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Uganda

If you’re travelling to Uganda, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Slovakia

Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves.  The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling.  Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Overview

Security status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020

Latest Travel Alert

The first case of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in Uganda on 21st March 2020.  A number of restrictive measures have been in place since then, including closure of airports and borders to commercial travel, a curfew, and 14 days’ instititutional quarantine for those who can enter the country. Further information and updates can be found on the website of Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

On 17 July 2019, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This reflects the possible increased national and regional risks of the current epidemic. As a neighbouring country, Uganda is considered at risk. The Government of Uganda is prepared and continues to monitor the situation. There are currently no restrictions on travel across borders.  Please stay informed. The latest updates can be found on the World Health Organisation's website.

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens can get a visa on arrival in Uganda; there is no fee. Irish citizens are not currently required to apply for a visa online, however, this subject to change and we advise citizens to check back here and on the website of Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration regularly. It may be useful to print off this page from Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration should any issue be encountered at your point of embarkation or transit.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Embassy of Ireland Kampala on Tel: +256 417 713 000.

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, +256 417 713 000, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox. This mailbox will be monitored regularly.

Our tips for safe travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Practical advice

  • Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
  • Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency

Political unrest

You are advised that political demonstrations in Uganda can take a violent turn without warning. You should avoid all political gatherings including demonstrations and rallies, remain vigilant at all times, and follow local media for updates.

Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational and stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may be prohibited.

Crime

Opportunistic crime like burglaries, muggings, drive-by bag snatches and thefts from vehicles do occur in Kampala and other areas of Uganda. The Embassy advice is to remain vigilant at all times regarding personal security, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events.

You should report suspicious activity to local authorities. When travelling by road keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic snatching if you’re stopped at traffic.

You are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together – leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
  • Avoid walking after dark and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Bag snatches by thieves on motorbikes are becoming more common; always remain aware of your surroundings, day and night.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Uganda, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Uganda, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles, a lack of traffic signs, wandering animals, pedestrians and inadequate lighting.

  • Remember that traffic drives on the left.
  • Avoid travel by road outside major towns at night and avoid, if possible, travelling between Kampala and the airport at Entebbe between midnight and dawn.
  • Inside major towns and cities, other common forms of public transport are common. Matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) though cheap are generally in poor condition, badly driven and often without proper insurance cover; accidents are common sometimes resulting in fatalities or very serious injuries requiring medical evacuation, especially where helmets are not worn. In addition, there have been recent incidents of foreign nationals being mugged whilst using matatus and boda-bodas.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and keep your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped in traffic.

Hiring a vehicle

  • If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
  • Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism across the East Africa region from the Somali based Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The Ugandan authorities have issued a number of alerts warning of a heightened risk of terrorism. Terror attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Large crowds of people and public places may also be targets.

Regional travel

Travel can be difficult and dangerous so do not go outside the main towns unless you are well prepared. We recommend that you do not travel outside of towns after dark.

We no longer advise against all but essential travel to Karamoja in north eastern Uganda. However, if you are travelling to this region, you should be aware that inter-communal violence and occasional attacks on security forces do happen; foreigners are not usually the target of violence but you should exercise caution.

If you are thinking of travelling to northern and western Uganda, we advise you to research the security situation very well and take appropriate precautions, particularly near the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. In the past there have been violent incidents involving Ugandan forces and Allied Democratic Forces rebels in and around the Rwenzori mountains. Seek local advice before you set off to these areas.

On 2 April 2019 a foreign national and a Ugandan national were kidnapped from Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both were released on 7 April. If you are in the area, please follow the advice of the local authorities.

Avoid the DRC border area around Lake Albert unless all the arrangements have been made in advance with the Ugandan and DRC authorities. If you're travelling with a gorilla-trekking operator, please ensure they don't cross into eastern DRC.

Before travelling to the border area of Kisoro and Kanugu Districts please contact Ugandan Wildlife Authority and your lodge/hotel for the latest advice. 

Please contact the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for up to date security information before travelling to any of the National Parks.

For Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it is normal for security personnel to accompany tourists when gorilla tracking. 

Get local travel advice before travelling to Bundibugyo District, Semiliki National Park and Wildlife Reserve in western Uganda.

Travel to the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park should only be undertaken in the company of an armed game warden who has functional communications equipment.

Kidnapping

Foreign nationals are potential targets for kidnapping so you should take particular care when travelling in Uganda:

  • Get advice from your local contacts about staying safe
  • Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
  • Vary your routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
  • Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Local culture

Uganda is a friendly, if socially conservative country. Overt displays of affection, in general, are not encouraged.

Bribery and corruption

Certain Irish laws, such as those relating to the bribery of foreign public officials, apply to Irish nationals overseas: if you commit these offences while abroad you may be prosecuted in Ireland. 

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity is illegal and there is very little social tolerance of homosexuality in Uganda.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Smoking Ban

The 2015 Tobacco Control Act bans the use of cigarettes, water pipes etc. in public areas such as restaurants, bars and hotels. Local law enforcement implements the ban diligently and the law should be abided by all.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • If you’re travelling to Uganda, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents 

Rainy season

The rainy seasons in Uganda normally run from March to May and from October to November. You should pay close attention to local and international weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Flooding

Flooding and mudslides may happen throughout the country as a result of heavy rains. If you’re travelling to Uganda, monitor local weather forecasts and know what to expect 

Volcano

Uganda is located in a seismic zone and natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. At the moment, Mount Elgon is stable. You should pay careful attention to all warnings issued.

Additional Information

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens can get a visa on arrival in Uganda; there is no fee. Irish citizens are not currently required to apply for a visa online, however, this is subject to change and we advise citizens to check back here and on the website of Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration regularly. It may be useful to print off this page from Uganda's Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration should any issue be encountered at your point of embarkation or transit.

Immigration officials may give permission to stay for three months if they believe you are entering solely for tourism purposes; however, you should be aware that recent practice has been to give one month permissions. It is important to make sure that your passport is stamped on arrival as there have been recent cases where this was not done.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Uganda; you may be refused entry at the border or when trying to board a flight to Uganda if you have less than 6 months validity.  Irish Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Uganda. 

Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from all countries. Irish citizens will be asked to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination upon arrival and departure. Passengers without Yellow Fever certificates/cards shall be vaccinated at their own cost.

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Uganda, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Uganda.

Health

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is below.

Do:

  • wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands

Don’t:

  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Additional information and updates on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

Ministry of Health Uganda

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Ebola

On 17 July 2019, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This reflects the possible increased national and regional risks of the current epidemic. As a neighbouring country, Uganda is considered at risk. The Government of Uganda is prepared and continues to monitor the situation. There are currently no restrictions on travel across borders.  Please stay informed. The latest updates can be found on the World Health Organisation's website.
 
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
 
Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We cannot advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.
 
Quality medical care services are limited, especially outside Kampala and other major urban centres. Medical help at the scene of an accident is also likely to be limited. In the case of serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Adequate insurance can be crucial in helping people get the medical attention required.
Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes. You cannot be vaccinated against malaria. Malaria can be contracted throughout the year and anywhere in Uganda, including in Kampala. It is highly advisable to take precautions:

  • Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and sleeping under a mosquito net.
  • Check with your doctor or nurse about suitable antimalarial tablets.
  • If you develop a fever, you are advised to seek medical attention promptly
  • If travelling to high risk malarious areas, remote from medical facilities, carrying emergency malaria standby treatment should be seriously considered.

Water

Drink or use only boiled or bottled water.

Adventure sports

If participating in extreme adventure sports (white water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping etc.), you should check whether these activities are provided for in your insurance, and arrangements for accessing medical facilities in case of emergency.  Travellers should be aware that many of these adventure sports operators are unregulated and so care should be taken in selecting reputable tour companies.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Embassy of Ireland Kampala on Tel: +256 417 713 000.

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, +256 417 713 000, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox. This mailbox will be monitored regularly.

Embassy of Ireland
Post Office Box 7791
Plot 25, Yusuf Lule Road
Nakasero
Kampala
Uganda

Tel: +256 417 713 000
Fax: +256 414 344 353

Monday to Thursday 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00; Friday 10:00-12:00

Contact us

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. You should be aware that many adventure sports operators in Uganda are unregulated, so only choose reputable tour companies.