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Information for Travelers
March 28, 2020

Important: Information for Traveling to South Africa with Minors

New South African Rules on Travel with Minor Children

We urge everyone to read the new rules regarding travel to South Africa with minor children, here (PDF 472 KB).  Parents should note that in all circumstances, your child will need his/her long-form (unabridged with biographic information of both parents) birth certificate, as well as a passport to enter South Africa. Although the Department of Home Affairs states that these rules do not apply when directly transiting through South Africa, U.S. citizens have been asked for paperwork at check-in in Harare, and told they could not board the plane without documentation, even when transiting.  If only one parent is traveling with a child, this parent will most likely also need an affidavit from the non-traveling parent—notarized within 3 months of entry—and a copy of the other parent’s passport biographic page.  Please read the regulations carefully to determine what applies in your situation.  Although there is no official form, the South African Department of Home Affairs just released this suggested affidavit format (PDF 232 KB), which we encourage you to use.

Please note that Embassy Harare’s Consular Section currently has drop-in hours for notarial services on Mondays through Thursdays from 1:30-3:30.

The South African Department of Home Affairs recently released this guide (PDF 415 KB) for travelers, which is helpful in answering any lingering questions you may have about the regulations.

We encourage you to visit the Country Specific Information on travel.state.gov to keep informed of the latest travel regulations not only for South Africa, but any country to which you plan to travel.

Travel Information

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) administers the Consular Information Program, which informs the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security. Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings are vital parts of this program.

Registration at the U.S. Embassy makes your presence and whereabouts known, in case it is necessary for a consular officer to contact you in an emergency.  During a disaster overseas, American consular officers can assist in evacuation were that to become necessary.  But we cannot assist you if we do not know where you are.

You can register all your international travel on-line through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.   Additionally, you can notify the Embassy in Harare of your travel plans by sending an email consularharare@state.gov or in person by visiting the Embassy during normal business hours.

Obtaining Cash and Using Credit Cards

Zimbabwe is a cash society and the use of credit cards is almost non-existent. Visitors need to plan for their debit and credit cards to be unusable.

Victoria Falls: The major hotels in Victoria Falls, such as the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Hotel, Kingdom Hotel, Elephant Hills Hotel, and Lokuthula Lodge accept credit cards for hotel expenses only.  However, credit cards and debit cards cannot be used to obtain cash.   Travelers to Zimbabwe are encouraged to pre-pay as many expenses as possible through their travel planners, and must bring cash for all recreational activities.  Recreational activities in Victoria Falls are usually managed by agencies independent of the hotels and the agencies do not have card facilities.

Small Bills: There is a shortage of small notes in Zimbabwe. Travelers are advised to bring small notes, especially for local transport and recreational activities other than food and lodging.  It is difficult to get change for big notes.

ATMs and Banks: Travelers to Zimbabwe will not have access to ATMs. Travelers who run out of cash in Victoria Falls, and need to access ATMs, can cross the border into neighboring Zambia using a taxi.  Other travelers may take a day trip to Botswana and access ATMs which dispense the Botswana pula, which is acceptable currency in Victoria Falls. Although it is possible to travel to neighboring countries to withdraw currency, keep in mind that the cost to apply for a visa, travel, and pay for ATM fees can exceed $50 USD.

Western Union: One option to obtain cash in Zimbabwe is through Western Union, and the procedures are relatively simple. Recipients in Zimbabwe must have the following information in order to receive money:

  • Name of the Sender
  • City from which the money was sent
  • Amount of money sent
  • Password that the sender used
  • Reference number (not a mist, but it helps)