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May 17, 2024

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May 10, 2024

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Republic of Malawi
Exercise increased caution in Malawi due to crime and civil unrest.

Reissued with updates to civil unrest information.

Exercise increased caution in Malawi due to crime and civil unrest.

Country Summary: Violent Crime such as theft, burglary, armed robbery, assault, and carjacking is common. The capabilities of the Malawi Police Service are growing but its resources and abilities to deter and investigate crimes, assist victims, and apprehend criminals are limited.

Demonstrations may occur and increase in frequency around political issues and events such as elections. Teargas is frequently deployed at demonstrations and roads may be blocked.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Malawi.

If you decide to travel to Malawi:

  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
  • Keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Malawi.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
  • U.S. citizens are reminded to avoid all gatherings, even peaceful ones, that could turn violent with little or no warning.

Embassy Messages


Quick Facts


6 months


One page for entry stamp




Yellow fever, COVID-19


Must declare all foreign currency upon arrival. Doing so helps to ensure travelers will be allowed to depart Malawi with foreign currency.


$5,000 is the maximum amount of foreign currency with which travelers may exit the country. Funds in excess of this amount (and previously undeclared upon arrival) may be confiscated and travelers may be arrested for failure to declare the foreign currency. Currency regulations are controlled by multiple entities, change often, and are not consistently applied by authorities. Citizens have spent months detained while Malawi authorities attempt to determine which regulations apply.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Lilongwe 

Area 40, City Center 
16 Jomo Kenyatta Road

Lilongwe 3, Malawi 
Mailing Address: PO Box 30016 
Lilongwe 3, Malawi

Local Mailing Address: 
PO Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi 
Telephone: +(265) 1-773-166, 1-773-342 and 1-773-367 (Dial "0" before the "1" within Malawi) 
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(265) (0)882-960-178 or +265 (0)88 198 0814 
Fax: +(265) 1-774-471 (Dial "0" before the "1" within Malawi) 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

The government of Malawi grants U.S. citizens visas upon arrival at a port-of-entry in Malawi, but encourages travelers to apply online in advance for an e-visa at the following link: The current fee for a single-entry visa is $50; a multiple entry visa is $150; diplomats and government officials are exempt from this fee.

Fees are subject to change. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi to confirm fees.

You must declare all foreign currency when entering Malawi regardless of the amount and exchange foreign currency at a bank or approved foreign exchange bureaus. Any currency declared at entry may be expatriated without further authorization. With bank approval, you may export up to $5,000 per trip. Otherwise, you are not permitted to export currency and it will be confiscated at the point of departure. U.S. citizens in Malawi have been arrested and detained for months for unlawful possession of foreign currency and failure to declare foreign currency.

The government of Malawi requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if traveling from a Yellow Fever country. Please review the Center for Disease Control website for a listing of countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission. 

For travelers transiting South Africa on their way to Malawi, the South African government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination at least 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa if arriving from or transiting through a yellow fever country; those without proof may be turned around at the South African port of entry. Travelers transiting South Africa with minor children should carry the child’s birth certificate and/or legal custody documents. If a minor child is transiting with only one parent, South African authorities may ask for notarized authorization for the child’s travel from the non-traveling parent. For complete entry/exit requirements for South Africa, please see our Country Specific Information for South Africa.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Malawi.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Advisory and Alerts for Malawi. 

Demonstrations sometimes occur. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays or election dates, or during international events.

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. Looting is common along protest routes. Be aware of tear gas and other riot control measures.
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations. 
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories. Both spontaneous and planned civil disturbances and demonstrations, primarily related to governance and economic issues, can occur. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times. 

CRIME: Crime is common in Malawi. Most crimes against U.S. citizens involve property. Residential break-ins are frequent; perpetrators are usually well armed and may become violent with little provocation. Petty street crime (robbery and pickpocketing) is common, and break-ins have occurred in hotels and lodges throughout the country. Kidnappings occur and non-Malawians have been targeted in Zomba.

Carjackings occur, especially in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Carjackers often block the rear of a victim’s vehicle while it waits to pass through a security gate into a residence and then assailants threaten the driver and take the car. Victims are often assaulted. Drivers are advised to lock their car doors, close their windows, and remain vigilant when entering or exiting a residence. When traveling, ensure your windows are up and doors are locked.

You should avoid traveling on foot at night, especially in urban areas, as armed muggings and assaults have occurred. Non-Malawians have been targeted in Lilongwe, and several U.S. citizens have been injured. City streets should be considered unsafe after dark even when walking in a large group. Pedestrians should also be cautious during daylight hours. Visitors in need of transportation should request that hotel or restaurant management call a taxi or car service.

The capacity and availability of public security forces is limited, we recommend you use caution when visiting and/or especially when staying in less populated areas such as the Mount Mulanje region . You should take appropriate action to ensure your safety if traveling to remote areas, and never travel alone or at night. Ensure you are communicating with a friend or family member as to your whereabouts while traveling in Malawi, as cell phone reception is limited in many areas.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police at 199 or 997 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +265 88 198 0814, + (265) 1-773-166, 1-773-342, or 1-773-367 (Dial "0" before the "1" within Malawi).

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

We can: 

  • Help you find appropriate medical care  
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys  
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

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 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.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances


Visa Infractions: U.S. citizens entering Malawi with tourist visas or visitor’s permits have been arrested, fined, and deported if found engaging in activities inconsistent with their tourist status, e.g., business or volunteer services.

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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad, and the Department of Justice website.

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.

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 surrender them if you carry them 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: LGBTQI+ persons are denied, by law and practice, basic civil, political, social, and economic rights. Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, including hard labor. The penal code outlaws “unnatural offenses” and “indecent practices between males.” Same-sex sexual activity may also be prosecuted as “conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.” As of July 2014, the government has implemented a moratorium on the enforcement of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity, though the general public largely remains hostile to LGBTQI+ persons. See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers With Disabilities: The law in Malawi prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, but the law is not enforced consistently. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure. Some modern buildings may have wheelchair accessible entrances. Generally, public transportation is not accessible for travelers with disabilities. The Disability Act of 2013 prohibits discrimination in education, health care, social services, the workplace, housing, political life, and cultural and sporting activities for persons with disabilities. However, the government has yet to adopt standards and plans for its enforcement and implementation.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Wild animals pose a threat to life and safety even in the most serene settings. Please observe local or park regulations and heed all instructions given by tour guides.

Credit cards are not commonly accepted outside of major cities. There are a limited number of ATMs in Malawi that accept Visa, MasterCard, and international ATM cards.

Dress codes prohibiting short skirts on women and long hair on men no longer exist, but travelers should be aware that Malawi is a conservative society when deciding dress, especially when visiting remote or rural areas. 


For emergency services in Malawi, dial 998. Please note this number is not reliable and travelers should maintain back-up numbers, such as police and ambulance services, for the areas they visit. 

Ambulance services are not widely available. The training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. More information can be found here

Medical facilities are rudimentary. While all health workers have some degree of English proficiency, communication can be difficult. Diarrhea and other food borne illnesses are a common problem. You should avoid tap water, ice cubes, and raw fruits and vegetables. Bottled water is recommended for drinking and food preparation. Consume only food that is well-cooked and served hot.

Many medications are not available. You should bring adequate quantities of medications to last the duration of your stay. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. We encourage you to check with your primary healthcare provider or local travel clinic regarding malaria prophylaxis medications. 

For major medical problems, you should consider obtaining medical treatment in South Africa, where advanced medical care is available. 

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Hospitals and doctors in Malawi do not accept U.S. health insurance. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas; most U.S. based medical plans do not. 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 type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas. 

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and travelers should sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.

HIV infection is endemic in the Malawian population. Travelers are advised to take appropriate precautions to limit the risk of transmission through blood or sexual contact.

There are often shortages of medicine and medical supplies throughout Malawi.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Malawi.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

World Health Organization

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Health facilities in general:

  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors require advance payment prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not always available. Most hospitals and medical professionals require cash payment. 
  • Private hospitals require advance payment before admitting a patient.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions.


  • 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 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 while seeking medical care from non-traditional healers and practitioners in Malawi. Ensure you have access to licensed emergency medical facilities in such cases. 

 Water Quality 

  • Tap water is not 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 from tap water. 

 Adventure Travel

  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.  

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Most roads do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians and livestock to use the roadways both day and night. Secondary roads are poorly lit, in disrepair, and may be impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles during the November-April rainy season. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death among travelers to Malawi. Safety hazards include the lack of road shoulders, potholes, pedestrians, bicyclists, and livestock. You should drive defensively and avoid road travel outside cities at night. Road support networks for stranded drivers do not exist. Fuel supply, both diesel and gasoline, is often erratic and travelers should plan accordingly. We do not recommend travel by foot along roadways.

Traffic Laws: Police roadblocks are common but properly documented drivers usually pass quickly and without incident. Malawian police operate radar-based speed traps throughout the country and you are expected to pay fines on the spot—please ensure you get a receipt. You must obtain a locally issued driver's license if you remain in Malawi for an extended period and plan to drive. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should always wear a seat belt whenever available and insist drivers maintain a safe speed.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Malawi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Malawi’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.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Malawi. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: August 1, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Lilongwe
Area 40, City Center
Lilongwe, Malawi
Mailing Address: PO Box 30016
Lilongwe 3, Malawi
+(265) 1-773-166, 1-773-342 and 1-773-367 (Dial "0" before the "1" within Malawi)
+(265) (0) 999-591-024 or +(265) (0) 888-734-826
+(265) 1-774-471 (Dial "0" before the "1" within Malawi)

Malawi Map