Don’t Forget Your Passport!

From exploring the souks of Morocco to encountering an incredible array of wildlife on safari in Namibia or enjoying the white sand and turquoise waters of the Seychelles, Africa has something for everyone. Luckily, USA passport holders can travel to many African nations either without a visa, or in some cases can simply purchase a visa on arrival. However, the visa rules vary from country to country and can be complex. It is vital to ensure that you research and fulfil the requirements correctly as the consequences of not doing so can range from fines, to being taken before a judge or even being deported.

Free to Travel

For the following countries, no visa is required for Americans: Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland and Tunisia.

Organise on Arrival  

For the following countries, a visa can be obtained on arrival: Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. However, in the case of Tanzania although you can technically obtain a visa when you get there, it is advised to sort it out beforehand.

Financial Requirements

In some countries, including Tanzania and Seychelles, you must have sufficient funds to cover your stay. In Malawi, you must declare any foreign currency when you arrive. In some nations, such as Tanzania, you may need to show your return ticket.  In many countries, particularly Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia, it is vital to stick to the terms of your tourist visa and not undertake any business activities, or in some cases even volunteer work. In doing so, you may go against the terms of your visa and therefore face penalties. In countries where you need to obtain a visa on arrival, you will need to pay in dollars so ensure you have enough with you.

Passport Requirements

It is important that your passport has enough validity. Although some require less, many countries, such as Swaziland, expect at least six months’ validity. For many countries, you need a minimum of one or perhaps two blank pages in your passport; these include South Africa and Zambia.

Maximum Stays

Many countries have maximum stays. These can range from seven days in Togo to three months in Namibia. It is very important to be aware of any limits and not to exceed them.

Other Requirements

Some countries have further requirements for entry. In Equatorial Guinea and Lesotho, you may be required to show proof of vaccinations. Passport photos might also be needed in Equatorial Guinea.


So, don’t get caught out! Ensure that you have checked the specific visa requirements of anywhere you plan to travel before departing.


Written by Jackie Edwards, freelance travel and finance writer