Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin, rectangular blade plugs are standard.

Language

English is the official language and widely spoken and understood, but Chichewa is the home language of the majority.

Money

The official currency is the Malawian Kwacha (MWK), which is divided into 100 tambalas. Foreign currencies are accepted by banks, authorised hotels and other institutions in the main town centres. Bureaux de change are also available. The US Dollar is the easiest currency to exchange. ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted. It's wise to keep a reserve supply of cash as power cuts can affect the use of ATMs and credit cards.

Tipping

Service charges are generally not included in hotel and restaurant bills, and tipping is at the client's discretion. It is common practice to tip guides in the national parks.

Health

Malaria is a health risk in Malawi throughout the year, especially on the coast. Cases of dengue fever and chikungunya fever have been reported and are also transmitted by mosquitoes. Precautionary measures against being bitten should be taken at all times. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. All travellers coming from a country with yellow fever require inoculation against the disease. Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled or chemically treated. Medical facilities are limited and, outside of the capital and other urban areas, medical care may be difficult to find. Limited medications are available but it is advisable to bring along a medical kit for private use. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Safety

Malawi is considered a relatively safe country in which to travel and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free, but sensible precautions should be taken with regards to personal possessions and security, particularly after dark. There have been reports of robberies, money scams involving tourists, muggings and 4x4 vehicles being hijacked.

Most crime is petty and opportunistic and much of it occurs around bus stations and in other crowded public areas. A photocopy of your passport and visa should be carried at all times, but original documents should be stashed in a hotel safe when possible. Travellers are advised to avoid street protests and political rallies, which can become violent.

Local customs

It is customarily expected by most Malawians to be greeted with a friendly 'Hello, how are you?' and a handshake. It is courteous to ask permission before taking photographs of people. Homosexual acts are sadly illegal.

Women may generally dress as they please but should take local custom and religion into account when travelling outside of the main tourist areas and consider covering legs and shoulders to avoid giving offense.

Doing business

Business in Malawi is quite formal. Business cards are usually exchanged on meeting, accompanied by a firm handshake. Punctuality is important and dress should be formal; lightweight suits with a tie are acceptable.

English is Malawi's official language and almost all business is conducted in English. Malawians tend to be very polite and thoughtful, and expect the same treatment in return. Business hours usually start fairly early, from about 7.30am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

Duty free

Travellers to Malawi do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco. For travellers over 18 years of age 1 litre of spirits, and 1 litre of alcohol like beer or wine, can be brought into the country without incurring duty fees.

Communications

The international dialling code for Malawi is +265. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). Telephone calls within Malawi are cheap, and the network is reliable between major towns and cities. There is good mobile coverage throughout the country and wifi is available in all hotels and lodges. Local SIM cards are readily available from street vendors.

Passport & Visa

Those passengers who attain a visa on arrival and who want to extend this visa beyond the 60 day extension option must apply for a residence permit. All foreign passengers to Malawi must hold return/onward tickets and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Malawi, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days, and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. They can attain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days and can extend this visa for an additional 60 days.

Useful contacts

Official Tourism Website of Malawi: www.visitmalawi.mw

997 (Police); 998 (Ambulance); 999 (Fire)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Malawi Embassy, Washington DC (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 721 0270

Malawi High Commission, London: +44 20 7421 6010

Malawi Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 721 0270

Malawi Consulate, Melbourne: +613 9988 7766

Malawi High Commission, Johannesburg: +27 11 234 6424

Embassies / consulates in Malawi

United States Embassy, Lilongwe: +265 1 773 166

British High Commission, Lilongwe: +265 1 772 400

Canadian High Commission, Maputo, Mozambique (also responsible for Malawi): +11258 2149 2623

Australian Embassy, Harare (also responsible for Malawi): +263 4 8532 3555

South African High Commission, Lilongwe: +265 1 77 3722

Embassy of Ireland, Lilongwe: +265 1 77 6408

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