Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Burundi International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Burundi for information on U.S.-Burundi relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Visit the Embassy of Burundi website or the nearest Burundi embassy or consulate for the most current visa information.
Mandatory Registration: All non-Burundian residents, including minors, who intend to stay one year or more are required to register their presence and obtain the appropriate residence permits in person at the main office of the Commissariat Général des Migrations in Bujumbura. Contact their office at +257 22 25 79 00 for more information. Failure do so may result in fines.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Burundi.
Traveling with Multiple Electronic Devices: Travelers with more than one of any type of electronic device (i.e., two or more laptops, tablets, phones, etc.), regardless of the intended purpose, have reported that their devices were confiscated upon arrival. Import duties may not be calculated upon arrival at the airport and the items may remain in customs for an extended period of time.
See the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Burundi.
Incidents of violence occur.
Searches: Security forces routinely search vehicles and homes, including those of foreigners and U.S. citizens. Residential searches are routine and generally occur between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.; police must present identification and a warrant. Report improper searches to the U.S. Embassy.
Roadblocks: Police maintain checkpoints throughout the country. Travelers have reported harassment, bribe solicitations, intimidation, and (though rare) physical violence, especially during heightened security situations. If stopped:
Crime: Crimes of opportunity (mainly for financial gain) are the most reported incidents of crime against U.S. citizens in Burundi. In recent years, there have been two incidents of violent crime against U.S. citizens. Most criminal incidents involve theft, burglary, and robbery. Petty crime may be more likely in public places. Criminal elements do not typically single out U.S. citizens, but may view them as targets of opportunity based on perceived affluence or vulnerability. U.S. citizens should take these precautions:
Demonstrations occur occasionally. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police by dialing 117 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +257 22 20 70 00. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place. Tourists participate in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not always available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws, regardless of your nationality. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, expelled, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities prior to practicing or operating a business.
Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe and result in long jail sentences and heavy fines.
If stopped by the police, you are expected to produce an acceptable form of identification.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Power Outages: Power outages occur frequently and may affect public services such as access to potable water.
Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and key infrastructure such as airports and border controls, including via a drone. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have your equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of Burundians without their permission.
Phone Service: Cell phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone. You must present a copy of your ID and/or passport to register your SIM card.
Currency: The Burundian franc (BIF) is the official currency although U.S. currency may be required in certain cases. Most transactions are conducted in cash. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside of a few upmarket hotels and restaurants in Bujumbura. Most vendor and banking institutions will take only U.S. bills in near-mint condition, printed after 2009. Examine U.S. bills to ensure they are legitimate.
Be aware that hotels will require payment in U.S. dollars from foreigners not resident in Burundi.
Exchange currency only at reputable banks. ATMs are available at the international airport and in Bujumbura, but they dispense only Burundian francs. The U.S. Embassy does not exchange currency for U.S. citizens.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: Burundian law criminalizes consensual same-sex relations with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment of three months to two years, but prosecutions are rare. People have, however, been detained based on their perceived sexual orientation. There were also reports that members of the LGBTQI+ community were threatened, beaten, and arrested by local administrators and other citizens with the support of security forces.
Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Burundi prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, but the law is rarely enforced. Some groups report that discrimination is prevalent. Expect accessibility to be limited in transportation, lodging, and public buildings with few sidewalks and no curb cuts. Most buildings lack functioning elevators.
Women Travelers: Sexual and domestic violence, including rape, is a widespread problem. Center Seruka and Center Nturengaho provide shelter and counseling to survivors of rape and domestic violence. Several international NGOs provide free medical care for survivors, mostly in urban areas. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Health facilities throughout the country are well below the U.S. standard of care. Training of staff and general hygiene and sanitation remain a problem. Adequate health facilities for basic medical care are available in Bujumbura and at some other locations. If you do need medical care, you will be asked to pay cash in advance and may be denied treatment if unable to do so. Credit cards are generally not accepted; insurance companies are not billed.
There is no single number for emergency medical services in Burundi. Contact a doctor or hospital directly.
Ambulance services are:
Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.
The U.S. Government does not pay private medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on the type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance for medical evacuations.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Burundi Ministry of Public Health to ensure the medication is legal in Burundi.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality available at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
Air pollution is a moderate problem in several major cities in Burundi. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling, if appropriate. Respiratory issues have been reported more frequently when the air quality is worse, particularly in the drier months. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Health facilities in general
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
General Health: The following diseases are prevalent:
Other diseases that may be present, but are not prevalent:
Use mosquito repellents recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers, even for short stays.
HIV/AIDS: HIV transmission within Burundi is lower in comparison to other countries in sub–Saharan Africa; however, the risk of transmission remains higher than in the United States. Visitors should exercise caution and avoid unprotected sexual activity.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Burundi.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: National highways vary in condition from good to very poor. Large potholes are common. During the main rainy season from February to May, many roads become impassable. Flooding and landslides also destroy bridges and block routes. Many roads in the interior of the country are in disrepair. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Bujumbura before 05:00 and after 18:30. There is a general lack of:
The above conditions make driving dangerous, particularly outside of cities and at night. Poor driving standards and pedestrians, cyclists, and livestock on the roads create further hazards. There have also been recent incidents of pedestrians struck and killed by minibuses. Exercise extra caution while walking on or alongside a road.
Motorists in Burundi should be careful to keep their doors locked and windows closed when driving around the capital. Fuel shortages are common, leading to very long lines at service stations that can last for hours or days. Outside Bujumbura, service stations are scarce, and fuel is often unavailable. Professional roadside assistance is limited outside the capital. Carry with you:
Traffic Laws: An international driving permit and third-party insurance is required. Long-term residents can apply for a Burundi driver’s license. Use of cell phones while driving is illegal. Give buses and taxis a wide berth as they start and stop abruptly, often without pulling to the side of the road. Many passenger doors on buses open on the side facing the road and passengers may emerge into traffic.
There are many right-hand drive vehicles in Burundi, although Burundi is a left-hand drive country.
In the case of an accident, call and attempt to have police respond. If a hostile crowd forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed to the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident you see or come upon.
Public Transportation: Public transit is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe due to overloading, reckless driving, inadequate vehicle maintenance, and the risk of petty crime. Hire private transportation from a reliable source. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from using public transportation, including taxis, taxi-motos, taxi-bikes and buses. Fatal collisions occur frequently. Due to security concerns, the bus depots near the former Central Market are also off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel.
If you use a taxi, negotiate the fare before beginning your journey. Taxis are not metered, so confirm the fare with your hotel or before entering a taxi.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Burundi’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.