Provided you have a passport with six months' life left, entering Malawi is generally straightforward, with visas issued on arrival.
Like any country, Malawi doesn’t allow travellers to import weapons, explosives or narcotics. Plants and seeds, livestock and live insects or snails are also prohibited. It is illegal to take products made from endangered animals or plants out of the country. A yellow-fever certificate is required from people arriving from an infected area.
When entering Malawi, you must present a passport with at least six months of validity remaining, and you should be in possession of an onward or return ticket, though this is seldom checked.
Most nationalities require a visa, which is issued (in most cases) upon arrival at the airport or major land border.
A one-month single-entry visa costs US$75, six- and 12-month multiple-entry visas cost US$150 and US$250 respectively; a seven-day transit visa costs US$50. Card payments should be possible at the airports, but it would be wise to have the fee handy in cash US dollars. You can apply in advance through your local Malawian embassy, but it is more expensive (US$100 for a single-entry visa).
Check the Malawian Department of Immigration website, www.immigration.gov.mw/visa.html, for more info. At the time of writing, the site advised travellers to apply in advance or, if that was not possible, to obtain a letter of authorisation. However, this directive was not being enforced and was likely to be dropped. There was also discussion of establishing an electronic visa system, so it would be worth checking with your accommodation for updates.
Once in Malawi, travellers with a one-month single-entry visa can apply to extend it to three months total at the immigration offices in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba. This costs MK5000 per month cash. Temporary-residence permits, lasting up to six months and available in Lilongwe and Blantyre, cost US$100.