Republic of Cabo Verde
Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.
Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.
Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.
Must be valid at time of entry
One page required for entry stamp
A U.S. passport and a Cabo Verdean visa are required. Two types of visas are available: a single-entry visa valid for up to 90 days or a multiple-entry visa valid for five years. You can apply for a visa at the Cabo Verdean Embassy in Washington, D.C. (3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007, tel. 202-965-6820) or the Cabo Verdean Consulate General in Massachusetts (300 Congress Street, #204, Quincy, MA 02169, tel. 617-353-0014). You can find visa requirements on the website of the Consulate General.
Alternatively, if you are unable to travel to the Cabo Verdean Embassy or Consulate, you may apply for a visa upon arrival at one of the country’s four international airports (Nelson Mandela/Praia, Cesaria Evora /Mindelo, Amilcar Cabral/Sal, and Aristides Pereira/Boa Vista). The current fee for such a visa is 2500 CVE (also payable in U.S. dollars) but is subject to change. In theory, Visa credit cards (no Mastercard or American Express) are accepted, but intermittent power cuts in airport terminals often make electronic processing of credit card transactions impossible. We strongly advise being prepared to pay in U.S. currency.
World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination cards are not required upon entry via flights from the United States. However, the Cabo Verdean Health Ministry intermittently imposes such a requirement on persons, including U.S. citizens, arriving on flights from Senegal or other West African countries. Outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever in recent years (see“HEALTH” below) along with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 have prompted such measures. If you plan any West African travel en route to Cabo Verde, you should ensure that you have your WHO card up to date.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Cabo Verde.
Visitors traveling to Cabo Verde who wish to participate in water sports, swimming, boating, and fishing should exercise extreme caution since the tides and currents around the islands are very strong. Several small fishing boats have been lost at sea in recent years and drownings occur each year on the beaches in Praia and on other islands.
Cabo Verde, similar to Hawaii, is an archipelago of volcanic islands. Although volcanoes on most of the islands are now inactive, seismologists still consider the entire island of Fogo to be an active volcano. Future eruptions remain a threat, as do earth tremors throughout the islands, especially on Fogo, Brava, and Santo Antão, and beneath the ocean channels that separate them. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
National parliamentary, municipal, and presidential elections in 2016, including campaign rallies and demonstrations, were peaceful. However, the Embassy advises you to avoid crowds at local festivals, cultural events, and similar settings to reduce risk of pick-pockets (see “Crime” below) or involvement in disturbances usually caused by the widespread consumption of alcohol.
Petty crime and burglary are common in Cabo Verde, especially at marketplaces, festivals, street fairs, and public gatherings. Criminals do not necessarily target U.S. citizens, but rather anyone perceived to be affluent, regardless of nationality. Often, the perpetrators of petty theft and pickpocketing are gangs of street children, so visitors should avoid groups of children who appear to have no adult supervision. Muggings occur often, particularly at night and in more isolated areas, and increasingly involve violence. The perpetrators are predominantly males between the ages of 14 and 25 operating in groups of two or more to attack their victims. Due to inadequate lighting in many public areas, often caused by rolling power cuts in urban neighborhoods, you should be especially vigilant after dark, carry a small flashlight to illuminate your path, never go out alone, keep vehicle doors and windows locked, and avoid isolated places.
The Embassy emphasizes the particular dangers of using hillside stairways connecting neighborhoods in Praia and many other Cabo Verdean cities and towns. These stairways, although offering convenient shortcuts through hilly terrain, make users isolated and vulnerable to assault, even in broad daylight. The Embassy strongly advises against using them at any time of day.
Counterfeit and pirated goods, although widely available in street markets in Praia, Mindelo, and elsewhere, are nevertheless illegal in both Cabo Verde and the United States. U.S. citizens who buy these goods are punishable under Cabo Verdean law.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at 132 (the local equivalent of 911) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(238) 260-8948.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Medical facilities in Cabo Verde are limited, and, despite an extensive network of local pharmacies, some medications are in short supply or otherwise unavailable. The country’s largest hospitals (all public) are in Praia and Mindelo, but smaller public health centers and private medical clinics, of variable quality in both personnel and equipment, are located throughout the country. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão do not have airports, so air evacuation from them in the event of a medical emergency is impossible.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Malaria exists in Cabo Verde but is mainly limited to the island of Santiago. Nationwide, malaria is far less prevalent than in mainland African countries. Although many expatriates do not believe there is a need for malaria prophylaxis, it is important to be aware that there is an elevated risk of contracting the disease from July to December, especially during the rainy season (August-October).
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact. The CDC has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects in some fetuses and babies born to infected mothers. The Government of Cabo Verde’s official numbers for Zika cases decreased dramatically between May 2015 and May 2016. Although no cases of Zika have been registered since May 2016, there remains a risk of contracting the virus during travel to the country. For additional information about Zika, including the latest travel advisories, visit the CDC website.
Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, and chiggers, some of which may also carry infectious diseases and are advised to minimize exposure to both dengue and malaria by taking precautions against mosquito bites, which are most common at dawn and dusk, particularly from July to December. Like malaria, no vaccine exists for dengue, so travelers in Cabo Verde who exhibit symptoms as described on the CDC’s dengue fact sheet should immediately seek medical attention. Depending on how long you are in Cabo Verde, symptoms may not present themselves until after you return to the United States. Since medical professionals in the United States often do not test patients for either illness, make sure you tell the doctor evaluating your symptoms that you have recently been in a country where both malaria and dengue fever exist.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through careful hand washing and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food and tap water. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is freshly 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.
Those traveling to Cabo Verde for scuba diving should be aware that there is no hyperbaric/decompression facility on the islands.
If you need a doctor in Cabo Verde, a list of medical providers and hospitals is available on U.S. Embassy Praia website.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
The following diseases are prevelant:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
If you break local laws in Cabo Verde, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not wherever you go.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cabo Verde are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Cabo Verde. There are no antidiscrimination laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Cabo Verde and travelers may encounter prejudice while in-country. However, there were no reported cases of official or private discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care, and there were no reported incidents of violence against LGBT persons in 2015-2016.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Cabo Verde, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. The country’s rugged terrain, the widespread use of cobblestone streets and pathways, the very limited number of elevators in buildings, and the frequency of power outages all constitute significant hardships for persons with limited mobility. Although the Cabo Verdean constitution guarantees that persons with disabilities will receive priority in the provision of government services and stipulates that public buildings must be accessible to the disabled, in reality few such accommodations have been made.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Road Conditions and Safety: While in Cabo Verde, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Cabo Verde has an extensive road system. On the islands of Santiago, Sal, and São Vicente, many urban and rural roads are asphalt. On the other islands (Fogo, Brava, Maio, São Nicolau, and Boa Vista), some roads are narrow, winding, and mostly cobblestone. During the rainy season, cobblestone roads are especially slippery, and mud and rockslides are common on roads that cut through mountains.
Houses are often located adjacent to roadways, and drivers must be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially children, as well as herds of livestock and stray dogs. Roads and streets often are unlit, so driving at night is hazardous. Most accidents result from aggressive driving, excessive speed, passing in blind curves, and/or on inclines or declines in the rain. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a problem in Cabo Verde. The peak times for drunk drivers are on Sundays and at night. Exercise extreme caution toward both pedestrians and other drivers after celebrations, festivals, and open-air concerts as well as during holiday periods, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Carnival.
Full-service gas stations (no self-service) are available.
Traffic Laws: In Cabo Verde, traffic moves on the right side of the road, as in the United States. At intersections, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way, but at roundabouts (traffic circles), cars inside the circle have the right-of-way. Under Cabo Verdean law, seat belts must be worn at all times by the driver as well as the person in the front passenger seat. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat. Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets and use headlights at all times. Bicycling is common in Praia and in some other areas. The use of helmets, gloves, and /or other protective gear while bicycling is more widespread than in mainland African countries but not governed by local laws/regulations and not at all universal. Pedestrian striped crosswalks are common in Praia, Mindelo, and other large cities/towns, and are widely used and heeded by motorists.
Public Transportation: Taxis and buses generally offer clean, dependable service on all islands. Bus service in Praia is inexpensive, and most buses are fairly new. Intra-island service usually consists of minivans (typically a Toyota Hiace) or converted pickup trucks that have benches along the edges of the pickup bed. Intra-island service can be dangerous because some drivers overload their vehicles, exceed the speed limit, or drive after drinking alcohol. Before entering any vehicle, riders should pay close attention to the appearance and behavior of the driver.
See our Road Safety page for more information
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Cabo Verde’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Cabo Verde’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.