Frequently Asked Questions
What language is spoken in Zanzibar and what is the main religion there?
Zanzibar is an archipelago of islands; the main island is known as Unguja and is where Liberty Places is based.
It is a Muslim yet multicultural island with a large expat community focusing predominantly on the tourism industry. Locals are familiar with Western ways, and visitors make sure to dress respectfully when away from beach areas and international hotels.
Swahili is the main language; English is the main foreign language.
What currency is used?
The local currency is Tanzanian Shillings – TZS. US Dollars are accepted by international hotels and most local traders. Some will also accept Euros. Typical exchange rates* TZS50,000 = £16.50, $21.50 or €20.
*Correct in April 2022. Please check for updates.
Which airlines fly to Zanzibar?
Qatar Airways fly to Zanzibar via Doha. An alternative is to fly to Amsterdam, and then fly direct to Zanzibar with KLM. Kenya Airways fly via Nairobi and Kilimanjaro. We have found that the KLM route is often the shortest.
Contact our travel agent: email@example.com
Is it possible to spend my retirement in Zanzibar?
It is possible to retire to Zanzibar. According to the Tanzanian Government’s website you will need a retirement visa. You can apply for a Class C resident visa if you are retired but you need to do this whilst you are in the country. The cost is US$500 per application (£381, €450). You need a confirmed income, enough money to support you and any dependents residing in the country with you, and evidence that you have retired.
Click this link for more information and an application form.
What is the cost of living like compared with europe?
In general, food prices are much lower than the UK and Europe, particularly if you are buying fresh, locally grown, seasonal produce. Eating out in local restaurants can cost as little as TZS3000 (£1, €1.16) to TZS5000 (£1.64, €1.94). Food bought in hotel restaurants is similar to UK, US and European prices, depending on where you choose.
Raw produce costs: 1 kilo of potatoes costs around TZS2000 (£0.65, €0.77), 1 kilo of onions is TZS6000 (£1.96, €2.33), 1 kilo of tomatoes is TZS2500, (£0.82, €0.97), 1 kilo of green beans is TZS4000 (£1.31, €1.55), 1 watermelon costs between TZS3000 (£0.98, €1.16) and TZS5000 (£1.64, €1.94), depending on size.
Some food items, like eggs, are similar to European prices. One dozen mixed sized eggs cost up to TZS7200 (£2.36, €2.80)
When it comes to imported foods, prices are higher. For example, a can of tomatoes costs TZS5000, (£1.64, €1.94) a can of tuna costs the same. A jar of olives costs TZS8000 (£2.63, €3.10)*
Beer is TZS3000 (£0.98, €1.16) – TZS5000 (£1.64, €1.94) for a large bottle of local beer bought at the shop.
Wine per bottle, bought from a shop, starts at around TZS20,000 (£6.58, €7.77) to TZS40,000 (£13.16, €15.54)
Spirits start at around TZS40,000 for 75cl (£13.16, €15.54)
Fuel costs TZS2286 (£0.75, €0.88) per litre.
Rent per month, for a three-bedroom apartment by the coast costs around TZS2.9million (£954, €1,126).
Small one-bedroom off-plan investment properties cost approximately US$100,000 (£76,210, €89,984) while a two-bedroom villa is approximately US$200,000 (£152,423, €179,996).
Find more comparisons here.
*Prices in Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital, tend to be more competitive. Prices are correct as of April 2022. Prices vary in different outlets and in different seasons.
What is the local economy like and how does it compare to other countries?
The overall Tanzanian economy is healthy. Tanzanian GDP grew by 2 per cent in 2020 when most Western economies contracted significantly. It grew by a further 4.3 per cent in 2021 and is forecast to grow by 5.5 per cent in 2022. The Central Bank sees potential for growth of 8 per cent in the years ahead.
The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is stable. Over the last 12 months TZS is up approximately 10 per cent versus the Euro, and up 5 per cent versus GBP. It is flat versus USD. Over 5 years, TZS is down approximately 5 per cent across the above currencies. Tanzanian debt to GDP is significantly lower than most advanced economies at approximately 40 per cent. For comparison, this link provides a visualisation of those countries with a debt to GDP ratio in excess of 60 per cent.
Do you sell accommodation in the three facilities listed on your site?
When our properties are available to buy off plan, we will announce this on our website. There will be a Liberty Places app available soon which will provide prices and details on how to buy.
Can we do our own construction in conjunction with you? How much would it cost?
We would like to talk to you face-to-face to discuss your specific needs. We cannot provide online or remote consultation but have contacts on the island who can help with your needs.
We own property/real estate in Europe and have accounts with European banks. Our fear is that we could lose all our money if it stays in Europe. Do you have any recommendations as to which bank in Zanzibar will not participate in digitalisation?
We are currently unable to give financial advice and we do not have any firm information to share. We are researching alternative options and will announce when we have more details.
What is the healthcare like in Zanzibar?
Healthcare in Zanzibar consists of 80 per cent natural and traditional medicine and 20 per cent allopathic medicine. There is a good quality, fully equipped hospital staffed by medically trained doctors and nurses called Mnazi Mmoja Hospital which is in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar. This is the main hospital, and it has nearly 800 beds, maternity facilities, and caters for inpatients as well as outpatients. It also has a mental health facility.
Liberty Places is building a health village where health practitioners will practice integrative medicine, a mixture of natural, traditional, and allopathic. We will post more details on our website when we have them.
What are the schools like in Zanzibar?
There are good local and international schools in Zanzibar. Here is a selection. Kiwengwa Independent School – KINS – in the east of the island, comes highly recommended. It teaches 2 to 11-year-olds and education is based on British and American models. It is also not-for-profit.
South East Coast International school (SEC) is based in Jambiani and teaches 2 to 11-year-olds. Their first secondary year, year 7, opens in September 2022. A new secondary year will be added each year until the senior school is filled.
The International School of Zanzibar (ISZ) in Stone Town teaches the British curriculum to primary, middle, and senior school children. Exams set are GCSE, IGCE and A Level.
There is a university – Zanzibar University – which teaches various arts, science, and business courses.
Dhow Countries Music Academy is based in Stone Town. The professional music school opened in 2002. They provide music lessons and instruments to anyone interested in learning to play traditional music from the Unguja and Pemba regions.
Do I need a visa? How much does it cost?
Every visitor needs a visa to enter Zanzibar, including children and babies. Tourist visas cost $50 and can be bought in advance online or on arrival at Zanzibar’s Arbeid Amani Karume International Airport. Apply online here.
Is it possible to become a Zanzibari citizen?
Zanzibar is part of Tanzania and any person not already a citizen can apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
These conditions apply:
- You must have lived in the United Republic of Tanzania for a period of seven years during a ten-year period.
- You must be of good character, have an adequate knowledge of Swahili or English and have contributed to the economy.
For more information, follow this link.
Are there public health restrictions? Do I need a health passport?
There are currently no public health restrictions on the island. There is no social distancing or mask wearing. You do not need a health passport, only a negative PCR test to enter the country if you are unvaccinated. Vaccinated travellers are exempt and do not need a PCR. You may be asked to take a rapid antigen test on arrival, but this does not apply to all travellers. Here is the latest information, updated 29 March 2022.
What is the weather like in Zanzibar?
The temperature is fairly constant all year as Zanzibar is only 400 miles (700 kilometres) from the equator. There is a rainy season which generally starts at the beginning of April and finishes by the end of May. There is also a short rainy season during November. It does not rain constantly during these times, sometimes for a few minutes at other times for an hour or more, some days not at all. Temperatures range between 26°C and 32°C.
- What is the job market like for non-Zanzibaris?
Can I start a business in Zanzibar?
Yes. A local lawyer can help you with the applications. You will need a business licence and to obtain one, you must rent or buy office space, register a company or business name with the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). Register with the Tanzania Review Authority (TRA) to obtain a tax identification number (TIN) and apply for a business licence at the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (MITI). Full details can be found here.
How do I open a bank account in Zanzibar?
You need a residence visa to open a bank account in Zanzibar. Details on how to obtain a residence visa can be found here.
Is my driving licence valid in Zanzibar?
International driving licences are not valid on their own in Zanzibar. When you hire a vehicle the car hire company will obtain a temporary driving permit. All you need is your passport and driving licence. Most car rental companies prepare the documentation for you and deliver it with your car. The cost for three months is around $20 or $120 for a year. You can also take a local driving test if you are living on the island. A five-year licence costs TZS60,000 (£20, $26, €24). More details here.
NOTE: Cars drive on the left in Zanzibar.
Can I bring my pet to the island?
You can bring your pet dogs or cats to Zanzibar if you have a permit. Vaccination certificates are required, and dogs and cats should be vaccinated for rabies at least one month and not more than three years, prior to entry into Zanzibar. Other vaccinations recommended are distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parvo (DHLP). Puppies should be vaccinated aged five to seven weeks old, with repeat vaccinations two weeks and six weeks later. A sanitary certificate from a qualified vet in the country of export, must accompany every imported animal.
You can obtain an import permit by sending a request to the Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Veterinary Services, Zanzibar, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, PO Box 159, Zanzibar. Telephone: +255 24 233 1169. Fax: +255 24 223 4650. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How much are local taxes?
What is the crime rate like? Is it a safe place to live?
Zanzibar is very safe and has a low crime rate. It is always advisable for visitors to take all the usual precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.
What are the local marine activities and services?
Zanzibar Port is the island’s ferry terminal based in Stone Town. Boats and ferries sail to mainland Tanzania with a choice of three destinations: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city; Tanga, in northeast Tanzania, or Pemba Island, the second largest island in the archipelago. Pemba takes eight-hours by sea, so visitors often prefer to take a 46 minute flight.
Zanzibar is made for water sports. Kite surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving and jet skiing are all popular activities and readily available in different parts of the island. There are plenty of boats to take you fishing or diving with 18 dive sites to choose from ranging from 2 metres to 40 metres in depth. Nungwi, Kendwa, Myuni, Tumbatu Island and Mnemba Island are popular dive destinations. Snorkelling beside Mnemba Island is also popular and small pods of dolphins often join you on your boat journey there. The dolphins are friendly and happy to let you swim with them.
Catamarans are available to charter and sunset cruises and Saturday night boat parties are popular. Find more information here.
Can you tell me about some typical excursions?
UNESCO listed Stone Town has sights including the Anglican Cathedral; House of Wonders, its enormous carved doors are said to be the largest in East Africa; Princess Salme Museum dedicated to a sultan’s daughter who eloped with a German merchant. She later wrote ‘Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar’. The museum is next to the Emerson Hotel, once owned by one of the richest men in the Swahili empire. The Emerson’s rooftop restaurant provides views of the port and town and a bird’s-eye view of the sunset. Also in Stone Town you can visit the Old Fort, Freddie Mercury Museum, and Darajani fruit, vegetable and livestock market a treat for the senses and a hive of activity. Prison Island, just 5k by boat, is where rebellious slaves were sent in the 1860s. It is now home to giant Aldabra tortoises.
There are plenty of spice farms on the island who give tours and sell home grown spices, perfumes and oils made from local flowers and spices and exotics teas; a turtle sanctuary in Nungwi, north Zanzibar, who allow you to feed and swim with mature turtles; boats to take you on a dolphin tour, and mainland trips to experience a Tanzanian wild animal safari. The boutique hotel Hodi Hodi, provide a bush to beach (or vice versa) experience. Find out more here.
Catamarans are available to charter and sunset cruises and Saturday night boat parties are popular. Find more information here.
You can also take an all-day blue sea safari in a traditional Dhow boat. It includes lunch, and a seafood feast on Kwale Island.
Jozani-Chwaka National Park is the largest area of indigenous forest in Zanzibar. It is home to the endangered red colobus monkey as well as other monkey species, bushbabies, duikers and more than 40 species of bird. There is also Jozani sea turtle sanctuary and the Zanzibar butterfly centre in the park.
To book any of these excursions you can walk to the beach and find many locals with details, or research online. Hotels will also know how to book.