The island of Zanzibar lies just off the coast of mainland Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. Historically a separate nation, it has a distinct culture and relaxed atmosphere. With its white beaches, clear blue waters, national parks, and historic towns, Zanzibar is a popular tourist destination in its own right.
Traveling to Zanzibar is easy. The island is accessible by sea or via international flights directly to Zanzibar International Airport, or with a change in mainland Tanzania.
A common doubt among people traveling to Zanzibar is the visa situation. Is it the same as Tanzania? And can you get an eVisa for Zanzibar?
Do You Need a Visa to Visit Zanzibar?
Zanzibar shares the same visa policy as the rest of Tanzania. Travelers of certain nationalities can enter the country without a visa, while others will either have to obtain an eVisa or a paper visa.
Citizens of the following countries and territories can visit Zanzibar (and the rest of Tanzania) for up to 3 months without a visa:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Eswatini (Swaziland)
- Hong Kong
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- S. V. and Grenadines
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Trinidad and Tobago
This encompasses the majority of the Commonwealth of Nations (with the notable exceptions of Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom).
Conversely, nationals of the following countries must obtain a visa in advance of their trip to Zanzibar, as these applications must be approved by the Commissioner General of Immigration or the Commissioner of Immigration:
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
All other nationalities can get a visa on arrival or apply for a Tanzania eVisa.
Can You Get an eVisa for Zanzibar?
There is no eVisa specifically for Zanzibar, but nationals of many countries can obtain a Tanzania eVisa. This permits the holder to visit all parts of Tanzania, including Zanzibar.
The eVisa, or electronic visa, is designed to improve security and facilitate entry to the country. Visitors who arrive with an eVisa will be able to pass through border control faster and more smoothly than those who have to stand in line for a visa on arrival.
Travelers can apply for the Tanzania eVisa online before they go to Zanzibar as long as they are eligible and have the required documents for entry. Learn more about requirements for entry to Tanzania and obtaining the eVisa.
How to Get to Zanzibar
Visitors with a valid visa can reach Zanzibar by air or by sea.
The island is served by Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (also known as Zanzibar International Airport). There are international flights direct to Zanzibar from the following countries:
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
There are also domestic flights from a number of airports in mainland Tanzania, with many visitors taking connecting flights or stopping to see other parts of the country before traveling to Zanzibar.
There are frequent short flights from Dar Es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, which is located on the coast of the mainland, around 92 km from the island.
There are also ferries from Dar Es Salaam, which take between 90 minutes and 2 hours to reach Zanzibar. However, it may take over an hour to reach the ferry terminal depending on the traffic in Dar Es Salaam.
Arriving in Zanzibar from Tanzania
Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. However, it is a semi-autonomous region with its own government and immigration service.
Even travelers arriving from mainland Tanzania must present a valid passport to enter Zanzibar and fill out Tanzania arrival and departure cards when arriving and leaving, respectively. Foreign nationals may be asked to present their visas or eVisa confirmations if applicable.
Can I Get a Zanzibar Visa on Arrival at the Airport?
Nationals of all countries and territories not listed above are able to obtain a visa on arrival for Tanzania at Zanzibar International Airport (or if arriving in mainland Tanzania first, at their point of entry).
The visa on arrival must be paid for at the border and costs around US$50. New arrivals must usually wait in line at both the airports and the 5 entry points along Tanzania’s land border.
An easier option for visitors from many countries is to apply online for a Tanzania eVisa in advance of their journey.