Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Malawi International Travel Information
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)
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Malawi for information on U.S. – Malawi relations
The Government of Malawi requires all non-Malawi citizens age 18 and over entering the country to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Malawi.
U.S. citizens may obtain visas upon arrival at a port-of-entry in Malawi. The current fee for a 3-month single-entry visa is $100; diplomats and government officials are exempt from this fee.
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 $3,000 per trip. Otherwise, you are not permitted to export currency and it will be confiscated at the point of departure.
The government of Malawi requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival. 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.
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.
CRIME: Crime is common in Malawi. Most crimes against U.S. citizens involve property. Residential break-ins are prevalent and 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.
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 sometimes assaulted. Drivers are advised to lock their car doors, close their windows, and remain vigilant when entering or exiting a residence.
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.
We recommend you use caution when visiting and/or staying in isolated areas such as Mount Mulanje where the availability of public security forces is limited. You should take appropriate action to ensure your safety if traveling to remote areas, and never travel alone or at night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Malawi.
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 and 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 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:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
Health facilities in general:
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