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Moving to Tanzania
A comprehensive guide to moving to Tanzania
Tanzania is a fascinating country with a lot to offer for expats who take up a foreign assignment there. Our guide on moving to Tanzania has information on different types of visas, work and residence permits, and the various forms of public and private transportation available.
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Relocating to Tanzania
There are five different types of visas for Tanzania, and knowing which one you require is key as they all vary in terms of requirements, price, and take different amounts of time to process.
To get a work permit for Tanzania, you firstly need to know what class of permit you require. It is advised to check with your local embassy before applying.
The public transportation system in Tanzania is, for the most part, quite unreliable. On top of this, road safety in Tanzania is questionable at best so take care when commuting.
Country Overview: What You Need To Know
Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is the largest and most populous country in the East African Community (EAC), which also includes Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. A couple years after gaining independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to create the new country of Tanzania on April 26, 1964. This day, known as Union Day, is celebrated each year as a national holiday.
After several decades of one-party rule, Tanzania has held democratic elections since 1995. The country is divided into 30 administrative divisions, with 25 on the mainland and the remaining five on the islands. Zanzibar retains its status as a semi-autonomous region and has its own parliament and president.
The capital of Tanzania has officially been Dodoma since 1973 and Tanzania’s National Assembly relocated there in 1996. Dar es Salaam remains the country’s commercial and administrative capital, however, and the executive branch of the government and all diplomatic representations are still located in this city.
Obtaining a Tanzanian Visa: Organization Is Key
Fairly early in your preparations for moving to Tanzania, you should look into whether or not you require a visa to enter the country. You can find a list of which nationalities require a visa on the website of Tanzania’s Australian Consulate. Tanzania offers a total of five visa categories:
- Ordinary visas: for three-month stays (six months for members of EAC countries)
- Transit visas: for a stay of up to 14 days
- Multiple-entry visas: generally for a three-, six-, or twelve-month period. Each stay cannot exceed three months.
- Gratis visas: for diplomatic staff
- Referral visas: for citizens of certain countries who require special permission from the Principal Commissioner of Immigration Services before moving to Tanzania
To receive a Tanzanian visa, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry. For citizens of many countries (excluding those who require a referral visa) it is usually possible to obtain a visa at your point of entry (e.g. the airport) when moving to Tanzania. Despite this, it is strongly recommended that you apply for your visa at your nearest Tanzanian embassy or consulate well ahead of time, to avoid any unwanted delays upon arrival.
When you apply for a visa, you will need to submit a completed application form, five passport-size photographs, and a copy of your passport. For multiple-entry visas, you will also need to provide a security bond, documents from the company or business to be visited, and any other evidence proving that you must travel to Tanzania frequently.
At the point of entry, you will need to present a valid visa (or apply for it there), a valid passport, proof of sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of your stay in the country, and an onward ticket. If you are traveling from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you may also be asked to present proof of a yellow fever vaccination. This applies to anyone who has spent more than 12 hours in a yellow fever endemic country prior to their arrival.
For more information on the visa you will require when moving to Tanzania, please visit the website of the Tanzanian Immigration Services Department.
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Tanzania: Permits and Transportation
Classes and Conditions: Residence and Work Permits
There are three different classes of residence and work permits which you can apply for:
- Class A: for foreign investors
- Class B: for employees with special skills who have accepted a job for which no local Tanzanian could be found
- Class C: for volunteers, missionaries, researchers, students, those seeking medical treatment, etc.
If you are interested in investing in Tanzania, you can apply for a Class A permit at the Immigration Services Department headquarters, at the Tanzanian Investment Center (TIC), or at the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) after your arrival. Please see the Immigration Services Department website for a list of documents to submit.
If you need a Class B or Class C permit, then you will need to submit your application before your departure. Your employer will apply for the residence/work permit on your behalf. First the company must prove to the Director of Employment at the Ministry of Labor that they were unsuccessful in their attempts to find a local Tanzanian for the position. The Director will then forward his/her recommendation to the Principal Commissioner of Immigration Service, who will make the final decision on the issuance of a Class B permit.
Your employer will require the following documents from you to apply for your permit:
- your CV
- referrals from previous employers
- your academic records and qualifications
- a signed employment contract
- your passport (must be valid for at least one year)
- passport photos
Any dependents (spouse and children under 18) may be endorsed in your residence permit. In this case, you will also need to provide a marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children. Please be aware that it can take several months to issue a Class B residence/work permit. After your residence/work permit application has been approved, you will also need to obtain a re-entry pass for each member of your family. This pass allows you to leave and re-enter the country.
Transportation between Cities: No Easy Fare
The transportation infrastructure in Tanzania is quite old and outdated. The government is taking measures to improve it, but at the moment it is far from what one would expect in most developed countries.
The safest and most hassle-free way to travel both within the country and to other destinations is by plane. Tanzania has three main international airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) serving Dar es Salaam, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) serving Zanzibar City, and Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is located halfway between Arusha and Moshi. In addition, there are several domestic airports connecting the major Tanzanian cities. Although domestic flights are quite frequent (if not always punctual), they are surprisingly expensive. Air Tanzania, ZanAir and Coastal Aviation are the three main domestic airlines.
If flying is too expensive and you have a bit more time on your hands, you can take the train. Tanzania is served by two railway companies which operate different routes. The first company is Tanzania Railways Limited. It operates two east-west lines, the Central Line, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma, and the Tanga Line, which runs from Tanga to Arusha, as well as a north-south line from Korogwe to Morogoro which connects the two. Unfortunately, the trains are quite old and unreliable and run rather infrequently. There is also a high risk of theft and pickpocketing on the trains.
TAZARA (The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority) has newer and nicer trains, but they are also not known for their punctuality. The company offers several express trains, such as the Kilimanjaro Express and the Mukuba Express. Especially during holidays, these trains can fill up quickly, so be sure to make your booking well in advance.
By Long-Distance Bus
Taking a long-distance bus is also a way to travel around Tanzania. All these buses are operated by private companies, so do your research when choosing an operator, as some of the buses are old and in disrepair. Buses usually depart early in the morning, as they are not allowed to drive at night, but they will not leave until every seat is taken. As Tanzanian drivers tend to be a bit reckless – a popular saying goes, “Mungu akipenda, tutafika” (If God wills it, we shall arrive) – safety is also an issue to consider.
More Transportation Options in Tanzania
On Four Wheels or Two: It’s Always An Adventure
On October 29, 2012, TAZARA started running commuter train services in Dar es Salaam to help fight the heavy traffic congestion in the city. There are two lines, which both start at Dar es Salaam’s main train station. One line ends at Mwakanga Station, located 30km from the city center, and the other line terminates in Kurasini. There are also special train lines to the main tourist destinations in Tanzania as well as one-off trains for special events or festivals. A bus rapid transit system is also currently under construction.
Small buses called daladala are a popular option among locals, as the single fare only costs about 400 TZS (0.25 USD). Daladala are often very crowded with no air-conditioning, however, and the drivers are known for driving recklessly. Add to that the heavy traffic, which can turn a 15-minute ride into an hour-long journey, and the fact that the vehicles often break down mid-route, and this may not be the best option for everyone.
Taxis, Bajaji, and Pikipiki
There are no official taxi companies in Tanzania, but Uber taxi services have recently taken off in Dar es Salaam. Finding a regular taxi is pretty straightforward, and you can always find them either cruising the streets or standing at specific points. Once you have gotten to know a taxi driver, it is a good idea to get his cell phone number in case you need to call a taxi at night, when it is not safe to search for one on the streets. Taxi fares are negotiable and should be decided on before you depart.
Bajaji (known as tuk-tuks in other countries) are little three-wheeled auto rickshaws that cost half the price of a normal taxi. They have a reputation for being dangerous, but have the advantage of being able to drive alongside the road in the almost inevitable event of a traffic jam. Motorcycles known as pikipiki will also take on a passenger or two for a fare. Due to safety considerations, taking this form of transportation is not advisable.
Cycling: Is It Worth the Risk?
If you choose to get around by bicycle in Tanzania’s cities, you do so at your own risk. There are no bicycle lanes, so you will be bicycling in traffic along with cars, trucks, reckless daladala drivers, bajajis, etc. Traveling by bicycle is probably only a good idea if you have honed your defensive cycling skills and already have experience cycling in the chaotic city traffic of a third-world country.
No Rules on the Road
Driving in Tanzania is very chaotic. Traffic laws are often not obeyed and aggressive driving and poor driving skills are the norm. Avoid driving at night. Roads are often in poor condition with huge potholes. This only gets worse during the rainy season, when roads and bridges are often washed away and potholes get even bigger, making driving even more dangerous than usual.
When driving in cities, be sure to keep your doors locked, your windows up, and your valuables out of sight. While you are stopped at traffic lights, it’s common for thieves to come and remove exterior parts of your vehicle.
For the first six months, you can drive in Tanzania on your home country’s license or an international license. If you are staying in Tanzania for more than six months, though, you will need to obtain a Tanzanian driver’s license.