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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Namibia

Namibia travel guide

About Namibia

From the seemingly endless sand dunes of the Namib Desert to the tropical wetlands of the Caprivi Strip, Namibia is a country of epic landscapes, bountiful wildlife and few people. Its greatest assets are the rugged Namib and Kalahari deserts, which support a surprising diversity of fauna including rare black rhinos, cheetahs, and vast groups of gemsbok, zebra and ostrich.

Parts of Namibia can be harsh and unforgiving, and nowhere is this more evident than along the Skeleton Coast. Shrouded in thick fog, lashed by Atlantic waves, occupied by shifting dunes, and littered with rusting carcasses of ships ran aground on its shores, this area certainly makes travellers feel like they are far removed from civilisation.

Away from the dreamscape of sand and rock, the wildlife-rich Etosha National Park is another must-see. During the dry season, herds of wildebeest and dazzles of zebras congregate at waterholes scattered around the park, while predators wait patiently for a chance to pounce – the dramatic scenes of pursuit offer unforgettable experiences.

Other worth-noting national parks are Ai-Ais in the south and Khaudum in the northeast. The former is home to the Fish River Canyon, Africa's largest canyon, while the latter welcomes more elephants than people to the park.

Namibia's capital is Windhoek, a vibrant, modern city perching on the Khomas Highland in central Namibia. Its colonial architecture, thriving culinary scene and excellent beer make it a pleasant place to while away a few days.

On the whole, Namibia is delightfully wild and unspoilt, offering plenty of off-the-beaten-track destinations for travellers to experience the ultimate safari adventure, capture stunning landscape shots, and above all, find quiet and solitude.

Key facts

Area:

824,292 sq km (318,261 sq miles).

Population:

2,494,530 (2021).

Population density:

3 per sq km.

Capital:

Windhoek.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Hage Geingob since 2015.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila since 2015.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Namibia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Hosea Kutako International airport is open and flights are operating to/from Germany, Ethiopia and South Africa, from where there are onward connections to the UK. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Other countries may restrict movement or bring in new quarantine rules with little warning. You should check the travel advice for the countries on your route for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Namibia.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Namibia

Details on COVID-19 case numbers and current regulations are available on the Ministry of Health and Social Services website.

Public health measures are in place which must be adhered to at all times. The measures are in force until midnight on 15 October:

  • A nationwide curfew is in place from 11pm to 4am daily. No movement is permitted between these hours

  • Public health measures, such as wearing a face mask, must be adhered to when using public transport, for the duration of the journey, and the destination must be reached before the start of curfew hours

Enforcement of public health measures will be undertaken by police and law enforcement personnel. You should comply with any instructions given.

Public places and services

  • sale and purchase of liquor for off-site consumption is permitted 9am to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturday
  • on-site consumption of alcohol in licenced establishments (such as bars, shebeens, casinos) is permitted from 9am to 10pm Monday to Saturday; no sales on Sundays and public holidays. Sale of liquor served with meals, at restaurants, hotels and accommodation establishments, is permitted from 9am to 10pm daily. the number of people permitted at public gatherings is 150 persons
  • contact sports are permitted and up to 150 spectators allowed

You must:

  • Wear a face mask correctly at all times in public spaces including on public transport
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Avoid crowded public places

Enforcement of public health measures will be undertaken by police and law enforcement personnel. You should comply with any instructions given.

Healthcare in Namibia

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the Government of Namibia’s COVID-19 hotline on 0800 100 100.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Namibia.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Namibia

We will update this page when the Government of Namibia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Namibia national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines. The Government of Namibia has stated that British nationals resident in Namibia are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Namibia Ministry of Health and Social Services website and their Facebook page.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Namibia, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, you can contact the British High Commission on +264 61 274800.

Crime

Muggers in Windhoek often target foreign tourists. Attacks can take place even in busy city centre locations in broad daylight. Be alert to your surroundings if you are returning to your guest house or hotel, especially after dark.

Keep car doors locked and windows shut, especially in heavy traffic. Keep valuables off the seats and out of sight. Gangs sometimes try to gain entry to vehicles at busy intersections in Windhoek, including during the day. Theft from vehicles, particularly at service stations, is common. If possible don’t leave your vehicle unattended at fuel stops.  

There have been reports of thefts from mail by Post Office workers in Namibia. Any valuable parcels or documents (eg bank and credit cards) should be sent by registered mail, and preferably by a reputable commercial courier company.

Don’t hail taxis from the street, particularly in Windhoek, as these have been involved in thefts from foreign tourists. Ask your hotel, guest house or tour operator to recommend a reputable taxi company. Don’t enter townships at night unless you are accompanied by someone with local knowledge.

Safeguard your valuables and cash. Use a hotel safe if possible. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight. Don’t change large sums of money in busy public areas. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place. Beware of pickpockets in town centres.

There have been cases of credit card skimming at some hotels and lodges around the country. When paying by credit card, keep the card in full view at all times and always check your statement carefully.

In case of a police emergency or to report a crime in Windhoek, you can contact the Windhoek City Police Service on 061-2902911 or toll-free 302302.

Road travel

If you’ll be driving in Namibia, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

You must carry your UK photo driving licence at all times and produce it on request at the police check points leading in and out of Windhoek and other major towns and cities. If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel. If you hire a car, pay particular attention to the insurance cover provided. Most policies will not cover accidents that do not involve other vehicles or animals. Given the higher than normal probability of an accident on a gravel road because of its condition, you should take out fully comprehensive insurance on any hired vehicle. You are not allowed to use a mobile phone whilst driving.

There have been a number of fatal accidents on gravel/dirt roads.  Don’t exceed 80kmh on gravel. Punctures are common. If possible, carry 2 spare tyres and plenty of water.

During the rainy season (normally January to April) many gravel roads deteriorate. Check with your destination on the local road conditions before setting off.  Avoid driving at night outside towns as wildlife and stray livestock pose a serious hazard.

Adventure sports

Make sure your travel insurance covers you for any adventure activities you plan to undertake (eg quad biking, dune boarding and hot air ballooning).

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Namibia, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

Drug taking and smuggling is an offence. Punishments can be severe.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Namibia. Some sexual relations between men are criminalised, but generally not enforced. There are no legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Conservative attitudes towards LGBT individuals persist, especially in rural regions, and many people in Namibia consider LGBT relationships to be taboo. It is advisable to avoid public displays of affection such as kissing and hand-holding and avoid discussing LGBT topics in public. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Namibia is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which bans trade in ivory and rhino horn. Anyone caught buying or trafficking these goods will be prosecuted and could receive a prison sentence or fine.

There are no formal rules limiting photography by tourists in Namibia, but some people have been detained for taking pictures of State House and properties where the President is residing. Parts of Namibia require a permit to enter (eg the Cape Cross Seal Colony) and you should check about photography when applying for permits. If the army or police are protecting a building or place, check before taking any photographs. If in doubt, don’t take pictures.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Namibia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Namibia.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

There are good medical facilities in Windhoek. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Even with fully comprehensive travel insurance, private hospitals in Namibia may insist on proof of payment (cash or credit card) before starting treatment. They may also insist you pay up front, reclaiming from your insurer at a later date. Some travel insurance policies are not recognised by some Namibian hospitals, you should check with your provider if their product is accepted in Namibia before you travel and seek alternative coverage where necessary. Medical evacuation from remote areas can take time.

Health risks

There is a high risk of malaria throughout the year in the Caprivi Strip, Kavango and Kunene regions. For further information see NaTHNaC’s information sheet.

Cholera is known to occur in Namibia.

Some people suffer skin problems and/or dehydration due to Namibia’s hot and dry climate. Make sure you carry a good supply of drinkable water.

Namibia has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV in the world. In 2019, UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that around 210,000 adults aged 15 or over in Namibia 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%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 211111 (in Windhoek) or 10111 (elsewhere) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Namibia set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Namibia

Airports are open as well as sea ports and some land borders. If intending to use a land border, you should check that it is open before travelling.

Testing before arrival

Any person entering Namibia must present proof on arrival in Namibia of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the country of departure. The test result must not be older than 7 days (calculated from the date that the sample for testing was taken) at the time of entry into Namibia. This requirement also applies to anyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 – a negative test must still be produced before entry into the country. Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Test results are not accepted for entry into Namibia.

Permanent residents do not need to provide a negative test on arrival but in that case will have to quarantine for 7 days. You should check with your airline for any regulations they might have for a negative test result in order to travel.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Further details can be found on the Namibian High Commission to the UK’s website.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

Although British nationals can enter Namibia for a holiday or private visit of up to 90 days without a visa, there have been cases where visitors have only been given permission to stay for periods much shorter than 90 days, sometimes as short as only 7 or 10 days. Before leaving the immigration desk in the airport arrivals hall, check that you have been given permission to stay in Namibia for the duration of your intended visit up to the maximum allowable of 90 days and that you have been given a correctly dated entry stamp by Namibian Immigration officials, as this will be checked on departure.

Overstaying the time granted or an incorrect or missing entry stamp could lead to detention, arrest and a fine. If you intend to work (which includes volunteering) or stay in Namibia for a period of more than 90 days, you must get a visa from the Namibian High Commission in London before you travel.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Namibia and have at least 1 completely blank page for Namibian immigration to use. If you are also going to travel in South Africa, you should be aware that although South African authorities state they require 1 blank passport page for entry, some officials insist on 2 blank pages. If you plan to take this route, make sure you have a total of 3 blank pages.

Travelling with children (under 18)

Namibia introduced new immigration rules in 2016 relating to travel with children. In addition to valid passports, parents travelling with children (under 18) should at all times carry the original or certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted by the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration.

Adults travelling with children where they are not the biological or legal guardians of those children, should be in possession of an affidavit statement from the child’s parents giving consent for their travel. If a child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent should give consent for travel in the form of an affidavit.

Unaccompanied children may be required to provide in addition to a valid passport:

  • proof of consent from one or both parents/legal guardians in the form of an affidavit
  • a letter from the person receiving the child including their residential address where the child will be staying

Contact your nearest Namibian High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip.

If your child was born in the UK, you can order a full unabridged birth certificate online via GOV.UK.

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.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are valid for entry into, transit and exit from Namibia. Your ETD should be valid for a period of at least 6 months from the date of entry into Namibia.

Credit cards and Cirrus bankcards can be used in some Namibian cash machines although the charges for withdrawing cash can be expensive. The Namibian Dollar is tied to the South African Rand, which is also legal tender in Namibia.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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.

Travel safety

The FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

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.

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