U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
This information is current as of today,
January 13, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Burundi is a small, inland African nation that entered a period of instability following the assassination of its first democratically elected president in 1993. Relatively peaceful democratic elections were held in 2005. Nevertheless the potential for future violent incidents remains. Facilities for tourism, particularly outside the capital, are limited. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Burundi at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2821.htm for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa, and evidence of immunization against yellow fever are required for entry. Only those travelers resident in countries where there is no Burundian embassy are eligible for a visa upon arrival at the airport. Travelers without a visa are not permitted to leave the country. The latest information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, Suite 212, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 342-2574, or from the Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations in New York at telephone (212) 499-0001 thru 0006. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Name of Country and other countries.
SAFETY AND SECURITY : The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Burundi. Although the security situation has stabilized in much of the country, the risk of sudden outbreaks of armed violence, acts of banditry or cross-border incursions by rebel groups remains. Americans in Burundi are urged to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times.
In light of continuing political tensions, all areas of Burundi are potentially unstable. Fighting between rebel forces and the Burundian military continues to be a problem in the outskirts of the capital, as well as in the surrounding Bujumbura Rural, Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces. Burundian rebels regularly attack vehicles on the roadways. In July 2003, the U.S. Embassy temporarily evacuated non-emergency staff after sustained rebel attacks on Bujumbura. Rebels continue to operate in the Bujumbura Rural province surrounding the capital, and have launched several rocket and mortar attacks on the city. Local authorities are unable to guarantee safety. A nationwide curfew is in place and the U.S. Embassy maintains its own curfew for its employees. The U.S. Embassy emphasizes the importance of remaining vigilant and respecting any curfews in effect. For the most up-to-date curfew information and for information on areas declared off-limits for official U.S. government personnel for security reasons, please check with the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura. Given the ongoing insecurity, travelers should also check with the U.S. Embassy before traveling out of the capital. (See Registration/Embassy Location section below)
As a result of an attack on a Sabena passenger flight at night and the danger of attack on the road to and from the airport at night because of the ongoing conflict between government and rebel forces in Burundi, the U.S. Embassy continues to restrict U.S. Government personnel from flying in or out of Bujumbura during the hours of darkness or during the Embassy's curfew hours.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlets “A Safe Trip Abroad” at ../../tips/safety/safety_1747.html and “Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa” at ../../tips/brochures/brochures_1218.html.
CRIME: Crime poses a high risk for visitors throughout Bujumbura and Burundi in general. Street crime includes muggings, purse-snatchings, pick-pocketings, burglaries, auto break-ins and carjackings. The roads leading out of Bujumbura are often the location for armed ambushes; these types of violent attacks occur frequently. Criminals in Bujumbura operate in pairs or in small groups involving six or more individuals. Foreigners, whether in vehicles or at home are always a potential target of crime. There is also the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a rebel shelling or during crossfire while armed groups combat each other.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime at ../../tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are limited in Burundi. Medicines and prescription drugs are in short supply, if not completely unavailable. Sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Travelers should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at cis_1470.html.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter driving conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning driving in Burundi is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Drivers without drivers' licenses, and the ease with which a driver's license can be acquired without training, make Burundian
drivers less than careful, considerate, or predictable.
There are no traffic signals or signs in Bujumbura, and virtually nothing of the kind elsewhere in the country. Roadways are not marked, and the lack of streetlights and shoulders make driving in the countryside at night especially dangerous. Additionally, drivers may encounter cyclists, pedestrians, and livestock in the roadway, including in and around the capital, Bujumbura. Mini-vans used as buses for 18 persons should be given a wide berth as they start and stop abruptly, often without pulling to the side of the road.
Big holes or damaged portions of roadway may be encountered anywhere in the country, including in and around the capital; when driving in the countryside, it is recommended that travelers carry multiple spare tires. Service stations are rare outside of major cities. During the rainy season, many side roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles.
Travelers may be stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, or shot at and stopped by rebels or bandits.
Third-party insurance is required, and it will cover any damages (property, injury, or death). If you are found to have caused an accident, you automatically will be fined 10,000 Burundian francs (approximately $10 U.S.) and your driver's license will be confiscated until the police investigation is completed. Although the law provides for the arrest of drunk drivers, in practice, the police do not consider drunk driving a crime. In the city of Bujumbura, the number for police assistance is 22-37-77; there is no comparable number outside the capital. If you are involved in an accident causing death, it is advised that you leave the scene of the accident and proceed to the nearest police station. In most cases, other drivers will assist you. Ambulance assistance is non-existent.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Burundi’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: 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 Burundian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Burundi are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit cis_1467.html.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Burundi are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenue des Etats-Unis, Bujumbura, Burundi and can be reached by phone at (257) 22-34-54. The mailing address is B.P. 1720, Bujumbura, Burundi. The Consular Section of the Embassy can be reached by phone at (257) 22-34-54 or by fax at (257) 22-29-26. The Embassy's Internet web site is http://bujumbura.usembassy.gov/.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 15, 2004, to update sections on Country Description and Safety and Security.