COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Angola is a large, developing country in southwest central Africa. The capital city is Luanda. Portuguese, the official language, is widely-spoken throughout the country. Despite its extensive oil and mineral reserves and arable land suitable for large-scale production of numerous crops, Angola has some of the world's lowest social development indicators. Development was severely restricted by a 27-year civil war that broke out upon independence in 1975 and destroyed most of the country's infrastructure. Since the war ended in 2002, the economy grew at a double-digit annual rate until the global financial crisis undercut oil revenue. Although the government continues extensive infrastructure reconstruction and development projects, Angola still faces challenges with its infrastructure and with providing government services, especially in basic social services, aviation and travel safety, accommodations and communications. Tourism facilities, particularly outside the capital of Luanda, are often rudimentary. Portuguese is the official language; English is not commonly used. Read more about U.S. relations with Angola.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Angola, please tell our Embassy about your trip. If you check in, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling will also help your friends and family contact you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Luanda
Rua Houari Boumedienne #32
P.O. Box 6468
Telephone: (244) 222-641-000, (244) 222-447-028, (244) 222-445-481, (244) 222-446-224;
Emergency after-hours telephone: (244) 222-641-000; (244) 923-640-154
Facsimile: (244) 222-641-259.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required and must be obtained in advance of travel. An International Certificate of Vaccination is also required. If you are planning to live in or visit Angola, you should allow several weeks for the processing of your visa application. Angola does not issue airport visas, and persons arriving without visas are subject to arrest or exclusion. You may also encounter delays or exclusions if you do not have at least one blank visa page in your passport for entry stamps. Please note that Angolan embassies and consulates will not issue visas unless the passport has at least six months’ validity remaining. Angola does not require travelers to have an exit visa. If your international immunization card does not show inoculations against yellow fever within the past ten years, you may be subject to exclusion, on-the-spot vaccination, and/or heavy fines. If you remain in Angola beyond your authorized visa duration, you may be subject to fines and arrest.
In 2012, the rules for exporting currency out of Angola changed. Both residents and non-residents can take up to 50,000 kwanzas in local currency, worth roughly USD $500, out of the country. In addition, residents can take out of Angola the equivalent of USD $15,000 and non-residents can take out up to USD $10,000. Police officials at the Luanda airport regularly search departing passengers for currency and will confiscate amounts over those limits.
When entering Angola, residents must declare any type of currency worth more than the equivalent of USD $15,000 and non-residents must declare any type of currency worth more than the equivalent of USD $10,000.
Current information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Angola at 2100-2108 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, tel. (202) 785-1156, fax (202) 785-1258. Visit the Embassy of Angola’s website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Angola.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The overall security situation in Angola has improved markedly since the end of the civil war; however, you should still exercise caution when traveling in Angola. Ground travel in some parts of Angola can be problematic due to land mines and other remnants of war. Do not touch anything that resembles a mine or unexploded ordinance. Despite Angola’s great progress in rebuilding highways and bridges, the infrastructure remains poor. Police and military officials are sometimes undisciplined, but their authority should not be challenged. Travel in most parts of Luanda is generally safe by day, but car doors should be locked, windows rolled up, and laptop, cell phones, packages stored out of sight. You should avoid travel after dark, and no travel should be undertaken on roads outside of cities after nightfall.
If you are living in, or planning to visit, the northern province of Cabinda, you should be aware of threats to your safety outside of Cabinda city. In 2007 and 2008, armed groups specifically targeted and attacked expatriates in Cabinda; these armed attacks resulted in the rape, robbery and murder of several expatriates working in Cabinda. During the African Nations Cup soccer tournament in January 2010, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) separatists attacked a vehicle carrying the visiting Togolese soccer team, killing three and injuring several others. Those responsible declared their intention to continue attacks against expatriates. Occasional attacks against police and Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) convoys and outposts continue to be reported. These incidents, while infrequent, have occurred with little or no warning. Exercise extreme caution when traveling outside of Cabinda city and limit travel.
You are advised to undertake only essential travel to Lunda North and South provinces. As the Government of Angola is sensitive to the travel of foreigners in the diamond-producing areas of the provinces, proper permission and documentation is required to frequent these areas.
You are advised not to take photographs of sites and installations of military or security interest, including government buildings, as this can result in fines and possibly arrest.
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CRIME: Crime is a problem in Angola. While most violent crime occurs between Angolans, foreigners have been attacked as well. Street crime is a regular occurrence in Luanda. The most common crimes are pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, vehicle theft, and vehicle break-ins. Armed muggings, robberies, and carjackings involving foreigners also occur. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid Roque Santeiro and Rocha Pinto, and to only travel the “Serpentine Road” that leads to the front of the U.S. Embassy by car. In general, movement around Luanda is safer by day than by night. Touring after dark should be avoided. Air travelers arriving in Luanda are strongly advised to arrange reliable and secure ground transportation in advance; there is no regular taxi service. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the use of the public transportation known as “candongueiros” or “taxistas”, because these multi-passenger vans are largely unregulated and often dangerous.
Motorists should stop at all police checkpoints if so directed. Police officers may solicit bribes or request immediate payment of "fines" for alleged minor infractions. U.S. citizens asked for bribes by the police should politely ask the traffic police to write them a ticket if the police allege a moving violation. If the police officer writes the ticket, then the motorist should pay the fine at the location indicated on the ticket. If no moving violation is alleged and the officer is asking for a bribe, the motorist should, without actually challenging the officer's authority, politely ask the officer for his/her name and badge number. Officers thus engaged will frequently let motorists go with no bribe paid if motorists follow this advice. Motorists are reminded to have all proper documents in the vehicle at all times (i.e., vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and driver's license), as lack of documentation is also a traffic violation. Local law requires that every driver in Angola has the proper permission to drive. Police are not always responsive to reports of crime or requests for assistance. Most police are on foot and are assigned to designated stationary posts. The Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) unit is frequently seen patrolling various areas of the city. This well-trained and well-organized unit responds to major crimes.
There have been police operations against illegal aliens and private companies resulting in deportation of illegal resident foreign nationals and loss of personal and company property. Independent entrepreneurs in Angola should carry certified copies of relevant immigration and business documents at all times.
Travelers should be alert to fraud occasionally perpetrated by Luanda airport personnel. Immigration and customs officials sometimes detain foreigners without cause and then demand gratuities before allowing them to enter or depart Angola. Airport health officials sometimes demand that passengers arriving without proof of current yellow fever vaccination accept and pay for a vaccination at the airport. Travelers are advised to carry their yellow fever vaccination card and ensure their yellow fever vaccine is up-to-date. If travelers forget to bring their yellow fever vaccination card and do not wish to receive the vaccine offered at the airport, they should be prepared to depart the country on the next available flight. Searches of travelers' checked baggage are common. Travelers should also be aware that criminals sometimes attempt to insert items into baggage at the airport, particularly for flights from Luanda to South Africa. It is important that travelers maintain control of their carry-on baggage at all times, and if they believe something has been inserted into their baggage, they should report the incident immediately to airport authorities.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law too.
Bandits have increasingly targeted people in cars stuck in stopped traffic by banging on and smashing vehicle windows in order to get cash and cell phones. At times they have brandished guns.
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:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Angola for police is 113; for firefighters: 115, and for ambulance services: 112. Emergency numbers listed may not have an English speaking operator available.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in another country, 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. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These 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 and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you do something illegal in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. Persons violating Angola’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Angola are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Under Angolan law, disrespecting government officials is illegal and can lead to expulsion from the country. Recently a U.S. family working and living in Angola had their passports confiscated for several weeks by Angolan authorities after family members began to complain to immigration officials about the amount of time it was taking to process their visas and passports at the airport. U.S. citizens should carefully consider this law before speaking out against the Government of Angola.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. 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.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Angola. Penalties include fines, jail time, or labor. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
Customs Regulations: Angolan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Angola of sensitive items including firearms, antiquities and currency. If you are planning on bringing in any of these items, you should contact the Embassy of Angola in Washington, DC or one of Angola's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Financial Transactions: Angola is generally a cash-only economy; neither traveler’s checks nor credit cards are used outside the capital of Luanda. In Luanda, credit cards are accepted in extremely limited circumstances, namely large hotels. Despite a major campaign to expand credit card acceptance, this effort has yet to expand beyond the capital city. In general, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are only accessible to those individuals who hold accounts with local banks. Dollars are generally accepted for most commercial transactions in Luanda and in all provincial capitals; you should carry a sufficient supply of U.S. dollars with you during your travels. Only the newer series U.S. dollar bills are accepted. U.S. dollars can be converted to local currency at exchange businesses authorized by the Angolan government.
Personal Identification: You should carry a certified copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times so you can provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship if questioned by local officials. To avoid the risk of theft or confiscation of original documentation, you should keep your passport in a secure place and carry only a certified copy. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Luanda can prepare copies of U.S. passports at no charge if you register with the Embassy.
Labor and Business Disputes: U.S. citizen performers, managers, booking agents and promoters traveling to Angola to perform and facilitate events should be aware that serious allegations have been made against Angolan talent agencies making arrangements for foreign performers. These allegations include, among other things, several charges of breach of contract and the forcible retention of passports and persons. In several cases, U.S. citizens have not been allowed to immediately leave the country until such disputes are settled. You should be sure of the reputation of any agency with which you choose to work. It may be useful for you to contact performers who have previously worked in Angola and are familiar with agencies in Angola. Feel free to contact the U.S. Embassy directly for further information. If you experience any incidents of this nature in Angola you should report these to the local Angolan police and the U.S. Embassy.
Long Delays in Renewal of Visas: If you opt to renew your work or other visa while in Angola, you should expect delays of 10 weeks or more, during which time the Angolan immigration authorities will retain your passport and you will not be able to travel. You should plan your travel and visa renewals carefully to avoid complications. If you must travel during this time, you can apply for a second U.S. passport PRIOR to turning over the primary passport to Angolan authorities for visa renewal. To apply for a second U.S. passport, you must write a letter explaining the need for the second passport, as well as meet all the requirements for a normal application for passport renewal, including being able to show a current valid passport. It can take up to 7-10 business days to receive a second passport. If you stay beyond your visa expiration date, you will be subject to a $150 per day fine.
Hotel Availability: Hotels are limited in Angola, and demand for the limited number of rooms is high. Hotels are often booked months in advance, especially in Luanda. Only a few large hotels in Luanda accept credit cards; hotels in the provinces generally do not accept credit cards. Adequate hotels are found in most provincial capitals, but some provide limited amenities.
Accessibility: While in Angola, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations very different from what is found in the United States. There is no legislation that mandates any accommodations be made for persons with disabilities. While major hotels do have wheelchair-accessible ramps, most facilities make no such accommodations. If accessibility is a concern, please check with potential hotels and/or travel agencies before booking. The roads and sidewalks are poorly maintained and there are no wheelchair-access ramps for sidewalks.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities and services are available in Angola but are limited and often do not meet U.S. standards. Payment for services is generally required after delivery of services, and medical providers will accept U.S. dollars or local currency. A very small number of facilities accept credit cards. Adequate care for medical emergencies is limited to Luanda, where there are some good private clinics that usually have 24-hour service provided by a general practice physician and specialists on call. A list of such facilities can be found at our medical information web page. Routine operations such as appendectomies can be performed. Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines/drugs. You are urged to carry with you an adequate supply of properly-labeled medications that you may routinely require while you are living or visiting Angola. Please remember that malaria is endemic in most areas of Angola.
Angola and surrounding African countries have experienced outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers. Most recent incidences are the 2005 Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Uige province, and the 2008 Ebola virus outbreak in the border region of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that prompted the Government of Angola to close its border between Lunda Norte and the DRC.
Good information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover medical visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t cover you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our information on medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Angola, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Angola is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Since the end of the civil war in 2002, overland access to the interior has improved considerably. Nonetheless, highways in some areas remain poor and the infrastructure for travelers is poor or nonexistent.
Road travel can be dangerous, especially during the rainy season (October - March), which can cause large potholes and erosion. Landmines remain a problem on some secondary roads in more remote areas. Road conditions vary widely outside the capital from acceptable paved surfaces to virtually impassable dirt roads, particularly secondary routes. Many secondary roads, including secondary roads in urban areas, are impassable during the rainy season. Overloaded, poorly marked, and disabled vehicles, as well as pedestrians and livestock, pose hazards for motorists. Ground travel in rural areas should be undertaken during daylight hours only. Areas with suspected landmines are generally clearly marked and travelers should heed these warnings. Primary roads are considered to be landmine free in most provinces, but travelers should not venture far from the margins of the road. Extensive government, commercial, and NGO demining projects continue throughout the country.
Traffic in Luanda is heavy and often chaotic, and roads are often in poor condition. Few intersections have traffic lights or police to direct vehicles. Drivers often fail to obey traffic signals and signs, and there are frequent vehicle breakdowns, a problem exacerbated by missing manhole covers. Itinerant vendors, scooters, and pedestrians often weave in and out of traffic, posing a danger to themselves and to drivers. Avoid most public transportation, including buses and van taxis, as the vehicles are generally crowded and may be unreliable.
U.S. tourists to Angola can drive using a U.S. license for one month only, during which they should apply for an Angolan driving license.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Angola’s national tourist office (Portuguese only) and national authority responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Angola, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Angola’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.
Due to ongoing concerns regarding safety and maintenance, the U.S. Embassy in Luanda permits the use of Angolan-owned-and- operated commercial air transportation by U.S. government personnel only on a case by case basis.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Angola dated March 20, 2012 to update the following sections: Crime, Special Circumstances and Aviation Safety.