GabonOfficial Name: Gabonese Republic
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Telephone: +(241) 01-45-71-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(241) 07-38-01-71
Fax: +(241) 01-45-71-05
The Gabonese Republic is a developing nation on the western coast of central Africa with a multiparty presidential government. French is the official language; few Gabonese speak English. Facilities for tourism outside the capital city of Libreville are available, but they are often limited and can be expensive. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Gabon for additional information on U.S. - Gabon relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport, visa, and proof of vaccination against yellow fever are required. You will need to get your visa in advance, as airport visas are not available. U.S. citizen travelers without the required visa have been refused entry into Gabon. Tourist and business visas to Gabon are issued at the Embassy of Gabon, 2034 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, and the Consulate of Gabon at 18 East 41st Street, Ninth Floor, New York, NY 10017 (email ConsulatGabon@aol.com). To obtain a visa for Gabon, you will need the application form, passport, itinerary and reservations, the visa fee, a photo, International Certificate of Vaccination (yellow card) proving that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever at least ten days before entering the country, and a prepaid return envelope. You may call the Gabonese Embassy at (202) 797-1000 or the Consulate at (212) 683-7371 to obtain the latest visa information. You should bring the supporting documentation that you provided with your visa application to prevent delays upon arrival in Gabon. Overseas, the nearest Gabonese embassy or consulate can assist you. Short-term visitors to Gabon are normally permitted to stay for up to 90 days. U.S. citizens with a residence permit (carte de sejour) must obtain exit visas from the Direction Générale à la Documentation et l’Immigration (DGDI, formerly known as CEDOC), before departing Gabon.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Gabon.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.
Safety and Security
You should be aware of your surroundings and personal security at all times. Political rallies and social protests have been held from time to time, and have occurred as recently as March 2014. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational or violent. You should avoid large gatherings, protests, demonstrations, and any other event where crowds congregate.
In the event of a fire, dial 01-76-15-20 in Libreville or 07-63-93-63 in Port Gentil.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Petty theft is common in Gabon. Violent crime is more common in urban areas, and there have been armed robberies in homes, restaurants, and at beaches frequented by foreigners. U.S. citizens and Europeans have been victims of crime.
The U.S. Embassy in Gabon encourages you to take extra precautions when traveling in Libreville. To prevent carjacking and petty theft, you should travel with your car windows up, doors locked, and items of value hidden from view. The Embassy has received reports of scams where thieves cause a distraction to motorists, such as stepping in front of cars in tight traffic, in order to create opportunities for cohorts to snatch and grab from unlocked passenger doors. These incidents have occurred during daylight hours. Riding in a taxi alone or during late hours of the evening is not recommended and increases your risk of becoming the victim of crime. Carjacking and violent incidents of road rage have also been reported to the Embassy. These incidents have also occurred during daylight hours. We have also received reports of police harassment of U.S. citizens at checkpoints. U.S. citizens should carry identification at all times, as described more fully below.
You should avoid poorly lit streets, and unfamiliar areas of the city, especially at night. You should not walk, run, or stay on the beach alone or in groups after dusk. When dining in restaurants or visiting markets, you should carry a minimal amount of cash and avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry. If you are the victim of an attempted robbery or carjacking, you are encouraged to comply with the attacker to avoid injury and to report all incidents to the police and the U.S. Embassy. Police response time to reports of crime is often slow.
Scams or confidence schemes do occur in Gabon. For general information on scams, see the Department of State’s Financial Scams web page.
Credit cards are not widely accepted except at hotels, and because of the high rate of credit card fraud, you should exercise caution when using them. Some hotels only accept credit cards with a European-style microchip. While withdrawing funds from ATMs, you should exercise the same safety precautions as in the U.S. as they are targeted by thieves.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line to reach the police is 177. However, it does not work on certain cell phone networks. For the police, call 01-76-55-85 in Libreville and 07-36-22-25 in Port Gentil. Remember that French is often required.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Gabon, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own and criminal penalties can vary from country to country.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well. If you break local laws in Gabon, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you are.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Language: The official language of Gabon is French. If you do not speak French, you will face difficulties in communication associated with the language barrier.
Identification: You should always carry identification and proof of legal immigration status in Gabon in case you are stopped at a police checkpoint. Examples of identification include a residence permit (carte de sejour), U.S. passport or a legalized photocopy of your U.S. passport, biographic information page, and your Gabonese visa page. City hall offices in Gabon can legalize passport photocopies for a nominal fee.
Photography: Taking photographs of the Presidential Palace, airport, and military or other government buildings is strictly forbidden.
Official Corruption: Official corruption is common, but paying bribes is strongly discouraged and may make you a target for further attempts at securing bribery payments.
Currency: Gabon is largely a cash economy. Credit cards are accepted at only a few major hotels, and, because of the high rate of credit card fraud, you should exercise caution when using them. Traveler’s checks can be cashed or dollars exchanged for Central African Francs (CFA) at hotels and banks. ATMs are available in major urban centers and dispense CFA. You should exercise the same safety precautions as in the United States while withdrawing funds from ATMs as they are commonly targeted by thieves.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Although there have been no reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, discrimination was a problem, and most LGBT individuals choose to keep their status secret, except in trusted circles, due to fear of discrimination. Discrimination in employment, housing, and health care is a problem, particularly for LGBT persons open about their sexual identity. Landlords or health-care providers often turn away such persons. Stigma is a likely factor in preventing the reporting of incidents.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Gabon, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities or providing for access to transportation, communication, buildings, or services. There is some societal discrimination against persons with disabilities, and employment opportunities and treatment facilities are limited.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Gabon, review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page
Medical facilities in Gabon's major cities are limited, but may be adequate for routine or basic needs. Medical services in rural areas are either unavailable or of very poor quality. Additionally, some medicines are not available; you should carry your own supply of properly-labeled medications to cover your entire stay. For medical emergencies in Libreville, the emergency room at El Rapha Polyclinic, a private clinic, can be reached at 01-44-70-00, 01-20-01-03 or 07 98 66 60,and an ambulance can be requested through them or by calling 13-00 from a Gabon telecom landline.
Mosquito borne illnesses such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya are a significant problem and prevention of bites and proper Yellow Fever immunization are important for all areas.
Travelers should carry and use insect repellents containing either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, and chiggers, some of which may also carry infections.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is highly prevalent throughout Gabon in all seasons and even large towns and cities. Before traveling you should discuss with your doctor the best antimalarial medication for your situation.
Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline, or mefloquine (Lariam) are appropriate antimalarials for Gabon. Chloroquine can no longer be recommended due to the high incidence of resistance. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.” If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in Gabon, or for up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention. Tell the physician about your travel history and what anti-malarials you have been taking.
Yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya are viruses spread by day biting mosquitoes (in contrast to the night biting malaria carrying mosquitoes). Like malaria, preventing mosquito bites is most important for preventing these illnesses.
Yellow fever is the most serious of these diseases, although rare among travelers it can be severe or fatal in about 10 percent of those infected. It can be nearly 100 percent prevented through use of the yellow fever vaccine, but there is currently no treatment for yellow fever infection. Yellow fever vaccination is required for all those over one year of age and recommended for all those over nine months of age.
Dengue fever causes fever, chills, severe headache and body aches. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for dengue and the illness occasionally causes severe or fatal disease.
Chikungunya causes fever, headaches, and severe joint pain. Again, prevention of mosquito bites is most important as there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water). Talk to your doctor about short course antibiotics and loperamide to take with you in case of diarrhea while traveling.
All routinely recommended immunizations for the United States should be up to date. Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, pertussis, and chickenpox are much more common than in the United States, especially among children. Additionally, hepatitis A and typhoid immunization is recommended for all travelers. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all those who may have sexual contacts, tattoos or require medical treatment while in Gabon.
Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Even in urban areas, dogs may have rabies and bites and scratches from other dogs, bats or other mammals. You should immediately clean yourself with soap and water, and medical evaluation should be immediately sought to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.
Tuberculosis is more than 20 times more common in Gabon than in the United States. Those planning on living in Gabon should consider tuberculin skin testing before travel and then again six to twelve weeks after returning from Gabon to the United States.
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that is spread by fresh water snails. The larval stage of the worm can burrow through your skin when in contact with contaminated fresh water. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs.
African trypanosomiasis, which causes “sleeping sickness” is carried by Tsetse flies and presents risk in northern areas of Estuaire Province and in Bendje, Ogooué-Maritime Province. Conventional insect repellents (DEET and permethrin) are ineffective against the tsetse fly. Wear light-colored, (not blue, which attracts tsetse flies) heavyweight clothing.
HIV/AIDS is estimated to be present in six percent of the adult population putting this country in the top tier of all countries. In addition, 20 percent of sex workers in the capital city are estimated to be HIV positive. Travelers should clearly understand STD concepts and risks for HIV transmission.
You can find more information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
If you drive a vehicle in Gabon, you are required to have a Gabonese driving license (permis de conduire), vehicle registration (carte grise), proof of insurance (assurance), proof of vehicle inspection (visite technique), fire extinguisher (extincteur de feu), triangles (triangles), and first aid kit (boite de soins de premiers secours). The police may verify that you have all of the required documentation and equipment if they stop you on the road or at police checkpoints. During your first 30 days in Gabon, you are permitted to drive with a U.S. or International Driver’s license.
Travel by road in Gabon can be hazardous. You should drive with your car windows up and the doors locked. Travelers are routinely stopped at police checkpoints within cities and on roads to the interior. You should comply politely if stopped, but avoid encouraging requests for bribery if possible. You should use extreme caution when driving after dark. Two-lane roads are the norm throughout Gabon. Roads to outlying cities are usually unpaved. There are many visible and hidden dangers including large potholes, absence of road signs, poor to non-existent streetlights, timber-laden trucks, and the presence of pedestrians and animals. Construction work is generally poorly indicated. Drivers may change lanes or stop unexpectedly. Lane markings are frequently ignored. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for travel beyond the paved road to Lambarene, especially during the rainy season.
Roadside assistance and emergency medical services are available in Libreville, but they may not be dependable. These services are nonexistent outside of the city. Service stations are available along main roads, but vehicle repair facilities are not always available. Bus service exists in Libreville, but buses are infrequent and routes are not generally convenient, so most people use taxis to get around the city. Use of taxis is generally safe, but does pose added risk. You should use a hotel taxi when possible. Before entering a taxi, check that the taxi has seatbelts and negotiate the rate for your trip. Rail service remains available but infrequent, and travelers should expect lengthy delays.
Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving in Gabon is against the law.
Public Transportation: Taxis in Gabon are considered safe. Travelers usually share a taxi, but for a higher fee, taxi operators will allow passengers sole use of the taxi.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Gabon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Gabon's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.