Mozambique travel guide
Mozambique’s messy post-colonial history and poor infrastructure mean that most visitors are cut from fairly intrepid cloth. But travelling this enigmatic and underexplored country is well worth the occasional bump in the road, both literal and metaphorical.
First and foremost amongst the country’s many attractions is its pristine Indian Ocean coastline – all 2,414km (1,500 miles) of it – which offers palm-fringed beaches, warm tropical waters, abundant marine life, great fishing, excellent diving, fantastic snorkeling and a number of idyllic islands from which you can enjoy all of the above in sweet isolation.
And then there are the parks. Though much of the country’s big game was wiped out during the desperate days of the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992), sterling conservation efforts have seen several national parks restored to something like their former glory. Their remoteness and relative inaccessibility, compared to the parks in neighbouring South Africa, mean you’ll never be jostling for space with the masses.
Mozambique’s Portuguese heritage and faded art deco charm characterises much of the capital, Maputo, in the form of colourful, crumbling and sometimes bullet-ridden colonial buildings, which stand in stark contrast to the more modern parts of this vibrant port city. The music, the nightlife and the food are equally interesting and eclectic; head to the bustling fish market to enjoy what many locals will tell you is the best seafood in East Africa.
There is also good hiking with little-visited mountains dotted throughout the Mozambican hinterland, but extreme caution should be taken due to the large amount of leftover landmines.
Since peace returned to the country in 1992, Mozambique has been trying to piece itself back together and realise its substantial tourism potential. But for now, a large part of the country’s appeal lies in its relative obscurity from the more beaten paths of Southern Africa.
799,380 sq km (308,642 sq miles).
28,751,362 (UN estimate 2016).
31.7 per sq km.
President Filipe Nyusi since 2015.
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário since 2015.
Last updated: 19 January 2018
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
On 5 to 6 October 2017, there were prolonged armed clashes with police in the town of Mocímboa da Praia (between Palma and Pemba) in Cabo Delgado province. There are reports of further attacks since then. You should check local and social media for updates before you travel to the area and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Some tensions remain in Zambezia, Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces, mainly between the opposition party’s militia and state security forces. There were sporadic attacks in these provinces for much of 2016. A truce was declared on 27 December 2016.
In 2016 there were armed attacks on vehicles on main roads in Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia provinces. Police convoys were in operation but have now stopped.
Traffic accidents are common due to the condition of the roads, poor driving and vehicle standards. Always drive carefully and be aware of pedestrians using the roads.
If you’re travelling by road make sure you have relevant documents with you at all times and monitor local media.
Terrorist attacks in Mozambique can’t be ruled out.
Piracy remains a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Most visits to Mozambique are trouble-free, but violent crime does occur, and there has been a recent significant increase in cases of criminal kidnappings. You should take extra care.
Coastal areas have a risk of tropical cyclones during the rainy season (November to April). Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Safety and security
Most visits to Mozambique are trouble-free, but street crime, sometimes involving knives and firearms, is common in Maputo and increasing in other cities and tourist destinations. There are some areas in cities which are more dangerous; seek local advice.
Be vigilant at all times. Beaches or offshore islands are not policed. Avoid walking alone at night and don’t display valuables or money. Use a hotel safe if possible. Avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs at night.
There has been an increase in reports of carjacking, particularly in Maputo. Keep your car doors locked while driving. Be particularly vigilant when arriving at or leaving residential properties after dark. Avoid driving alone at night.
There have sometimes been incidents of car-jackings between Boane and the Swaziland border crossing points of Namaacha and Goba. Be vigilant if you’re travelling by road to Swaziland.
Be extra vigilant and avoid travelling around after dark.
Don’t pick up strangers or stop to help distressed motorists or pedestrians. Hijackers sometimes use these techniques to trick motorists into stopping their vehicle. If in doubt, drive directly to a police station.
Some visitors to Mozambique report being victims of police harassment, including robbery, or requests for bribes. If a police officer threatens you or asks for a bribe, report the incident to the British High Commission.
If you are a victim of any form of crime, contact the local police immediately and get a police report. If your passport is stolen you should also contact the British High Commission and inform the local immigration authorities.
There have been kidnappings reported in Mozambique, mainly in Maputo. While most victims have been Mozambicans, foreigners have also been targeted.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
All known minefields in Mozambique have been cleared. In the central and southern provinces (Sofala, Tete, Manica, Gaza, Inhambane, Maputo) mines may still exist in remote areas, away from main routes. Seek advice from district authorities if you’re travelling in these areas.
Traffic accidents are common due to the condition of the roads and poor driving and vehicle standards. Always drive carefully and be aware of pedestrians using the roads.
Overland travel on public transport can be hazardous due to poor vehicle and road conditions. If you doubt a vehicle’s condition, make alternative arrangements.
Low lying areas around major rivers flood regularly during the rainy season (November - April) making many roads impassable. Check local conditions before travelling. Make sure you have emergency supplies, including a first aid kit.
Only travel by road outside Maputo and other major cities during daylight. Where possible, keep to major roads and travel in convoy in rural areas. Fuel is often only available in larger towns.
UK driving licences are valid for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should get an International Driving Permit or apply for a Mozambican licence. It is an offence not to carry your driving licence with you when driving. Be ready to present original car documentation when requested by the police.
Third party insurance cover is compulsory. You can buy this at most land borders. You should carry two reflective triangles and a reflective vest in your vehicle at all times. You must wear the reflective vest when repairing, loading or unloading a vehicle. Police officers sometimes attempt to extract bribes from tourists. Don’t pay a bribe to anyone. If you are stopped by the police, ask for a clear explanation of the offence and a written fine that can be paid at a police station.
You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Mozambique.
Until 16 May 2017 all Mozambican airlines were refused permission to operate services to the EU. The EU ban was imposed because the Mozambican regulatory authorities were unable to verify that these airlines complied with international safety standards. The EU operating ban was lifted on 16 May 2017.
Recent piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden highlight that the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
Protests or demonstrations can occur in the cities with little notice. You should remain vigilant, monitor local media reports, avoid large crowds and carry ID with you at all times. Make sure you have a means of communication with you at all times and that your mobile phone is charged.
Terrorist attacks in Mozambique can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
You must by law carry original identity documents at all times and present them on request to the authorities. Police patrols and checkpoints are common. Don’t hand over your passport to anyone other than an official. Ask to see their ID if in doubt.
Photographing government offices, airports, military establishments, residences and the police or officials is illegal without special permission from the Mozambique Information Office (Gabinete de Informação – GABINFO). If in doubt, don’t take pictures.
Drug use, possession and trafficking are serious offences. Punishments can include long jail terms and heavy fines.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but is frowned upon by many, particularly rural or religious, Mozambicans. Attitudes in Maputo tend to be more liberal. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
British nationals need a visa to enter Mozambique. If you’re a tourist or travelling for work purposes from a country where there is a Mozambican diplomatic mission, you must get the appropriate visa before travelling.
In summer 2017, Mozambique introduced the possibility for tourists to buy visas at border posts. However, border visas should be considered an exception, not standard practice; they’re intended for visitors originating in countries where there is no Mozambican diplomatic mission to issue visas. If you’re travelling from a country where there is Mozambican diplomatic or consular representation (such as the UK), you should continue to apply for a visa before travelling. If you intend to ask for a border visa on arrival, you should be ready to explain clearly why you didn’t get a visa before travelling.
You must present on entry a return air ticket (for air travellers) and either an invitation from family / friends or a confirmed hotel reservation.
You can apply for a visa at the High Commission of the Republic of Mozambique, 21 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 6EL, telephone: + 44 (0)20 7383 3800.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date your visa for Mozambique was issued, and have at least two blank pages.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry into, transit through and exit from Mozambique as long as they have a minimum of 6 months’ validity and a valid entry visa.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
It can take a long time to clear border formalities at the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia land crossing with South Africa, especially during holiday periods and if you are travelling on public transport. Allow adequate time to arrive at your destination before nightfall.
Travelling with children via a South African airport
If you’re transiting through a South African airport with children, see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Hospital facilities are generally poor in Mozambique, especially in the north of the country. In cases of serious illness or injury, medical evacuation to South Africa or the UK may be necessary.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
In February 2017, the national health services in Mozambique reported an increase in cholera cases in the country. The most affected areas are Nampula province (Meconta and Monapo districts), Tete province, the capital Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola.
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,200,000 adults aged 15 or over in Mozambique were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 11.5% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 08911 or 21313103 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
During the rainy season (November to April) there is widespread flooding around river basins, especially the Zambezi. Monitor local reports and check your routes before travelling.
Coastal areas have a risk of cyclones during the rainy season. Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.
See our Tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a storm.
Make sure you can access money in a variety of ways. Travellers’ cheques are not commonly accepted. US Dollars and South African Rand are the main exchange currencies. Credit cards are increasingly accepted in the larger cities. You should tell your bank before using your card in Mozambique.
Don’t enter or exit the country with more than 500 Meticais.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.