Rwanda - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.

Last published date: 2021-11-11

Business Customs

Rwandan business customs are mostly similar to those in the United States.  It is common for people to wear business suits and to exchange business cards during meetings.  Culturally, however, a direct “no” to a proposal is rare

Rwandan businesspeople may acknowledge the merits of a proposal when in fact their actual interest is limited.  Oral commitments should not be considered contractually binding.  This includes statements from government officials.  Negotiations are often lengthy and contracts have been arbitrarily reopened after signature, especially those containing tax incentives and provisions.  International arbitration and mediation clauses in original contracts have helped protect some U.S. investors from payment and contractual disputes.  Those considering doing business in Rwanda are advised to retain local legal counsel.

Travel Advisory and Visa Requirements

The latest travel advisory and visa requirement information can be found at travel.state.gov.

Rwanda requires that all U.S. citizens possess a visa to enter Rwanda.  A visa valid for 30 days for the purpose of tourism can be purchased for $50 upon arrival at Kigali International Airport or at Rwanda’s land borders.  Accepted forms of payment include U.S. dollars printed after 2006 and Visa or Mastercard.  For visa information, visit the Rwandan Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration at https://www.migration.gov.rw/home/.

As of August 2021, all travelers arriving in Rwanda must have a negative COVID-19 certificate.  The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 72 hours of departure (meaning travelers must be tested and get results within three days of their first flight).  Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Tests, are not accepted.  A second PCR test will be conducted upon arrival, with results delivered after 24 hours.  Travelers will remain in designated hotels at their own cost while awaiting test results.  For more information see https://www.visitrwanda.com/.

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign personnel to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled through an interagency process.
 
Visa applicants should go to the following links:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Rwanda.html

https://rw.usembassy.gov/

More information on COVID-19 case handling in Rwanda can be accessed at https://rw.usembassy.gov/health-alert-covid-19-information/.

Currency

The Rwandan franc (RWF) is convertible for essentially all business transactions.  U.S. dollars and Euros are accepted for international transactions.  Credit cards are not used extensively, except in major hotels, grocery stores, and larger restaurants that cater to tourists.  ATM and point of sale machines are generally available in secondary cities in Rwanda.  Many ATMs and point of sales in Rwanda are compatible with Visa and MasterCard debit cards.

Telecommunications/Electronics

Internet access is available throughout Rwanda, though poor connections outside of major cities and electricity outages may affect access.  Rwanda is also one of the few countries in Africa to have launched a national high-speed 4G LTE wireless broadband network.  There are few internet cafés outside of the major cities.  Mobile phones are increasingly used and are the preferred medium of business communication.  Many hotels and some government owned facilities have introduced Wi-fi. Rwandan electricity is 220 volts.  Plugs are type C/E/F (similar to most of Europe).

Transportation

Rwanda does not have railway transport, but a potential extension of railways from Tanzania to Kigali and from Kenya to Kigali has long been under consideration.  Air transport options are growing rapidly, led by government-owned airline RwandAir.  Rwanda and Qatar are jointly developing the Bugesera International Airport with 1.7 million passengers per year capacity in its initial phase and 3.5 million passengers per year in the final phase. 

Airline

Destination

Brussels Airlines

Brussels

Ethiopian Airlines

Addis Ababa, Bujumbura

Kenya Airlines

Bujumbura, Nairobi

KLM

Amsterdam

Qatar Airways

Doha

RwandAir

Abuja, Abidjan, Accra,  Bujumbura, Brazzaville, Brussels, Cape Town, Cotonou, Dar Es Salaam, Dakar, Douala, Dubai, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Harare, Johannesburg, Juba, Kamembe, Kinshasa, KilimanjaroLagos, Libreville, London (Gatwick), Lusaka, Mombassa, MumbaiNairobi, Tel Aviv 

Turkish Airways

Istanbul

EgyptAir

Cairo

Language

English and French are the accepted business languages in Rwanda, although many Rwandans may find English communication difficult.  Interpreters are generally not required for business meetings.  All Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda, and some speak Kiswahili to some degree.

Health

Medical and dental facilities are limited, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable; you should carry your own supply of properly labeled medications to cover your entire stay.  In Kigali, King Faisal Hospital (https://kfh.rw/) is a private facility that offers 24-hour assistance with physicians and nurses on duty in the emergency room.  Ambulances are available in Kigali through the Service d’Aide médicale d’Urgence (Emergency Medical Service, SAMU) by calling 912 from any mobile phone, or through King Faisal Hospital at (+250) 078 830 9003.  Proof of yellow fever vaccine may be requested for all travelers over 9 months of age, especially those who have visited countries where yellow fever is endemic or has had a recent outbreak; travelers who cannot show proof of vaccination may not be permitted to enter Rwanda.

Malaria is endemic to Rwanda.  You are strongly encouraged to take prophylactic medications to prevent malaria.  For more information see https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/malaria/index.html.  Prophylactic medications should be initiated prior to entry into the endemic area.  Some malaria prophylaxis medicines are not available in Rwanda and, because of possible counterfeiting of antimalarial medications, should be obtained from a reliable pharmaceutical source before arrival.

Regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries.  Medicare does not pay for any medical care received outside of the United States or its territories.  Having coverage is important, as medical evacuation from Rwanda may cost more than $80,000. 

The U.S. Embassy maintains a current list of physicians and other information regarding medical care in Rwanda.

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Local Time:  GMT + 2
Business Hours:  8am – 6pm Monday – Thursday; Friday 8am – 1pm

Rwanda observes a number of public holidays throughout the year.  The week following Genocide Memorial Day on April 7 is designated as an official week of mourning.  In addition, the last Saturday of every month is designated as the national day of community service, umuganda.  Most businesses close, and road traffic is prohibited until approximately midday.

The Government of Rwanda keeps an updated list of holidays here:  https://www.gov.rw/holidays

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Items contained in the personal luggage of travelers are exempt from custom duties when items are not for commercial purpose.  Commercial samples are exempt from custom duties when their combined value does not exceed 100,000 Rwandan francs (approximately $100) but should be declared.

For a complete list of the items that are exempt from custom duties under Rwandan law and for a comprehensive list of the required accompanying documentation, please contact the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags are banned in Rwanda.  Travelers carrying them upon arrival at the Kigali International Airport may have them confiscated.  Passengers with luggage wrapped in plastic sheeting may be required to remove the plastic before they are allowed to depart the airport.

More information on personal effects and passenger’s baggage can be found here: https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=246&L=746

A list of prohibited and restricted goods can be found here: https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=248&L=746

For merchandise in baggage:  https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=249&L=746

Exempted goods for travelers:  https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=247&L=746

Rwanda travel country information:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Rwanda.html

andan francs (approximately $100) but should be declared.

For a complete list of the items that are exempt from custom duties under Rwandan law and for a comprehensive list of the required accompanying documentation, please contact the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags are banned in Rwanda.  Travelers carrying them upon arrival at the Kigali International Airport may have them confiscated.  Passengers with luggage wrapped in plastic sheeting may be required to remove the plastic before they are allowed to depart the airport.

More information on personal effects and passenger’s baggage can be found here: https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=246&L=746

A list of prohibited and restricted goods can be found here: https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=248&L=746

For merchandise in baggage:  https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=249&L=746

Exempted goods for travelers:  https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=247&L=746

Rwanda travel country information:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Rwanda.html