Tanzania

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 10 July 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Safety and security (small scale attacks in Arusha in 2014). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Tanzania.

Tanzania overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Tanzania, including Zanzibar, because of the risk of serious crime.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • A bomb attack near a mosque in Stone Town, Zanzibar in June 2014 killed one person and injured several others. This follows an earlier bombing incident in Stone Town in February 2014. Further attacks are possible. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media.
  • There have been a number of small scale attacks in Arusha in 2014, targeting bars and restaurants.
  • You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
  • Ferries have been known to be overloaded or unseaworthy. There have been incidents leading to mass causalities in 2011 and 2012.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Tanzania, headed by an Honorary Consul. The consulate in Dar es Salaam can provide basic consular assistance to Australians in Tanzania. The Australian High Commission in Kenya can also assist Australians and provide full consular assistance.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tanzania for the most up-to-date information.

A yellow fever certificate is required for entry into Tanzania. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

There have been a number of small scale attacks in Arusha in 2014, targeting bars and restaurants.

A bomb attack near a mosque in Stone Town, Zanzibar, in June 2014 killed one person and injured several others. This follows an earlier bombing incident in February 2014 in Stone Town. Further attacks are possible.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets which include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, airports, marketplaces, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas. You should consider the level of security provided by the venue. Attacks may be indiscriminate and occur at any time.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Civil unrest/political tension

There has been an increase in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in Tanzania since 2013, including against places of worship.

You should avoid all public gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should remain vigilant in public places and avoid any public location without an obvious security presence.

There have been a number of political demonstrations across the Island of Unguja (Zanzibar), resulting in some violence and destruction of property.

Since January 2013, there have been reports of violent disturbances, including significant looting and rioting, in the Mtwara region in the south of Tanzania.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Tanzania, including Zanzibar due to the risk of serious crime. Crime, including armed robbery and petty theft accompanied by violence or the threat of violence, is common in Tanzania. Travellers should take care especially on public transport, shared taxis, bus stations, places frequented by tourists, in national parks and on beaches. You should avoid walking and travelling after dark, and remain vigilant during daylight hours.

Bandits operate in the provinces of Kigoma and Kagera near the borders with Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The US Embassy and the United Nations recommend that police escorts be used on parts of the Rusomo to Kahama Road near the Rwandan border because of an increase in attacks by armed bandits.

Crime in Dar es Salaam and armed banditry at coastal resorts are becoming more common. Carjackings occur throughout the country and driving at night over long distances and stopping on less-travelled roads and trails should be avoided. There are regular reports of crime occurring along the Toure Drive on the Msasani Peninsula. When driving you should keep all windows closed, doors locked and keep valuables out of sight. Travellers have also been targeted by thieves in isolated areas, including in coastal areas.

Only use registered taxis as tourists have been kidnapped and forced to withdraw cash from ATMs after being befriended by strangers or while using unlicensed taxis.

There were three incidents of acid attacks in Zanzibar in 2013, one of which targeted two young British female tourists.

Exercise a high degree of caution in and around Arusha (northern Tanzania). Armed robberies, carjackings and home invasions have occurred.

You should not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.

Sexual assaults involving tourists have occurred. Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

If stopped by police you should ask to see their identification, especially before paying fines.

National Game Parks and Reserves: Incidents of armed banditry have been reported in national parks in Tanzania, including around Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and Arusha National Parks. You should take care with your personal security when visiting game parks and reserves.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Tanzania, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Tanzania.

You should use credit cards with caution in Tanzania because of the risk of fraud. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it. Avoid using ATMs that open onto the street and instead use ATMs in controlled areas within banks, shops and shopping centres. ATMs are usually available at major banks and hotels.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving in Tanzania can be hazardous, especially at night. Most roads and vehicles are in poor condition. Excessive speeds, poor driving habits and poor lighting also pose risks. Traffic accidents are common and have resulted in fatalities. For further information on road safety, see our road travel page.

Travellers using buses, including long distance buses, and taxis are urged to use reputable carriers who maintain their vehicles.

The safety standards Australians might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially for adventure sports, such as scuba diving. Diving equipment may not meet international standards. You should use reputable tour operators and check that safety measures are in place. If you are planning on trekking, you should remain on established routes and walk in groups.

Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases.

Ferries have been known to be overloaded or unseaworthy. There have been incidents leading to mass causalities in 2011 and 2012.You should not board any water craft that is overloaded or in bad condition.

Incidents of piracy have occurred in the coastal areas of Tanzania. Somali pirates have been using mother ships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft (yachts etc) and luxury cruise liners. There have been a number of attacks and kidnappings just off the coast of Tanzania. We strongly advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters. We recommend you do not leave sight of the coastline. For more information about piracy, see our piracy bulletin. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Tanzania (including Zanzibar), be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

The possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Some homosexual activity is illegal and penalties may include imprisonment. Homosexual activity is frowned upon by some members of the community, and may lead to harassment by the public and/or police. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment.

Photography around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel is prohibited.

Serious crimes, such as treason and murder, carry the death penalty.

Penalties for some crimes, including rape and robbery with violence, include corporal punishment.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Tanzania, especially in Zanzibar, and you should take care not to offend. Away from tourist resorts, women should dress modestly and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops.

Information for dual nationals

Tanzania does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Tanzanian dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities are limited in Tanzania and medicines are often unavailable, even in major cities. In the event of an accident or illness, medical evacuation by air ambulance to Nairobi, Kenya, would be necessary and, if serious, a medical evacuation from Kenya to a destination with the required facilities would be recommended. A medical evacuation from Tanzania could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Malaria occurs widely and throughout the year in Tanzania, except in areas above 1800 metres. Chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria have been reported. Other insect-borne diseases, including yellow fever, dengue fever, filariasis and East African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) also occur. Sleeping sickness is carried by the tse-tse fly, which is endemic to the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Tanzania is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, meningococcal, Rift Valley fever and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Travellers should avoid contact with domestic animals. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Those climbing Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895m) should be physically fit, in good health and aware of the risks of altitude sickness. Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2,500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, even the physically fit. Those more at risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting (acclimatising) to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to high altitudes, you should consult your doctor prior to travel and seek advice specific to you and your situation.

Where to get help

Australia has a Consulate in Tanzania, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate can provide basic consular and passport services. Full consular services are available from the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. Contact details are:

Australian High Commission, Nairobi

Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Nairobi, KENYA
Telephone: +254 20 4277 100
Facsimile: +254 20 4277 139
Website: www.kenya.highcommission.gov.au

Australian Honorary Consulate, Dar es Salaam

Thierry Murcia
Australian Consulate
Plot No. 431, Mahando Street, Msasani Peninsular
Dar es Salaam
Telephone: +255 22 260 2584
Facsimile: +255 22 260 1809
Email: australianconsulatetz@gmail.com

If you are travelling to Tanzania, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the above missions you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy seasons are March to May and November to December when flooding occurs and roads may become impassable. Monsoons occur in the coastal areas and islands between June and October. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

Tanzania lies on a fault line and is subject to earthquakes.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.