Travel to Burundi

Travel to Burundi

Entry and residence regulations

You can apply for the visa required for entry at the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi in Berlin. Various documents are required for this; Children also need their own passport with a photo, for example. The Federal Foreign Office can provide more detailed information on entry requirements. It is not possible to issue a visa at the airport, but anyone entering by land, e.g. from Rwanda, can apply for or receive a visa at the border. Entry requirements for German citizens can change at short notice. Legally binding information on entry requirements can only be obtained directly from the embassy in Berlin or the honorary consulate in Stuttgart. There is a German embassy in Bujumbura.

Travel in the country

Except for the main roads, the roads are often poor, although there are several infrastructure improvement projects. There are also regulations (le code routière) for cars as well as for motorcycles and bicycles, but they are often not or only insufficiently observed and not punished for violations. That should change in 2014, but no laws have yet been implemented. On good roads, traffic safety is endangered by fast-moving cars and / or extremely slow-moving trucks or the risky overtaking maneuvers that often result from poorly trained drivers. Even fully occupied buses often run at excessive speed and their technical equipment is no longer safe. There are many accidents. The traffic safety is extremely poor and deteriorating steadily. Since the medical system allows little or no emergency aid, seriously injured and fatalities are often the result. Heavy rain and landslides are also responsible for difficult road conditions. After 6 p.m. you shouldn’t be out and about in Burundi because of the risk of robberies. Since 2012, the blood alcohol content allowed in road traffic has been 0.40 per thousand, and telephoning while driving is prohibited.

Entry from Rwanda, for example, is unproblematic by bus. Several bus companies in Kigali offer the trip to Bujumbura (e.g. Volcano, Belvédère, Yahoo, Jaguar, Horizon), which takes about 6 hours. The buses go either across the border in Kayanza via Butare (southern Rwanda) or via the Bugesera in Rwanda (Kirundo-Gasenyi), although the border station in southeastern Rwanda seems to take less time.

According to oxfordastronomy, in Bujumbura you can use motorcycle taxis and car taxis. Also bicycle taxis are available. Buses also run from Bujumbura to Burundian cities. The bus trips can often be described as quite adventurous.

Plans for a railway line Burundi – Rwanda – Tanzania have existed since 2011. Construction should be completed in 2016. However, the plans have already been postponed several times. In 2012 there was talk of completion in 2014. In 2016, China wanted to participate in the financing. At the beginning of 2017, the actors seemed to have reached an agreement. Newer activities remain to be seen. The railway line and the better connection to the port of Dar-es-Salaam are expected to boost economic development in Burundi. It is not yet clear to what extent and to what extent people will also be able to use the railway.

Travel to Burundi

Safe and healthy in Burundi

Crime and security situation

The security situation in Burundi is currently confusing and tense due to the unstable domestic political, economic and critical human rights situation. In the capital Bujumbura, violent, politically motivated clashes can occur at any time. Targeted attacks on members of the regime and the security forces as well as civil society actors with exchanges of fire and attacks using war weapons can break out without warning. The process of normalization and national reconciliation remains difficult, even as the government shows initiatives to reduce crime and strengthen the judiciary.

Crime and the risk of violent attacks are very high across the country. A weak police apparatus and, in many cases, poor criminal prosecution increase crime and violence. Especially at night there is a risk of armed robbery across the country and also in Bujumbura. It is therefore strongly advised not to go on foot in the dark. The number of raids is particularly high in the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitioke and Bujumbura rural.

The situation is made even more difficult by the fact that many criminals, but also a large part of the population in Burundi, have weapons. Uncontrolled gun ownership is still a major problem today. At the beginning of 2014, a “People’s Police” or citizen militias formed against minor attacks in cities and towns, which are supposed to protect the local population. The landmines that still exist in the country and are mainly located in former military bases are also problematic. Burundi and Uganda are supporting the peace process in Somalia with a military contingent. In 2010 there was an attack by Somali attackers in Uganda. The danger of an attack by Al-Shabaabalso exists for Bujumbura. Alleged terrorists are arrested more often. Rumor has it that grenade attacks were carried out by the Nkurunziza government only to be blamed on the opposition.