Zambia - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs:

Business law is based mostly on British law, and business customs are similar to those in the United States and Europe.  Zambians are generally polite and mild-mannered, and a direct or confrontational style is not well received in the local cultural context.  Business dress code is formal for both men and women.  For women, if the attire is a skirt suit, the length should be knee-length.  Business travelers are advised to bring ample business cards.  Zambians will often use formal titles (including Mr. and Ms.) when meeting business partners and colleagues.

Travel Advisory:

Travelers should consult for the latest on travel advisories.  The State Department typically classifies Zambia as a Level 1 destination (the lowest level) in its travel advisory, suggesting travelers exercise normal safety and security precautions.  Copperbelt towns along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo have seen periodic surges in crime due to political instability across the border.  There are no internal travel restrictions in Zambia, although areas around Zambian military bases have restricted access and should be avoided.  Please visit the State Department’s Zambia International Travel Information Page for the most current status.

Visitors should exercise caution when purchasing curios and souvenirs to avoid items that contain materials that are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

In the past, the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has detained travelers for possession of Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications, which have contained small quantities of diphenhydramine, an active ingredient that is on Zambia’s list of controlled substances.  Travelers are strongly encouraged to review Zambia’s list of prohibited pharmaceuticals (  Although unaware of these restrictions, U.S. citizens have been charged with drug trafficking offenses, had their passports confiscated, and been jailed.  When traveling with prescription medications, U.S. citizens should carry a doctor’s prescription and ensure that the medication is in its original bottle.  Any U.S. citizen stopped by the DEC for possession of over-the-counter medications should contact the U.S. Embassy at +260-211-357-000 as soon as possible.

Visa Requirements:  

In order to enter Zambia, the traveler’s passport must have at least six months of validity remaining and at least three blank, unstamped pages.  U.S. citizens do not require a visa to enter Zambia for up to 30-days for a business visit, and 90-days for a tourist visit – within a period of one year starting from the first date of entry.  Visitors seeking to stay beyond these thresholds must register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lusaka.  Within these initial visit periods, travelers may exit and return to Zambia.  However, the initial visit period continues accruing from the initial date of entry, regardless of the traveler’s physical presence.  Once these initial visit periods expire, subsequent visits within the 12-month period require a for fee visa and/or work permit.  A single-entry tourist visa may be obtained for $25, a double-entry for $40, and a multiple-entry (valid for up to three-years) for $75.  Each entry is valid for a maximum of ninety days. 

Additional details regarding for fee visas can be found on the Zambia Immigration Department’s e-services website or obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia, 2419 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008; +1(202)265-9717;  Guidance regarding work permits is best obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lusaka.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that all Zambian passport holders need a visa prior to travelling to the U.S.  Applicants must qualify on their own merits for the specific visa category.  Additional administrative processing may be required for certain applicants.  Security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following link(s) for more information on applying for a U.S. visa:  State Department Visa Website.


As of January 2024, the Zambian Kwacha was valued at ZMW 26 to one-U.S. dollar.  Payments within Zambia are by law made in Kwacha only, even if the price is quoted in U.S. dollars.  Foreign currency is only accepted by immigration officials for the purchase of visas at international airports.  Most hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and retail outlets take credit cards.  Commercial banks will advance local currency against a credit card.  Most banks have ATMs that accept Visa and MasterCard, but rarely American Express for cash.  Foreign currency exchange is done in banks or Bureaus de Change, located in most towns in shopping areas, gas stations, and supermarkets.


The Global System for Mobile (GSM) standard is the only cellular phone technology used in Zambia. Cellular service is currently offered in all provinces of Zambia, but coverage is uneven.  Major private firms that offer mobile phone access include MTN Zambia and Airtel Zambia, as well as the state-run operator Zamtel.  MTN typically has faster data speeds and is more reliable within most major cities and surrounding areas.  Airtel is the largest mobile operator and has more widespread connections throughout the country.  The three mobile networks operate on following frequencies: 2G/GSM up to EDGE on 900 MHz, 3G/UMTS up to DC-HSPA on 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE on 800/1800 MHz (B3) and 2600 MHz (B7).

There are several callback service companies operating in Zambia.  AT&T’s USADirect, T-Mobile’s Magenta Max and Google Fi services are supported, as well as similar services to Britain, Sweden, and some other European countries. 

There are over 20 internet service providers offering dial-up connections, broadband wireless, and VSAT services.  Typical broadband speeds range between 2.5 - 25mpbs.  The Zambian government has liberalized the International Voice Gateway, which now falls under ZICTA.

Obtaining a local SIM card should only be done through authorized dealer locations.  If one does not have a residency card, a passport is required for registration – a driver’s license will not suffice.  Rates for mobile phone and data are relatively affordable, and credit can be added via top-up cards sold in street-side kiosks, intersection vendors and retail store locations.


There are regular airline connections to Lusaka, Ndola, and/or Livingstone from Dubai, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Gaborone, Windhoek, Harare, Addis Ababa, Lilongwe, Luanda, Istanbul, Doha, and Nairobi.  Domestic flights are available between Lusaka, Ndola (Copperbelt Province), Mfuwe (Eastern Province), Livingstone (Southern Province), Kasama (Northern Province), Mansa (Luapula Province), and Solwezi (Northwestern Province).  The Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia can be reached via connections in Johannesburg, Dubai, Doha, Nairobi, and Addis Ababa.

In 2021, the government completed construction of an international terminal at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola.  There are several private inter-city bus lines.  Passenger train travel runs from central Zambia to Dar es Salaam and south to Livingstone.  However, as the railway system is dilapidated and not well maintained, it is generally considered unreliable, slow, and uncomfortable.


Although there are 73 local languages spoken in Zambia, English is the official language.  Government business and commercial transactions are normally conducted in English.  Other dominant languages include Bemba, Kaonde, Lunda, Lozi, Luvale, Nyanja, and Tonga.


Basic medical care outside of major cities is extremely limited.  Private medical clinics in major cities can provide reasonable care in many cases, but major medical emergencies usually require medical evacuation to South Africa, India, Europe, or the United States.  Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment for health care services.  Medical insurance covering air ambulance evacuation is highly advisable.  For the most current travel information on Zambia, please the State Department’s Travel Advisory Page for Zambia.

Malaria is endemic in Zambia.  Prophylaxis use is strongly recommended.  HIV prevalence is still high with 11 percent of adult population (June 2022) positive.  Drinking water should always be treated if bottled water is not available.

Local time, business hours, and holidays:

Zambia does not participate in Daylight Saving Time.  All of Zambia is located within the Central Africa Time Zone (CAT).  It is located two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2)/Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2).

Observed Business Hours

Government Offices are open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, but are closed from 1:00pm to 2:00pm for lunch, Monday to Friday.  Bank hours vary, but most banks are open from 8:00am to 3:30pm Monday to Friday.  Some banks are open every Saturday, while most only open the first and last Saturday of the month from 8:15am to 11:00am.  Shops are generally open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Sunday, while grocery stores, international retail chains, restaurants, and malls stay open later into the night.

Observed Zambian Holidays in 2024

Monday, January 01               New Year’s Day

Friday, March 08                    International Women’s Day

Tuesday, March 12                 Youth Day

Friday, March 29                    Good Friday

Monday, April 1                     Easter Monday

Sunday, April 28                     Kenneth Kaunda Day

Wednesday, May 01               Labor Day

Thursday, May 25                   Africa Freedom Day

Monday, July 01                     Heroes’ Day               

Tuesday, July 02                     Unity Day

Monday, August 5                  Farmer’s Day

Friday, October 18                  National Day of Prayer

Thursday, October 24             Independence Day

Wednesday, December 25      Christmas Day

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Tourist/visitors declare their goods to customs at points of entry and declare/produce them for inspection at the point of departure.