This is an annual report produced in conjunction
with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo. OSAC
encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions
in Mozambique. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Mozambique-specific page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s
publication assesses Mozambique at Level 1, indicating travelers should
exercise normal precautions. Reconsider travel to some northern districts in
Cabo Delgado Province due to violent extremism. Exercise increased caution in the
capital Maputo due to crime. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
Department of State has assessed Maputo as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. The rate of violent crime is comparable to
most other African countries. Assailants occasionally use forceful tactics,
operate in organized groups, and carry weapons that increase the possibility of
frequent victims of crime due to their perceived wealth. The majority of crimes
against foreigners are non-violent crimes of opportunity (e.g. pickpocketing,
theft of unattended possessions, vehicular break-in, bag snatching). Thieves
often attempt to distract a victim by asking questions, begging for money,
bumping/jostling the individual, or offering to sell items. While the victim is
distracted, an accomplice may take a piece of luggage or pick the victim’s
pocket or purse. Criminals frequently target people walking the streets alone,
especially at night, with purses, bags, or backpacks, especially for
electronics they can sell easily on the black market. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind.
statistics are not readily available, Mozambique has a high level of robbery
and theft, spiking during the holiday season. One type of robbery involves
several assailants who brandish weapons (e.g. knives, machetes, firearms). In
most cases, victims escape unharmed after giving up their wallet or cell phone.
This type of crime increases in frequency in December and January.
(coastal) Road in Maputo (south of the Southern Sun hotel) is an area of
increased violent criminal activity. Avoid walking along Avenida Friedrich
Engels and Rua Caracol because assailants can disappear into the dense greenery
alongside the road. Muggings have occurred at all hours of the day in these
areas. Avoid isolated areas and walking at night, even in well-known tourist
areas. Do not walk on the beach in Maputo at night. Avoid walking along roads
bordered by wooded areas, where criminals may hide.
credit/debit card cloning are on the rise. Complaints of financial fraud and
identity theft are increasing slightly, as is the use of counterfeit currency. Review
OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit
borders, endemic poverty, and proximity to South African markets make
Mozambique vulnerable to organized crime. Narco-trafficking, human smuggling,
and trade in illicit/endangered animal products represents a growing threat to
stability and security in Mozambique and across the region.
reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs and Considerations for Hotel Security
capabilities are still developing. The National Institute of Communications is
working to improve the cybersecurity infrastructure and awareness by hosting
the annual MozCyber, a national cybersecurity conference, for the past two
years. Banks and other public institutions are beginning to modernize and
digitize their information.
apps with caution. The anonymity of the platforms may be used by criminals to
lure victims to an unfamiliar or dangerous part of town near an ATM, where they
will threaten harm unless they are given money. Scammers can also use dating
apps as a pretense for baiting the victim into a prostitution scheme. Review
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
One of the
greatest threats to personal safety is motor vehicles. Driving is often a
challenging and dangerous activity. Major cities like Maputo have paved streets
that are narrow, crowded, and in constant disrepair, despite recent road
improvement projects. The lack of streetlights, stop signs, traffic signals,
sidewalks, and guardrails increase the risk of injury or death for drivers and
pedestrians. Local drivers may exhibit little consideration for pedestrians,
other motorists’ right-of-way, and general safe driving practices. Motorbikes or
three-wheeled taxis weave in/out of traffic, will drive on any flat surface or
section of the road, and rarely adhere to traffic rules. Drinking and driving
is a continuing concern at all hours of the day and night.
During the rainy season (December to April), mud,
deep puddles, flooding, glare from oncoming headlights, and occasional
near-zero visibility present even greater challenges. Roads and bridges,
especially outside Maputo, wash out frequently during the rainy season.
Depending upon the destination, add several hours of travel time to an overland
trip. During the dry season, dusty conditions can also impair visibility.
vehicular accident, a large crowd may gather and may become hostile and
aggressive. If this happens, get away from the scene and contact local police and
Embassy personnel, as you are able.
Traffic law enforcement consists of stationary
traffic police on foot, typically wearing a white, short-sleeve shirt, randomly
flagging down vehicles to conduct inspections or to request identification. The
lack of proper documentation can lead to bribe attempts from police, trips to
the police station, and in some cases, vehicle impounding.
Roads outside of Maputo are poorly illuminated and
poorly maintained, and can be hazardous to drive. Fuel stations and police
assistance, especially outside of Maputo, are rare. The risk to drivers outside
Maputo increases due to locals driving at high speeds and the presence of
disabled vehicles in the road. U.S. Embassy personnel may not drive outside of
Maputo (or other major cities) at night.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.
Embassy recommends avoiding using “tuk-tuks,” “My-Loves” (large, open-bed
trucks), or “chapas” (local minibuses)
as a method of transportation due to frequent, often fatal, accidents involving
these vehicles. Avoid yellow and green taxis, in which passengers have reported
thefts; only use registered taxis from reputable providers, preferably arranged
through your hotel. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Maputo as
being a HIGH-threat location for
terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Since late 2017, Mozambique has experienced a steady
stream of attacks in the northernmost districts of Cabo Delgado Province, between
Macomia and the border with Tanzania. The ten districts most at risk in Cabo
Delgado are Mueda, Muidumbe, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia, Meluco, Palma,
Macomia, Ibo, Ancuabe, and Quissanga. While the attacks have occurred in the abovementioned
districts, there remains a possibility that such violence could spill over into
other districts bordering or near Pemba.
have burned villages, raided police stations, shot and killed dozens, and
beheaded villagers. The vast majority of the victims were Mozambican, with estimates
of more than 300 killed. There are reports of foreign fighters in the area, possibly
crossing the porous border from Tanzania. In the summer of 2019, the Islamic State
Central African Province (ISCAP) began claiming responsibility for lethal attacks.
ISCAP is an affiliate of ISIS, although there is no proof of any command or
control between ISIS leadership and attackers on the ground in Cabo Delgado. The
violence has attracted international attention, as multinational companies have
been increasing their footprint in the region in pursuit of natural gas
reserves discovered offshore.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Maputo as
being a LOW-threat location for
political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Maputo is firmly under the control of Frelimo, the
political party that has ruled the country since its independence in 1975. Frelimo candidate Filipe Nyusi won a second
five-year term as President of the Republic in a nationwide election in October
2019. Relations between Frelimo and Renamo, historically tense and full of
distrust, seem to be improving overall, with Frelimo gaining the upper hand
after their dominant electoral victory in October.
shortly before the election, there have been occasional violent attacks on vehicles driving along the main
highways in Manica and Sofala provinces (central Mozambique). Some of these
attacks have involved the Renamo Military Junta, an armed faction that split
from the Renamo political party. This splinter group has declared that it will
not participate in the disarmament and reintegration process to which Frelimo and
Renamo party leadership agreed in 2018. The vehicle attacks increased in
frequency and intensity following elections. Avoid non-essential travel along
portions of the EN1 highway from the Chibabava district to Gorongosa, and along
the EN6 from Tica to Inchope.
large crowds, public gatherings, or demonstrations. These scenarios have the
potential of becoming unruly, which could result in serious physical injury. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
seasonally torrential rains and lacks the drainage infrastructure to
accommodate storm water runoff. As a result, low-lying parts of Maputo and
major vehicle thoroughfares experience flash floods during the rainy season
(November-April). Consider using a 4x4 vehicle for overland travel.
Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
Weak regulation and law enforcement, vast uninhabited spaces,
dilapidated infrastructure, lack of capacity/resources, and widespread
corruption (including alleged involvement of government officials) make trafficking
of illicit wildlife products, illegal logging, and unregulated fishing major
concerns. The rhinoceros nearly became extinct in Mozambique in 2013 due to
poaching, though the situation has improved recently. Elephant poachers killed
80% of the elephant population in the Niassa National Reserve in the north. Traffickers
move rhino horns from South Africa to Maputo, and smuggle ivory from Cabo
Delgado and Niassa to Pemba, bound for international destinations. Unregulated
and illegal logging and fishing are serious in Niassa, Cabo Delgado, and along
the country’s 1,430-mile coastline. The purchase of rhino horns, ivory, and
other animal products is illegal, but corruption makes criminal investigations
and prosecutions difficult.
laundering is also a significant concern in Mozambique. One international
governance NGO assessed that in 2019, Mozambique had the highest risk of money
laundering and terrorist financing out of all 125 countries surveyed. While the
government has taken steps to improve Mozambique’s laws, attorneys, judges, and
police lack the technical capacity and resources to combat money laundering
generally recognize the importance of a working intellectual property rights
(IPR) protection regime for economic development and creation of wealth, but
struggle to identify and enforce IPR violations. With a small domestic market,
limited manufacturing capacity, high transportation costs, and limited
transportation infrastructure, Mozambique has limited potential as a gateway
for the production or distribution of counterfeit goods into the region.
The law criminalizes
rape, including spousal rape. However, authorities do not effectively enforce this
law, especially in rural areas, where the majority of rapes occur. Penalties for
rape range from two to 24 years’ imprisonment, depending on the age of the
victim. Domestic violence against women, particularly spousal rape and
beatings, remains widespread. Abuse of a spouse or unmarried partner is punishable
with one to two years in prison, or a greater penalty if conducted in
conjunction with another crime. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for female travelers.
a tolerant society. Consensual same-sex relations are legal, and public
conversation regarding LGBTI issues is increasingly more common. There remains,
however, some societal stigmatization and room for progress regarding equal
treatment, such as in the registration of LGBTI groups. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
government mandates access to public buildings, transportation, and government
services for persons with disabilities, few buildings are accessible.
Restaurants, hotels, and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance
without wheelchair ramps, with the exception of a few major hotels and retail
areas. Pedestrian paths and transportation are extremely difficult for persons
with disabilities. Sidewalks are not commonplace and, if they exist, are poorly
maintained and dangerous to walk on at night. Pedestrian crossings are
infrequent and drivers seldom obey traffic signals. Buses and taxis do not have
special accommodations for disabled persons. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
report, Freedom to Practice, and the
State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.
is a major problem in Mozambique, a country with suspected links to
international organized crime syndicates and terrorist organizations. The
considerable wealth associated with the drug trade, aided by corruption and
involvement of some government officials, negatively impacts security. Two
high-profile maritime interdiction of drug shipments off the coast of Cabo
Delgado captured headlines in December 2019. Authorities arrested a few dozen
foreign sailors and seized more than a ton of heroin, leading some to speculate
that Mozambique’s international narcotics trafficking is worse than previously
are no statistics released by the government to prove or dispute this, the
perception is that the number of kidnapping incidents is on the rise again in
Mozambique. In the early part of the last decade, kidnapping for ransom was a
serious concern, particularly among persons of South Asian descent. The threat
dissipated in recent years, but in late 2019, media reports of kidnapping have
begun to reappear. Some kidnappings presumably go unreported, and suspicions of
police involvement in some cases have proven true. In most cases, the goal of
kidnappers is a ransom payment, which families frequently pay. In some cases,
wealthy families have taken their children out of school and fled out of fear after
receiving kidnapping threats. In some cases, bank employees may have been involved
in identifying and targeting wealthy individuals. To date, kidnappers have not
targeted U.S. citizens in Mozambique. There has also been a rise in “virtual
kidnapping” extortion attempts. SMS messages and phone calls from unknown
numbers claiming to have kidnapped family members are common. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics
permission before taking a photograph. Do not photograph government buildings,
embassies, military installations, airports, harbors, or other locations/items
of a possible security or intelligence interest. This will attract attention
from police and security forces, and they have the authority to confiscate cameras
and images. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or
out of other countries.
a problem throughout police ranks. Tolerance of corruption encourages
complacency. Police officers are often guilty of economic crimes against
foreigners and those perceived as wealthy. In response to a sour economic
outlook, some Mozambican police have sought to supplement their income via
extorting drivers and pedestrians, threatening detention and the confiscation of
identity documents or vehicles if drivers do not pay fines or bribes on the
spot. Low wages and morale create an environment in which even bribes of a few
dollars can make allegations disappear.
certified copies of important documents and remain calm, firm, and polite with
police. Show original documents to police, but keep them in your possession. Do
not turn over official documents, as corrupt authorities may hold them for
ransom. Attempt to cooperate and follow the instructions of police at
checkpoints to avoid problems.
threaten you with a fine, indicate your willingness to accept a ticket and pay
the fine, and apologize for any wrongdoing (even if you have not done anything
wrong), then report the incident to the Embassy. OSAC constituents have
reported detentions of up to eight hours because of not paying fines/bribes.
Remind the police that it is illegal in Mozambique to bribe officers, and that
you do not want to break the law. The Embassy does not recommend paying bribes
important rule during police detainment is to remain courteous but firm. Keep
copies of all important identity documents on you, and provide as much
documentation as possible when asked. Remain calm and ensure to have contact
numbers of friends, co-workers, and the Embassy. If police continue to detain
you for an inordinate amount of time, advise them that you have the right to
contact your Embassy.
lines in Mozambique are 112, 119, or + 258 21 325 031. Download the State Department’s
Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
police assistance can be especially difficult for foreigners for several reasons:
local police stations do not have consistently working landline telephones;
most police officers rely on private cell phones for communication, and these
numbers are not public; police rarely understand/speak English; and the police
frequently lack transportation to respond to the scene of an incident. If
transportation is available, fuel often is not, especially outside of Maputo.
Police Force (PRM) suffers from limited resources, lack of human capacity, and
widespread corruption. Police are under-funded, under-staffed, poorly trained,
and poorly equipped. Most PRM officers lack conventional police equipment,
impeding their ability to be effective. Police response is often slow and
unreliable; the quality of service declines as one moves farther from Maputo.
Loose security protocols, lack of capacity, and corruption-related issues in
the security services exacerbate terrorism threats.
with SERNIC, the investigative law enforcement agency of the PRM, have better
training and resources, but cannot keep pace with the volume of criminal
activity and are often face their own suspicions of corruption. Cases under SERNIC
jurisdiction often remain unsolved. SERNIC cases frequently require pressure
and repeated inquiries in order to achieve progress. SERNIC, as well as PRM
generally, relies heavily on paper documentation, with little use of modern
computer systems, online databases, or electronically archived information.
police squadrons maintain geographical jurisdictions; which squadron responds
depends on your location. The best course of action is to contact the Embassy,
provide your location, and ask for assistance. Local businesses may also be
able to provide additional assistance in contacting police.
facilities fall critically short of U.S. standards and care is inconsistent.
People with serious medical conditions that require medication or frequent
treatment should not travel to Mozambique. Despite the advancements in local
facilities, many expatriates still travel by road to Nelspruit (or fly to
Johannesburg), South Africa, for treatment of most medical issues. Find contact
information for available medical services and available air ambulance services
on the U.S. Embassy website.
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends
purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally.
Review the State Departments webpage on insurance overseas.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines
and health guidance for Mozambique.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare
for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
Maputo has an active OSAC Country Council. To reach
OSAC’s Africa team, email OSACAF@state.gov.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Kaunda 193, Maputo
Operation 0730 – 1730 Monday-Thursday; 0730 – 1130 Friday
Operator: +258 21 492 797
calls after normal business hours: +258 84 306 6480
Citizen Services Section: +258 2149 2797
Department Emergency Line: +1-202-501-4444
Before you travel, consider the following resources: