- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burundi because of high levels of crime, possible civil unrest and the threat of terrorist attack.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitoke and to areas within 10 kilometres of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) because of the risk of armed violence, banditry and kidnapping.
- The September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, underscores the ongoing threat posed by Somali-based militants across East Africa, including Burundi. Somali-based militants have 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 risk of banditry, and poor road conditions throughout the country.
- 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 the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burundi. The Australian High Commission in Kenya provides consular assistance to Australians in Burundi.
- See also our general advice for business 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
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You should obtain visa information from an office of the Government of Burundi. Burundi does not have an embassy or consulate in Australia. It does have embassies in Tokyo, London and Washington.
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.
As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. 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
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burundi because of high levels of crime, possible civil unrest and the threat of terrorist attack. We strongly advise you not to travel to the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitoke and areas within 10 kilometres of the border with the DRC because of the possibility of banditry and armed clashes. The lack of strong border controls means there is a high risk of armed violence, banditry, kidnapping and cross-border incursions by rebel groups from the DRC.
The September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, underscores the ongoing threat posed by Somali-based militants across East Africa. Somali-based militants have 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 for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burundi at this time because of the high levels of crime and the fragile security situation. While the security situation has stabilised in recent years, outbreaks of violence can occur without warning. We recommend you monitor the media and other local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.
You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Political demonstrations may occur more regularly in the lead up to the 2015 elections.
A ceasefire agreement between the Government and the last remaining rebel group, the Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL) was signed in September 2006, and a further cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in May 2008. In April 2009 the FNL renounced the use of arms, registered as a political party and some of its members have been integrated into the security forces and government. However the FNL has not completely disarmed and the security situation remains tense, with the risk that the conflict could flare up again.
In late 2012, clashes between armed militia and national security forces occurred north of Bujumbura. These militia groups are believed to have come from and returned to Rukoko forest.
There are high levels of crime throughout Burundi. Crimes, such as muggings, burglaries, carjackings and armed banditry (some by youth gangs) are common and the risk increases after dark. These often involve weapons and violence. Foreigners have been targeted. In June 2011, a foreign national was kidnapped for ransom in Bujumbura during daylight hours. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.
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.
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Review the General advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.
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.
When you are in Burundi, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines.
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.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of 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. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Burundi. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. 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 the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.
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.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
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 nearest Australian High Commission which is in Kenya:
Australian High Commission, Nairobi
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Telephone: +254 20 4277 100
Facsimile: +254 20 4277 139
Australian High Commission Kenya
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. In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
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. They are in charge of an evacuation plan, including for Australian and British citizens. The Belgian Embassy contact details are:
Belgian Embassy, Bujumbura
Boulevard de la Liberte, 9. Bujumbura
Tel: + 257 22 22 32 66 or + 257 22 22 61 76
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season in Burundi is from February to mid-May, when flash flooding is 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. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following link:
- DFAT country information web page