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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Zambia

ZAMBIA - Consular Information Sheet
May 10, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Zambia is a developing southern African country. Tourist facilities outside of well-known game parks are not fully developed. The capital is Lusaka.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. A visa should be obtained in advance. American citizens arriving for tourism or business at Lusaka International Airport or major land borders, can obtain a one-entry visa for 25 dollars (US) or a multiple entry visa for 80 dollars (US). Long-term visitors or persons coming for employment may also obtain a visa at the border. All Americans who are not residents of Zambia must pay an airport departure tax of 20 dollars (US).

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: U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all travel in Zambia's Northern Luapula Province, including the entire Lake Mweru lakefront, and in directly adjacent areas in the northern province near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to instability in the area. In December 2000, military action near the DRC town of Pweto caused armed combatants and refugees to flood into northeastern Zambia. Armed gunman occasionally attack vehicles near the DRC-Zambian border.

U.S. Government personnel are restricted from traveling to the northeast Zambian border region, and from using the Pedicle Road, which traverses the southeast portion of DRC between Mufulira in Copperbelt Province and Mansa in Luapula Province unless they have received prior permission to travel to those areas.

Large numbers of travelers visit tourist destinations, including South Luangwa National Park and Victoria Falls, without incident. However, in 1998, armed gunmen attacked cars traveling on the Lusaka-Mongu Road in the immediate vicinity of the Kafue National Park. American citizens are advised defer any unnecessary travel to the region along the western border with Angola, where conditions remain unsettled as a result of periodic cross-border military activity. Armed gunman occasionally attack traffic near the western border with Angola, and, in the past, bombs have fallen into Zambian territory.

Land mines in the Gwembe Valley near Sinazongwe (along the southwest end of Lake Kariba on the Livingstone to Siavonga Road) make travel to that area potentially hazardous. U.S. citizens are advised not to travel on this road and not to drive off established roads in this area.

U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME: Crime in Zambia is widespread. Armed carjackings, muggings and petty theft are commonplace in Lusaka and other major cities, especially in downtown commercial districts and housing compounds. Carjackers target four-wheel drive vehicles, but anyone who does not practice sound security procedures may be targeted. Thieves steal possessions from automobiles and public transport vehicles stopped in traffic. Lock car doors and roll up windows at all times. Travel at night is particularly risky, both in Lusaka and on roads outside of the city.

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 protecting 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 at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Government hospitals and clinics are often understaffed and lack supplies. Private medical clinics in major cities can provide reasonable care in many cases, but major medical emergencies usually require medical evacuation to South Africa or the U.S. Basic medical care outside of major cities is extremely limited. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

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 dollars (US). 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) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the 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 Zambia 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

Driving on Zambian roads can be hazardous. Since most roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks, pedestrians and livestock use the roadways both day and night. While the main roads in Lusaka are maintained, many secondary roads are in poor repair. Driving at night can be hazardous and is discouraged. Mini-buses and cars break down often. When breakdowns occur, local drivers place a few branches behind the car to indicate trouble, but this is hardly visible at night. Many drivers use their high beams at night to detect stopped vehicles and pedestrians.

There are no emergency services for stranded drivers. It is advisable to have a cell phone when undertaking a trip outside of town, although many parts of the country do not yet have cell phone service. During the rainy season (end of October to mid-March), travelers who do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle will encounter problems driving on rural roads. The stretch between Lusaka and Livingstone is more difficult during that time of year, as well as the Great East Road and roads in the eastern and northern parts of the country. The road from Lusaka to the Copperbelt cities of Ndola and Kitwe is generally in good shape year-round. It is not unusual to see elephants and antelopes on or near the road while driving to Victoria Falls or in the vicinity of the Kafue National Park.

Mini-buses serve as the primary means of inter-city travel in Zambia. They are often overcrowded and seldom punctual. City traffic is comprised mostly of cars and mini-buses; motorcycles are rare. Over 1,000 car accidents, many alcohol-related, were reported in 2000. No American citizens have been involved in serious car accidents. Carjackings occur in Lusaka during the daytime. For security reasons, the Embassy discourages travelers from driving on rural roads, especially near the borders with DRC and Angola. American citizens who must drive there are encouraged to drive in convoy and to carry cellular phones and two-way radios.

Seat belts are mandatory, as are helmets for motorcyclists. A child's seat is not mandatory. Traffic circulates on the left side of the road. There is no is no left turn on red, however, many motorists do turn. The speed limit is 50 km/30 mph in Lusaka and 100 km/60 mph outside of city limits. However, speed limits are rarely respected and most cars drive 80 km/50 mph in the city and 120 km/75 mph outside town. It is not unusual to see four-wheel drive vehicles, trucks and buses driving at even higher speeds on the stretch between Lusaka and Livingstone. Drivers under the influence of alcohol who are involved in accidents are tested at Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and then taken to court. The penalty for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury is 6,000 Kwacha (approximately 2 US dollars).

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 Zambian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Zambia National Tourist Board at www.zntb@zamnet.zm. The Road Safety Commission is responsible for road safety in Zambia, telephone 260-1-25-24-38 or 25-19-77.

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 Zambia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Zambia's 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 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 Zambian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Zambia are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

U.S. citizens importing prescription drugs into Zambia without a physician's prescription may be arrested and incarcerated. Travelers should carry their prescription drugs and medications in original labeled containers, as well as the written prescription from their physician. Persons overstaying their visa or attempting to work while on a tourist visa risk imprisonment and deportation.

Zambian police do not always provide the U.S. Embassy with timely notification of the arrest of American citizens. If you are detained, insist on your right to contact a U.S. Consular Officer.

CURRENCY ISSUES: American Express and Visa cards are accepted in major supermarkets, restaurants, stores and hotels in Lusaka and Victoria Falls. American travelers cannot withdraw money from ATMs unless they have an account with a bank in Zambia. U.S. travelers checks are easy to cash provided travelers have identification. There are no currency restrictions in Zambia.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Travel to military areas and photographing military facilities are prohibited. Authorities may also challenge photography of areas other than tourist attractions.

DANGERS POSED BY WILD ANIMALS: Travelers are advised that, even in the most serene settings, the animals are wild and can pose a threat to life and safety. Travelers are cautioned to observe all local or park regulations and heed all instructions given by tour guides.

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 living in or visiting Zambia are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka at the corner of Independence and United Nations Avenues, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Zambia. U.S. citizens may contact the American Embassy during regular work hours, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The telephone number is (260-1) 250-955. After hours, the Embassy duty officer can be reached at (260-1) 252-234. The mailing address is P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, Zambia. The telephone number is (260-1) 250-955 or 250-230; the fax number is (260-1) 252-225.

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