Know Zambia's laws or face the consequences

By , Travel Insights Editor Home > travel-safety > Zambia > travel-legal

Drugs, porn and homosexual sex are all illegal in Zambia and severely punished.

The possession or use of narcotics, including soft drugs such as marijuana, is strictly prohibited.

Drug taking and smuggling are offences and punishments can be severe.

The possession of more than 0.5 gram of an illegal substance can constitute drug trafficking in Zambia. But the Zambian interpretation of an "illegal substance" is very broad and can get even innocent travellers into a lot of trouble.

(Really, this is where you're going to carry your toiletries?)

Bad Medicine

The Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission has detained a number of tourists for possession of anti-histamines such as Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications which contained small quantities of diphenhydramine, an active ingredient that is on Zambia's list of controlled substances. Although unaware of these restrictions, the tourists were charged with drug-trafficking offenses and were jailed.

As always when travelling with medicines, bring a doctor's prescription and ensure the medication is in its original bottle. You don't want to go to jail in Zambia, conditions in prisons are poor at best.

Other No-No's

The possession of pornographic material is illegal in Zambia and offenders may be jailed and/or deported. Again what you think is a legitimate "men's magazine" might be considered pornographic by the Zambian authorities - leave it on the plane for the next passenger to read.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and those caught engaging in homosexual acts can be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Which would put a bit of a dampner on your safari holiday, so, sadly, keep it behind closed doors.

Animal Trophies

It is against Zambian law to buy, possess or transport animal products such as:

  • tortoise shells
  • rhino horns
  • elephant ivory
  • tusks of any animal
  • any items made out of these materials

Again watch for the Zambian trap - many of these items are sold in markets throughout the country, it remains the responsibility of the customer to ensure they are not purchasing a prohibited item.

The Zambian Wildlife Authority has screeners at international ports and will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law with penalties ranging from large fines to 5-year prison sentences.

(Besides, tusks look better ON elephants.)

Carry ID

Police and immigration officials can request to see your passport and immigration stamp/visa at any time. Failure to produce these documents may result in detention. Carry your passport and visa or immigration permit at all times.

It is illegal to photograph around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel.


No Comments

  • Deon Fialkov said

    Is the exchange of naughty pictures and videos via facebook messaging classified as "possession of pornographic material" ?

    Would that be criminal for the recipient staying in Zambia or for the person sending to the person in Zambia ?

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Author: Phil Sylvester

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