Immigration issues between Zambia and Zimbabwe

Flying from Nelspruit, in South Africa, to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the best itinerary was a straight flight to Livingstone, Zambia. From the airport, a 13-mile drive to the border, plus a short stretch in Zimbabwe would take us to our hotel outside of Victoria Falls City.

While we were at the airport going through customs, we purchased the UniVisa, which allows entry to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, as many times as you want. We handed our three passports to a young lady, who immediately returned our daughter’s passport. She said there was no need to issue a visa for her because she was a minor. The stamp on her passport would be enough.  

We promptly asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she replied.

Strange, right? My husband and I looked at each other and thought maybe this country has different immigration rules. We passed through customs pretty quickly, happy that it was an easy process.

A driver was waiting for us outside of the customs services to take us to our hotel in Victoria Falls City. The 13-mile drive, plus the border checkpoint, shouldn’t have taken more than an hour, unless you didn’t have a visa. It’s a good thing we all had our visas, right?  I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The immigration process at the border

A stop at the border was mandatory. Our driver led us into the control office where we would get our passports stamped. Surprisingly – or maybe not – the teller told us that we needed a visa for our daughter! Of course, the standard procedure is that anyone – including kids – will need a visa issued when entering a country that has this requirement. Duh!

The small office was packed, hot, humid, and had an atrocious smell. I swear, some of the people probably hadn’t showered for weeks! Additionally, the service itself was chaotic, probably the worst I’ve ever seen. To have the visa issued, we had to stand in three different lines at windows that were lined up right next to each other. The whole process took over an hour, but it felt like an eternity. What a hassle!

Zimbabwe - Victoria Falls

Keep in mind that Zimbabwe has different visa categories based on your nationality. Furthermore, depending on your travel plans between Zambia and Zimbabwe, you may choose between single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visas. Please check Zimbabwe Visa Requirements for more details. If you are planning on staying in Zambia only, you can get the single-entry visa and walk on the bridge over the Zambezi River, which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe, to take a good look at Victoria Falls.

As soon as we passed the checkpoint and drove on the bridge, we had our first view of Victoria Falls. It was stunning! People were standing and enjoying the view, or walking across into Zimbabwe and vice-versa.

Hello Zimbabwe! Here we come!

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