Safety


For the most up to date advice on safety and security in Malawi visit the Foreign and Commonwealth website.

Crime

Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from muggers and bag-snatchers. Most thefts from visitors take place around the main bus stations in Lilongwe and Blantyre, and at the main ports for the Ilala ferry. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Leave valuables and cash in a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents in a separate place Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible.

There have been several outbreaks of violence in market areas involving protestors throwing rocks and the police responding with tear gas. Take extra care in market areas.

Lock car doors and keep windows closed. Armed carjacking is a risk, especially for drivers of four-by-four vehicles. Don't offer lifts to strangers and look out for obstructions in the road ahead.

Be cautious if over-friendly people approach you offering to act as guides or selling goods, or who claim to know you and ask for a lift. Don't accept food or drink from strangers; people have been robbed after eating drugged food.

House burglaries, including by armed gangs, are common. There has been an increase in break-ins in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Limbe, including violent assaults on residents. Review your security systems and watch out for anything unusual.

Seek security advice from the Mulanje Mountain Club if you intend to climb Mulanje Mountain.

Road Travel

Driving in Malawi can be hazardous. Always wear a seatbelt and avoid travel after dark. Potholes, animals, abandoned vehicles and cyclists can cause serious accidents, as can vehicles travelling at night without lights.

Malawi has a very high rate of fatalities on the road. Travel between towns by public minibus or pick-up truck isn't recommended; vehicles are often in poor condition and overloaded. Emergency services are basic. Larger coach services do run between the major towns and are more reliable.

The Malawi Police Service has introduced breathalyser tests, and regularly stops vehicles for speeding. There are speed cameras on the main roads. Drivers caught drink driving or speeding can have their licences and vehicles confiscated on the spot. Convicted drivers face a fine and/or imprisonment. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08g per 100ml of blood, the same as in the UK.

Fuel shortages occur regularly in Malawi causing very long queues at fuel stations (people often queue for 24 hours or more). If you arrive by road from neighbouring countries, consider bringing additional fuel.

When driving in Malawi you should carry a valid driving licence at all times; you may need to produce it at police check points. You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 90 days or an International Driving Permit for up to one year. After this period you must visit the local Road Traffic Department and apply for a Malawian licence. You will not need to surrender your UK licence. Slow down in all built-up areas. Traffic police often place speed cameras where there are no signs showing the speed limit. The police can impose on the spot fines.

Air travel

British government employees are advised, where possible, to avoid Air Malawi and to use other airlines or different modes of transport.

Political situation

Monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations. You can sign up to the UK Government's Foreign Travel Advice Malawi for updates on travel advice and safety and security alerts.