By Kashlee Kucheran
On October 1, 2020, Uganda officially reopened both air and land borders and is once again allowing tourism to resume.
After being closed since March 23rd, Entebbe International Airport has now reopened and has started to resume international flights. Uganda’s extremely diverse landscapes, natural wonders, and abundant wildlife have been attracting over 1.5 million tourists per year, so the nation is very keen to finally reopen safely.
President Yoweri Museveni held a press conference in late September, stating:
“The international airport and land borders will now be opened for tourists, coming in and going out, provided they tested negative 72 hours before arrival in Uganda
However, the reopening of Uganda is not as cut and dry as some other African nations that have also recently opened for tourism. The government of Uganda has some very specific rules, unique to the continent. All passengers, inbound or outbound, should carefully read over the protocols below before travelling.
Ugandan🇺🇬 borders and International Airport have reopened today to welcome
returnees, tourists, business people.
We wish you safe travels in the skies and on our roads while you #StaySafeUg and take every measure to prevent the spread of #COVID19 . pic.twitter.com/vnrOgtWcqA
— Ministry of Works & Transport (@MoWT_Uganda) October 1, 2020
Countries Allowed to Travel to Uganda
Uganda is not restricting the countries that can enter.
All nations under normal ‘pre-covid’ visa and immigration regulations will be able to enter once again.
One of the very unique protocols Uganda has implemented for their reopening is having PCR testing requirements for both incoming AND outgoing passengers. Most other nations worldwide do not have this type of requirement.
PCR Testing for Incoming Passengers
All passengers entering Uganda must have a negative PCR test, performed no longer than 72 hours prior to boarding the aircraft enroute to Uganda.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda has advised all airlines not to allow the passenger to board if they cannot provide poof of the negative test. If the airline does board a passenger without a test, customs will deny them entry completely and demand the airline return them.
The only exception to this rule is citizens/nationals of Uganda returning home. They are still excepted to provide the negative PCR test results, but if they cannot for some reason, they can pay $65 to have the test done on arrival and quarantine until results are ready. Tourists do not have this option.
PCR Testing for Outbound Passengers
All outbound passengers leaving Uganda are also required to present a negative PCR test, taken no longer than 120 hours prior to departure out of the country.
The exception to this rule is very difficult to fulfill, as it states that the outbound passengers will NOT have to provide the negative PCR test, if the country they are flying to does not require it However, in order to prove that, Ugandan authorities want to see written clearance from the destination country, proving the passenger does not need a test to enter.
Getting that kind of document from already overwhelmed border police and consulates will be near to impossible, so every outbound passenger will likely need to have the 120-hour negative PCR test to leave the country.
Uganda has dropped all quarantine requirements for incoming passengers, as long as they have fulfilled the PCR testing requirements and are not symptomatic.
Other Entry Rules/ Requirements into Uganda
- Face masks are required on the inbound flight and at all times in the airport terminal
- Social distancing of 1.5 metres from other passengers is mandatory in the arrival hall and baggage claim
- All passengers will be screened for high temperatures upon arrival and departure
- Fingerprints will be taken of all arriving passengers
- Any symptomatic passenger will be taken to Entebbe Referral Hospital, tested, and quarantined for 24-48 hours pending results.
- Visa Requirements
- All nations that normally require a visa to visit Uganda will still need one. Most countries have an online e-visa program, making the process a little easier.
- The Ministry of Internal Affairs has an easy e-visa application site for visitors
- Land Borders
- Reports coming out of Uganda have suggested that ALL land borders have also reopened as of October 1, 2020.
- Curfew in Place
- As of October 1, there is still a nation-wide curfew in place that all visitors should know about. The curfew runs daily from 9:00pm to 6:00am, restricting free movement of all persons during those hours. If a tourist has a flight between curfew hours, they are permitted to travel to/from the airport, but must carry some sort of proof of travel with them.
Flights to Uganda
Flights are just starting to resume with the announcement of Uganda reopening. Here are some direct flights that have already been rescheduled for October
- Brussels on Brussels Airlines, resuming Oct 6
- Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, resuming Oct 6
- Doha on Qatar Airways, resuming Oct 5
- Qatar on FlyDubai and Emirates, already resumed
- Bangui on Kenya Airines, resuming Oct 5
- Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Air, already resumed
- Nairobi on Kenya Airlines, already resumed