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Navigating Zanzibar Visa Requirements – A Comprehensive Guide

The Island of Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region, although it is still considered part of the Republic of Tanzania, thus having its own immigration processes.

Not only that, visitors to Tanzania are required to present passports and visas on entry, but these procedures also apply to Zanzibar Island.

Visas for Zanzibar are required by all travelers except those from countries with visa-free travel.

There are different types of visas, but the single entry/visitor’s pass or ordinary visas are the most common.

All visas can be secured online via the electronic visa application system (eVisa) or upon arrival but must be applied for in advance.

The electronic visa application normally takes only ten working days, and travelers can receive them via email.

Travelers are reminded that having a visa is not the final and only authority to access Zanzibar.

Your visa may be rejected by the immigration officer at the point of entry if you cannot fulfill the immigration entry requirements or if your presence in Zanzibar is against the interests of the country (Tanzania) or the Island of Zanzibar.

The following are the countries whose citizens don’t require visas to visit Tanzania:

Ghana, Anguilla, Grenada, Namibia, Malaysia, Bermuda, Dominica, Cyprus, Jersey, Lesotho, Heard Island, Bahamas, Christmas Island, Malta, Zambia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Papua New Guinea, Cocos Island, Tokelau, St. Lucia, Tonga, British Virgin Islands, Rwanda, Botswana, Kiribati, Kenya, Mozambique, Gambia, Vanuatu, Malawi, Channel Islands, Solomon Islands, Brunei, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, Guernsey, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Uganda, St. Vincent, Norfolk Island, Ross Dependency, Ashmore & Cartier Islands, Turks & Caicos, Nauru, Montserrat, Tuvalu, Mauritius, Madagascar, British Indian Ocean Territory, Swaziland, Channel Islands, Hong Kong, Guyana, Isle of Man, Singapore, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands, Guernsey, Dominica, Cayman Islands, Romania, St. Helena, South African Republic, and Zimbabwe.

Types of Zanzibar Visas

Tanzania Visa Requirements

There are several visa types for different categories of tourists, including:

1. The Single Entry Visa (or the Ordinary Visa)

The Single Entry Visa is valid for only 90 days and is given to foreign nationals for purposes such as charity, travel, visiting friends and family, leisure, holidays/vacations, health purposes, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events), humanitarian activities, and other purposes confirmed by the issuing authority.

2. The Multiple Entry Visa

Multiple Entry Visas are issued to foreign nationals who need to make repeated visits to Zanzibar.

Travelers under this category include government consultants, individuals participating in bilateral meetings, directors of companies registered in Tanzania (or Zanzibar) who don’t reside in the country, married spouses of Tanzanian residents, representatives of International Non-Governmental Organizations, and government ambassadors.

These visas are valid for one year, and holders must leave the country at least every 3 months.

3. Business Visa

Business Visas are issued for short-term professional roles, special assignments, and short-term lawful business-related assignments recognized by Tanzanian laws.

They are valid for 90 days.

4. Transit Visas

Transit Visas are for travelers passing through Tanzania to another country.

This visa is meant for visitors “just passing through” Tanzania for no more than one week and should not be used for tourism purposes.

5. Student Visa

Student Visas are for foreign nationals entering Tanzania for academic-related purposes, including East African Community students, research students, exchange program students, volunteers, interns, and students admitted to legally registered and recognized institutions.

Student Visas are issued for up to 2 years.

6. Gratis Visa

Gratis Visas are provided free of charge to applicants holding diplomatic, travel, or official documents of recognized international organizations who are on official duty, as well as their dependents.

The type of Gratis Visa (single or multiple entries) is determined by the Commissioner General of Immigration or the Commissioner of Immigration Zanzibar.

7. Referral Visas

Referral Visas are issued to citizens of countries that require “special clearances” from the Commissioner General of Immigration or the Commissioner of Immigration Zanzibar before receiving the Visa.

Travelers from these countries are advised not to make flight bookings or reservations in Tanzania until their visas are approved.

Applications for Referral Visas must be submitted at least 2 months before the travel date.

Additionally, refugees and individuals from stateless regions holding Vienna Convention documents must apply for Referral Visas before visiting Tanzania.

Countries that qualify for Referral Visas include Syria, Mauritania, Iraq, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Senegal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Mali, Kazakhstan Republic, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Somaliland, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Chad, and refugees with refugee status.

Visa Fees

Different categories have different visa fees:

  • Single Entry Visa (ordinary visa): $50
  • Multiple Entry Visa: $100
  • Transit Visa: $30
  • Business Visa for Zanzibar: $250
  • Student Visa (fees vary based on category and duration): $50, $250, or $550
  • Gratis Visas are provided free of charge.

How to Apply for a Zanzibar Visa?

Getting a Visa

Visas for Zanzibar can be applied for in two ways: on arrival at any of the four main entry points into the country or through the Tanzanian Government eVisa portal.

Note: The On-Arrival Visa facility may only be used by applicants whose nationalities do not fall under Referral Visa category. Despite having the On Arrival Visa facility, it is recommended for all applicants to use online Visa platform.

Application via the eVisa Portal

Applicants are advised to visit the Government eVisa Portal and fill in the required online application forms.

For Single Entry Visa

Applications for Single Entry Visas should be accompanied by a copy of the applicant’s valid passport, the return ticket of your flight, a duly filled and signed declaration form, as well as visa fees.

For Multiple Entry Visa

Applicants for multiple entry Visas are required to present a copy of their valid passport (biographic data page), a valid National Identity Card or passport of the person to be visited in the host country (Tanzania), or a cover letter from the host institution indicating the reasons and frequency of visits. Strong proof of frequent visits to Tanzania, a return ticket, and an attached certificate of marriage (if visiting a spouse) are also necessary.

How to apply for the Student Visa

Persons applying for Student Visas must provide a copy of a valid passport, a covering letter from the host college/institution detailing the course and its duration, and visa fees.

Applications for Business Visa

For Business Visas, applications must include work contracts or proof of assignments to be performed within a period of not more than 3 months, a copy of a valid passport, a return flight ticket, and the visa fees.

How to apply for Transit Visa

Applications for Transit visas must include entry visas or onward tickets to the final destination, a copy of the applicant’s passport, and the required visa fees.

How to apply for Referral Visas

Referral visas are applied for in two options.

The first option involves seeking permission clearance through the host in Tanzania.

The host submits a request letter with reasons for the visit and the duration of stay to the Commissioner of Zanzibar.

The applicant attaches a passport-size photo, a travel document/passport, and the permission letter granted.

Processing of the application will be finalized within 5 business days.

The second option is to apply directly online by attaching a valid copy of the passport, a passport-size photo, a covering letter from a legally registered institution if the visit is official, or a cover letter from an individual in the host country if the visit is personal, along with the required visa fees.

The second option takes a maximum of 2 months for the application to be processed.

Application of Visas on arrival

Zanzibar Visas can also be applied for on arrival through any of the four main entry points.

This option is available for single entry Visas.

The main entry points include Dar es Salaam International Airport, Namanga Entry point (for travelers crossing the Kenya-Tanzania border), Kilimanjaro International Airport, and Zanzibar International Airport, the perfect entry point for visitors planning to visit the Zanzibar Island.

However, visitors are advised to apply for the visa before traveling to avoid spending a lot of time at the entry points.

Other requirements for Visa applications

You will need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate, proof of onward travel, as well as enough funds to support yourself during your stay in Zanzibar, and 2 recent passport photographs for mainland travels.


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