Updated July 2019
When you think holidays you think packing, booking a flight, accommodation and sun cream, what you may not consider is administration and health procedure. Visa, vaccinations, money, international insurance and medical precaution are also part of the trip but often forgotten. As we know all the procedures, we created a short guide to help get you through this not-so-fun part of travel.
All you need to know before a trip to Malawi and Zambia is here. If you have any questions we are at your disposal to answer.
Passport and visa
Top of the list and the first thing you need to think about: passport and visa.
In order to travel to Malawi, you will need a passport valid for at least six months after you leave the country and make sure you have, at least, 2 blank pages.
Since October 2015 Malawi requires travellers, depending on their country of origin, to buy a visa in order to stay in the country and state the number of days they are planning on staying. This visa is valid for 30 days and you can extend it up to 60 days more for a total of 90 days. It will cost you 5000 Malawi kwacha (MWK) to extend your visa for 30 days and 10000MWK for 60 days.
2 options for a visa depending on the kind of trip you are planning:
- Single entry visa: US$75 if issued within Malawi and US$100 if issued abroad.
With a single entry visa, the traveller is granted permission to enter Malawi, the visa is cancelled as soon as the visitor leaves the country.
If you are planning to stay only in Malawi, this is the best option for you.
- Multiple entry visas: US$150 if issued within Malawi and US$220 if issued abroad.
Multiple entry visas allow the traveller to make multiple entries into Malawi within the validity of the visa.
If you are planning to leave Malawi and come back during your trip, for example to Zambia, this option might interest you.
Entries in Malawi can be made at any land border or airport. You can request your visa from any foreign Malawian office. You will also be able to request your visa at your arrival in the country. If you chose this option and in order to avoid any inconvenience at the port of entry we recommend you fill out the visa application form in advance.
As some people experienced trouble entering the country without requesting the visa in advance, we recommend you to carry proof of your flight back and any document that could support your visa request.
Don’t forget to bring dollars with you, any other currency may not be accepted. Dollars are necessary for your visa fees and widely accepted within Malawi and Zambia.
About Zambia, if your trip includes a visit to our beautiful neighbour you will need a specific visa to cross the border. The Zambia visa costs US$50 and you will buy it at the border. Your Malawian Style guide will help you if needed but the procedure is very simple, no form needed.
Remember that on your way back from Zambia to Malawi, if you opted for a single entry visa when you arrive in Malawi, you will need to buy a new visa!
Health and vaccination
Coming to Malawi and Zambia means facing a totally different world, a few precautions need to be taken in order for you to fully enjoy your trip and avoid any bad surprises! We highly recommend you speak with your doctor before your trip to make sure you are not missing any information and to answer all your specific questions.
Before you leave for your trip make sure you are up-to-date on your routine vaccines: MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox and polio are on the list. Vaccination against hepatitis A and typhoid are suggested and you should discuss with your doctor the necessity of hepatitis B and rabies depending on the type and length of the trip planned.
Both Malawi and Zambia are situated in a malaria-risk area and prophylaxis is highly recommended. We advise you to schedule an appointment with your doctor in order to decide which kind of medicine will suit you best and to start the treatment before your trip.
To avoid mosquito bites it is recommended to wear repellent, long sleeves and long pants during the evening as well as sleeping under a mosquito net and using your fan.
If you want to swim in Lake Malawi, be aware that there is a risk of contracting bilharzia. The risk is lower around lodge areas but we recommend you to take the appropriate medication following your stay by the lake. Praziquantel is the most effective medication, it is sold in every pharmacy and very cheap.
Water is sold very cheaply all over the country. We strongly recommend water be drunk only when bottled, or previously boiled.
US dollar is widely accepted in Malawi and Zambia, bring some but you may also need local currency. As Malawian and Zambian kwachas are not available abroad we recommend you to change or withdraw local money upon your arrival at the airport.
Remember to advise your bank of your trip in order to avoid any problems with your credit card whilst in Africa. Cash machines and ATM’s are available in big cities but do not always work, keep in mind that payments by card are rarely possible. When they are, due to the number of power cuts or network issues you might not be able to pay with your card, consequently we recommend you to always carry cash to avoid any inconvenience.
You are now almost ready for your trip! You should add international travel insurance to your to-do list. If you are planning any specific activities such as climbing a mountain, diving or bungee jumping at the Victoria Falls you might need specific insurance. Now the fun part begins: packing!
Ready to travel to Malawi? Check out our sample tours or learn more about our incredible destinations!
Rory spent two years working in Malawi at Malawian Style and got to discover much of Malawi and Zambia before returning to Europe – where he continues to put Malawi on the map. His favourite experience was trekking Mount Mulanje due to its challenging trails yet rewarding views and the sense of accomplishment upon reaching the peak. He continues to travel and is certain to return to Southern Africa again soon!