Most trips to Zambia are made without special problems as Zambia is generally a safe and peaceful destination. The greatest risk is related to transport safety. When traveling in border areas, it is encouraged to contact local authorities and others well known in the area to get updated information on necessary precautions. For information on coronavirus, see the section on Health.
Demonstrations, uprisings and civil unrest have recently taken place in several parts of Zambia, including the populous provinces of Lusaka and the Copperbelt. The presence of security forces around the country has intensified, and in some cases there have been violent clashes between security forces and protesters. The unrest is related to a series of attacks on private homes, schools and other public buildings, where gas has apparently been used in some cases.
Many rumors of such attacks are pending, and the reaction of crowds to such rumors can in many cases itself constitute a security threat. It is recommended to avoid public gatherings, follow orders from local authorities and seek advice from local contacts about the current security situation in areas you plan to travel to.
Most journeys to Zambia are nevertheless made without special problems as Zambia is generally a safe and peaceful destination. The greatest risk is related to transport safety. When traveling in border areas, it is encouraged to contact local authorities and others well known in the area to get updated information on necessary precautions. In a few border areas landmines and other explosives are a possible risk factor.
Diplomatic presence: Norway is no longer represented with an embassy in Zambia. For questions k ontact Embassy in Malawi.
Terror: The terror threat is considered low, but Zambia, like other countries, can be hit by terrorist attacks without warning.
Crime: There are major social differences in Zambia and, as in most other countries, the danger of being exposed to crime is present. Common precautions should be observed. Please inquire in advance if you are unsure where to go. Traveling on foot after dark is not recommended. Pocket thieves are active in marketplaces with a lot of people and large crowds. Cars should not be left with visible valuables. More serious crime affects foreign tourists to a lesser extent, but one may have the misfortune of time and place. There are occasional reports of armed robbery and hijacking. Should one be so unlucky to be subjected to a robbery, the General Council applies not to resist and follow instructions that the robbers may have to give.
The authorities in Zambia do not always provide information to imprisoned foreigners about their right to consular assistance. The prisons in Zambia are overcrowded with very poor sanitary conditions and lack of access to food and possibly medical assistance.
- Countryaah: Lusaka is the capital of Zambia. Check to find information of population, geography, history, and economy about the capital city.
Kidnappings and abductions: Robberies and kidnappings can occur, and a special phenomenon is so-called “express kidnappings” involving short-term kidnapping situations where the victim is forced to empty his credit card at ATMs or otherwise quickly obtain ransom. Rape of women in such situations has also been reported.
Road safety and transport: There is left-hand traffic in Zambia. Car traffic poses a high risk of accidents and injuries. Poor car park maintenance, high speed, drunk driving, lack of driving skills and low road standards in parts of the country pose risk factors that must be taken into account when driving. Driving in the dark poses a particular risk and you should avoid driving after dark, especially outside the city centers. The dangers include pedestrians in the roadway, missing/bad lights on oncoming traffic and meeting with trucks and other vehicles in an unresponsive condition that use the night to drive illegally.
The use of seat belts is mandatory. Mobile phone use is prohibited while driving.
Taxis: Avoid pirate taxis. The usual taxis have an orange stripe and a red print sign. Remember to pre-book prices since most taxis do not have a taximeter.
Buses: The local small buses are often in poor condition and not recommended. Buses for longer journeys, for example to Livingstone, are of a better standard and are a reasonable alternative to aircraft.
Political unrest – Demonstrations: There is little risk of being affected by political unrest as visitors to Zambia. In general, however, it is advised to stay away from large public gatherings, demonstrations and the like.
Women’s safety: Women should avoid walking alone after dark. During the day it is relatively safe for everyone, even single people. Mini skirts and short shorts showing the thigh should only be worn indoors and for exercise purposes.
Sexual contacts and sexual orientation: The sexual age is 16 years. Dealing with minors is punishable by high penalties. Prostitution is in principle prohibited, but widespread in practice. Gay activities are absolutely prohibited. Violation can result in several years in prison.
Natural disasters: During the rainy season, rivers and streams can flood, and roads can become impassable. Beyond the main roads and close-by areas, it can be very difficult to reach the rainy season without a 4×4 car. In practice, some areas become inaccessible during the rainy season. Both roads and bridges can be washed away as a result of floods.
Travel registration: For visitors staying in Zambia over time, it is recommended that you register at the embassy and leave a copy of your passport and visa. This will make it easier for the Foreign Service to get in touch in case something serious should happen. We advise all travelers, as well as resident Norwegians abroad, to register, regardless of destination, length or purpose of the trip.
Voluntary registration at reiseregistrering.no is an online offer for Norwegian travelers who wish to register their contact information with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Insurance: Remember travel insurance, and investigate in advance whether the insurance includes participation in risky activities (such as bungee jumping and meetings with wildlife).
Zambia’s many and beautiful national parks are a main attraction for visitors. Wild animals are erratic and can pose a danger. It is therefore important to familiarize yourself with local conditions and follow the advice and guidelines given by tour or safari guides. There is a wide range of extreme / risky sports activities, especially in the Victoria Falls area of the Zambezi River. It is in the nature of the activities that accidents can happen.
Traveling abroad without travel insurance can have major consequences for you or your family. Should you need hospital treatment and home transport by ambulance from abroad, the costs can be very high. Good travel insurance will cover, among other things, expenses related to injuries, accidents, illness, home transport and death.
Always read the insurance terms carefully in advance (including those in small print), and note the following:
- Does the insurance cover the country you are going to?
- Is the insurance valid for the entire duration of the trip?
- Most travel insurance policies have exemption clauses that include existing illness/chronic illnesses. If you have an illness/chronic illness, you should check with your insurance company before your trip to find out what your insurance covers – and not cover.
Emergency: If you are affected by illness or accident during a temporary stay abroad, you should contact your insurance company (emergency center) or tour operator.
Local emergency numbers:
- National emergency number police 999/991
- National emergency number fire 993
- Central Police Lusaka 220 000/6/8
- Fire Brigade Lusaka 228 265
Please note that entry regulations may change. The Foreign Service is not responsible if the following information on entry regulations or visa requirements is changed at short notice. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that travel documents are valid for entry and to familiarize themselves with the current entry rules for each country.
Norwegian citizens need a visa to stay in Zambia. Visas can be arranged in advance or upon entry at airports and border crossings and are normally valid for one month.
Visa: Zambia does not have an embassy in Norway, but is covered by the embassy in Stockholm. Prior to a visit to Zambia, an application
for a visa can be sent to the Zambian Embassy in Stockholm (see Embassy’s website for further information) or
you can apply electronically on the Zambian Immigration Authority’s website. A third option is to pay for visas on arrival at airports and at border crossings (payable in cash in US dollars).
Travel documents: A valid passport is required for travel to Zambia. The passport must be valid for three months after the scheduled departure date.
General: It is recommended that everyone has a passport with a valid visa at all times. Alternatively, you can have a photocopy of your passport, but in this case also remember a copy of the visa stamp page. Police and immigration authorities frequently check whether foreigners have a valid stay in the country. If one cannot document a valid stay in Zambia, there is in itself sufficient grounds for being arrested.
It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that travel documents and visas are valid. If the visa is no longer valid, it can cause problems when leaving.
Coronavirus (covid-19): Zambian authorities check air passengers on arrival in Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola, and arrivals must complete a health declaration. Passengers with relevant symptoms must expect extra examinations. The Zambia National Public Health Institute is responsible for coronavirus readiness in Zambia.
Norwegian travelers and Norwegians staying in Zambia should keep abreast of the development of the corona virus. Feel free to follow local authorities’ advice, guidance and instructions on how to deal with the situation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not create travel advice because of the risk of infection. It is the Public Health Institute that provides health professional travel advice. You can find more information and guidance from Norwegian health authorities on the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The quality of health care is very varied. Evacuation may be necessary in the case of serious illness and travel insurance is therefore very important. Remember that everyone can get sick or be exposed to accidents – also abroad. Therefore, be well prepared!
Cholera: The capital has had cholera outbreaks since December 2017, and cholera has also been identified in other parts of the country. Travelers in Zambia are advised to pay extra attention to hygiene and follow local media.
Health care services: The quality of health care services is very variable, but is generally not consistent with Northern European, Western standards. Valid travel insurance is therefore very important as evacuation will often be necessary in case of serious illness. There are some private hospitals/clinics with usable standards and more and more are emerging, but often they also lack essential equipment and there are varying experiences with the quality of medical staff.
Health challenges: Water should not be drunk directly from the tap, but boiled and filtered, or bottled. Fruits and vegetables should be peeled or washed in boiled/filtered water, possibly using sterilizing liquid. Food at restaurants and “better” street kitchens can normally be safely eaten.
HIV/AIDS has affected a significant portion of the population. Tuberculosis is also becoming more prevalent. Malaria is widespread, and malaria prophylaxis (and mosquito protection) is especially recommended during the rainy season and in low lying areas. In Lusaka and other higher-lying areas, there is little risk. In several national parks, tsetse flies can be troublesome, but bites do not cause sleep sickness. Bathing in stagnant rivers and lakes is not recommended due to the presence of Bilharzia. Rabies occurs and one should be wary of unknown animals.
Vaccines: Vaccination against hepatitis is recommended. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended during the rainy season, especially when visiting rural areas and low-lying areas. Yellow fever vaccination is no longer considered necessary. Contact the Norwegian health authorities (www.fhi.no) or vaccination clinic for updated advice well in advance of departure!
Access to medicines: There are many pharmacies in Zambia but there is great variation in the quality and storage of the medicines. You may want to use larger chains where these exist and look for well-known manufacturer names and brands.
Import of medicines: The Customs Service may request to see a prescription for medicines taken into Zambia. Some active substances in prescription drugs are prohibited by drug law. If in doubt, one should investigate in advance. The possession and use of narcotics is strictly prohibited, and possession of more than 0.5 grams of a narcotic is considered contraband. Foreigners who are convicted of drug offenses can expect prolonged imprisonment and/or deportation.
At summer time in Norway, Zambia and Norway have the same time, but at winter time Zambia is one hour ahead of Norway. The mains is 220/240 volts, English plug (three flat pins). Power outages occur at irregular intervals. Due to insufficient electricity supply, since May/June 2015 there have been frequent load shedding with more than eight hours of power failure per day. There is a danger that this may increase to 10-12 hours per day. Most major hotels and other institutions have generators that still provide power.
According to allcitycodes, national phone code is + 260.
Telephone: Mobilnett covers most of the country and is constantly expanding. There are several companies on the market that have somewhat different coverage areas. Please note that there may be no coverage on the road between major centers.
Internet: There are several Internet cafes in Lusaka and most hotels and lodges are affiliated. Web speeds are undergoing improvement, one can be very poor, for example, it can be very difficult to skype, and computers for lending often have virus problems.
Currency and Credit Cards: The official currency is Zambian Kwacha, ZMW, which is divided into 100 ngwee. Avoid exchanging money on the street, use regular agencies.
Credit cards can be used in larger shops, hotels, restaurants and travel agencies, but are far from as common as in Norway. Be aware that a number of service companies charge an additional fee when paying by credit card. Visa is the best choice, but most hotels will also take MasterCard and American Express.
ATMs are found in the largest cities and are usually guarded and safe to use. There are limits to how much cash can be withdrawn in one operation, the maximum is usually 4000 ZMW, but it is possible to repeat withdrawals.
Normal business hours: Public offices and banks are open Monday – Friday. Shops and malls also have weekend openings.
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- March 8 – Women’s Day
- March 12 – Youth day
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- May 1 – Workers’ International Match Day
- May 25 – African freedom day
- July (first Monday) – Heroes day
- July (Tuesday same week) – Unity day
- August (first Monday) – Farmers day
- September 24 – Heritage day
- October 18 – National day of prayers
- October 24 – Release Day
- December 25 – Christmas Day
Climate: Although Zambia is located in the tropics (between 8 and 18 degrees south latitude), the climate is pleasant due to its high sea level. The average temperature varies between 15 and 30 o C. The year can be roughly divided into four seasons:
- a warm, dry period from September to November with temperatures between 27 and 35 oC, sometimes up to 40 o C, especially just before the rainy season starts.
- a rainy warm period from December to March, with temperatures between 20 and 30 o The rainy season varies a bit from year to year. It can start everything in October and end as early as February.
- a dry and warm period in April and May. Temperatures between 25 and 36 o
- a dry and cool period from June to August. The night temperature can creep down to 5 oC, but usually “good Norwegian summer” during the daytime although it can be surprisingly cool if it is cloudy.
Language and communication: You do well with English in Zambia, but not everyone speaks English equally well. Zambia has 74 languages where nyanja, bemba, lozi and tonga are considered the largest.
Zambians are generally very friendly, inclusive and helpful. Hand greeting is common when meeting. Zambians are polite and it is considered a good practice to say goodbye to a “How are you” staff in stores or before you ask for the road, for example.
Clothing: Zambia is a Christian country and conservative in the clothing industry, and it is considered ridiculous to show thighs. For men it is most correct with long pants and for women skirt/dress/pants. Women often have a chitenge (patterned piece of clothing) on hand to take on long pants on many occasions. Otherwise, it is in Zambia like most other places in the world – times are changing and youth are following suit.
Photography: Be careful when shooting outside the national parks. It is forbidden to photograph public and military buildings and facilities, including the State House. The same goes for infrastructure, mining, roads and airports, but here practice is somewhat more liberal. If in doubt, ask first or do not take pictures. In general, one should always ask about the law before taking pictures of people.
Other: Please note that products of certain endangered species, such as ivory, are illegal to export and that infringement can result in severe prison sentences. Some souvenirs found on local markets may be made from plant or animal material that is listed on the Cites list of prohibitions or restrictions on trade. The buyer is responsible for investigating, and ignorance of the rules does not relieve responsibility for illegal export.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia. Violation can result in imprisonment, fines and/or deportation. This also applies to such material when stored on computer etc.