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Rwanda

If you’re travelling to Rwanda, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

Ireland is implementing the new EU ‘traffic lights’ approach to travel, which applies to countries in the EU / EEA (+ UK). Our current advice for travel to these countries is ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. Our general advice for any other overseas travel remains ‘avoid non-essential travel’ or in some cases, ‘do not travel’. Travel within the island of Ireland can continue as normal, subject to domestic public health restrictions as outlined on gov.ie.

Our TravelWise app has been suspended while we move to implement the new EU system. We apologise for this inconvenience. Updated information will continue to be provided on this website.

On 13 October, Member States adopted the EU Recommendation on a coordinated approach to travel restrictions in the context of COVID-19. This ‘traffic lights’ approach provides for regions across the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) to be categorised as green, orange, red or grey, on the basis of the risk levels associated with COVID-19. A combined indicator map will be published each week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), based on agreed criteria, including the 14-day cumulative incidence rate, testing rate and testing positivity rates.

In line with the EU Recommendation, there will be no entry restrictions on passengers travelling from green regions. Each Member State will decide in due course what entry restrictions it will apply to passengers travelling from red, orange and grey regions. This website will gradually provide more information as it becomes available.

Information about what to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

All passengers arriving into Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form before entry. In line with the EU traffic lights approach, there are no entry restrictions on travellers from green regions. Currently, all passengers entering Ireland from red, orange and grey regions are requested to restrict their movements for 14 days. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Everyone is asked to comply with restrictions within Ireland, including those under the National Framework for Living with COVID-19. These are listed on the Official website of the Irish Government.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas, other than to countries that are part of the EU ‘traffic lights’ approach, where the advice is to exercise a high degree of caution (this includes Great Britain but not Northern Ireland). The situation in relation to COVID-19 continues to evolve quickly around the world. Citizens who are considering any overseas travel are advised to carefully monitor the official advice and information from the public authorities in their destination.

Should you decide that you need to travel, you should inform yourself about any requirements in the destination to which you are travelling. Information about entry restrictions currently applied by other countries is available on the country-specific travel advice pages. Additional restrictions may be imposed, including during the duration of your visit. Flight restrictions and route cancellations continue to occur worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will operate as scheduled. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time. Any Irish citizen considering any overseas travel should monitor news and information from the public authorities in their country or region of destination. Citizens are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc.

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves. There are significant risks associated with international travel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad, or those already abroad, are advised to monitor our travel advice, and follow us on Twitter. They are also advised to register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Where to go for further travel information:

Overview

Security Status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020

Rwanda is generally safe and crime levels are relatively low. However, there have been reports of burglary, theft and mugging in Kigali. You should take precautions with valuables and remain vigilant.

If you are travelling near the DRC/Rwanda and Burundi/Rwanda borders, we advise you to exercise a high degree of caution

The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains volatile, and the situation in Burundi has also become volatile with increased tensions and violence related to the ongoing political crisis. There is a continuing risk that the security situation in the region could deteriorate rapidly. You should remain alert to the possibility of military incursions, stray bullets and/or artillery fire entering Rwanda if you are near the DRC border. 

Latest alert

Novel Coronavirus

Numerous cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Rwanda.  As of 1st August, Kigali International Airport has reopened. All arrivals must present a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours of departure. Upon presentation of this test, individuals must quarantine at a designated hotel for at least 24 hours and complete a second COVID-19 test. Land borders remain closed to all but Rwandan citizens and legal residents. Further information on COVID-19 in Rwanda can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health.

On 17 July 2019, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This reflects the possible increased national and regional risks of the current epidemic. As a neighbouring country, Rwanda is considered at risk. The Government of Rwanda is prepared and continues to monitor the situation. There are currently no restrictions on travel across borders.  Please stay informed. The latest updates can be found on the World Health Organisation's website.

The Ministry of Health in Rwanda has established policies for travellers wishing to enter Rwanda from Ebola-affected areas of DRC. Affected travelers may need to provide advance notice of intention to travel to Rwanda to the Rwandan Ministry of Health and may need to comply with quarantine procedures for a period of 21 days before onward travel within or through Rwanda is permitted.

vide advance notice of intention to travel to Rwanda to the Rwandan Ministry of Health and may need to comply with quarantine procedures for a period of 21 days before onward travel within or through Rwanda is permitted.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Rwanda, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. 

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Kampala in Uganda or our Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

EU Directive on Consular Protection

Under the EU Consular Protection Directive, Irish nationals may seek assistance from the Embassy or Consulate of any other EU member state in a country where there is no Irish Embassy or permanent representation.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Practical advice

  • Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
  • Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency

Border areas

Irish citizens should exercise caution when travelling near the Rwanda-DRC border given the possibility of fighting there. You should be alert to the possibility of incursions, stray bullets or artillery fire entering Rwanda. There are many points where the border is not marked.

Take care not to cross the border unintentionally at any of these points. The border crossings between Rwanda and the DRC at Gisenyi/Goma and Cyangugu/Bukavu are currently open between 6am and 6pm. Both borders are liable to short notice closure and you shouldn’t rely on them as points of exit from DRC. If you are crossing regularly between Rwanda and the DRC you may encounter immigration difficulties if you have not regularized your residency status.

Take care when travelling near the border with Burundi due to instability and the risk of banditry.

Parc National des Volcans

It’s safe to visit gorillas or climb volcanoes in Parc National des Volcans as long as you are part of an organised tour. You should note that the park authorities only permit gorilla trekking that is undertaken as part of an organised tour.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Rwanda is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Grenade attacks

Since 2011, there have been a number of grenade attacks throughout Rwanda, mainly in Kigali and Musanze. There were 2 grenade attacks in Musanze, northern Rwanda, in January 2014. There were 2 grenade attacks in Kicukiro market in Kigali in September 2013. There were also grenade attacks in Nyabugogo market in Kigali in July 2013 and on Kimironko taxi park in Kigali in March 2013. The attacks resulted in fatalities and a large number of injuries. Although there have been no grenade attacks for over 18 months, further indiscriminate attacks cannot be ruled out, including in places frequented by foreigners. You should remain vigilant.

Crime

While levels of crime are relatively low in Rwanda, there has been an increase in petty theft. Always take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Rwanda, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at our Embassy in Kampala in Uganda if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Rwanda, you should be careful. Avoid road travel after dark as roads are unlit and driving standards are poor. The road infrastructure from Kigali to all major towns is generally good but roads can be narrow and winding.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Note that driving is on the right side
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic theft
  • Be careful during the annual rains in late spring and autumn. Roads may become impassable for anything but four-wheel-drive vehicles. There may be landslides or floods on some of the major roads

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Public transport

We strongly advise against taking shared taxis or motorbike taxis due to the high rate of accidents.

 

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Photography

Photography of public buildings is prohibited. 

Plastic bags

Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda and any visible bags may be confiscated on arrival.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Rainy seasons

During the two rainy seasons (February to May and September to December), Rwanda frequently experiences intense thunderstorms. Landslides and floods are also common during these seasons. If you’re travelling to or living in Rwanda, monitor regional weather forecasts and always follow local authorities’ instructions about security and evacuation.

Earthquakes

The last recorded earthquakes in Bukavu (eastern DRC) and Cyangugu in south-west Rwanda were in 2008. Both caused a number of fatalities. If you’re travelling to Rwanda, make sure you find out from local contacts or your hotel what you should do in the event of an earthquake.

Additional Information

Additional information

Yellow fever certificates

You may be asked for your yellow fever vaccination certificate when you are checking in for your flight to Rwanda and/or on arrival at Kigali International Airport.

Novel Coronavirus

Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.

Do:

  • wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands

Don’t:

  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

Rwandan Ministry of Health

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Rwanda and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Rwanda. You will need one blank page on your passport for entry stamps.

Health

On 17 July 2019, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This reflects the possible increased national and regional risks of the current epidemic. As a neighbouring country, Rwanda is considered at risk. The Government of Rwanda is prepared and continues to monitor the situation. There are currently no restrictions on travel across borders.  Please stay informed. The latest updates can be found on the World Health Organisation's website.
 
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
 
Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We cannot advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.
 
Quality medical care services are limited, especially outside Kigali and other major urban centres. Medical help at the scene of an accident is also likely to be limited. In the case of serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Adequate insurance can be crucial in helping people get the medical attention required.
 
Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.

More advice

Ireland doesn’t have an Embassy or Consulate in Rwanda so we can’t verify detailed travel advice to ensure that it’s accurate, appropriate and up to date. However, we encourage you to conduct your own research and to read these links to travel advice from other foreign ministries:

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Embassy of Ireland Kampala on Tel: +256 417 713 000.

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, +256 417 713 000, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox. This mailbox will be monitored regularly.

Embassy of Ireland
Post Office Box 7791
Plot 25, Yusuf Lule Road
Nakasero
Kampala
Uganda

Tel: +256 417 713 000
Fax: + 256 414 344 353

Monday to Thursday 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00

Contact us