Tanzania Border Crossing: What to Know

There are number of ways for travelers to cross into Tanzania when entering the country for a holiday. As it is surrounded by a large number of neighboring African countries, including Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia, there is a variety of land border crossings to Tanzania that travelers can choose from.

In order to travel to the country, the majority of foreign nationalities are first required to obtain a visa for Tanzania, which previously involved either applying from a Tanzanian embassy or consulate or queueing for a visa on arrival at the border entry points. However, eligible citizens are now able to complete a Tanzania eVisa application form and receive travel authorization for the country exclusively online. Holders of an approved Tanzania online visa are able to print a copy of the eVisa to present upon arrival alongside their passport and gain expedited entry to the country, including at any of the many land border checkpoints in the country.

Crossing Tanzania’s Land Borders

Crossing into Tanzania via one of the land borders is generally straightforward and easy. Travelers are able to cross the borders either by bus or using their own vehicle. Those arriving from either Kenya, Uganda, or Rwanda on main routes are able to take a through-bus which will take them over the border, although they will need to disembark on each side in order to take care of visa formalities.

For less-traveled routes, as well as passengers arriving from other neighboring countries, it is necessary to take one bus to the border, cross on foot, and then catch another bus to their destination once in Tanzania.

Those planning to enter Tanzania with their own vehicle will need to have the following in order to do so:

  • Vehicle registration papers
  • Driving license
  • Road tax (US $25)
  • Fuel levy (US $4)
  • Third-party insurance (US $22 for three months, which can be purchased at the border). COMESA yellow card motor insurance is also accepted in Tanzania
  • Temporary import permit (US $17 for one month, can be purchased at the border), which is waived if the vehicle will later be returned to its country of registration. Alternatively, a carnet de passage en douane can act as a temporary waiver of import duty and can be arranged through the traveler’s local automobile association. It should also specify any expensive spare parts the traveler may have in the vehicle.

Travelers crossing into Tanzania with their own vehicle should also be aware that most border checkpoints do not have gas stations or repair shops so they will need to be prepared before starting their journey. Read on for a complete guide to crossing into Tanzania at the land borders for each neighboring country.

Crossing into Tanzania from Kenya

The main route for entering Tanzania from Kenya is the road connecting Nairobi to Arusha via the Namanga border post. Public transport is available across all of the Tanzania-Kenya land border crossings, and travelers can take a direct bus into the country from either Nairobi, Mombasa or Voi. It is also possible to take a shuttle bus or Dalla-Dalla minivan from Nairobi into Tanzania. Rough bus prices and times are as follows:

From Nairobi to Dar es Salaam: US $26, 14-15 hours

From Mombasa to Dar es Salaam: US $11, 10-11 hours

From Voi to Moshi: US $9, 7-8 hours

Border crossing points between Tanzania and Burundi

The main land crossings from Tanzania to Burundi are at Nanyovu and at the Kobero bridge between Ngara and Muyinga. Those crossing by bus from Burundi are required to disembark at the border, walk through immigration, and catch another bus in Tanzania to their onward destination. Rough bus routes, prices and travel times are as follows:

Mwanza to Ngara: US $9, 7-8 hours

Bujumbura or Kigoma to Manyovu: US $ 7-9, 7 hours

It is also possible for travelers to take a shared taxi from Nyakanazi to Nagara ( US $4, 2 hours), or a dalla-dalla minibus from Kigoma to Manyovu (US $3, 1-2 hours) before walking through immigration and finding onward transportation.

How can I get into Tanzania from Malawi?

The only land crossing from Tanzania to Mawali is at the Songwe River Bridge at Kasmulu, southeast of Mbeya. Travelers should note that this this border crossing has limited opening hours ( 7am- 7pm Tanzania time, 6am- 6pm Malawi time), so should plan their crossing times accordingly.

Travelers are able to take a bus from Mzuz, the capital of Malawi’s northern region, or a minibus from Karonga to the Tanzanian border. Once across the border, it is possible to either take a minibus or 30-seater bus to Mbeya in southwest Tanzania (US $2, taking around 2 hours).

Traveling to Tanzania from Mozambique

The principal border crossings from Tanzania to Mozambique are at the Unity Bridge over the Ruvuma River at Negomano or the Unity 2 bridge in the town of Mtomoni, via vehicle ferry. Travelers are able to take a bus from Palma or Moçimboa da Praia in Mozambique to the Tanzania border crossing at Namiranga (US $10, 3 hours), and then either cross the border by ferry (around 22 US cents), passenger-only motorboat (44 US cents), or even in a dugout canoe ( US $2) if other services are not operating at the time.

Passengers who decide to cross the border in a dugout canoe should be wary of not paying too high a prince for the ride, and seek alternative transport in case of heavy rain and high water levels. Once on the Tanzanian side of the crossing, it is possible to take a bus from the Kilambo border checkpoint to Mtwara, which costs around US $3 and takes about an hour.

The border between Tanzania and Rwanda

The main crossing from Tanzania to Rwanda is at Rusumu Falls, southwest of Bukoba. Travelers can take a direct bus from Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, directly to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, although it also stops at Dodoma, Singida, and Kahama along the route. The trip takes around 30-35 hours in total and costs around US $37.

It is also possible to do the trip in stages, by taking a bus from Kigali to the border, walking across, and then taking an onward bus from Benaco to Mwanza. The whole trip will take around 12-14 hours and costs around US $14 for the whole journey.

How to travel from Uganda to Tanzania

The main land crossing between Uganda and Tanzania is at Mutukula, northwest of Bukoba, and another border checkpoint is available further west at Nkurungu. Those traveling to Arusha or Moshi in northeastern Tanzania from Uganda will have to pass through Kenya en route.

Visitors can take a bus from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, to Arusha in Tanzania, passing through Nairobi, which costs US $32 and takes approximately 20 hours. It’s also possible to take a bus from Kampala to Bukoba in Tanzania (US $9, 6-8 hours), or from Kampala to Mwanza (US $20, 16 hours).

Zambia and Tanzania: main crossings

The main land border crossing between Zambia and Tanzania is at Tunduma, southwest of Mbeya, and a crossing is also available at Kaseya between Sumbawanga and Mbala.

Those crossing into Tanzania from Zambia have several options to do so, either by bus, car, or train. The train from Zambia to Tanzania runs twice weekly from Kapiri Mposhoi to Dar es Salaam, and costs approximately US $31-26, and the journey can take between 43-59 hours.

Traveling to Tanzania: What Should I Bring to the Border?

Besides having your driving papers ready in case you’re behind the wheel, there are requirements and customs regulations to keep in mind when entering Tanzania.

The most important items to carry with you at all times are your travel documents. These include:

  • A passport with a validity of at least 6 months from your date of entry into Tanzania
  • A valid visa for foreign citizens. If you hold a Tanzania eVisa, remember to print a copy. Tanzania offers the possibility to obtain a visa on arrival directly at the border but this may result in long waiting times. Foreigners are advised to sort their travel authorization in advance
  • Other relevant supporting documentation. Some travelers may be required to provide proof of insurance coverage or vaccinations, others may be asked to show evidence of financial means. This does not apply to all foreigners and you should check what is relevant to your specific circumstances.

Tanzanian borders: prohibited goods

Because of customs regulations, there are specific forbidden items that you cannot import through the border. These include:

  • Narcotics
  • Pornography
  • Counterfeit items
  • Local currency (Tanzanian shilling).

Other goods are restricted, meaning that you may carry them across the border but in limited amounts and/ or accompanied by proof of official permission. These may include:

  • Live animals
  • Plants
  • Weaponry and ammunition
  • Medications
  • Filming equipment
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Foreign currency.