Australian Government advice for Burundi
When travelling to Burundi, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Burundi.
- We advise you not to travel to Burundi because of the volatile security situation. Burundi also has high levels of crime, civil unrest and the threat of terrorist attack.
- If you are in Burundi, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so. Monitor the local media and other sources for developments which may affect your safety. Note that border crossings with Rwanda may close at any time and without warning.
- There has been a high level of violence in parts of Burundi since April 2015 when the President announced his intention to run for a third term of office. There are daily reports of violent clashes between the police, civilians and other groups across Burundi, with many people killed. Avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings. See Safety and security .
- There is a high threat of armed violence, banditry and kidnapping in the border areas with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- Rebel groups attacked military bases in Bujumbura on 11 December 2015. Heavy fighting has occurred, resulting in several deaths.
- The September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, underscores the ongoing threat posed by terrorists across East Africa, including Burundi. The Al Shabaab terrorist group has issued threats against Burundi, specifically the capital Bujumbura, due to Burundi's participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia.
- We strongly advise you not to travel at night given the unpredictable security situation, the threat of banditry, and poor road conditions throughout the country.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burundi. The Australian High Commission in Kenya provides consular assistance to Australians in Burundi.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Because of the unpredictable security situation we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency. If you intend to travel to, or are a resident in, Burundi you should also register your presence with the Belgian Embassy, which is in charge of an evacuation plan for Australians. See Where to Get Help for further information.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Australians must obtain their visas before travelling to Burundi; visas are not available at the border. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You should contact an embassy or consulate of Burundi for the most up to date information. Burundi does not have diplomatic representation in Australia; the nearest Embassies of Burundi are in Tokyo, London and Washington.
Census of foreigners 2016:
We are aware that the Government of Burundi has announced a census of all foreigners, including short-term visitors and tourists, living or staying in Burundi. The Census commenced on 1 March and will finish on 30 April 2016. The Burundian authorities have advised that nationals from the Americas and Oceania, including Australians, must register for the census between 4 and 15 April 2016 . Foreign nationals are required to register their presence in the country at the main office of the Police de l'Air, des Frontières et des Étrangers (PAFE) in Bujumbura. Registrants will be required to appear in person with their travel document/passport. The PAFE office will be open for registration Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 16:00 hrs. At some point after registration, foreigners will be issued a biometric identity card.
Due to the ongoing volatility of the security situation, border crossings with Rwanda may close at any time, without warning. Travellers should expect delays when crossing these borders.
Burundi is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Burundi.
Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Civil unrest/political tension
There has been a high level of violence in parts of Burundi since April 2015 when President Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term of office. The violence has continued following the President's election and inauguration in August. Rebel groups attacked military bases in Bujumbura on 11 December 2015. Heavy fighting occurred, resulting in several deaths.
There are daily reports of clashes between police, civilians and other groups in Bujumbura, and across Burundi. Many people have been killed. Avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings.
If you are in Burundi, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so. Monitor the local media and other sources for developments which may affect your safety.
The international airport and land borders can close without warning. Your airline is the best source of information on departure options.
The September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, underscores the ongoing threat posed by terrorists across East Africa. The Al Shabaab terrorist group has issued threats against Burundi, specifically the capital Bujumbura, due to Burundi’s participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia. Terrorist groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks on public places, causing major loss of life in Uganda and Kenya. Australians in Burundi should evaluate their personal security situation in the light of the ongoing threat posed by terrorist groups.
In planning your activities consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets which include clubs, hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, airports, markets, shopping centres, political and sporting events, outdoor recreation events, bus terminals, public transport infrastructure, Burundian government buildings and tourist areas.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
There are high levels of crime throughout Burundi, often involving weapons and violence. The risk of crime, including muggings, burglaries, carjackings, and armed banditry, increases after dark.
Armed criminals have ambushed vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura.
Assaults have been reported against people walking or jogging alone, particularly on roads around Lake Tanganyika.
Kidnapping for ransom is also a risk in Burundi, and foreigners have been targeted in the past
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. For more information about kidnapping see our Kidnapping threat bulletin.
Money and valuables
There are limited numbers of ATMs in Burundi, many of which are unreliable. Most hotels and businesses do not accept credit cards. You should check payment options with your hotel beforehand. Payment may be accepted in US dollars or Euros.
Most shops and businesses will not accept or exchange US dollars dated pre-2006.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
We strongly advise you not to travel at night given the unpredictable security situation, the risk of banditry, and poor road conditions throughout the country. The United Nations (UN) and US Embassy have advised their staff not to walk or use public transport after dark due to these concerns. The US Embassy has also forbidden travel by its staff outside of Bujumbura between 6.00 pm and 7.00am.
If you must travel outside of Bujumbura, we advise you to telephone the UN Office in Burundi on +257 22 21 93 42 for the latest security advice. The US Embassy has recommended to its citizens that they travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles.
Most roads and vehicles are in poor condition. Traffic accidents are common due to excessive speed, poor driving habits and insufficient lighting. See also our road travel page.
Roads throughout Burundi, including in Bujumbura, may be subject to roadblocks.
Landmines have exploded in areas frequented by travellers.
Heavy rains, especially between February and May, can cause flooding and landslides. These may cut roads and damage infrastructure.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Burundi.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Burundi, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.
It is illegal to take photos of sensitive buildings in Burundi. We recommend that you do not take photos of airports, military installations and government buildings.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Burundi and penalties may include imprisonment. Homosexual activity may lead to harassment by the public and/or police. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities are very limited throughout the country. In the event of an accident or illness, medical evacuation by air ambulance to Nairobi (Kenya) would be necessary and, if serious, a medical evacuation from Kenya to a destination with the required facilities would be recommended. A medical evacuation from Burundi could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Burundi is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Burundi. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.
Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Burundi. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis, plague and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, meningococcal and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Avoid swimming in fresh water, including Lake Tanyganyika, to minimise exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. For more information on the outbreak and regional travel restrictions and preventative measures, see our Ebola outbreak in west Africa page.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. In the city of Bujumbura, the emergency assistance number is 112. Be aware that this service often goes unanswered. There is no emergency assistance service outside the capital.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burundi. You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Kenya:
Australian High Commission, Nairobi
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Telephone: +254 20 427 7100
Facsimile: +254 20 427 7139
See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
If you are travelling to Burundi, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend that you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
If you intend to travel to, or are resident in Burundi you should also register your presence, preferably by email, with the Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura. The Embassy is able to provide consular assistance (except the issuance of passports) to Australians in Burundi, including during emergencies. Contact details are:
Embassy of Belgium, Bujumbura
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season in Burundi is from February to mid-May, when flash flooding and mudslides are common. Roads may become impassable during this time.
Earthquakes can occur in Burundi.
If a natural disaster occurs you should pay attention to warnings and follow the advice of local authorities.