Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Lesotho International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Lesotho for information on U.S. - Lesotho relations.
U.S. citizens entering Lesotho must present a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens visiting for 30 days or fewer. U.S. citizens may apply for an extension of an additional 30 days at a time through the Office of Immigration. The maximum number of 30 day extensions permitted is five, totaling 180 days. After 180 days U.S. citizens are required to apply for a visa online. Vaccination for yellow fever is a common requirement throughout the region, and you should carry your international vaccination cards with you. For more information concerning entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho, 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 797-5533.
Attention new South Africa Regulations:
Travelers who intend to visit or transfer through South Africa must have at least two blank (unstamped) visa pages and carry unabridged birth certificates for all children under 18. Please see Country Specific Information for South Africa for additional information.
While U.S. citizens normally do not need a visa for South Africa if you plan to stay less than 90 days, South African visa requirements are different for individuals who are residents of Lesotho. It is common for foreigners residing in Lesotho to receive seven-day visas when crossing into South Africa by road. Travelers who overstay in South Africa may be declared “undesirable” by the immigration authorities and barred from entering South Africa. Travelers planning to visit South Africa for a longer period should check with the High Commission of South Africa in Maseru on how to obtain a visa for a longer stay.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Lesotho.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Crime: Lesotho has a high crime rate, and foreigners must remain vigilant at all times. Foreigners are frequently targeted and robbed and have been car-jacked and killed. U.S. citizens have reported incidents – including sexual assault, armed and unarmed confrontation, and home invasion – occurring in broad daylight. There are no indications that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted.
Crime is most prevalent in urban areas but can happen anywhere. Criminal incidents have occurred in popular restaurants, along poorly lit or unlit roads, and locations frequented by foreigners. Victims have included tourists, volunteer workers, and employees of non-governmental organizations.
Extra caution should be exercised while walking through downtown Maseru, both at night and during the day. You are urged to exercise caution and avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gathering. Traveling alone or at night is particularly dangerous due to limited street lighting and undeveloped road conditions.
There is a serious problem with theft from baggage at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), a required transit point for air travel to Lesotho. You should secure your luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service, and avoid placing any items of value in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Lesotho. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at (266) 2231 2943 or (266) 2232 2099. These numbers should be answered by police 24/7, but have been known to be out of service. Also contact the U.S. Embassy at (266) 2231-2666 Ext: 4124 or (266) 5885-4035 after hours.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. 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. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, 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.
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.
Extreme weather preparation: Visitors to the interior of Lesotho should bring clothing and equipment suitable for extreme cold weather during the winter months of June through August. Weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly in the mountains, and snow may close mountain passes. Temperatures can drop below freezing even in the lowlands.
Lesotho has one of the highest rates of lightning strikes per square mile in the world, and lightning-related deaths are not uncommon. If you find yourself in a storm, find shelter in a building or car.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations between men are criminalized in Lesotho, although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions. There is no explicit prohibition of consensual same-sex sexual relations between women.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The Buildings Control Act of 1995 requires that all buildings be made accessible, but enforcement thus far has been negligible. There are no mandatory standards of accessibility for sidewalks, road crossings, public transportation, and parking areas. There are no free or reduced fares for transport, and very few accessible places of lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafes, or bars.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers. Gender-based violence (GBV) is at epidemic levels in Lesotho, with one in three women and girls reporting abuse by an intimate partner (UNAIDS). Women should remain vigilant when traveling in Lesotho and should avoid traveling alone if possible.
Medical facilities in Lesotho are limited and ambulance service is unreliable. Specialist care is available in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 90 miles away. U.S. Embassy Maseru maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals, but does not guarantee service or provide recommendations.
Health care in Lesotho itself does not meet Western standards. There are few dependable specialists in town and there is a fully equipped emergency room at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital which can be used to stabilize a patient only. There is a small private hospital, Maseru Private Hospital, which has thirty-two available beds, a small operating theater, radiology, and lab services. However, the facility is under-utilized by residents because of the excessive cost of care. As a result, services there are unreliable, with the x-ray equipment frequently being out of order and a constant change over in staff. A better choice for medical stabilization of emergencies, basic x-ray services, simple hospitalizations (i.e., IV re-hydration) and basic emergency care is the Wilies Clinic, run by the PMA, Dr. Hoedoafia. The facility is clean, well-equipped with basic supplies and medications, and Dr. Hoedoafia is available 24/7. Medical services in Bloemfontein are excellent. Employees frequently go there for specialty consultations. In any emergency, patients would be stabilized at the any of the 3 hospitals and then transported by car, ambulance or helicopter to the Medi-Clinic in Bloemfontein. The medevac center for Maseru is Pretoria. All the hospitals have pharmacies for OTC and prescription refills.
For emergency services in Lesotho, dial Landline: +266 22326690, Cell:+266 80012121/+266 5834 9286.
Ambulance services are:
VITALITY AMBULANCE MASERU
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
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.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Lesotho, and its MFA to ensure the medication is legal in Lesotho. Always carry an adequate supply of your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Lesotho has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Approximately one-quarter of the adult population of Lesotho infected with HIV. Travelers are advised to practice safe sex if engaging in sexual activity, or if exposed to blood products through injuries or rendering assistance to accident victims.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Further health information:
OPTIONAL stock language for Health section on special circumstances:
Health facilities in general:
Pharmaceuticals: Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit and substandard medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
Non-Traditional Medicine: U.S. citizens have suffered serious complications or died while seeking medical care from non-traditional “healers” and practitioners in Lesotho. Ensure you have access to licensed emergency medical facilities in such cases.
Water Quality: In Maseru, tap water is potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
Altitude: Many cities in Lesotho, are at high altitude. Beware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, and take precautions before you travel. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Travel to High Altitudes.
General Health Language:
Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in Lesotho. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.
People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Road Conditions and Safety: The majority of Lesotho’s 5,000 miles of roads remain unpaved. A few main rural highways are comparable to U.S. two-lane rural roads, but lane markings, signs, shoulders and guardrails do not meet U.S. standards. Lesotho's mountainous terrain makes driving on secondary roads hazardous. Road accidents are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Lesotho. Unpaved roads in the interior—often narrow, winding, and steep—are poorly maintained. For travel in the interior, especially in wet or snowy weather, a high ground clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. Four-wheel-drive is also a requirement for entering or departing Lesotho through the Sani Pass on the eastern border. The authority for road safety issues rests with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service; there are no auto clubs or reliable ambulance services. Drivers should contact the police in case of road emergencies.
Traffic Laws: Traffic moves on the left, with right-hand drive vehicles. Never assume right-of-way, as aggressive and unpredictable local driving habits result in frequent collisions. Lesotho has a high number of traffic-related deaths and injuries. Driving after dark is dangerous due to the absence of street lighting, livestock on the roads, and the prevalence of crime—including incidents of carjacking. Travel is best done by private car. Rental cars are available in Maseru, and cars rented in neighboring South Africa may be brought into Lesotho with the written permission of the rental company.
Public Transportation: Although bus and public taxi services exist, chronic overloading combined with inadequate vehicle maintenance and lack of driver training make them unsafe. Some private taxi services are available in the capital, but roving mini-bus taxis should be avoided. There is no passenger train service in Lesotho.
See the Ministry of Transport’s facebook page for more information.
Visit the website of Lesotho’s National Tourist Office authority responsible for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Lesotho, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Lesotho’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.