Travel Consideration: Botswana

Contributed By RealAdventures

Botswana is a landlocked southern African country with a stable democratic government. Facilities for tourism are available.

No visa is required of U.S. citizens for stays up to 90 days. For additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, 1531 - 1533 New Hampshire Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 244-4990/1, fax (202) 244-4164 or the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Botswana to the United Nations, 103 E. 37th St., New York, NY, telephone (212) 889-2277, fax (212) 725-5061. There are also honorary consuls in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Botswanan embassy or consulate.

Civil unrest and disorder are rare. In the wake of the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the ongoing worldwide threat to U.S. Government facilities, the American Embassy in Gaborone has increased its security precautions and counterterrorism measures.

Violent crime remains infrequent in Gaborone. Residential burglaries and car theft, however, are increasing. Prudent security measures, such as alarms and immobilizers, may deter such crimes. Petty crime and crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing and stealing of personal possessions, remain the most common forms of crime in Botswana. It is dangerous for visitors to walk alone at night in unfamiliar areas.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Medical facilities in Gaborone and Francistown are adequate. In the rest of the country they are limited. Health providers often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States.

Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via its home page at and autofax service at (202) 647-3000.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at

ROAD SAFETY AND IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Botswana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Travel by automobile outside of large towns may be dangerous. Although major roads are generally in good condition, the combination of long, tedious stretches of two-lane highways, high speed limits, and the occasional presence of large animals on the roads make fatal accidents a frequent occurrence. Driving at night on rural highways is particularly hazardous and is strongly discouraged.

For specific information concerning Botswanan driverís permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Botswanan Embassy in Washington, DC.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Botswanan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Botswana are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Botswana's laws mandate harsh punishments for unlawful dealing and possession of cannabis (known locally as motokwane or dagga).

Botswana strictly enforces its law protecting animal trophies. Under this law, it is not permitted to possess or remove from Botswana, without a government permit or a receipt from a licensed shop, any living or dead animal or trophy from an animal. A trophy is any horn, ivory, tooth, tusk, bone, claw, hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg, or other durable portion of an animal, whether the item has been processed or not. Curio shops and vendors throughout the country sell items such as animal skins, plain and decorated ostrich eggs and egg shells, and carved bones or teeth of animals protected by this law. All of the souvenirs, although widely sold, are subject to the national trophy law. Travelers departing the country with a trophy must have a receipt from a store licensed to sell such items. Elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products obtained in Botswana may not be removed from the country under any circumstances. Trophies may not be taken from the wild. Violators are subject to arrest and may face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a substantial fine.

For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security in Botswana. The U.S. Embassy is located in Gaborone on Embassy Drive, Government Enclave. The mailing address is P.O. Box 90, Gaborone, telephone(267) 353-982; fax (267) 356-947, and the after-hours emergency telephone(267) 357-111.

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