Electricity

The electrical current is 230-240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are the most commonly used.

Language

Kinyarwanda, French, Swahili and English are the official languages. French is widely spoken, but English is limited to a few people in the tourist centres.

Money

The official currency is the Rwanda Franc (RWF), which is divided into 100 centimes. Banks throughout Rwanda can exchange US Dollars or Euros, and middle to top-tier tourist hotels and restaurants are increasingly accepting credit cards.

Tipping

Although services charges are usually added to the bill, tipping has become common in the country's cities. A five to 10 percent tip for decent restaurant service is standard, and guides generally receive $10 per day.

Health

There is a year-round risk of malaria throughout Rwanda and travellers are advised to take a course of prophylactics. A yellow fever certificate is required by all visitors over the age of one, and inoculation is also recommended for travellers who will be staying for a long time, or will be heavily exposed to mosquitoes. A hepatitis A vaccination is also recommended, as well as a polio booster for those who have not had one as an adult. Bottled drinking water is available in all towns. Medical facilities are limited and medical supplies may be unavailable, although hospitals are located in all major towns. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Safety

Crime levels are relatively low in Rwanda, although tourists should be alert to bag snatching and incidents of petty theft. Travel to the border areas with Burundi and the DRC is not advised. Trips to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park should only be undertaken as part of a guided trek. Rwanda is considered a low threat for terrorism, though there are reports of random grenade attacks and travellers should be vigilant at bus stops and other public areas. The roads in major towns are good, however travel after dark is not advisable; landslides are common during the rainy season (late spring to early autumn).

Local customs

Photography of government buildings is prohibited in Rwanda. Plastic bags have been banned for environmental reasons and will be confiscated on arrival at the airport. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their ethnic origin.

Doing business

A handshake is the normal form of greeting. A knowledge of French is useful as English is not widely spoken; interpreters may be required. Culturally, a direct 'no' to a proposal is rare, and negotiations are often lengthy. Lightweight suits are suitable attire for meetings, which need to be arranged in advance.

Duty free

Passengers older than 18 years may bring 250g of tobacco products, one litre of spirits, two litres of wine, and 500ml of perfume into the country without incurring import duties.

Communications

The international dialling code for Rwanda is +250. Prepaid local SIM cards can be purchased as a cheaper alternative to using international roaming. Free wifi is available at most upscale hotels and an increasing number of cafes, restaurants and budget hotels.

Passport & Visa

Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid for at least six months beyond arrival in Rwanda for all nationalities. It is always highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. E-visas can be obtained before departure at www.migration.gov.rw. Passengers must have a printed e-visa confirmation. A valid "East African Tourist Visa" issued by Kenya or Uganda is accepted, if having first entered the country that issued the visa. The visa is valid for 90 days and multiple entries/re-entries. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa is required and can be aquired upon arrival for a stay of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

UK nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa can be aquired on arrival for up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

Canadians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa on arrival can be obtained for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Australians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

South Africans require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Useful contacts

Rwanda Development Board, Kigali: +250 727 775 170 or www.visitrwanda.com/

Fire Department: 111, Emergency: 112, Ambulance in Kigali: 912

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Rwanda Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 232 2882.

Rwandan High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7224 9832.

Rwanda High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: (613) 569 5420.

Rwandan Honorary Consulate General, Melbourne, Australia: +61 (0) 401 099 115.

Rwandan High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 6536.

Embassies / consulates in Rwanda

United States Embassy, Kigali: +250 596 400.

British High Commission, Kigali: +250 252 556 000.

Canadian High Commission, Kigali, Rwanda: +250 252 573 210.

Australian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible for Rwanda): +254 (0)20 427 7100.

South African High Commission, Kigali: +250 252 551 300.

Irish Embassy, Kampala, Uganda (also responsible for Rwanda): +256 (0)41 7713 000.

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