Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two pin attachment plugs and round pin plugs with receptacle or male grounding pin are standard.

Language

French, English and Kirundi are the official languages and Swahili is widely spoken along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area.

Money

The official currency is the Burundian Franc (BIF), which is divided into 100 centimes. Travellers should take US dollars dated post-2006, as most outlets and individuals will not accept or exchange older currency. Establishments will also exchange Euros. There is a shortage of foreign exchange currencies in Burundi; currency exchange can be conducted at a main bank in Bujumbura or Gitega. A few ATMs in Bujumbura accept foreign Visa cards but, outside of the city, travellers should carry all they need in cash. Credit and debit cards are accepted in some places, though rarely outside the capital.

Tipping

A 10 percent tip at a restaurant is customary. Porters should also be tipped a few dollars.

Health

Cases of cholera have been confirmed in Burundi. Travellers should take prescription medicine to prevent malaria before visiting, and talk to a doctor about which malaria medication they should use. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those who are coming from an infected area or visiting any area outside of the main cities. Travellers should be wary of kiosk foods and drink only bottled or boiled water. Burundi's medical facilities are very basic, meaning travellers should ensure they have travel insurance covering evacuation by air ambulance.

Safety

Travellers should consult the nearest Burundi embassy regarding the security situation before visiting the destination. Travel to the rural border areas with the Democratic Republic of Congo should be avoided as cross border fighting by armed guerrillas occurs sporadically. Foreigner offices advise against all travel to Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces because of continued armed attacks. Most travellers to Burundi tend to gravitate toward Bujumbura and therefore should be more concerned with threats such as pick pocketing, purse snatching, armed robbery, and petty crime. Locals should be consulted about the presence of crocodiles and hippopotamuses along the border of the lake. Travellers should also exercise caution after dark, avoid walking alone, and be aware of any curfew laws.

Local customs

Respect for elders is practiced with conviction in Burundi and travellers should adopt a similar philosophy when interacting with locals. It's important for visitors to remain patient in Burundi, and never to lose their temper in a confrontational way. Foreigners should avoid asking locals questions about ethnicity (Hutus and Tutsis), regionalism, sexuality, religion or politics. There are severe penalties for drug offences; homosexual acts have been criminalised since 2009.

Doing business

Lightweight suits should be worn to formal meetings in the business world, which are usually conducted in French. An interpreter should be organised beforehand. Handshakes are important in Burundi and formal meetings often include food and drink, which is considered rude to turn down. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5.30pm. During the hotter months, a longer lunch break is taken.

Duty free

Travellers are allowed to import 250 grams of tobacco products, and one litre of alcohol. The import of foreign currencies is limited to $10, 000.

Communications

The international dialling code for Burundi is +257. There is mobile phone coverage and some hotels in Bujumbura offer free WiFi. There is internet coverage across the country but it leaves a lot to be desired.

Passport & Visa

All travellers require a visa but, for some nationalities, a visa will be issued upon arrival in Bujumbura, and will be valid for a maximum stay of 30 days. The visa will only be given if travellers carry with them an "Entry Authorisation" letter issued by the authorities of Burundi before departure. Return or onward tickets, all documents required for next destination, and sufficient proof of funds are recommended. It's also recommend that passports be valid for six months after the intended period of travel.

Entry requirements

US nationals require a valid passport and visa.

UK nationals require a valid passport and visa.

Canadians require a valid passport and visa.

Australians require a valid passport and visa.

South Africans require a valid passport and visa.

Irish nationals require a valid passport and visa.

New Zealand nationals require a valid passport and visa.

Useful contacts

Burundi National Tourism Office, Bujumbura: +257 22 2023.

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Embassies / consulates in other countries

Burundi Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 342 2574.

Embassy of Burundi, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 930 4958

Burundi Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 9000.

Burundi Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 4881.

Embassies / consulates in Burundi

United States Embassy, Bujumbura: +257 22 20 7000.

British Embassy Liaison Office, Bujumbura: +257 22 246 478.

Canadian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible for Burundi): +254 20 366 3000.

Australian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible for Burundi): +254 20 444 5034-9.

South African Embassy, Bujumbura: +257 22 24 82 21

Embassy of Ireland, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (also responsible for Burundi): +255 22 2602 355.

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