Travel Consideration: Namibia

Contributed By RealAdventures

Namibia is a southern African country with a moderately developed economy. Facilities for tourism are good and generally increasing in quality.

A passport and visa are normally required. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia for tourism for less than ninety (90) days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country. Travelers coming for work, whether paid or voluntary, must obtain their visas prior to entering Namibia. Travelers should obtain the latest information from the Embassy of Namibia at 1605 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 986-0540, or from the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the U.N. at 135 W. 36th St., New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 685-2003, fax (212) 685-1561. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Namibian Embassy or Consulate.

The American Embassy in Windhoek strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Kavango and Caprivi regions of northeast Namibia due to the uncertain security situation. U.S. Government-affiliated personnel have been relocated, and U.S. citizens in the area have been urged to depart. Fighting between the armed forces of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) has spilled over into Namibia. UNITA has staged violent cross-border raids and planted land mines. Many local Namibian citizens have been injured or killed by land mines planted in the Kavango region bordering Angola. Foreign tourists have been attacked and killed by men in military uniform on the Trans-Caprivi Highway between Rundu and Katima Mulilo.

The American Embassy alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for the Angolan civil war to affect regions along the Namibia-Angola border. U.S. citizens should exercise caution and maintain their security awareness when traveling near the Namibia-Angola border.

The American Embassy also alerts U.S. citizens to the continuing tensions in the Caprivi region that could affect their personal safety. While the government of Namibia has lifted the state of emergency declared following the outbreak of secessionist-related violence on August 2, 1999, the potential remains for further conflict between Namibian government forces and members of the secessionist group.

U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. U.S. citizens considering travel to northern Namibia are urged to contact the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek for up-to-date security information.

Incidents of violent crime directed against Americans and other visitors to Namibia are rare, but petty crime is on the increase, particularly in urban areas. The most common criminal offenses committed in the capital are non-violent crimes of opportunity including pickpocketing, purse-snatching, vehicle theft, and vehicle break-ins. Common sense measures, such as not leaving valuables in plain sight in parked cars, safeguarding purses, keeping wallets in front pockets and being alert to one's surroundings are the best deterrents against becoming a victim of criminal activity. In addition to the uncertain security situation along the Angolan border, banditry remains a problem in that region of Namibia.

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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is 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 are relatively modern, especially in the capital city of Windhoek.

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

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 Namibia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

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

Roads are generally very good, although care should be taken, especially at night, to avoid hitting wandering wildlife. Special caution should be exercised when driving on gravel roads, whose deceptive appearance invites speeding. Many accidents occur when tourists exceed safe speeds on corners and in areas recently damaged by rains. Accidents involving drunk drivers are an increasing problem on major roads where there are high speed limits. Roadside assistance and emergency medical services outside of Windhoek may be unreliable or non-existent. Assistance on main roads, however, is generally good due to the wide use of cell phones, airborne medical evacuation facilities, and the willingness of passing motorists to help. Public transportation is not widely available outside of the capital.

Because of the possibility of encountering intoxicated and/or reckless drivers, the poor mechanical condition of some motor vehicles, and high incidence of single-vehicle rollover accidents, Americans are urged to avoid hitchhiking in Namibia.

For specific information concerning Namibian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Namibia.

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 Namibia's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Namibia are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Americans should avoid purchasing diamonds and other protected resources outside of licensed retail establishments. The sentence for illegal dealing in diamonds in Namibia is stiff -- up to U.S. $20,000 in fines or five years in prison -- and the courts generally impose the maximum sentence. The purchase and exportation of other protected resources, such as elephant ivory, may also be prohibited by Namibian, international, and/or U.S. law.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Namibia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek and obtain updated information on travel and security within Namibia. The U.S. Embassy is located at 14 Lossen Street, Ausspannplatz, Windhoek, telephone (264-61) 22-1061, fax (264-61) 22-9792. The mailing address is Private Bag 12029, Windhoek, Namibia.

As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Namibia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Namibia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at 1-618-229-4801.

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