The world is a village now. People are migrating from their home countries to other countries for different purposes such as but not limited to: business, holidays, diplomacy, study or research. Every country has its own procedures in regulating the immigration of people to their countries. In Tanzania, the ministry of Home Affairs is the main overseer of immigration. The law has established a special department in the ministry called “Tanzania Immigration Services Department” which was converted from the Director of Immigration Services to, among other duties, coordinate and manage all immigration matters in Tanzania.


The law generally requires a person who is not a citizen of Tanzania and intends to enter into Tanzania to have in his possession a Passport with Visa, a holder of and his name to be is endorsed upon a residence permit and Pass. However the commissioner general of immigration has powers in any particular case to allow a person to enter in Tanzania without a passport subject to any condition he may impose to that person. (See Section 28(1), (2) and (3) of the Immigration Act Cap 54 R.E 2016).


The law has exempted some people from the requirements of having a passport and visa for entry in Tanzania. These are:

  • An envoy or any representative of a foreign sovereign power accredited to Tanzania, and members of official staff and domestic staff of such envoy or representative.
  • A consular officer or consular employee of a foreign sovereign power appointed to Tanzania and recognized as such by Tanzania.
  • A wife and dependents of an envoy or other representative of foreign sovereign power or of any other officer or employee as shown in roman (i) and (ii) above.
  • A person in the service of the United Republic of Tanzania or Revolutionary government of Zanzibar and stationed in Tanzania holding a valid passport and satisfies the immigration officer as to his identity and occupation and a wife and the dependents of that person.
  • Any other person in respect of whom the minister may direct that he be exempted from the requirements of passport and visa.



Non-citizens are strictly prohibited by the law from engaging in any occupation for reward, profit or non-profit within Tanzania without being issued with valid work permit or certificate of exemption by the labor commissioner. Any foreigner who wants to engage in any business as self-employed, employed by any company, institution or person, working on religious organization or charitable organization, must be issued with a work permit or certificate of exemption as the case may be. (see Section 9(1) of the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act, 2015).

The law specifically imposes an obligation to the person who intends to employ, engage or cause to be engaged a non-citizen in Tanzania to apply for a work permit of that foreigner before his entry into the country.

After an application for a work permit or certificate of exemption as the case may be has been lodged to the labour commissioner, the commissioner shall examine the application and upon his satisfaction on the compliance of the requirements of the law, shall issue a work permit or certificate of exemption. It is important to note here that the permit or certificate issued by the labour commissioner lasts for 24 months only. However the holder of the permit or certificate may renew his permit or certificate for the maximum period of three years, to make the total period of the first grant and renewal of permit or certificate to 5 years only.

However, if holder of the work permit has made an immense contribution to the economy of Tanzania or well-being of Tanzanians, the labour commissioner may allow the renewal of that person up to a period of 10 years.

There are various categories of work permits for non-citizen depending on the occupation or engagement of such person. They are divided into Class A, B, C, D, and E: applying as foreign investor who is self-employed, a person with prescribed profession, person with other profession, a person employed or engaged in registered religious or charitable activities and refugees respectively.

A holder of a work permit or certificate of exemption must at all times during the subsistence of the permit or certificate, observe all conditions set forth in the permit or certificate and all other provisions of the law, breach of which may attract the cancellation of the permit or certificate.


Being granted a work permit by the labour commissioner does not mean that the non-citizen is allowed to stay in the country and engage in the undertakings as specified in the work permit, but rather the non- citizen must apply for resident permit. The application of a resident permit is granted by the Commissioner General of Immigration. (See Section 32(3) of Immigration Act Cap 54 R: E 2016)

The law categorizes resident permit into three classes namely:

  • Class “A”
  • Class “B”
  • Class “C”


This class of residence permit is granted to non-citizens other than prohibited immigrants who are intending to stay in Tanzania and engage in any trade business, profession, agriculture and animal husbandry. A person engaging in prospecting mineral and manufacture may be granted class “A” permit by the commissioner after taking into consideration the conditions of the work permit and furnishing security by depositing with an immigration officer such sum as is the opinion of the immigration officer sufficient to cover the costs of returning him, his wife and dependent children, if any, to his country of origin or other country as he may be admitted, together with a further sum not exceeding 25% of the first named sum. Another option is furnishing security by entering into a bond with one or more sureties to be approved by the immigration officer.

The holder of the permit must at all times during the subsistence of the permit, observe all the conditions set forth in the permit. Non adherence of the conditions in the permit, results to the automatic cessation of the validity of the permit and their presence in the country becomes unlawful forthwith.

NOTE: A non-citizen who has resided in Tanzania for more than 10 years whose contribution in economy or the wellbeing of Tanzanians through their trade business, profession, agriculture and animal husbandry, prospecting mineral or manufacture is immense or of great value, may be granted class “A” permit for other period to be determined by the commissioner general subject to the conditions as imposed by the commissioner after considering the conditions imposed by work permit.


This category of permit is granted to a non-citizen who has been offered specific employment in Tanzania and the commissioner general is satisfied that he possesses the qualification or skills necessary for that employment and that his employment will be beneficial to Tanzania. The commissioner may issue a permit of this category after taking into consideration the conditions of the work permit issued by the labour commissioner and that the employer should, before the entry of that person or his dependents, furnish security for the permit and for any other purposes as the commissioner general may determine.  

All other issues concerning the adherence of conditions renewal and cessation of class B permit apply as in class A.


This class of residence permit is issued to non-citizens who do not qualify in class “A” and “class “B” subject to the conditions as imposed by the commissioner general. This class of permit is issued to foreign students, researchers, volunteers, persons attending medical treatment in Tanzania, persons attending court proceedings, etc.


The issuance of VISAs in Tanzania is regulated by the Immigration Act Cap 54 and the Immigration (Visa) regulations, 2016. The power to issue a Visa is vested with the Commissioner General of Immigration.

The law has categorized Visas into four types, namely:

  • Ordinary Visa
  • Business Visa
  • Transit Visa
  • Gratis Visa

The law requires that a person who intends to travel into Tanzania and is from the country which requires Visa to enter into Tanzania should apply for visa from the Commissioner General. The application for Visa is done by filling necessary documents depending on the type of Visa, and submitted to the commissioner and payment of official fee which is nonrefundable.


Visa in Tanzania is issued for the period which does not exceed 3 months and expires on the following grounds:

  • Where it is issued in Tanzania mission and the granted period lapses prior to the date of travel by the holder.
  • Where the holder is a prohibited immigrant.
  • Where the holder has been issued with a permit or pass. (Regulation 14(1) and (2) of the Immigration (Visa) regulations, 2016.