Sao Tome and PrincipeOfficial Name: Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Sablière B.P. 4000
Telephone: +(241) 01-45-71-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(241) 07-38-01-71
Fax: +(241) 01-45-71-05
São Tomé and Príncipe is a developing nation, comprised of the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, located off the western coast of central Africa. Portuguese is the official language; few São Toméans speak English. Facilities for tourism exist on both islands and are adequate. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on São Tomé and Príncipe for additional information on U.S.-São Tomé and Príncipe relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport and visa, or authorization to enter, are required. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry. A visa or authorization to enter must be obtained in advance, as airport visas are not available. You may apply online for an authorization to enter at the eVisaST website. Be aware that previous applicants have experienced some technical difficulties with this website, but this is currently the only way to obtain a visa to enter São Tomé and Príncipe. You must receive the authorization to enter by email, print it out, and take it with you to the airport. São Tomé and Príncipe does not currently maintain an embassy in the United States. Travelers transiting Gabon can obtain visas and the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of São Tomé and Príncipe in Gabon, B.P. 49, Libreville, Gabon, telephone +241-72-15-27, fax +241-72-15-28.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of São Tomé and Príncipe.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
You should maintain security awareness at all times. There have been isolated incidents of civil unrest in the capital city. You should avoid large gatherings or any other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in São Tomé and Príncipe is 2-22-22-22. In the event of a fire, dial 112.
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.
- n 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: Crimes such as burglary, pick-pocketing, and armed home invasions do occur on the islands, particularly around the winter holidays. Pick-pocketing can occur anywhere but is more prevalent in public places, such as in markets, on the streets, or near hotels. Do not display large amounts of cash in public. Put valuables and extra cash in your hotel safe while sightseeing or visiting the beach. When dining in restaurants or visiting markets, 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 in Libreville. Police response time to reports of crime can be slow.
While scams and confidence schemes are not common, travelers should exercise caution. For general information on scams, see the Department of State’s Financial Scams web page.
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, we can 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.
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 São Tomé and Príncipe, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own and criminal penalties will 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 São Tomé and Príncipe, 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 go.
Persons violating the laws of São Tomé and Príncipe, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in São Tomé and Príncipe are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
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: Portuguese is the official language of São Tomé and Príncipe; travelers who do not speak Portuguese may face communication difficulties associated with the language barrier.
Identification: You should always carry identification in the event you are stopped by police.
Photography: Taking photographs of the Presidential Palace, military, or other government buildings is strictly forbidden.
Currency: Visitors are limited to 10,000 Euros of cash on hand when entering or exiting the country. Currency exceeding this amount requires permission from the Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe. Letters of justification should be presented to the Central Bank from a credible financial institution located outside the country.
Airlines: Airline service to São Tomé and Príncipe is limited. There are currently two flights from Lisbon, Portugal – TAP Air on Fridays and STP Airways on Saturdays. Regionally, Ceiba Airline has service on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from Libreville, Gabon and Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Afric Aviation has service on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays between Libreville, Gabon and São Tomé. African Connection flies between São Tomé and Príncipe islands four times a week and also has charter flights.
Women: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our Information for Women Travelers page.
LGBT Rights: While São Tomé and Príncipe has no laws criminalizing or limiting same gender relationships, there are as yet no legal protections for the community against discrimination. Some societal discrimination does exist. For more detailed information about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights in São Tomé and Príncipe, review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in São Tomé and Príncipe, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The law does not prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities, but reported discrimination is rare. The law does not mandate accessibility and it is not provided in most areas.
Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in São Tomé and Príncipe are extremely limited. There is one hospital in the country on the island of São Tomé, Hospital Central Ayres de Menezes, phone number +239 2-221-222. A few clinics also exist, but the service provided is very basic. For all but minor medical needs, it is necessary to travel to Libreville (Gabon), Lisbon (Portugal), or elsewhere. You should carry an ample supply of properly-labeled prescription drugs and other medications with you; an adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies is generally not available.
Mosquito borne illnesses such as malaria and yellow fever 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 São Tomé and Príncipe in all seasons except those areas above 1000 m (3300 ft). Before traveling you should discuss with your doctor the best antimalarial medication to avoid malaria.
Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline or mefloquine (Lariam) are appropriate antimalarials for São Tomé and Príncipe. 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’s page on Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in São Tomé and Príncipe, or for up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention. Tell the physician about your travel history and what antimalarials you have been taking.
Yellow fever is a virus spread by day biting mosquitoes (in contrast to the night biting malaria carrying mosquitoes). Although rare among travelers, yellow fever 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.
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 São Tomé and Príncipe.
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, bites, and scratches from other dogs, bats or other mammals. You should immediately clean with soap and water and seek medical evaluation to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.
Tuberculosis is more than 20 times more common in São Tomé and Príncipe than in the United States. Those planning on living in São Tomé and Príncipe should consider tuberculin skin testing before travel and then again six to twelve weeks after returning from São Tomé and Príncipe 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, washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs. The most significant risk for schistosomiasis is in Guadalupe and São Tomé.
Diving is a popular reason for travelers to visit but they should be aware that there are no recompression chambers in Sao Tome and Principe; the closest are in South Africa and Portugal. Before diving, check that the facilities are operational.
You can find detailed 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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONTITIONS: While in São Tomé and Príncipe, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Streets in the city of São Tomé are paved, but large potholes are common. Major roads outside of town are also paved. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and animals on the roads can be a major hazard. Outside of the city of São Tomé, there are no sidewalks or shoulders along the sides of roads. In rural areas outside of the capital city, drivers are expected to honk the car’s horn periodically as a warning signal of their approach. There is no street lighting outside of the capital. Some roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Only a few miles of improved roads exist on the island of Príncipe; the conditions are similar to those found on São Tomé.
Although taking taxis is fairly safe, it is advisable to rent a car instead. If you must take a taxi, make sure that the taxi has seatbelts and negotiate the rate before entering the taxi. If staying at a hotel, it is recommended that you ask the front desk to call a taxi for you, as they will utilize reliable providers. Hotels can also request/recommend private drivers for hire.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in São Tomé and Príncipe, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of São Tomé and Príncipe’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.