If you’re seeking opportunities for growth for your company, you’re not alone. Companies are increasingly turning to international markets as they expand. Zambia is one of many African countries that offers a lucrative opportunity for global expansion — but as in any other country, it can be challenging to keep track of all of the compliance risks when you’re doing business there. One of these concerns is making sure all of your employees have the necessary Zambian work visas and permits.
Types of Work Visas in Zambia
The Zambian government offers several different visa categories to foreign nationals. In addition to these visas, the government also issues employment permits to foreign nationals who work for companies based in Zambia. There are two types of Zambian work permits available to foreigners:
- Short-term work permit: A short-term permit allows a foreign employee to work in Zambia for an initial period of up to three months. This permit is eligible for renewal one time, meaning the holder can live and work in Zambia for a maximum of six months.
- Long-term work permit: This permit is also called an employment permit. An employment permit authorizes the holder to live and work in Zambia for up to two years. As with the short-term permit, the holder can renew this license.
It’s not possible to change from one type of permit to the other after arriving in Zambia, so it’s essential to make sure your employees obtain the right permit from the start.
Requirements to Obtain Zambia Work Visas
To apply for a Zambian work permit, foreign nationals will need to provide the following documents:
- A duly completed application form
- A passport with at least six months of validity remaining and three or more blank pages
- Two recent passport photographs
- A police background check from the applicant’s country of residence
- Certified copies of any relevant documents demonstrating the applicant’s qualifications for the job, such as academic and professional certificates
- A job offer from a company based in Zambia
- A cover letter from the prospective employer
The application process for a Zambian work permit can vary depending on the type of permit your employees need.
Foreign nationals who plan to work in Zambia with a short-term work permit can travel to Zambia with a business visa and apply for the work permit after they arrive in-country. Applicants can apply for a business visa at the Zambian embassy or consulate in their country of residence. The requirements for a business visa include:
- A valid passport
- A copy of the first page of the applicant’s passport
- Payment of the visa fee
- A completed visa application form
- Two passport photos
- A letter of invitation
- An official cover letter
- A copy of the applicant’s flight itinerary with a confirmed booking
After obtaining the visa and traveling to Zambia, the employee should apply for a work permit. The processing time for a short-term work permit is generally one to two weeks. The employee cannot start working until they receive their work permit.
Employees who need a long-term work permit must apply for it before traveling to Zambia. The processing time for this permit is four to six weeks, so employees should plan accordingly. Foreign nationals should visit the nearest Zambian embassy to apply for the permit as they would for a visa. The Chief Immigration Officer in Zambia is responsible for issuing the permit and determining the length of its validity. Upon issuance of the permit, the employee can travel to Zambia and begin working.
Other Important Considerations
Zambia is somewhat unique in that a work permit allows the holder as well as their spouse and dependents to stay in Zambia. Foreign employees should check with the Zambian embassy or consulate for any additional requirements for family members, such as marriage or birth certificates.
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