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Moving to Mozambique

Situated in south-eastern Africa, Mozambique boasts a long coastline dotted with sun-drenched tropical beaches, warm Indian Ocean waters and even warmer hospitality.

Having attained independence from Portugal as recently as 1975, the country still has strong cultural ties to Portugal. Yet Mozambique retains its own distinct character as a melting pot of different European, African and Asian influences. 

Many Europeans (especially Portuguese) have sought out Mozambique not only for its tropical weather and stunning beaches, but also for its low cost of living. Here, their skills are needed in a variety of areas in a country still rebuilding itself after decades of war. Thousands of native Portuguese expats now call the country home. They work in a diverse range of industries that require technical skills which may be lacking among the local population. Popular fields are construction and engineering. In addition, the country has excellent tourism attractions and had the fastest-growing tourism industry in the world in the mid-2000s. The discovery of one of the largest gas fields in the world off the coast of Mozambique in 2012 has also thrown this East African country into the limelight.

Expats relocating to Mozambique should be aware that this is very much a developing country. It suffers from poor infrastructure and roads, inadequate public healthcare, corruption and sporadic water supply. Many expats arrive with unrealistic expectations, thinking that life will be as it was back home. This causes many expats to leave after a short stay. Yet, despite its shortcomings, the country is a paradise for expats who choose to stay and embrace Mozambique.

Many expats relocate to Maputo, the capital and largest city in Mozambique. The city is lush and exudes old-world charm. The cost of living is low, depending on one's tastes. Local fruits are available in abundance, but imported goods from South Africa and Europe command higher prices. Expat-standard housing can also be expensive in the city. On the other hand, many expats can afford to hire full-time domestic help, a luxury not often seen in the West.

Expats will need to brush up on their Portuguese to get by, as few locals speak English. However, because of proximity to English-speaking South Africa, English media is widely available.

There are a few good private hospitals and clinics in Maputo, and plenty more a few hours’ drive away in South Africa.


Fast facts

Population: Around 30.5 million 

Capital city: Maputo 

Other major cities: Matola, Beira 

Neighbouring countries: Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Geography: The Zambezi River divides the country into two topographical regions. In the north, the land is shaped by inland hills and low plateaus. Rugged highlands are further west. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader.

Political system: Unitary presidential republic

Major religions: Christianity, Islam 

Main languages: Portuguese, Chewa

Money: The Mozambican metical (MZN) is divided into 100 centavos. The plural of metical is meticais, with the abbreviated mets or MT often used. The South African rand and US dollar are also frequently used and accepted, especially in the south of Mozambique. 

Tipping: Tipping is standard practice in Mozambique, with 10 percent of the bill being the norm in restaurants. Tipping tour guides, cleaners and porters is also common in Mozambique. 

Time: GMT+2

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Two-pin round plugs are common, while three-pin plugs can also be found. 

Internet domain: .mz

International dialling code: +258

Emergency contacts: 119 (police), 117 (medical), 198 (fire) 

Transport and driving: Drive on the left-hand side. 

Weather in Mozambique

For expats seeking warm, sunny days, Mozambique may turn out to be paradise. The average yearly temperature in Mozambique is a balmy 82°F (28°C). The country gets lots of sunshine all through the year and rarely gets cold. 

The climate varies slightly from region to region. The coast experiences a subtropical climate, and it becomes more tropical the further north one goes. Temperatures and rainfall patterns also vary. The northeastern coast of Mozambique is the hottest and most humid. Because of high altitudes, the regions in the Nampula and Niassa provinces are the coolest. Conditions along the coast can be oppressively hot and humid. 

Mozambique's weather is characterised by two seasons. The hot rainy season runs from December to March, when the average temperature along the coast is 88°F (29°C). Rainfall is heavy along the coast and decreases in the north and south. During the rainy season, Mozambique also experiences cyclones which, though rarely powerful, can still cause plenty of damage. The dry season is from April to November. 

The weather in Maputo, Mozambique's capital and most popular expat destination, is hot and sunny. February is the hottest month and June the coldest. Winters tend to still be warm with temperatures rarely dipping below 65°F (19°C).

 

Embassy Contacts for Mozambique


Mozambican embassies

  • Embassy of Mozambique, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 293 7147

  • High Commission of the Republic Of Mozambique, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7383 3800

  • Mozambican Honorary Consulate, Sydney, Australia: +61 2 9669 1099

  • High Commission of the Republic Of Mozambique, Pretoria, South Africa:  +27 12 401 0300

  • Mozambique Mission, Tokyo, Japan (also responsible for New Zealand): +813 5419 0973


Foreign embassies in Mozambique

  • United States of America Embassy, Maputo: +258 21 492 797

  • United Kingdom High Commission, Maputo: +258 21 356 000

  • Canadian High Commission, Maputo: +258 21 492 623

  • Australian Consulate, Maputo: +258 21 498 778

  • South African High Commission, Maputo (also responsible for New Zealand): +258 21 243 000

Public Holidays in Mozambique

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Heroes' Day

3 February

3 February

Women's Day

7 April

7 April

Workers' Day

1 May

1 May

Independence Day

25 June

25 June

Lusaka Peace Agreement Day

7 September

7 September

Armed Forces Day

25 September

25 September

Peace and Reconciliation Day

4 October

4 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Safety in Mozambique

Expats travelling to Mozambique are advised to exercise caution. The country is known to experience waves of crime and political tension. To make matters worse, the Mozambique Police Force (PRM) isn’t very trustworthy. It suffers from limited resources, lack of personnel and widespread corruption. Police are underfunded, understaffed, poorly trained and poorly equipped. Expats should therefore keep up with current affairs in the country and remain vigilant.


Crime in Mozambique

Petty theft is common in Mozambique, especially in the capital, Maputo. Foreigners are often targets due to their perceived wealth. Most crimes against foreigners are non-violent crimes of opportunity. Pickpocketing, theft of unattended possessions and bag-snatching are common. 

Thieves often attempt to distract victims by asking questions, begging for money, bumping against individuals or offering to sell items. This kind of distraction may give an accomplice the opportunity to take luggage or pick the victim’s pocket. People walking alone, especially at night, with bags or purses are typical targets. Expats should take precautions by keeping their valuables locked up at home. 

It's also important to be vigilant on the roads. Criminals will often impersonate police and pull motorists over and then proceed to rob them of valuables.

In recent years, there has been a spike in kidnappings. The goal of kidnappers is to receive a ransom payment. Expats should avoid walking alone at night and be aware of their surroundings. 'Virtual kidnapping' has also become more prevalent. Text messages and phone calls from unknown numbers claiming to have kidnapped family members are common.


Terrorism and conflict in Mozambique

Mozambique has seen a worrying rise in terrorism. Loose security protocols, lack of capacity, and corruption-related issues in the police services also exacerbate terrorism threats. There have been violent extremist attacks in the northern province that borders Tanzania. 

In Maputo, there is a moderate risk of terrorism. However, the regional and international terrorist threat is growing, especially in the northern parts of Mozambique. The expansion of Al-Shabab in eastern Africa, coupled with the recent rise of ISIS globally is of growing concern. In recent years, Mozambique has experienced several reputedly Al-Shabaab-related attacks, particularly in the north of the country. 

The risk of civil unrest in Maputo has declined since the signing of the 2016 ceasefire agreement. However, political tension does occasionally flair up in Mozambique. It is therefore important to stay informed and keep up to date with the news. Expats should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as they can turn violent. 


Road safety in Mozambique

One of the greatest personal safety threats in Mozambique is motor vehicles. Expats should exercise caution when near roads or cars. There is a lack of streetlights, stop signs, traffic signals, sidewalks and guardrails. This, combined with potholes and unpaved road surfaces, increases the risk of injury or death on the roads. Local drivers may also have little consideration for pedestrians and other road users.

During the rainy season, mud, deep puddles and flooding add to the dangers of the roads. Roads and bridges frequently wash out during this time of year.

If there is an accident on the road, a large crowd may gather and could become hostile and aggressive. If this happens, expats are advised to get away from the scene and to contact local police or their embassy. 


Health safety in Mozambique

Mozambique is a malaria zone. Malarial prophylaxis is essential when travelling to the country. Expats should consult their doctor before visiting Mozambique. During summer, the threat of malaria is worse. Expats should therefore take the necessary precautions, such as preventative medicine and insect repellent.

All tap water is assumed to be unsafe to drink. This is especially true the further one goes from the capital. Tap water in Mozambique carries the threat of bilharzia and cholera. Expats should therefore only drink boiled, treated or bottled water.

The recommended vaccinations when travelling to Mozambique include typhoid and hepatitis A.


Emergency numbers in Mozambique

  • Police: 112 or 119

  • Ambulance: 117

  • Fire: 198

Working in Mozambique

Expats may find that working in Mozambique is slightly more complex than in the past. With the government trying to increase employment opportunities for locals, strict laws and regulations have been put in place for hiring foreigners. Employment of foreigners has been limited to jobs that require technical and professional skills and qualifications that are nonexistent or insufficient in the country.

This legislation makes job opportunities for expats difficult to come by. It is easiest for expats to find work in higher-level positions with local or international companies. Expats will also find that volunteering opportunities, working in education and community projects are more prevalent in the country.


Job market in Mozambique

Expats who are interested in teaching English in a foreign country may consider Mozambique. There are a few privately run schools in Maputo that look for foreign teachers, though these opportunities tend to be few and far between and will usually require a university degree and TEFL certification. Most schools will supply a letter of intent to employ which makes it possible to secure a visa. Expats should be aware that salaries will be significantly lower than what expats teaching in Asia or the UAE might receive. For English and Portuguese speakers, translation work is also an option.

The largest sectors in the country include agriculture, tourism and transportation. With the country's arable land, natural beauty and historical heritage, it's easy to understand why these sectors thrive. More than 70 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector. Forestry is another industry that is increasing in importance. Fishing is both an important source of food and a vital export earner. The manufacturing industry produces a quarter of Mozambique's GDP, which includes production of processed foods, textiles, fertiliser and other products. Mining operations produce coal, salt, gemstones, marble and minerals.

In recent years, large natural gas reserves have been discovered, which has greatly affected the country's economy. The emerging gas industry is a great opportunity for skilled foreigners who can help manage overall operations.
 
Humanitarian organisations also frequently have positions for expats in Mozambique. This may not lead to permanent employment but may work on more of a rotational basis. Other possible sectors to consider include academia/research and healthcare.


Finding a job in Mozambique

Job search engines, career websites and social-networking sites may be a good starting point. Facebook and LinkedIn often have groups dedicated to expats living and working in Mozambique. These sites and forums make it possible to speak to other expats who are already employed in the country. Word of mouth is highly regarded in Mozambique. Employers will often prefer hiring an expat who has been recommended by someone already working for the company.

Consulting the local classifieds is also a viable option for finding employment in Mozambique.


Work culture in Mozambique

A number of laws apply to working in Mozambique. Legally, the work week in Mozambique may not exceed 48 hours. Similarly, employees have a daily limit of eight work hours a day. However, overtime of up to 200 hours per year is permitted. Overtime hours should be compensated.

Absenteeism is a problem in Mozambique. Mozambicans prioritise family and relationships over work responsibilities. It is therefore not strange for employees simply to not turn up for work. 

Doing Business in Mozambique

Mozambique is ranked 138th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country’s highest rankings are for dealing with construction permits (61st) and resolving insolvency (86th), while its lowest are for starting a business (176th) and enforcing contracts (168th).

Expats doing business in Mozambique will find themselves in a relatively traditional environment. Upper management is usually responsible for final decisions and plans. However, input from all employees is common too.

Mozambicans are typically hard-working and motivated. Expats will find that they are welcomed and respected in the workplace, and therefore should adjust easily.  


Fast facts

Business hours

Business hours are Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm. Workers tend to take a long lunch break in the middle of the day. Government offices normally open 7.30am and close at 3.30pm. 

Business language

Many educated Mozambicans speak English. However, the language of business in Mozambique is Portuguese. It would therefore be good for expats to know basic Portuguese. For expats who don’t know the language, there are translators readily available in the capital city, Maputo.  

Dress

Dressing well for meetings is a sign of respect in Mozambique. It is very important to wear clean clothes that have been ironed.

The dress code really depends on where one works. However, it is usually best to aim for dressing formally. For men, a lightweight suit and tie is appropriate for most workplaces. Women can wear suits too, though a blazer with a dress of an appropriate length is acceptable. 

Gender equality

Men generally dominate the workplace in Mozambique. However this is slowly changing with the introduction of gender-equality measures. More women tend to work in urban areas, though many still stay at home and take care of the family. The further from the capital one goes, the more traditional the roles of women are. 

Locals often expect foreign women to behave differently. So they may not be held to the same gender roles so strictly. Female expats should bear in mind that touching a member of the opposite sex during conversation is taboo.


Business culture in Mozambique

Business culture in Mozambique is characterised by a sense of respect for seniority. Mozambicans tend to avoid confrontation and conflict. People are usually wary of offending others. So, true feelings may not always be spoken. Mozambicans are very relationship oriented. If expats or businesspeople make a real effort to get to know their associates, it will end up helping them professionally.

The lax attitude to time that Mozambicans have can be frustrating for expats. Family commitments contribute significantly to lateness or even absenteeism. However, foreigners are still expected to be on time for everything. 

Greetings

Both men and women typically greet with a handshake. Men commonly use both hands when greeting someone, with the left hand placed on the other person’s upper arm. It’s important to address others by their professional title. If someone’s title isn’t known, address men as O Senhor (Mr) and women as A Senhora (Mrs/Ms). It is frowned upon to address someone by their first name, unless they have indicated that it is preferred.

Communication

Mozambicans tend to communicate more indirectly. They would rather agree with someone than argue a point. It is more polite to accept an invitation and not show up than to decline. Generally speaking, an arm’s length of personal space is appropriate during conversations. Women should note that touching the opposite sex should be avoided. Men often take touching as a sign of interest.

Mozambicans take their time to make decisions. It is normal to wait a while for a decision to be made. Expats should also be ready for back-and-forth negotiations. It is best to not show eagerness over a deal in order to negotiate a better one. 

Meetings

When having a meeting in Mozambique, one should never rush into discussing business. Small talk always precedes any formal conversations. It is appropriate to inquire about a colleague’s health, family and other social matters before dealing with business. The person who initiated the meeting should be the first one to start actual business conversation, while the most senior person typically ends the discussion. 

Attitude to foreigners

Mozambique is a large and diverse country. In addition to the many indigenous groups, Mozambique has received waves of colonialists, immigrants and migrant workers over the years. The nation consists of people from many different cultural, religious, economic and geographical backgrounds. This means that expats won’t stand out too much.

Generally speaking, Mozambicans are respectful of foreigners. They usually perceive foreigners as experienced and educated. 


Dos and don'ts of business in Mozambique

  • Don't expect Mozambican colleagues to be on time. 

  • Do be aware that January is the main holiday month, so business trips shouldn't be scheduled then. 

  • Do give and receive business cards with one's right hand.

  • Don't be afraid of building relationships with colleagues.

Visas for Mozambique

The process of gaining entry to Mozambique varies slightly depending on a person’s nationality. Nationals of a small selection of African countries are able to enter Mozambique visa free. They can then remain in the country for up to 30 days. For others, there is slightly more paperwork involved.


Visit visas for Mozambique

Those who have access to a Mozambican consulate or embassy in their home country must apply in advance for a visit visa. Single-entry visas allow stays of up to 30 days. Multiple-entry visas allow a maximum stay of 90 days.

Those who do not have consular representation of Mozambique in their country are eligible for a visit visa on arrival. Travellers need a return ticket and proof of adequate funds to support themselves during their visit in order to receive a visit visa. Any visa obtained on arrival is valid for 30 days. Holders of a visit visa are not permitted to work in Mozambique.


Work permits for Mozambique

There are a number of options when it comes to work permits for Mozambique, the most common being the long-term work permit available to skilled and qualified workers. This permit allows foreigners to legally work in Mozambique on a long-term basis. This permit is generally valid for two years after which it can be renewed.


Permits for accompanying spouses or children

An expat with a valid work permit can have their spouse and children accompany them. In Mozambique, life partners are also eligible to accompany their partner. Life partners will need to prove that they have been in a common-law union for a period of at least one year. On the other hand, same-sex marriage is still not recognised in Mozambique, which mean the spouse in a same-sex couple, even when legally married elsewhere, will not be able to obtain a visa as a dependant.

Spouses and children younger than 18 qualify to obtain a residence permit. If they want to work, separate authorisation would need to be obtained. To obtain residence permits, the work-permit holder needs to accept financial responsibility for the applicants.


Residence visa for Mozambique

Any foreigner who intends on staying in Mozambique for more than a month is required to obtain a residence permit, regardless of the type of visa or permit they hold. The residence visa for Mozambique is known as the Documento de Identificação e Residência para Estrangeiros (DIRE). To apply, expats must submit the relevant documents including proof of employment in the form of a work permit and a letter from their employing company. Spouses and children of the main visa holder are also eligible to apply for a residence permit and must supply proof of their relationship. Residence permits are renewable and valid for one year. 

*Visa regulations and requirements for work permits are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details. 

Work Permits for Mozambique

Expats hoping to work in Mozambique will find that obtaining a work permit can be very difficult. There are quotas in place to restrict the employment of foreigners. However, those with exceptional skills that are in demand in Mozambique, such as engineers, can get a work permit fairly easily. 

Work permits for Mozambique are granted on either a short- or long-term basis. The application processes for these vary greatly. Work permit applications need to go through the Department of Labour in Mozambique and therefore tend to take a long time to process.


Types of work visas for Mozambique

Business visas (short-term work permits)

When an expat is employed for projects that will last a maximum of 90 days, they need to apply for a business visa. Approval and renewal for business visas in Mozambique is at the discretion of the Department of Labour. 

Traditionally, a business visa is designed for people travelling to another country to attend meetings, conferences, seminars or corporate events, but in Mozambique, this visa also enables the visa holder to work legally. The business visa can therefore serve as a short-term work permit in Mozambique. 

Application for a business visa needs to be made before travelling to Mozambique. Applications can be made at the Mozambican mission or embassy in an expat’s home country. If a country doesn’t have a Mozambican embassy or consulate general, expats can contact an agent in Mozambique who can arrange a 'letter of approval'. This letter of approval is used to travel to Mozambique. Upon entry, expats will then have their visas endorsed. Alternatively, an expat may travel to the Mozambican representation closest to their country of residence in order to submit the application.

Long-term work permits

Long-term work permits for Mozambique are initially valid for a period of up to two years. These are renewable if the applicant is able to meet certain requirements. Processing times tend to be lengthy. Waiting periods can be anything between two and six months. 

This application process is more complex than that for a business visa. These work permits are generally only granted when the employer can prove that the position can’t be filled by any suitable Mozambican citizen. The quota system in Mozambique gives a company the right to employ a certain number of foreigners. Quotas are awarded depending on the number of nationals employed. If the company has exhausted its quota, it may apply for 'out of quota' authorisation with the Department of Labour.

Expats will first have to establish whether the company they will be working for has quota left or if an out of quota application has to be processed. If an expat can be employed within the quota, there is no need to prove that they have specific skills. The employer can then simply obtain an authorisation letter from the Department of Labour.

When the Mozambican company has exhausted its quota, the out-of-quota route has to be taken. This is the most complicated route to employment and can take months to process. An application for out-of-quota authorisation is based on merit. Mozambican officials will have to determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to grant the request. Relevant factors would include the sector in which the foreigner is to be employed, the intention to transfer skills and the number of local people benefiting from the project. 

Obtaining authorisation from the Labour Department will be challenging. The process is time consuming and unpredictable. Applications need to be accompanied with a strong motivation explaining why foreign skills are required. An application for a work permit can only be submitted at a Mozambican mission after obtaining this authorisation. 

Finally, expats with a long-term work visa for Mozambique need to apply for a residence permit as soon as they arrive in the country. The residence permit is also referred to as local registration. Obtaining the local registration is straightforward. An application must be made by submitting a number of personal documents and the work authorisation. The permit should then be issued for a period corresponding with the work authorisation.

*Visa regulations and requirements for work permits are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details. 

Cost of Living in Mozambique

Mozambique has a low cost of living. Expats will find this makes living cheaply relatively easy. However, the low cost of living is matched by low salaries. Expats might find it difficult to save while living in Mozambique, especially when earning in the local currency.

Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, is ranked 161st out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey. The city is ranked higher than Budapest and Cape Town but lower than Hong Kong and New York City. 


Cost of Living in Mozambique chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

MZN 85,000

Three bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MZN 44,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

MZN 49,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MZN 21,000

Shopping

Dozen eggs

MZN 117

Milk (1 litre)

MZN 85

Rice (1kg)

MZN 79

Loaf of white bread

MZN 52

Chicken breasts (1kg)

MZN 345

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

MZN 165

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

MZN 350

Coca-Cola (330ml)

MZN 45

Cappuccino

MZN 121

Bottle of local beer

MZN 73

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

MZN 2,900

Utilities

Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

MZN 5.25

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

MZN 5,300

Basic utilities (per month for standard household)

MZN 5,000

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

MZN 150

City centre public transport fare

MZN 12

Petrol (per litre)

MZN 67

Culture Shock in Mozambique

Expats moving to Mozambique should prepare themselves for some culture shock. The country suffers from crippling poverty, and expats may be shocked by how most of the population lives. The roads and state of driving in Mozambique are also atrocious. This may take expats some getting used to, depending on where expats are from. 


Language in Mozambique

The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, and one of the biggest struggles expats moving to Mozambique face is not being able to speak it. The inability to communicate thoughts and feelings or even simple requests can complicate everyday life. English is not widely spoken outside of the capital city, and although there are various translation and interpreting services available, this can become quite frustrating.

The language barrier can also make things such as banking and renting accommodation extremely difficult. New arrivals will need to speak and understand some Portuguese. Learning the language or just useful phrases can make assimilation easier.


Cultural differences in Mozambique

Mozambicans are not strict on punctuality, which may cause frustration for expats. This can impact on expats' lives, especially in the case of doing business or expat children attending school. Mozambicans also favour family above work. This leads to high levels of absenteeism in schools and workplaces. 

Public displays of affection are uncommon. It is typical for people to shake hands upon meeting, and for women to kiss other women on the cheek, but only in familiar settings. Women do not touch men in public. It is especially taboo for a single woman to touch a man she doesn’t know. Touching can often be mistaken for romantic interest.


Women in Mozambique

Mozambique still has a very traditional view of women. This may be quite jarring for expats relocating from Western countries. Women are expected to get married and start a family at a young age. This leads to low levels of education for girls and young women. Most women tend to stay home and take care of their families. Women also aren’t treated equal to men. This is more true in rural areas of Mozambique.

In recent years there has been more of a push to get women into the working world, though this applies mostly to the capital city, Maputo.


Poverty in Mozambique

Poverty has been a major challenge for Mozambique since gaining independence in 1975. At that time, the country was listed as one of the world’s poorest. Even today, the country ranks among the lowest in human development, life expectancy and inequality. 

This level of poverty is probably the biggest culture shock expats will experience. The country has made great strides in reducing poverty, but the vast majority of the population still lives in below-standard circumstances. Due to extreme poverty, many locals live in informal accommodation with little to no access to basic services such as water and sanitation.

Accommodation in Mozambique

Renting accommodation in Mozambique can be a major hurdle for expats. Most cities, especially Maputo, have a huge shortage of adequate long-term housing. Expats from developed countries, especially, may struggle to find housing that meets their standards in terms of luxury and utilities. On the other hand, apartments tend to be more spacious and sunny than what one would find in many countries.

Rent is expensive, so expats will need to budget carefully when it comes to finding their ideal home. There are also few laws in place to protect renters from rent increases. This makes renting accommodation in Mozambique feel like a gamble at times.


Finding accommodation in Mozambique

When looking for accommodation in Mozambique, expats should start browsing as far in advance as possible. Generally, short-term vacation rentals are much easier to find. Online websites have the highest rate of success for renting. There are different websites that are popular, such as Property Maputo and Airbnb. Other good options include browsing the classified sections of local newspapers such as O Noticias

Nowadays, the most common way expats find housing is through postings on forums and groups on social media platforms. Expats who choose to use this route should be cautious of scams though. It is important to always view the property in person before signing a lease. Word of mouth also goes far in Mozambique. Property owners will frequently prefer to let their accommodation to someone who has been recommended to them from a previous tenant or business associate.

Rental agents aren’t regulated in Mozambique. They also tend to charge high commissions. For these reasons they aren’t frequently used. If expats do choose this route, they should be sure to clarify expectation from the start with both the agent and the renter.


Types of accommodation in Mozambique

The types of accommodation available in Mozambique vary widely. Most expats choose to live in large cities such as Maputo or Beira. In these cities expats can find free-standing houses and apartments in large apartment buildings. The cost of these options are also highly varied with free-standing houses being the most expensive option.

The majority of long-term rental properties tend to be unfurnished. This means apartments won't have large appliances such as fridges and washing machines, though most accommodation comes with a stove. There are also furnished rentals available, but these tend to be much more expensive than unfurnished units. Deposits for furnished housing may also be higher in some cases. Most short-term rentals are furnished.


Renting accommodation in Mozambique

It is essential that a clear and detailed contract be negotiated with the prospective landlord. Mozambique has very few laws protecting renters. Expats should be careful not to get trapped into a badly-worded rental agreement. It is important that prospective tenants are clear with the landlord when negotiating the lease and avoid signing anything they aren’t comfortable with. Renting a short-term vacation rental online may be safer than immediately committing to a long-term lease.

The applicant may need to prove that their monthly income is sufficient to afford the monthly rent. Leases are typically signed on a one-year basis, although it may be possible to rent for a shorter time. It is standard in Mozambique to pay a three-month deposit. This usually includes the first month’s rent. Expats should make sure of stipulations in the contract about the grounds for withholding a deposit.

Healthcare in Mozambique

Mozambique is a severely underdeveloped country. The country battles with high levels of poverty, which affects the spread of diseases. The public healthcare system in Mozambique is basic and very limited. Expats are not entitled to public healthcare, which forces them to rely on private healthcare facilities. These are also limited, with most found in Maputo. Most expats, as well as wealthier Mozambicans, opt to travel to South Africa for elective procedures. 


Public healthcare in Mozambique

Expats moving to Mozambique will find the standard of public healthcare much lower than they may be used to. Frequent staff and supply shortages are a major issue for public hospitals. Most hospitals have excessively long waiting times for even basic care. Some rural areas do not have any public healthcare options. This means locals often need to travel for hours to get to the nearest government clinic.

It is crucial that expats in Mozambique invest in comprehensive international health insurance. These plans will cover the costs of private hospitalisation and possible medical evacuation to South Africa. It is common for those in need of serious medical care to travel to South Africa, as Mozambique lacks adequate resources. 


Private healthcare in Mozambique

There are a number of private clinics in Maputo and larger cities in Mozambique. Doctors at these clinics tend to be expats themselves, are well trained, experienced and usually speak English.

The most reputable of the private hospitals is the Maputo Private Hospital. It was one of the first private hospitals in Mozambique and opened in 2012, though other private hospitals have opened since. It is fully equipped to deal with emergencies, and has obstetrics, paediatrics and radiology departments. Expats are advised to do careful research about the healthcare facilities in the area they pan to move to. 


Health hazards in Mozambique

Malaria is endemic in Mozambique. It is also the leading cause of death in the country. It is important to avoid mosquito bites by using nets, candles and sprays. However, the safest way to avoid malaria is medication. Anti-malaria pills should be purchased before travelling to Mozambique.

Vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid are advised for those travelling or moving to Mozambique. Bilharzia, a parasitic infection found in fresh water, is also a danger. Tap water in Mozambique is not safe to drink, so bottled or boiled water should be used instead. 


Pharmacies and medication

Pharmacies in Mozambique tend to be limited to major cities and the capital. Public pharmacies are known to frequently run out of basic medication. Medications are mostly imported and supply can be unreliable. Expats should therefore always check the expiry dates on packaging. It is a good idea to know the generic name for important medications, as brand names vary from country to country. If possible, expats should try to bring chronic medicine and basic medicine such as paracetamol and malaria tablets from their home country.


Emergency services in Mozambique

  • Police: 112 or 119

  • Medical: 117

  • Fire: 198

These numbers tend not to be very reliable. Expats should keep the contact details of their nearest hospital on hand for medical emergencies. Private ambulances are available in the capital. Outside Maputo, such services are generally unreliable due to the poor state of the national roads. Air evacuations are often the only option to get to a hospital fast.

Education and Schools in Mozambique

Education in Mozambique is organised into three stages: primary education, secondary education and higher education. 

While the country does have a somewhat functional national education system, many schooling programmes rely on international funding. Illiteracy and low completion rates are just two of the challenges that Mozambique faces. As a result, very few expats opt to send their children to public schools, preferring to make use of international schools. 


Public schools in Mozambique

The first seven years of education is compulsory in Mozambique. Children start their first year of school at the age of six. Drop-out rates are high, and schools are notoriously understaffed and stretched for resources. 

The language of instruction at public schools in Mozambique is Portuguese. This creates a language barrier for many expats. While public schools are technically free, parents have to provide textbooks, uniforms and other extras. Due to lack of space, school is held in two or three sessions a day. This means some children attend a morning session and others attend school in the afternoon. Sessions are short in order to cater to as many students as possible. Naturally, this results in a superficial level of education.

High levels of absenteeism among students, teachers and school directors worsen the situation in public schools. For these reasons, expats with children tend to choose international schools instead.


Private schools in Mozambique

Generally, both locals and expats prefer to send their children to private schools if they can afford it. These schools have smaller classes, more qualified teachers and better resources for teaching.

There are many private schools located throughout Mozambique. However, they are mostly located in Maputo and Beira. Private schools vary in terms of courses offered, quality of education, cost of tuition and language of instruction.


International schools in Mozambique

There are a number of international schools in Mozambique. These schools teach foreign or globally recognised curricula. Schools usually teach in the language associated with their country of origin. The majority of these schools offer classes in English, though there are a few French schools too. Most of Mozambique’s international schools are clustered in Maputo and Beira, with a few scattered in other areas around the country.

Admission and enrolment procedures vary from school to school. Expats should note that demand for international school placement is high, and space is limited. Applying for admission should therefore be a main priority before moving to Mozambique. Tuition fees vary widely with the best international schools commanding high fees. Expats moving to Mozambique for work should attempt to negotiate a school allowance into their relocation package to cover these costs.


Special-needs education in Mozambique

Though there has been a push for more inclusive education, special-needs education is limited in Mozambique. While the need for integrated classes is recognised, few schools can afford the resources and staff to support this, particularly in public schools. Traditional schools that cannot offer comprehensive support may be reluctant to admit students with behavioural, learning or physical disabilities or challenges.

Private and international schools are more likely to offer learning support programmes to a greater diversity of learning needs. It's best to contact the schools directly to find out what support services are available.


Tutors in Mozambique

There are tutors available in Mozambique, but mainly in the bigger cities and other expat enclaves. Whether students don't want to feel left behind academically, want to get better acquainted with Portuguese or need extra support close to exam time, private tutors can help prepare and support children. Tutors also offer extra-curricular activities, from piano and guitar to dance and scuba diving.

One of the best ways to find a tutor is through networking and asking other families. A number of private tutoring companies can also be found.

International Schools in Mozambique

Public schools in Mozambique are notoriously understaffed, and the language of instruction is Portuguese, which means public schooling may not be the preferred option for expat children. Fortunately, there are a few international schools in Mozambique that offer a diverse range of curricula. The majority of these schools are located in major cities such as Maputo and Beira. 

Below are some of the most popular international schools in Mozambique.


International schools in Mozambique

American International School of Mozambique

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Websitewww.aism.co.mz

Maputo International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge International
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.mis.ac.za 

Lycée Gustave Eiffel

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.lge-maputo.com

Willow International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Mozambican and Cambridge International
Ages: 4 to 18
Website: www.willow.org.mz

Stella Maris International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge International
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.smis.edu.mz 

Enko Riverside International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 11 to 19
Website: www.enkoeducation.com

Transport and Driving in Mozambique

Mozambique is known for dangerous driving, especially in the capital. Expats on the road, whether as pedestrians, passengers or drivers, should be cautious of other drivers at all times. In the capital, Maputo, the public transport system is slightly better than elsewhere in the country.  

Mozambique's biggest airport is Maputo International Airport. The country also has a number of paved and unpaved airports throughout the country, and if landing in a remote area, it is best to prearrange transport, as there is unlikely to be anything available on arrival.


Public transport in Mozambique

Public transport in Mozambique is known to be unreliable and is usually not recommended. Expats who can afford to buy a car may find it a more convenient and safer way to get around than those who choose to use public transport.

Trains

Trains travel to and from Maputo and South Africa, but the trains are known to be overcrowded. Many lack sleeping facilities which makes overnight journeys difficult.

Buses

There are coaches that travel around Mozambique for long-distance destinations. It is not uncommon for coaches to be full, and a chapas is usually used to take the overflow of passengers. Like the trains, buses can be used to travel to other neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe and South Africa. Intercity buses also exist, and these generally leave at 4am. 

Chapas

Chapas are local minibuses that are used for short and long distance journeys. For the latter, luggage is usually piled on the roof, and the chapas driver ignores all capacity limits. As they are often overloaded, they can be dangerous to travel in, but are usually cheaper than other forms of transport. 

Ferry

There are daily ferries between Inhaca Island and Maputo as well as Catembe and Maputo. The ferry travels more frequently on weekends, but expats should make sure that they arrive early to secure a spot. 


Driving in Mozambique

Cars drive on the left in Mozambique. Expats may find that the road conditions are bad with potholes being a common feature. Many of the roads are also unpaved, which may affect the decision of what car to use. There are also reports of corrupt officials who pull over cars for bribes. It is best to remain calm and to keep photocopies of all documents to hand over. 

It is common for people to rent cars from South Africa and drive over the border. For long term arrangements, buying a car can be wise. When driving, expats should always carry their ID, driver's licence, vehicle registration papers and insurance details. It is recommended that expats fill up their car wherever possible, as petrol stations can be few and far between. 

Banking, Money and Taxes in Mozambique

The banking sector in Mozambique has faced many challenges in recent years. However, it does seem like things are looking up. Still, expats moving to Mozambique will find that banking, money and taxes do not work as smoothly as they do in more developed countries.


Money in Mozambique

The currency of Mozambique is the Metical (MZN) which is divided into 100 centavos. The plural is meticais.

The first metical was introduced in 1980, after Mozambique gained independence. The second metical was introduced in 2006. This led to the first metical being phased out by 2012. The currency is abbreviated to MT, which precedes the amount.

  • Notes: 20 MZN, 50 MZN, 100 MZN, 200 MZN, 500 MZN, and 1,000 MZN

  • Coins: 1 MZN, 2 MZN, 5 MZN, 10 MZN and 50 centavos

Both South African rands (ZAR) and United States dollars (USD) are also widely used in Mozambique. 


Banking in Mozambique

There are a number of banks in Mozambique. International banks like Barclays Bank, and a few South African banks such as First National Bank Mozambique and Standard Bank, operate here. Most of the head offices are located in Maputo, with branches spread out across the country. Withdrawing large amounts of currency out of a Mozambican bank account can prove difficult. Expats often choose to keep a non-Mozambican bank account for working with larger sums of money.

Opening a bank account

Banks in Mozambique are open from Mondays to Fridays between 8am and 3pm. Non-residents are able to open a bank account. Expats will need a number of documents depending on the bank they choose. Services provided will range considerably, but most banks do offer some form of internet banking.

ATMs

ATMs are easy to find in the capital, Maputo. Most ATMs have limits on how much money can be withdrawn in a single transaction. There are also limits on the amount that can be withdrawn throughout the day. ATMs are less common outside of Maputo and have a tendency to run out of cash. Mozambican ATMs aren’t all that reliable and are frequently offline. Expats are advised to always carry some cash on them.

ATMs will generally accept international debit and credit cards alongside local cards. Most banks charge a transaction fee for international withdrawals. However, some have partnerships with local Mozambican banks to waive these fees.


Taxes in Mozambique

If a person is considered a resident in Mozambique, they are eligible to pay tax. For tax purposes, a resident is classified as a person who has lived in Mozambique for at least 180 days during a 12-month period. These persons are charged income tax if their salaries exceed a certain amount. The percentage charged depends on annual income.

Expat Experiences in Mozambique

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Mozambique and would like to share your story.


South African expat Eddie has been living in Mozambique since 2006, and therefore is well-versed in the culture and customs of the country. Read his interview for more on his experiences of life in Mozambique, and how to make the most of living there.