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Health and Safety in Tanzania

Are you wondering what life in Tanzania has in store for you and your family? In this guide on living in Tanzania, we first give a brief introduction to Tanzania and its people, and then discuss important topics such as health and safety, accommodation, and schools.
Make sure you take the proper safety precautions during your time in Tanzania.

Medical Facilities Not Up to Scratch?

The quality of local medical facilities in Tanzania is often well below the standard of those in Western countries. Most expats visit an expat health clinic in their city of residence when they are in need of medical care. For more serious cases, you will be transferred to Nairobi or Johannesburg. To get you started after your arrival, it’s a good idea to bring along a few months’ worth of any prescription medications you require.

Health Insurance

There are two public health insurance schemes in Tanzania. The first is the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which is mandatory for all public sector employees and voluntary for private sector employees. The contribution is 3% from the employer and 3% from the employee. Signing up for the Social Health Insurance Benefit (SHIB) is voluntary for members of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Despite requiring no extra contributions, only about 10% of NSSF members participate in SHIB, due to its relatively small network of healthcare facilities and limited range of coverage.

You will have to discuss with your employer whether or not you will receive any public health insurance coverage during your stay in Tanzania. Either way, it is strongly advisable to sign up for a comprehensive private health insurance plan either on your own with an international insurance company or through your company. Make sure that you know exactly what your plan covers and that full medical evacuation insurance is included in your plan.

Rising Crime Rates in the Commercial Capital

Although generally considered safer than many other African countries, crime rates in Tanzania are unfortunately on the rise, especially in Dar es Salaam. Expats should rent a house or apartment in a gated compound with 24-hour security guards and an alarm system, as robberies are common. Pickpocketing and theft is a frequent problem on public transportation and in city centers. The number of violent crimes and homicides has also been increasing.

Use your common sense whenever you are out and about. Do not walk around at night. Make sure you know how to get immediate help in any situation. Have your embassy or consulate’s contact information with you at all times, as well as your doctor’s contact information, and know where the nearest hospital or medical facility is. Women should dress modestly, especially on Zanzibar, to avoid harassment.

Tanzanians are a friendly people and will usually be willing to help, but you should also be careful not to let yourself be taken advantage of. It is not unusual for locals, even the police, to ask for money and bribes. They know that expats generally have more money than they do and are not afraid to ask for some. Many expats and tourists fall victim to frauds and scams.

House Hunting: What You Need to Know

Expats generally rent an apartment or house during their stay in Tanzania. As the government owns all the land, buying property isn’t an option, although the government can lease it out for a period of up to 99 years. Good housing options which are up to Western standards can be found in the major urban centers such as Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Zanzibar. When negotiating your contract, it is very important to find out if your accommodation is included, as expat housing can be exorbitantly expensive, especially in Dar es Salaam.

It is usually a good idea to wait until you can visit a house or apartment personally before you sign a rental contract. You can either find housing on a previous visit before your actual move or initially live in temporary housing and search for a home after you have arrived in Tanzania.

There are several ways to go about finding an apartment or house in Tanzania. You can check online ads or the ads at shopping centers or in local newspapers. Expat forums and talking to other expats you meet once you have arrived is also a good option. Alternatively, you could have a real estate agent drive you around and show you different possibilities. If you are in Arusha, you can pay to post a listing describing what you are looking for in the Arusha Mailing, an email that goes out to most expats and companies in the city.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Gilberto Vieira

"Finding contacts among the expats in Tanzania's tourism industry wasn't half as difficult as I had feared. "

Chen Ming

"Karibu Sana, fellow expats in Dar es Salaam or 'Dar', for short! You'll probably need some tips on the 'do's & 'don't's in Tanzania."

Global Expat Guide