Burundi is a landlocked country right in the middle of East Africa. Around this small nation probably the size of Maryland in the US are bigger countries like Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. However small this country is, it still never fails to amaze visitors and locals alike with its abundance of natural resources.
The country is filled with lush forests, mountains, and countless species of animals. Around 400 species of birds call this former French colony their home!
It’s not every day that you hear someone picking Burundi as their top choice for a travel destination in Africa, but if you’re a British citizen who’s interested in getting to know more than just what this country’s famous for- namely The Royal Drummers of Burundi and Gustave, the man-eating crocodile- then read on to know more about how a UK Passport holder can get a tourist visa to this wonderful destination.
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Here’s one thing you should know before applying for a tourist visa– almost every nation in the world is required to get one, except for 6 nations in Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Yes, that’s right! This country has a rather strict policy when it comes to visitors coming in and out of their territory. I’ll be listing down below all that you need to know for a smooth Burundi visa application.
Facts About Burundi
Country Code: +257
Languages Spoken: Kurundi, French, English (only a small percentage of the country speaks the two foreign languages), Swahili (around Bujumbura)
Emergency Numbers: 117 for the police, 118 for the fire department, 112 for the ambulance
Emergency Assistance from the UK Government in Burundi: British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda, Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura, this list of lawyers/translators/interpreters prepared in case British citizens require legal advice and assistance while in Burundi
Requirements for Burundi Tourist Visa
- A UK passport with a minimum validity of six months
- 2 filled-out copies per applicant of the visa application form which you can download here
- Proof of travel arrangements like hotel reservations, booking or ticket copies, flight details, and impeccably written cover letter
- 2 recently taken passport-sized photos stapled onto each copy of the application form
- A copy of your yellow fever vaccine certificate
- An invitation from family or friends for tourist visa applicants
- A prepaid, self-addressed, stamped, express-return envelope if you’re sending your application by mail (you can take this one out if you’re submitting all the documents to the embassy in person)
Step by Step Guide in Applying for Burundi Tourist Visa
1. Fill out the form and gather all the important documents needed for your application.
2. Visit the nearest Embassy and submit the application personally or send it via mail. You may also have someone send it on your behalf, provided that you’ve filled out and signed all the necessary papers and documents.
3. Pay for the visa application fee through bank transfer, money order or cashier’s check.
4. Wait for your visa to be approved and sent back to you!
Where to Submit Your Application
Embassy of Burundi
Uganda House 2nd floor
58-59 Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DX.
Telephone: +44 0207 930 4958
Email: [email protected]
Monday to Thursday: 9:30 AM to 5 PM
Fridays: 9:30 AM to 4 PM
Things to Take Note of When Applying for Burundi Tourist Visa
1. A Visa application can be submitted on behalf of the visa applicant. Once the form has been filled out, you can either mail it to the embassy in a stamped and registered envelope or bring it to them personally.
2. When traveling in Burundi, the UK Government’s official website recommends that you carry a photocopy of your visa and passport with you at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Burundi
1. How long does it take to process a Burundi Visa?
The standard processing time for a Burundi visa is 15 business days.
2. Is it possible to obtain a visa upon arrival at Burundi?
No, they no longer issue a visa upon arrival. Any person traveling to Burundi must obtain a visa before traveling to the country.
3. How much does it cost to apply for a Burundi visa? How do I pay for the visa application?
For processing a single/multiple entry visa, you’ll have to pay £60 either by money order, cashier’s check or by bank transfer.
For bank transfers, you may send the payment over to:
Account Name: Embassy of Burundi/Visa fees
Account Number: 00166104
Sort Code: 40- 62-45
Bank Name: The Access Bank UK Ltd
Bank Address: 1 Cornhill London, EC3V 3ND
4. How long will my tourist visa be valid?
A single/multiple entry visa is valid for 30 days.
5. Should I get insurance when traveling to Burundi?
The answer is a big yes! The UK government highly recommends that their citizens traveling to Burundi get comprehensive travel and medical insurance before leaving.
They recently classified Burundi as having a risk of the Zika virus. There’s also a long-running Cholera epidemic in the country as well as a great risk of Malaria running across most of East Africa.
Aside from the health risks mentioned by the government, the travel advice also mentioned occurrences of street crimes like armed robbery as well as the possibility of terrorist attacks happening to the country due to its political stance. It’s better to be prepared for these kinds of situations.
6. Is it safe to travel to Burundi
According to the UK travel advisory on Burundi which was updated last June 2019, if you don’t have an important reason to visit this country, do not go.
Since the current president’s election last 2015 which was also the year when the decades-long civil war ended, this country’s been in a tense situation. Several places around the country have been listed by the UK government as places where their citizens should not visit.
Of course, this can always change from time-to-time so it’s still important that you keep yourself up-to-date with the latest government announcements.
7. When’s the best time to visit?
It depends on what you’re planning to do while you’re there. The southwestern areas of the country are slightly warmer with temperatures averaging at around 83 degrees Fahrenheit due to its lower location while the northern, higher areas are a bit colder.
However, you must take note that there are 2 wet seasons in the country every year– from February to May and from September to November.
8. Can I use my money there? Can I use my credit card when paying? Are there any ATMs?
You can bring your money with you and have it exchange at the airport or currency exchange counters along with Central Market and along Chaussée Prince Rwagasore in Bujumbura.
Credit cards and debit cards are sometimes accepted in some establishments, but the farther you get from Bujumbura, the slimmer chances you get in doing so. There are also a few ATMs around Bujumbura where you can withdraw your money.
9. How do I get to/around the country?
To get to the country, you can either take a bus from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya or Ethiopia or fly from London, Brussels, Rome, Paris, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and Kigali through the following carriers: Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Burundi.
When in Burundi, you can get around via taxis, moto-taxis (which aren’t allowed in the city center so they aren’t advisable), buses and cars. If you have an international driving permit, you may be able to drive a car while on a visit.
10. What should I not miss when in Burundi?
Probably the most famous attraction the country has is Lake Tanganyika which it shares with neighboring countries Tanzania and Uganda. This Great Lake of Africa is home to some of the most unique species of fish that you’ll only get to taste there like the Mukeke which is a famous delicacy in this part of the world. Aside from the fresh seafood, you’ll also enjoy the festive mood around the Lake Tanganyika area as there are several bars where you can go and drink local Burundi beer while dancing. Water skiing, sailing, and fishing activities are also available around the lake.
Of course, no trip to Burundi will be complete without witnessing the Royal Burundi Drummers in action. This centuries-old tradition which was initially only reserved for the royalties can now be witnessed by visitors and locals alike in Gishora. A little trivia: The drums are said to be patterned to the shape of a woman’s body.
Since Burundi has a very lush landscape, it’s also a perfect destination for anyone who loves nature. There are tons of nature parks and reserves where one can visit and marvel at the beauty of the country’s very diverse ecosystem. You’ll find hippos, flamingos, countless species of birds, monkeys, and more, all living peacefully in this quiet sanctuary.
Hopefully, all the information listed above should help you prepare when traveling to Burundi. It is indeed thrilling to find out more about what the “Eden at the Heart of Africa” has in store for its visitors, but it’s always important to proceed with caution. There’s no harm in following the government’s current restrictions and wait a little bit for the situation to change but it is still up to you whether you want to proceed with your adventure.
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