Republic of the CongoOfficial Name: Republic of the Congo
Must have at least six months validity remaining
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Required plus evidence of yellow fever vaccination within the past 10 years required upon entry
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
The total of a combination of foreign currency cannot exceed 5 million CFA – approximately $10,000
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Taking CFA out of the country requires a bank or cashier’s receipt to be presented to Immigration
Embassies and Consulates
Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso
Republic of the Congo
Telephone: +(242) 06-612-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(242) 06-612-2010
The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a developing nation in central Africa. The official language is French; Lingala and Kituba are also widely spoken. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, located on the Congo River, and Pointe-Noire, on the Atlantic coast. The country remained calm following the last civil conflict that ended in 2003, until December 2013 when heavy gunfire left more than 20 people dead in Brazzaville as Congolese security forces attempted to arrest a former military officer charged with complicity in a military arms depot explosion. Facilities for tourism are very limited. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Republic of Congo for additional information on U.S.-Republic of Congo relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Airport visas are not available, and visitors to the Republic of the Congo will need to obtain their visas in advance of travel. For visa information, contact the Embassy of the Republic of the Congo, telephone (202) 726-5500 or the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Congo to the United Nations telephone (212) 744-7840. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.
Local law prohibits exiting the country with the local currency, known as the “Financial Cooperation in Central Africa" Franc or CFA. Travelers are advised to limit the amount of CFA with which they travel to avoid any unnecessary forfeiture of funds upon departure. See Currency under Special Circumstances below for more information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Republic of the Congo.
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
Travel in the Republic of the Congo is hampered by road conditions, in addition to security considerations. There are reports of thieves establishing roadblocks outside of cities to solicit bribes. The road between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire is currently under construction. While large portions are now paved, this road is not to western highway standards. For more information please scroll down to the travel and transportation section.
The security situation in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has effects in the Republic of the Congo. See the Department of State's Travel Warning and Country Specific Information Sheet for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
National Parks and Wildlife Areas: Remember the risks involved when traveling through the habitats of wild animals. Stay in groups; do not leave anyone behind in an isolated area, even for just a few hours. Medical care in Congo’s national parks is almost non-existent. It may take days of walking/canoeing and flying to reach the nearest doctor.
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.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- 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: Foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire may be targets of crime. Criminals often target individuals based on their dress, actions, and perceived vigilance or lack thereof.
Streets are often poorly lit; exercise caution when walking around at night, especially along poorly maintained sidewalks. Legal recourse is limited in cases involving theft and robbery. Leave valuable items at home. Do not wear conspicuously expensive jewelry or clothing. Keep camera and cell phone out of sight. Carry only minimal amounts of cash. Do not carry credit cards.
Petty crime is often committed near Pointe-Noire’s beaches. Stay on main beaches, secure valuables, and avoid all beaches at night, when crimes typically occur. Use caution when swimming because of riptides.
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 find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of a violent crime 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.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the Republic of the Congo is “112”, or +242 06 665-4804. Police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is often slow (45 minutes or longer). Emergency services are limited in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and virtually non-existent elsewhere in the Republic of the Congo. In general, response or recourse for victims of crime is extremely limited, if not non-existent, in the Republic of the Congo.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in the Republic of the Congo, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. It is important to carry a form of identification at all times. Carry a copy of your passport and visa at all times to prevent the originals from being taken by police or armed assailants. Keep the original documents in a secure location. You may be taken in for questioning if you are stopped by the police and are unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. You may be asked to register with Immigration Service officials upon arrival in a new location within the country. Police may stop foreigners and accuse them of minor infractions (which may or may not be valid) requesting the person pay a fine on the spot rather than writing a ticket. The U.S. Embassy does not encourage anyone to pay such fines. Local security forces, especially traffic police who now wear uniforms bearing large identification numbers, routinely detain foreigners to solicit bribes.
It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and other key infrastructure such as ports, train stations, and airports. Keep your camera out of sight in such locations, and do not take photos of Congolese without permission.
There are also some things that might be legal in the Republic of the Congo, but still illegal in the United States.
It is a crime prosecutable in the United States to engage in sexual conduct with children and use or disseminate child pornography in a foreign country. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods, regardless of local law. If you break local laws in the Republic of the Congo, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
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.
Currency: The Republic of the Congo is primarily a cash economy and uses the “FinancialCooperation in Central Africa" Franc (CFA). U.S. dollars may be exchanged for local currency, but traveler’s checks are generally not accepted and cannot be cashed at local banks. Some hotels in Brazzaville and in Pointe-Noire now accept major credit cards, but cash remains the preferred method of payment. If you are caught attempting to leave the country in possession of undeclared CFA (without a bank receipt), airport authorities will charge a 20 percent fee or in extreme case, may confiscate the CFA currency.
Customs: Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate. Visitors who seek to export arts and crafts at the airports are frequently subject to an export tax and/or solicitations for bribes from customs agents. Travelers are frequently questioned about how much currency they are carrying and may have to show customs officials how much money they have in their wallets.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals face societal discrimination and harassment, including from police soliciting bribes.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Republic of Congo, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in the Republic of the Congo, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, communication accommodations, and public buildings. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.
Consult the CDC website for the Republic of the Congo prior to travel for the most up to date health information. Make sure your health insurance covers you while overseas and consider supplemental insurance that includes medical evacuation. Medical facilities are extremely limited. Some medicines are in short supply, particularly in rural areas. Carry your own supply of prescription medications in their original packaging.
Disease Outbreaks: Mosquito borne illnesses such as malaria, yellow fever, and chikungunya are a major problem throughout the country and prevention of bites and proper immunizations are important for all areas. Use mosquito repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET or picaridin and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets if possible. There are extremely high malaria transmission rates throughout the year and malaria chemoprophylaxis is recommended for even short stays in large cities.
Diarrheal diseases are prevalent throughout the country and may be contracted even in luxury hotels in major cities. Follow scrupulous hygiene and safe food preparation. Wash hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food, and after use of santiation facilities. Above all, be very careful with food (especially raw vegetables and leafy salads) and water, including ice.
Be up-to-date on all childhood vaccinations. In addition, Hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies are common in the Republic of the Congo; all travelers should be immunized. Bites and scratches from dogs, bats and other animals should be immediately washed with soap and water and evaluated to determine if further rabies immunization is warranted.
African trypanosomiasis is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. Wear light-colored, (not blue, which attracts tsetse flies) heavyweight clothing.
Loiasis, a filarial infection transmitted by large tabanid flies (Deer or Mango Fly), is highly endemic in forested areas.
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water.
If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in the Republic of the Congo, and for up to one year after returning home, seek prompt medical attention. Tell the physician you have traveled into a malarial area and what antimalarial medication you have been taking.
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 the Republic of the Congo, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Traffic safety is hazardous due to high speeds, aggressive driving, poorly maintained vehicles, and indifference toward the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season from October to May.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are sometimes unavailable in the major cities and especially in the more isolated regions of the country.
Bus travel can be unsafe. Hire only government authorized green and white taxis in Brazzaville and blue and white taxis in Pointe-Noire. Taxis are not metered, so fares should be negotiated before passengers embark. Most taxi drivers will round-up fares or not return change.
Police may pull over drivers who talk or text while driving for not following safe driving procedures.
Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close completely with minimal notice. A visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is required to cross the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa. Likewise, a visa for the Republic of the Congo is required when arriving by boat in Brazzaville.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: There is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Republic of the Congo, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Republic of the Congo’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.