COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who plan to stay in Conakry, the capital, should make reservations well in advance. French is the official language; Pular, Malinké, and Soussou are also widely spoken. Read more about U.S. relations with Guinea.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Guinea, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The U.S. Embassy is located on the Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma, opposite the New Radio Station in Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea.
Emergency after-hours telephone: 224-67-10-4311
Click here to contact the Embassy via e-mail.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A passport, visa, international vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are all required to enter Guinea. Please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea for the most current visa information. The Embassy of the Republic of Guinea in Washington is located at 2112 Leroy Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. When overseas, contact the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Guinea.
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: Guinea’s first democratically-elected President was inaugurated in December 2010. The presidential election was supposed to be followed by timely elections for the national legislature, but these were repeatedly delayed, which led to frustration and anger among some groups. Legislative elections have been scheduled for late June 2013, but the schedule as well as the process are still hotly debated, and have engendered demonstrations and protests, some of which have become violent, including loss of life. These types of events have been happening frequently, sometimes scheduled and sometimes unscheduled. On occasion, even the most disciplined demonstration has devolved into scattered independent actions. While the embassy attempts to alert U.S. citizens in the country to potential safety and security events in advance, this is not always possible with fast-breaking developments.
Since 2010, discipline among security forces, including elements of the army, gendarmerie, and police, has been good. Before 2011, the U.S. government would not permit minor children of U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. Embassy to be stationed with their parent(s) in Guinea. These restrictions for U.S. citizen minors have since been lifted. There are currently no restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizen employees of the Embassy within Guinea.
While not specifically targeted, U.S. citizens have been victims of crime. Motorists traveling outside of Conakry have encountered improvised checkpoint-barricades manned by persons in military uniforms who demand money and search through personal belongings, confiscating items of value. On rare occasions, persons, including U.S. citizens, have reported abusive treatment by security forces and being taken into custody for purposes of extortion.
Civilian groups occasionally stage impromptu strikes or demonstrations, a practice which seems more likely when legislative elections occur. In some instances and in some locales, these demonstrations can involve violence. While U.S. citizens have not been targeted in past outbreaks of violence, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During periods of civil unrest, public services such as transportation and medical care, as well as the availability of goods and services, can be affected. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. The military has also been known to demonstrate and incite unrest due to their grievances with the government. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times.
Most border crossings are controlled jointly by Guinean armed forces, gendarmes, police, and immigration officials. A relatively long land border and the military’s lack of physical and monetary resources mean, however, that borders are lightly patrolled. U.S. citizens considering travel to the border regions with Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, or Côte d’Ivoire should consult the latest Travel Warnings and Country Specific Information for these countries. Crossing land borders requires visas and complete paperwork, and can be difficult.
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CRIME: In Conakry, as in many large cities, crime is a fact of daily life. Residential and street crimes are very common. Some crime is perpetrated by individuals in military uniforms. Sentiments toward U.S. citizens in Guinea are generally positive, but criminals regularly target foreigners, including U.S. citizens, because they are perceived as lucrative targets. Crime – both nonviolent and violent – is a problem. Most nonviolent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, assaults, and carjackings are the most common violent crimes. Despite the police’s good intentions, they have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. Police and military officials have also been known to make direct and indirect requests for bribes. Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.
Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners can create legal difficulties for U.S. citizens because corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business is routinely based on bribes rather than the law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The U.S. Embassy has extremely limited recourse in assisting U.S. citizens who are victims of illegal business deals.
Business fraud is rampant and the targets are usually foreigners, including U.S. citizens. Schemes previously associated exclusively with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea, and pose a danger of severe financial loss. Typically these scams begin with the receipt of an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from a stranger who promises quick financial gain, often by transferring large sums of money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of "advance fees" to be paid—such as fees for legal documents or taxes—to finalize the release of funds. The final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is the scammer’s claim to be a refugee or émigré from a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash. Still other variations appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Sometimes victims are convinced to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drain their accounts, incur large debts against their credit, and take their life savings.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense—if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is. You should carefully check into and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing funds, providing goods or services, or undertaking any travel. A good clue to a scam is the phone number given to the victim; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed-line numbers, while scams typically involve the use of only cell phones. It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.
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.
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:
There is no emergency assistance in Guinea that is similar to the “911” system in the United States.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Guinea, 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, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. 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. For example, 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 your break the local laws in Guinea, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not legal where you are going. Persons violating Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. It is common for criminal cases to take months, if not years, to reach a verdict.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested, 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 if you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. You should contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington (see contact information above in the Entry Requirements section) for specific information regarding customs requirements.
The local currency is the Guinean franc (FG). Travelers may not depart Guinea carrying more than 100,000 FG (currently about $15.00) or more than $5,000 U.S. dollars. Guinea has a cash economy. ATMs are mostly unavailable, and traveler’s checks are accepted only at some banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry, but should be used only at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of BICIGUI, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at BICIGUI branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the United States have worked successfully in the past. Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and MoneyGram has an office in downtown Conakry as well.
Visitors should restrict photography to private gatherings and should obtain explicit permission from the Guinean government before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings, or public works. Photographing without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or a dangerous confrontation with people who find being photographed offensive.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Guinea. Penalties include fines and jail time. 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.
Accessibility: While in Guinea, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Guinea does not have legislation that mandates access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited, both in the capital city and throughout Guinea. Medicines are in short supply and of questionable quality, sterility of equipment should not be assumed, and treatment is frequently unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities, but are still well below western standards. There is one ambulance in Conakry but there are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea. Trauma care is extremely limited. Water in Guinea is presumed to be contaminated, so travelers should use only bottled or distilled water for drinking. Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Guinea; prophylaxis against malaria, purchased in the United States, is recommended. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, visit CDC’s malaria web page. In addition, in recent years, meningitis outbreaks have occurred periodically, in particular during the rainy season and especially in the eastern part of the country, but also in the capital; therefore vaccination against meningitis is recommended.
You can find good 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.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You cannot assume that your insurance will go with you when you travel or that it will cover all of your needs while traveling in Guinea. It is 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 doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does not go with you when you travel, it is a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Guinea, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Drivers in Guinea tend to be poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, which is only partly paved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, road signs are insufficient, and roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. The police and the military often set up roadblocks, making inter- and intra-city travel difficult from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. There is also a significant increase in banditry along the roadways between towns and upcountry during evening hours. U.S. citizens and other foreigners are strongly discouraged from traveling after dark outside of populated areas. Roadside assistance is not available in Guinea.
Guinea has no reliable public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and overcrowded. Taxis frequently stop and start without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Hired vehicles and drivers are available from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.
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 Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Guinea dated February 20, 2013 to update security and medical information.