COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Information

Last updated:  [08/13 /21]

*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel.  There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.  Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy at ConsularGaborone@state.gov, and provide the information below.  The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.

The following information must be provided for each passenger:

  1. Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
  2. Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
  3. Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
  4. U.S. destination address
    1. Is U.S. destination home address?
  5. Departure date
  6. Flight itinerary
  7. Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
  8. Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  9. Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  10. Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  11. Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
  12. Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
  13. Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)

Country-Specific Information:

  • Botswana has confirmed over 136,700 cases of COVID-19 and 1,973 deaths within its borders.   
  • Botswana has a Level 4 Travel Advisory.
  • All gatherings are suspended with the exception of:
    • Funerals – up to 50 and no more than 2 hours
    • Religious services – up to 50 and no more than 2 hours
    • Weddings – up to 4 including administrators
    • Cultural or traditional occasion – up to 16 and no more than 2 hours
    • Meetings or workshops – up to 50 and no more than 2 hours
    • Restaurants may operate at half capacity and no more than 50 guests at a time
    • All sports and recreational activities are suspended except national team events with no spectators.
    • Alcohol sales remain banned.
    • School openings scheduled for August 16 have been postponed three weeks.
  • Charter flights may be available for tourists into Kasane and Maun. Please check directly with charter companies and tour companies regarding the most current schedules and regulations.
  • Commercial flights into Botswana are operating through South Africa and Ethiopia, though additional restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling from high risk countries may be in place for some transit countries. All incoming travelers require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their departure for Botswana and will be tested at the Port of Entry even with a negative certified test prior to arrival. Please note that enforcement of regulations may not be consistent.
  • South Africa has been added to the list of countries with COVID-19 travel restrictions for entry to the United States effective January 30, 2021. Please check https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html for the latest information on travel restrictions to the United States.
  • Medical evacuations for serious injury and illness are typically organized to South Africa by tourist agencies and safari companies. However, due to current COVID conditions in South Africa, patients may be routed to Gaborone for care if beds are available. Please note that companies are having a difficult time finding beds in South Africa for immediate care, and some delays in emergency care may occur as a result.
  • Please check the U.S. Embassy in South Africa’s COVID page for the latest details on border closures at https://za.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/.
  • Land border crossings to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia may also be open. Please check the respective embassy websites for the latest on transit, testing, and border crossing availability at https://zm.usembassy.gov/, https://zw.usembassy.gov/, and https://na.usembassy.gov/.

COVID-19 Testing:

  • Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Botswana? Yes
  • If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
    • Antigen (rapid) tests are available at the international airports and major land border crossings and testing centers around Botswana. They are readily available and affordable.
    • PCR tests are available for U.S. citizens at various locations including (not exhaustive):
      • Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, Diagnofirm Medical Laboratories, and Kalafhi Medical Center, all in Gaborone. Life Gaborone Private Hospital offers COVID testing by physician referral only.
      • Diagnofirm offers home testing in Gaborone and other locations for an additional cost.
      • Some Okavango Delta lodges and camps and some Chobe National Park lodges and camps can fly in a licensed practitioner to conduct the tests. These tests cost from $330 to $450 per person and results take from 8-48 hours depending on urgency.
      • Diagnofirm operates PCR testing in Maun at around 950 BWP.
      • Okavango Air Rescue in Maun offers antigen testing from 125 to 180 BWP.  
      • *Teaching Hospital PCR tests are 500 BWP and results can be slower than 48-72 hours as this is the main testing facility for everyone in country and is cheaper than Diagnofirm. Diagnofirm offers PCR tests for around 850 BWP which are available in less than 24 hours, usually within 6-8 hours. Kalafhi Medical Center offers PCR tests for 875 BWP and uses Diagnofirm labs. Antigen tests are available at multiple locations around Gaborone and costs range from 150 to 500 BWP. All testing is paid for by the patient. The Teaching Hospital price of 500 BWP is a price limit set by the Government of Botswana and is therefore partially subsidized.
    • Test results are delivered by text message/SMS. Expect delays in messaging even if the results are completed on time.
    • Diagnofirm tests generate a certificate of the results that passengers can carry with them.
  • Testing regulations and information change frequently. If you are in Botswana and experiencing symptoms, contact your physician and the Government of Botswana COVID hotline at 997 for instructions.
  • For information on limited humanitarian exemptions for travel to the United States, please review the following page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-testing-required-us-entry.html

 COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

  • Has the Government of Botswana approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes.
    • Oxford University-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinovac, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer BioNTech have been approved for use.
    • Gamaleya (Sputnik V) may be used in Botswana in the coming months.
  • Are vaccines available in Botswana for U.S. citizens to receive? Yes.
    • Supply shortages have delayed the vaccination campaign. Patients should expect to wait more than 12 weeks to receive a second dose and may receive mixed doses. The next major shipments of vaccine may not arrive until the end of 2021.
    • The rollout planned through COVAX will provide 100,800 vaccines for the country. 24,000 AstraZeneca doses have been delivered according to COVAX. Botswana announced the delivery of an additional 38,400 AstraZeneca doses from COVAX.
    • The Government of Botswana reports 30,000 Covishield vaccines from India were received in early March and 200,000 doses of Sinovac were delivered on April 25. 19,890 Pfizer doses were received through COVAX in early June. They report that they have now received over 650,000 vaccines in total, comprising Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson.
    • Botswana began its vaccination campaign on March 26-7. They have opened vaccinations as of May 10 for those over 65, followed by those aged 55-64. They will prioritize those over 65 and those over 55 with underlying health conditions as more vaccines become available.
    • Persons over 55 may already register at https://dhis2sms.gov.bw/vaccine/. Please note this is for registration of future eligibility, not vaccination scheduling.
  • Which vaccines are available in Botswana? AstraZeneca and Covishield deliveries in March 2021, Sinovac delivery in April 2021, Pfizer delivery in June 2021. Some or all of these vaccines may no longer be available.
  • The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The Government of Botswana may publish any news on vaccine approvals and distribution on their website at gov.bw and their social media accounts found below under “Local Resources.” Botswana’s official Twitter account is often the first and most comprehensive source of the latest vaccine and COVID regulation information.
  • Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccinesin the United States. 
  • Information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

Entry and Exit Requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes
    • All travelers are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test valid within 72 hours of their departure for Botswana. Testing regulations are often not clearly published or enforced: expect inconsistent application of rules or sudden unexplained changes in enforcement.
    • All travelers exiting Botswana are required to present a negative PCR test valid within 72 hours of their departure from Botswana.
    • Travelers entering Botswana from high risk countries may be required to quarantine at a designated facility and will be tested on day seven of their quarantine to be released based on the results of the test.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Yes
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes
    • All entering passengers are screened for COVID symptoms and must have a rapid antigen test upon entry regardless of PCR test results taken before departure for Botswana. Please expect delays for testing and plan accordingly.
  • S. citizens in Botswana with resident permits may apply for extensions or renewals through the Government of Botswana at www.gov.bw.
  • Please contact the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration, and Gender Affairs with any questions about your status in Botswana at mnig-pro@.gov.bw.

Movement Restrictions:

  • Is a curfew in place? Yes
    • A curfew for Gaborone has been extended until further notice and bans all movement between 8pm and 4am as of August 16, 2021. The State of Emergency has been extended through September 30, 2021.
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Yes
    • Botswana is divided into 9 geographical zones (map available at gov.bw) and permits are needed to travel between zones. Residents may travel within their zone without permits. Inter-zonal permits are now allowed for essential travel only.
    • Permits for inter-zone travel may be acquired online at gov.bw and are restricted to essential travel. COVID-19 tests may be required for those transiting zones. Tourism is considered essential travel for economic reasons, and Botswana residents may organize permit applications with a reservation confirmation from their destination lodging.

Quarantine Information:

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? No
    • All persons entering Botswana are required to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their departure for Botswana. If they do not meet this requirement upon entry, they will be tested at the Port of Entry. With a negative test, they are not required to quarantine.
    • Persons who are symptomatic upon entry or who develop COVID after entry must self-isolate for 10 days with a test in the second half of the isolation period. Close contacts of positive COVID patients will be asked to isolate for 10-14 days.

Transportation Options:

  • Are commercial flights operating?
    • Flights are available through South Africa and Ethiopia at this time, subject to change. Contact airlines directly for the latest schedules and fares.
  • Is public transportation operating? Yes
    • Masks are required at all times on public transportation. Buses and vans operate at full capacity and do not always follow guidelines, so passengers should exercise extra caution when using public transportation.

Fines for Non-Compliance:

  • Those in violation of mask or other COVID-related regulations can expect fines between 200-5000 BWP, though enforcement is rare.

Consular Operations:

  • Routine U.S. citizen services are not being offered at this time. For emergencies, contact us at ConsularGaborone@state.gov or using our emergency phone number (+267) 373-2222.
  • Travel across Botswana is complicated and difficult, and healthcare options are limited. Travel to Botswana is discouraged by the CDC and U.S. Department of State at this time.
  • Routine visa services are not being offered at this time. The Consular Section is accepting emergency cases only via email appointment at ConsularGaborone@state.gov. Requests for emergency appointments will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Local Resources: