Zambia travel guide
Vast lakes and wetlands, long and life-giving rivers, breathtaking African sunsets and a rich tradition of guiding all contribute to Zambia’s immense appeal as a safari destination.
Its most famous landmark, Victoria Falls, which it shares with Zimbabwe, attracts nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike. Visit in March or April, when the falls are in full spate, and you’ll be bowled over by the rainbows, the roar of the cascading water and the dense, drenching clouds of spray.
Livingstone, the closest urban hub to the falls and once Zambia’s colonial capital, has a number of accommodation options, colourful markets and a busy restaurant and nightlife scene. The mighty Zambezi River itself is glassy-smooth above the falls and wild below. It’s perfect for booze cruises, canoe safaris and adrenaline activities such as white-water rafting and river surfing. There are a plethora of beautiful riverside lodges dotted along its banks.
Beyond the falls, Zambia is not as high-profile a safari destination as Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, but it’s a favourite with those in the know. Packed with untamed wilderness and fascinating wildlife, minus the crowds, Zambia is the African bush at its most raw and romantic.
The country’s excellent safari lodges and camps will put you fully in touch with your wild surroundings. You’ll fall asleep to the hooting of owls, the whooping of hyenas, the distant roar of lions, and the loud munching of hippos grazing nearby.
Almost a third of Zambia’s landmass is given over to national parks and game reserves, but South Luangwa National Park is the cream of the crop for sheer density of big game. It’s also the home of the legendary African walking safari.
Another of Zambia’s drawcards is the people. The country is home to a staggering 72 different ethnic groups, each of whom have their own distinctive cultural traits and traditions, but all of whom are unfailingly warm and welcoming.
752,614 sq km (290,586 sq miles).
16,717,332 (UN estimate 2016).
20 per sq km.
President Hakainde Hichilema since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Zambia 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.
There are no direct flights between Zambia and the UK. Check FCDO travel advice for the latest guidance on transiting through third countries.
Travellers leaving Zambia for destinations or on airlines that require negative COVID-19 tests are required to use a certified Ministry of Health COVID-19 testing laboratory and present a Ministry of Health approved negative COVID-19 PCR travel certificate.
All passengers arriving in, departing from or transiting Zambia should also validate their COVID-19 RT PCR test via the African Union Trusted Travel or UNDP Global Haven systems (you will need to register an account on one of these sites). These systems will generate a digital Trusted Travel reference code for your test, which should be presented upon request.
On leaving Zambia, all air passengers must pay a departure tax of US$25. This is normally included in the cost of an air ticket, you will be asked to pay separately in Zambian Kwacha if it is not.
There is also a Security Charge payable by all departing air passengers. The cost is US$3 per person for domestic flights and US$5 per person for international flights. As above, this is normally included in the cost of an air ticket but you will be asked to pay separately in Zambian Kwacha if it is not.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Zambia.
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. 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 Zambia
Regional airports are open and airlines are operating as normal.
There are no restrictions on hotels and safari lodges. You should contact your accommodation provider for further information before travelling.
Public places and services
The following public health measures are in place (known as the “Five Golden Rules”):
- wear a mask correctly in all public places including on public transport
- wash hands frequently with soap and water or use of alcohol based hand sanitiser
- maintain a physical distance of 1 metre or more
- avoid crowded places
- seek medical attention early if unwell
Healthcare in Zambia
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Zambia.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Demonstrations and protests occasionally take place in Zambia, more commonly in Lusaka and other urban areas. They can disrupt local transport, and have the potential to escalate into violence. Don’t attempt to cross protester roadblocks as this commonly provokes a violent reaction from demonstrators.
Protests and large gatherings can happen without warning and occasionally result in disorder. You should avoid them and leave the scene as soon as possible if a crowd develops. You should exercise caution and follow the guidance and instructions of local authorities. Monitor local and international media and keep up to date with this travel advice by subscribing to email alerts.
Travel in major cities, as well as the major game parks is generally safe during daylight hours. However, serious crimes can and do occur. It is important to remain vigilant at all times and take sensible precautions.
Be vigilant, keep all vehicle doors locked and windows closed when driving, and remain aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.
Keep valuables and originals of important documents in a safe place and carry a copy of your passport and immigration permit.
Take care when travelling in rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark. Using legitimate border crossings in these areas is generally safe, although Congolese officials may ask for payment to cross the border. Avoid travelling in the bush along this border for hunting or prospecting.
Wild animals in the bush, including venomous snakes, are unpredictable and do kill. Whether you are travelling on land or water, you are at risk of potentially fatal animal attacks.
Adventure sports, including in the Victoria Falls area, carry risks. Serious accidents and deaths sometimes occur. The quality of medical care varies greatly. Follow safety instructions closely and make sure your insurance policy covers you.
You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer, you will need to get an International Driving Permit or a Zambian driving licence.
Take care when driving. Vehicles are often poorly lit, inadequately maintained and badly driven. Drink driving and driving while talking on a mobile phone is illegal but commonplace. The Road Traffic and Safety Agency will prosecute traffic offenders through a fast track court system.
Road travel at night in rural areas can be hazardous. Abandoned vehicles, pedestrians and stray animals are a danger. Many roads are severely pot-holed or otherwise unsafe, especially during the rainy season (November-April) when bridges and roads risk being washed away by sudden floods. There are frequent fatal crashes. You should avoid driving at night outside the main towns.
Vehicle hijackings happen across the country from time to time. Take particular care when approaching locked gateways at night. Don’t stop to give lifts to people at the roadside. Watch out for objects that have been placed to block the road. Be vigilant, keep all vehicle doors locked and windows closed when driving, and remain aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.
Travel by long-distance public transport can be dangerous due to poor standards of driving, lack of rest periods for drivers, the poor quality of vehicles and poor road conditions. Minibuses used in urban areas are usually severely overcrowded, poorly maintained and badly driven.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
The European Union ban on Zambian air carriers was lifted in June 2016.
Terrorist attacks in Zambia 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.
This page has information on travelling to Zambia..
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Zambia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Zambia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
Travellers to Zambia are encouraged to be fully vaccinated but this is not mandatory.
Regardless of vaccination status, you are required to complete a health declaration form and undergo thermo-scanning. If you enter Zambia with a body temperature equal to, or above 38.0 C you will be tested for COVID-19 at your expense on arrival and be required to quarantine (at your home, a hotel or government facility) until your test results are known.
All travellers entering Zambia are required to adhere to the prescribed COVID-19 public health measures, summed up in the “Five Golden Rules” as follows:
i) Masking up consistently and correctly in public premises; ii) Frequently washing hands with soap and water or use of alcohol based hand sanitiser; iii) Keeping physical distancing of not less than 1 metre; iv) Avoiding crowded places; v) Seeking medical attention early if feeling unwell.
You will need a tourist or business visa to enter or travel through Zambia as a visitor as well as valid return air tickets (if arriving by air) and sufficient funds for your stay.
See Visas for more information.
If you’re fully vaccinated
If you are fully vaccinated, you can enter Zambia without providing any form of negative COVID 19 PCR test. Fully vaccinated means complete doses of a vaccine e.g. first and second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Proof of vaccination status
You must present proof that you have been vaccinated to qualify as fully vaccinated. Accepted evidence of proof has not been specified. The UK COVID Pass is expected to be accepted but you are advised to take a paper copy.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
If you are not fully vaccinated, you’ll need to show proof of a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test. Zambian Government guidelines state tests should be taken within 72 hours before departure from the country of origin. Some airlines ask passengers for evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Zambia. You should check your airline’s guidelines carefully when arranging your tests.
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. See information on getting a test before entry.
You should upload your negative PCR test certificate online before travel.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
Entry requirements for Zambia are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Children and young people
Children aged 11 and under are exempt from the requirement to provide a PCR COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination
If you’re transiting through Zambia
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
If you are travelling to a destination that requires a negative COVID-19 certificate, on departure from Zambia you will be expected to present evidence of a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test certificate from a certified Ministry of Health COVID-19 testing laboratory. Travellers should upload their negative PCR test certificate to https://globalhaven.org/. Holders of tests taken outside Zambia are not exempt from this requirement, even if their test was taken within the previous 72 hours.
There are no exemptions to Zambia’s entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting Zambia, your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you arrive and have at least 2 blank pages.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Zambia recognizes dual nationality. However to avoid delays you should leave Zambia on the same passport you used to enter.
You will need a tourist or business visa to enter or travel through Zambia as a visitor as well as valid return air tickets (if arriving by air) and sufficient funds for your stay. Tourist and business visit visas are available in advance (from Zambian Missions abroad or e-Visa) and on arrival in Zambia. Single and double entry visas are available on arrival at all ports of entry but multi-entry visas are not. If you plan to get a visa on arrival, you will need the correct amount of cash (US dollars) as change may not be available. If you enter through Kenneth Kuanda International Airport, you can generally make payment by credit or debit card at the Zambian Immigration desks.
You should check your visa endorsement for the period of your stay in Zambia. Although you are allowed 90 days per calendar year, the immigration officer will not normally endorse the full length of time upon entry and you will be required to extend the stay at the nearest immigration office.
The KAZA UNVISA is valid for travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe and day-trips to Botswana through the Kaungula border. It’s available at the international airports in Lusaka and Livingstone and at the land borders at Livingstone (Zimbabwe border) and Kazungula (Botswana border). You can also apply online. It costs US$50 and it is valid for 30 days.
Travelling with children via a South African airport
If you’re transiting through a South African airport with children (under 18), see Travel Advice for South Africa 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 accepted for entry, airside transit, and exit from Zambia. ETDs must be valid for 6 months for entry into Zambia if the holder is not a returning resident.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
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 are 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 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).
Food bought from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards. See Food and water hygiene.
The Zambia HIV Impact Assessment report of 2016 estimated that 980,000 people were living with HIV in Zambia. The overall HIV prevalence in the adult population is 12.3%, compared to a prevalence of 0.2% in adults in the UK. You should take normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
Local medical facilities
General medical facilities throughout Zambia are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK. Facilities in rural areas are basic and emergency services are limited. You should carry basic medical supplies. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, staff at the British High Commission use the SES private ambulance service (00260 962 740300 / 740302). You should check with your insurer before travelling that your cover will be sufficient for this service. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Some over the counter drugs available in the UK are not legal in Zambia. Check ingredients carefully and contact the Zambian Medical Regulatory Authority for further advice. Customs officers may ask to see prescriptions for any medication you bring into the country.
The possession or use of narcotics, including soft drugs like marijuana, is prohibited. Drug taking and smuggling are offences.
It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a license. Those caught purchasing or trafficking such goods will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences or fines.
The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia and offenders may be jailed and/or deported.
Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and those caught engaging in homosexual acts can be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Prison conditions in Zambia are very poor.
Avoid taking pictures of sensitive sites such as army barracks, and government buildings. If in doubt, don’t take pictures.
The Zambian authorities don’t always inform the British High Commission when British Nationals have been arrested. If you are arrested or detained, ask the police officers or prison officials to contact the British High Commission.
Zambia’s currency is the Kwacha and is available at airports, hotels, ATMs and exchange offices. Larger shops, hotels, restaurants and tour operators increasingly accept major credit cards. Use ATMs or banks and bureaux de change to exchange money. It may not be possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.
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.
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.
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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.