turn violent, and maintain a high level of security vigilance at all times.

The area near Tanzania's borders with Rwanda and Burundi has been the site of minor military clashes, and refugee flows across the borders into Tanzania continue. There have been a number of incidents of criminal and violent activity in the region. Travelers to this area should exercise caution. Tanzania has not traditionally been a venue for international terrorists. However, on August 7, 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. As a result, the U.S. Embassy has relocated to an interim facility until construction of the new embassy compound is completed.

GAME PARKS: Tanzania offers unparalleled opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat. Many tour operators offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, travelers should bear in mind that they, too, must play a responsible role in maintaining safety. Tourists are mauled or killed each year as a result of having relaxed their vigilance. Tourists are reminded to maintain a safe distance from animals and to remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.

CRIME: Crime is a serious problem in Tanzania, and visitors should be alert and cautious. Street crime in Dar es Salaam is common, and it includes mugging, vehicle theft, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles, armed robbery and burglary. Crime involving firearms is becoming more common. Thieves and pickpockets on buses and trains steal from inattentive passengers.

Pedestrians on beaches and footpaths, whether in isolated areas or in popular tourist venues, are often targeted for robbery or assault. This is especially true on Zanzibar and in Dar es Salaam and its environs. Visitors should limit the amount of cash they carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other secure place. Cameras are highly coveted items by thieves. Because of the potential for fraud, credit cards should only be used in reputable tourist hotels.

Carjackings have occurred in both rural and urban areas. Visitors are advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up. Travelers are urged not to stop between populated areas and to travel in convoys if possible.

The Government of Tanzania has increased security in the National Game Parks, but the risk of armed banditry remains high in and around the parks and reserves. Again, visitors are advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up for safety and security reasons.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and medicines are often unavailable.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Cholera is prevalent in many areas of Tanzania, and several strains of malaria are endemic. Malaria suppressants are advised. Visitors should consult their physicians before traveling, to learn about prophylaxis and the possible side effects of various available medications.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at telephone: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC's 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 Tanzania is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Variable
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Variable
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor/Limited.

Road and traffic conditions in Tanzania differ markedly from those found in the United States and present hazards that require drivers to exercise continual alertness and caution. In Tanzania, one drives on the left side of the street.

Drivers are advised against nighttime travel, particularly in more rural areas. Roadways are often not marked and many lack both streetlights and shoulders. Pedestrians, cyclists and animals are often encountered on unlit roads after dark, as are slow-moving trucks and cars traveling without lights. Car jacking and other related crimes are more common during the nighttime hours. Traveling in rural areas after dark is strongly discouraged.

Although a number of intercity highways are periodically repaved and maintained, maintenance schedules are erratic and even good roads may deteriorate precipitously in periods of inclement weather. During the rainy season, many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles.

In-town transportation is best accomplished using taxis or hired drivers from a reputable source. Travelers should be wary of using the ubiquitous, crowded microbuses (dala dalas), which are frequently overcrowded, operated unsafely, poorly maintained, and a common site of petty theft.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Tanzania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Tanzanian civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 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 the DOD at telephone 618-229-4801.

Anecdotal reports of poor equipment maintenance, pilot error and other problems have raised concern over the reliability of local air carriers. Travelers may wish to take this information into consideration when making air travel arrangements within Tanzania, particularly on flights to small airstrips in the interior. Security at Tanzanian airports is lax, particularly in Zanzibar.

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 Tanzanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tanzania are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CONSULAR ACCESS: Tanzanian police and prison officials, especially in rural areas, have consistently failed to inform the U.S. Embassy of the arrest or detention of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. Travelers and U.S. citizens resident in Tanzania are strongly urged to maintain legal immigration status while in Tanzania to avoid difficulties with local immigration authorities. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained have the right, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to have the U.S. Embassy notified of their situation and should request that notification be made if it is not done.

CURRENCY ISSUES: Credit cards are increasingly accepted at major hotels, but advances in the form of U.S. travelers checks or cash (in Tanzanian shillings) are available from just two sources in Dar es Salaam and two branch offices in Zanzibar. Visitors should bring sufficient cash or travelers checks for their trip.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Photography of military installations is forbidden. Individuals have been detained and/or had their cameras and film confiscated for taking pictures of hospitals, schools, bridges, industrial sites, and airports.

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 (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. Citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Tanzania. The U.S. Embassy is located at 140 Msese Road, Kinondoni District Street, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The mailing address is Post Office Box 9123, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; telephone (255)[22] 266-6010 through 5, and fax (255)[22] 266-7285. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Travelers may also contact the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania via e-mail at consulardx@state.gov. American citizen travelers who are unable to personally visit the Embassy for formal registration are still encouraged to provide information about their planned stay in Tanzania.

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