Malawi Lifts Visa Restrictions for The UK, US, and 77 More Nations

| February 16, 2024
Malawi Lifts Visa Restrictions for The UK, US, and 77 More Nations

Malawi recently announced that it is lifting visa restrictions for travelers coming from 79 different countries.

Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma amended the country’s immigration regulations in a gazette notice on 7 February 2024.

“This monumental decision isn’t just about visas,” Minister of Tourism Vera Kamtukule told local media, as reported by the BBC. “It’s about unleashing the untapped potential of our beloved Malawi and inviting the world to experience its wonders first-hand.”

The country boasts many natural habitats rich in wildlife, including elephants, hippos, and crocodiles.

It is partially situated along Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest freshwater lake, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The UK embassy in Malawi has urged British citizens to make the most of the eased visa rules in the country.

Tourism is third source of foreign currency in Malawi

Tourism is the third-largest industry that brings in foreign currency in Malawi, after tobacco and tea.

However, in a report by Travel and Tour World, President Lazarus Chakwer said that Malawi’s tourism economy is currently underperforming.

He explained, “Chief among the factors contributing to this is our country’s accessibility, which is why we have implemented the visa waiver program.”

The visa waiver program aligns with the goals to make Malawi self-sufficient, exporting more than importing.

Tourism Minister Kamtukule stated that the changes benefit Malawi’s tourism, agriculture, and mining goals.

“Our strategy is to attract investments in agriculture, tourism, and mining,” she said, speaking to AFP.

Kamtukule added, “By eliminating visa requirements for our key source markets globally, we are signaling that Malawi is open for business.”

Malawi ends visa requirements for 79 countries

Nationals from the following 47 countries are exempt from visa requirements and any other fees when entering Malawi:

  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • China
  • Cyprus
  • Dominica
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Kiribati
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Nauru
  • The Netherlands
  • New Guinea
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadians
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Citizens of countries that are part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) also do not need visas to visit Malawi.

However, this exemption does not extend to SADC and COMESA countries that impose visa requirements for Malawian citizens.

Certain groups, such as holders of Laissez-Passer (a permit or other official authorization for travel) for SADC, COMESA, United Nations, African Union, and African Development Bank, are also exempt from visa rules.

Diplomats and government officials on official business will also no longer need a visa to enter Malawi.

Additionally, countries with mutual exchange agreements for multiple-entry visas with Malawi are exempt from visa regulations.

The validity of Malawi’s multiple entry visas has also been extended to 12 months under the new visa regulations.

The amendment to Malawi’s immigration legislation is effective immediately.

More African countries opening up to the world

Malawi is the latest African country to open its borders to African travelers without visa restrictions.

In November 2023, Rwanda announced it would permit all African citizens visa-free entry.

The only nations allowing visa-free entry to all Africans are Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin.

On the other hand, Ghana plans to allow visa-free entry for all African visitors by 2024.

In December 2023, Kenya declared it was opening its borders to all African travelers and all world citizens.

Kenya scrapped all visa requirements for electronic travel authorizations in 2024.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data, Africa reached 96 percent of pre-pandemic visitor numbers in 2023.

It predicts visa and travel facilitation measures will help promote travel to and around the region in 2024.