Rwanda opens its borders to all nations.

Rwanda opens its borders to all nations

Rwanda has warmly opened its gates to all international visitors, heralding a new global engagement and unity era. This comprehensive manual aims to arm potential visitors with critical insights ranging from pre-trip research to navigating legal landscapes and safeguarding one’s well-being.

Cross-border travel is now permitted at all border crossings into other nations. However, in recent years, tourist entry points into Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), & Burundi have been temporarily closed. Be mindful of how last-minute border closures may affect any travel arrangements you may have in the area.

Quick Overview of Rwanda-DRC border

Near the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the security situation is still precarious. The Nyungwe Forest Park and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda have seen armed attacks. Consider the possibility of assaults and government security activities if you travel close to Burundi's frontiers or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Use your tour operator and the local media to stay informed about happenings and exercise caution.

Conflict can erupt in the unstable eastern DRC, near the Rwandan border. Recent years have seen armed incursions into south-west Rwanda as well as violent skirmishes along the DRC-Rwanda border:

  • The suspected militants opened fire on a public passenger bus on the Nyamagabe-Rusizi road in Nyungwe Forest, Nyamgabe District, on June 18, 2023, resulting in two fatalities and six injuries.
  • A Congolese soldier entered Rwanda on June 17, 2023, at Gisenyi. He opened fire on Rwandan security guards and bystanders close to the border, injuring two Rwandan police officers before being shot and killed.
  • Artillery fire from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) entered Rwandan territory in 2022 near the border in the Kinigi area of Musanze District in the northwest.

The Rwandan government has reassured tourists that the area is secure and that these occurrences have not damaged tourist spots. We cannot completely rule out such events due to the turmoil in the DRC.

Before Setting Off: Early preparations

Every traveller encounters risks when overseas. In certain nations or cultures, women who travel alone or in groups with other women may face additional risks and challenges.

When planning travel, consider researching:

  • the local culture of a country
  • whether women travelling there have received unwanted attention or difficulties because of their gender

You could also talk to people who have visited the places you plan to visit.

If you have a health condition or are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether the country can provide the necessary healthcare and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

  • In-depth Destination Exploration: Embarking on a journey requires an in-depth exploration of your intended destination, understanding the unique customs, prevailing laws, and potential health advisories.
  • Health Precautions: It’s crucial to be vigilant about any health advisories or recommendations for pregnant travellers.

Navigating Legal and Safety Landscapes:

Job opportunity scams and modern slavery

Be careful when considering job opportunities abroad, including:

  • in call centres
  • as hosts and hostesses
  • in childcare
  • as domestic help
  • other seemingly legitimate jobs

Be aware of job offers that appear too good to be true.

These scams can target anyone. However, criminal gangs have sometimes targeted women and used these job opportunities as a front for human trafficking or modern slavery. Sometimes, people have had their passports confiscated and been held in poor living conditions, forced into illegal activities, or pressured to make large payments.

  • Local Laws and Safety Insights: Acquainting oneself with the host country's legalities, including divorce, child custody, and the intricacies of international parental child abduction, is essential for a smooth experience.
  • Ensuring Personal Safety: Comprehensive strategies to mitigate terrorism-related risks, criminal activities, and navigating areas of military significance are detailed.
  • Cultural and Legal Adherence: Embracing cultural diversity, understanding the legalities surrounding photography in secure zones, and considerations for LGBT+ travellers.
  • Eco-conscious Traveling: Emphasizing Rwanda's commitment to environmental preservation by prohibiting plastic bags and encouraging participation in Umuganda.

Know the law

Do your research to understand laws and authorities’ attitudes towards gender equality issues, particularly around crimes and violence against women.

Divorce and child custody

Laws around divorce and custody of children vary by country. There may be different courts or laws depending on the religion of that country or the child’s parents. In some countries, a married woman may need her husband’s permission for her or her children to leave the country. The husband may be able to place a ‘stop order’, which means the authorities will stop you or your children if you attempt to leave the country.

International parental child abduction

International parental child abduction is when a child is taken abroad without the consent of everyone with parental responsibility or against a court order. 

Entry Requirements with Travel and Health Protocols:

Entry requirements

The UK government's grasp of the present regulations for individuals departing the country on a complete "British Citizen" passport for the most popular travel scenarios is reflected in this advice.

Rwandan authorities establish and implement entry regulations. Contact the Rwandan High Commission in the UK if you have any questions about how these criteria relate to you.

Passport validity requirements

A blank page in your passport is required for entrance stamps and an "expiry date" 6 months after the arrival date in Rwanda to be admitted.

Contact your travel agent to verify that your passport and supporting documentation satisfy the requirements. Should you need to renew your passport.

If your passport has been reported lost or stolen, or you do not have a valid travel document, you will not be allowed admission.

Visa requirements

To enter Rwanda as a visitor, you must have a valid visa. You can obtain a complimentary 30-day visa upon arrival if you are a citizen of a Commonwealth nation.

Applying for a visa

Moreover, you can submit a visa application to the Rwandan High Commission in London. If you are seeking a multiple-entry visa as a resident, business traveller, or missionary, you must obtain a UK Police Certificate before you depart. Processing typically takes ten working days or more.

COVID-19 rules

Travellers entering Rwanda are not required to receive vaccinations or undergo COVID-19 testing.

Vaccination requirements

If your country is on the list of countries where yellow fever is spread, you need to have proof of vaccination to enter Rwanda.

Customs rules

The items you can bring into or remove from Rwanda are subject to tight regulations. You must declare anything prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

You must declare drones when you arrive. They may be confiscated or held until you leave the country.

  • Entry and Vaccination Mandates: Guidelines on adhering to COVID-19 protocols, ensuring passport validity, navigating visa procurement, and complying with vaccination prerequisites.
  • Customs and Border Navigation: Insights into customs processes and traversing the Rwanda-Democratic Congo boundary.

Safety, Security, and Environmental Awareness:

Safety and Security

This guide also has safety advice for regions of Rwanda.

  • Terrorism

Terrorist attacks against the UK and its citizens are a severe risk on a global scale. These attacks could come from individuals or groups that see the UK and its citizens as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

One cannot rule out terrorist attacks in Rwanda. Attacks may occur anywhere, even in locations frequented by foreign nationals. Remain vigilant about your surroundings, stay informed about local media coverage, and heed the guidance provided by local authorities.

  • Crime

Crime levels are relatively low in Rwanda, but there are cases of burglary, theft, bag-snatching and mugging (violent theft) in Kigali.

To reduce your risk:

  • Take care when walking at night
  • arrange transport in advance
  • lock car doors when driving
  • do not leave valuables in parked cars
  • avoid carrying large amounts of money or other valuables
  • Using cameras in secure areas

Taking pictures of certain government buildings is prohibited. You could go to jail or face a heavy fine if you use a drone to take photos of a restricted area without permission.

  • Plastic bag ban

In Rwanda, plastic bags are prohibited due to environmental concerns. Plastic bags will be seized if they are present when you enter the nation.

adventure tourism

  • Gorilla trekking

Be wary of the possible effect that short-notice border closures may have on your travel plans if you intend to go on a gorilla trek near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Check the local media and your tour operator for updates on any developments.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

How to anticipate and react to severe weather conditions and natural hazards.

  • Flooding

The rainy season starts striking from September to December and from February to May. The monsoon season peaks in April. Interruption and damage, such as landslides and floods, can result from intense storms. Keep an eye on local media reports and heed the guidance provided by local authorities. 

  • Earthquakes

There is a risk of earthquakes in Rwanda. Guidelines for handling an earthquake can be found at the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. The US Geological Survey has a real-time earthquake map that captures information following significant seismic activity. If there is an earthquake, monitor the local press and abide by the government's recommendations.

  • Terrorism and Crime Prevention: Evaluating the threat of terrorism, with advice on safeguarding personal belongings and ensuring one's safety.
  • Adventure and Exploration Guidelines: Recommendations for engaging in outdoor adventures, including gorilla trekking, and advice on transportation safety, adherence to road travel norms, and building safety measures.
  • Disaster Preparedness: Preparing for natural calamities, including floods and earthquakes, by understanding regional vulnerabilities.

Healthcare and Emergency Contacts:

Before you travel, check that the following:

  • You can get any necessary medical care at your destination.
  • You have adequate travel insurance to cover emergency medical evacuation or local treatment.

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

  • Emergency Services and Health Advice: Providing contact information for emergency medical services, detailing vaccination and health advisories, and medication regulations.

This document is crafted to equip travellers with the necessary knowledge for a secure, legal, and fulfilling journey to Rwanda, underlining the importance of thorough preparation, cultural sensitivity, and respect for local ordinances and traditions.


Can I travel to Rwanda from any country?

Rwanda has opened its borders to all international visitors as part of its commitment to global engagement and unity.

Are there any restrictions on crossing borders into neighbouring countries from Rwanda? 

While all border crossings are generally open, temporary closures have occurred in the past for Uganda, the DRC, and Burundi due to security concerns. It's advisable to stay updated on the current situation.

What should I be aware of when travelling near the Rwanda-DRC border? 

The area near the Rwanda-DRC border can be unstable due to ongoing conflict. Travellers should be cautious, stay informed through local media, and consider government security operations when planning their visit.

What preparations should I make before travelling to Rwanda? 

Researching the local culture, health care availability and specific risks for women or LGBT+ travellers is recommended. Ensuring you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical issues is also crucial.

How can I ensure my safety and navigate the legal landscapes in Rwanda? 

Being cautious of job opportunity scams, understanding local laws regarding gender equality, and knowing the legalities surrounding photography in secure zones are key steps. Participating in local environmental efforts like the plastic bag ban is also encouraged.

What are the visa requirements for entering Rwanda? 

Visitors need a visa to enter Rwanda. Commonwealth citizens can obtain a free 30-day visa upon arrival. Applications can also be made through the Rwandan High Commission.

Are there any COVID-19 travel restrictions for entering Rwanda?

Currently, no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements exist for travellers entering Rwanda.

What should I do in case of an emergency or health issue in Rwanda? 

Ensure that your destination can provide necessary medical care and that you have travel insurance covering medical evacuation. In emergencies, call 112 for an ambulance.




To obtain a visa for Rwanda

  • Step1: Complete the online application by providing your passport details
  • Step2: Submit payment online using a credit card.
  • Step3: Monitor your email for confirmation of payment and receipt of your visa, which will be sent electronically.
Get visa to Rwanda

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