HomeImmigrationAfrica Immigration Series (AIS) – Introducing ZAMBIA

Africa Immigration Series (AIS) – Introducing ZAMBIA

Africa Immigration Series (AIS) is a series of articles to be published on our blog frequently. Each article will explore the Africa’s expat mobility landscape and a brief overview of the current economic situation and investment opportunities.

Our next country article focuses on Zambia:


Capital: Lusaka

Currency: Zambian Kwacha

Official language: English and Tonga

Government: Republic

President: Edgar Lungu

So if you are looking for information regarding visas and work permits, there are a few things you should take into consideration before you make the decision to go to Zambia.

First let’s talk about who you are and what you are looking for, then I can help you with what you need. Before going into the details, I’ll give you a short overview of the current economic situation of the country, which can help you understand overall quality of life. Then I’m going to talk to you about the most important thing when you consider going to Zambia – Local content: Zambianization.


If you type Zambia on google, the first thing you will see are photos of zebras, elephants and waterfalls. That’s a sign of a country with a rich tourism industry, surrounded by natural beauty.

But Zambia should not be seen only for its beautiful landscapes, the country also has an abundance of natural resources which is a heavy contributor to the economy. Zambia is the second largest copper producer in Africa, and the second cobalt producer in the world.

Mining is the biggest industry and the highest employer sector, although the country has been fighting to diversify the economy and decrease its heavy dependency in copper mining, there is still a long way to go.

I cannot write about the mining sector in Zambia without mentioning China, which heavily invested in the sector. Back in 2007, the countries formed the Chinese-Zambian economic partnership zone round the Chambini Copper Mine, formalizing the partnership between the two countries.

Do not be surprised when you hear about the rumours that China will colonize Zambia, despite constant demystifying on the media by Zambian politicians that Zambia is an independent nation, the country long benefits from China loans and financial assistance to the country.

Despite heavy dependency in the mining sector, “the country” claims to have created a safe and attractive environment for investment and has remained one of the most politically stable countries in Africa and it is actively promoting peace in many parts of the world.

With that said, not only from China loans and copper mining lives Zambia. The country has been actively promoting other sectors of the economy to attract foreign investment.

According to the Zambian government, the prime growth sectors for investment are Manufacturing, Agriculture and Agro-processing, Tourism, and Mining. Others offering potential investment opportunities include Construction, Transportation, Energy, Telecommunication and IT Services.

As I mentioned Energy, the country is a large exporter of electricity to the neighbouring countries, which the biggest source is hydro but there is also coal, oil and other renewable energy sources.

Although Zambia has an abundance of electricity, it’s believed that only 31% of the population has access to electricity, and the majority of it are in the urban areas. Talking about the urban areas, if you go around Zambia you will see incredible infrastructure of the big cities, majestic bridges and skyscrapers, modern airports, quality roads, beautiful schools, and shopping malls.

I decided not to focus on the high inequality rate and the poor living conditions of the population in the rural areas, instead I’ll talk about the incredible high literacy rate for adults compared with many other countries in Africa, where approximately 83.5% Males and 65.5% Females are considered literate.

The country also has a reputable educational system, with two state run Universities and additional institutions of higher learning. It’s possible to find both skilled and semi-skilled workers, trained professionals and technicians at very competitive rates.

With that said, I hope you understood that as a foreigner you will have access to great infrastructure, modern cars, the latest technology and imported products available at the shops. You will live a modern life in a beautiful country.


Zambianization – I mentioned above that I would talk about it, which is in fact the most important topic to be considered if you intend to move to Zambia.

To became a bit more technical, Zambianization is a concept practiced within Zambia’s immigration laws that aims to lower unemployment rate and increase the availability of local skilled workers. Its goal is to place indigenous Zambians in managerial positions.

Similar desires are shared throughout governments on the entire African continent, aiming at full-scale industrialization and ensuring actual inclusive growth. The concept’s role has above average importance in Zambia’s immigration landscape. There is an actual Zambianization Committee installed and forms part of the Department of Labour, advising on and directly influencing labour policy adjustments, meaning in the approval or rejection of every work permit application.

You may be asking yourself – How much does Zambianization actually influences visas or work permits approval?

To have an idea, in 2017 a revised guideline for employment permits has been published and aims to enhance the implementation of the Zambianization Policy. This guideline ensures employers both foreign and local, a conducive environment in which to conduct business. All employers must help the government realize the implementation of the Zambianization Policy.

At inception, employers shall indicate the maximum period for which any expatriate worker is required at the company. In the case of a professional job position, the Department of Immigration Consultation with the relevant professional body will make the final ruling on the maximum period. Relevant professional bodies shall provide guidance regarding the times required for a Zambian to be able to take up a certain position of an expatriate, therefore the expatriate must provide training to the local during the whole period of the work permit. A copy of a succession plan clearly stating the names of those receiving training from the expatriate must be attached at all times to work permit applications.

Now, with that in mind I can explain with a bit more technical details about the work permits available:

  1. Visitor visa, Business Visa and Short term work visa – Are they all the same?

No. There is a fundamental difference between them all.

Visitors and Tourists: All ordinary visitors and tourists from visa free countries* are entitled to a free ninety days visit in any period of twelve months from the day of first entry into Zambia. Visitor visa is only applicable for business purposes.

Business Visa: This visa is issued for business prospecting, attending conferences, meetings and actual work. Zambia is one of the few countries in the world, that allow a business visa holder to actually conduct work. For applicants from a visa exempt country*, the business visa is obtained on arrival, for countries that are not part of the visa exempt list, an application must be made at the Zambian mission in their country of residence. Even though not expressly required, any person travelling for business is advised to hold an invitation letter from the receiving entity, even if from a visa exempt country to clarify the intentions of visit. Visas are valid for a maximum of 30 days per 12-month period. The holder can use the visa for 30 days in one trip or spread them throughout the year. Please note that the 30 days are not considered calendar days and therefore the validity time begins immediately upon issuance.

  1. If I can work on a Business visa, then when should I apply for a Short Term Work (Temporary employment)?

You must apply for a Short Term Work Visa, also called Temporary employment permit, if you intend to work in the country for longer than 30 days but no longer than 6 months.

To apply for a Temporary employment permit, you must submit the application at the Zambian mission at your country of residence. A covering letter to the Director-General of Immigration is crucial as it indicates the nature of work, anticipated duration and motivation as to the reason the foreigner is required for successful completion of project. Short term work permits are issued for 3 months and may be renewed once more up to a maximum of 6 months. The applicant will be issued with a booklet. The permit is for both work authorization and residency.

  1. What if I intend to relocate to Zambia to take up a long term work?

Before going to Zambia bare in mind that you MUST have a valid offer of employment first. There is no provision at the law that accommodates a work visa that is not linked with a registered company in Zambia (In South Africa there is an option that if you are a holder of a Critical Skill Visa, you can apply for a 1 year visa as a job seeker, in Zambia that is not an option)

If you already have an offer of employment, or if you are an HR person looking to employ a foreigner in Zambia, please note the following:

Applicants cannot submit the application in person, they are obliged to work with either a registered immigration practitioner or have the employer in Zambia to arrange the process. Qualifying members of Human resources (HR) departments in Zambia can register with the Immigration Board and members are authorized to submit with the Immigration Department on behalf of the applicant. The application will not be considered if this requirement is not met.

To apply for an Employment Permit, please have in mind that only positions which skills are scarce in Zambia will be considered. For a successful application, the applicant must have professional qualifications, and submit together with the visa application a transfer of skills plan, meaning that the applicant must be in a position which a local Zambian is required to receive training. Another important requirement is to advertise the position in 2 national newspapers for at least 14 days. The name of the newspaper and date of advert should be clearly visible on the press of the advert. In addition, the outcome of selection exercise must be submitted together with the application.

Due to the varying levels of investment, size, mechanization of different Companies, coupled with the varying periods required for transfer of certain skills, especially of a technical nature, the validity period of Employment Permits shall not be strictly two (02) years but rather it will be determined on a case to case basis.

When considering applications for employment permits, the size, levels of investment, and stage of development will be evaluated. Employers must clearly state in their employment permit applications the above-mentioned parameters. The Immigration Permits Committee (IPC) shall conduct regular inspections of the companies to ascertain the stages of development. In the case of Mining companies, the IPC shall make use of information vis-avis the levels of development of Zambian mines to be provided by the Ministry of Mines.

See here our INTRODUCING NAMIBIA article.

Have a look here at our very first AIS article:

See here our introducing Kenya country article.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on the Africa Immigration Series (AIS).

by Fernanda Braz



2019-02-26T15:23:30+00:00Feb 7th, 2019|Categories: Immigration|Tags: , , , , |

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