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Central African Republic

Central African Republic
Central African Republic
Do not travel to Central African Republic (CAR) due to crime and civil unrest.

Do not travel to Central African Republic (CAR) due to crime and civil unrest.

Violent crime, such as armed robbery, aggravated battery, and homicide, is common.

Large areas of the country are controlled by armed groups who regularly kidnap, injure, and/or kill civilians. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Central African Republic as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside the Embassy compound.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Central African Republic (CAR):

  • Enroll your trip in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs, if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress, if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax)
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Central African Republic (CAR).
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

 

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No, but may still be required by airline.

VACCINATIONS:

Required, including for Yellow Fever.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

All currency must be declared upon entry

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

Embassies and Consulates

The U.S. Embassy in Bangui does not provide consular services at this time. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde.

U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon

Avenue Rosa Parks
P.O. Box 817
Yaounde, Cameroon
Telephone: +(237) 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. local time)
Emergencies: +(237) 22220-1500, ext. 4531 or +(237) 22222-25-893
YaoundeACS@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State Fact Sheet on the Central African Republic (CAR) for information on U.S. - CAR relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Travelers entering CAR are required to have:

  • A valid passport
  • Evidence of yellow fever vaccination

The Central African Republic does not require visas for visits under 180 days by U.S. passport holders. However, not all airlines will board U.S. passport holders without a valid visa, so travelers are advised to check with their carrier.

For visa and entry requirement information contact:

  • The Embassy of the Central African Republic, 2704 Ontario Road, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone: (202) 483–7800 / 7801, fax: (202) 332–9893. 
  • Outside the United States, contact the nearest CAR Embassy or, if none in the country, the nearest French Embassy.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of CAR.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

The U.S. Department of State advises against all travel to the CAR. Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time.  U.S. citizens in need of assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

U.S. citizens should carry all proper paperwork at all times, including passport.

Spontaneous demonstrations take place in the CAR. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Avoid demonstrations if possible. Stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

In the interior of the country, there are frequent reports of armed robbery and kidnapping by criminals. Travel in the interior is strongly discouraged.

Crime: Crime in Bangui is common. Beware of:

  • Petty theft in large market areas;
  • Armed gangs in outlying residential areas;
  • Violent demonstrations, looting, burning of buildings, and roadblocks during periods of civil unrest and conflict; and
  • Checkpoints staffed by armed actors seeking bribes and impeding the work of peacekeeping forces.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon

Report crimes to the local police at 117 (local equivalent of “911”) or the Gendarmerie at 2161-2200 and contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon at +(237) 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. Victims of crime in Bangui may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to the shortage of police vehicles and fuel. 

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

The U.S. Embassy in Cameroon can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy in Cameroon for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws and penalties. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Identification: Local law requires passports to be carried on your person at all times. Failure to produce your passport may result in detention and/or a fine.

Drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the CAR are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Photography: Taking photographs of police or military installations, airports, or any other government buildings is prohibited. Unauthorized photography may result in the seizure of photographic equipment by the CAR authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.  Locals in the CAR may be very sensitive to all photography; you should obtain permission first.

Corruption: Corruption remains a serious problem among the CAR security forces, some members of which have harassed travelers for bribes.  At night, the roads in the capital are often manned with impromptu checkpoints, at which police or soldiers ask motorists and travelers for money.  

Banking: Banking infrastructure remains limited in the CAR, and facilities for monetary exchange exist only in the capital. There are few ATMs in the CAR. Exchange bureaus and banks normally accept dollars and euros, with the exception of West African Francs (CFA). Credit cards are not used in the CAR, and purchases of goods and services, including hotel rooms and airline tickets, are cash transactions. 

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: The penalty for "public expression of love" between persons of the same sex is imprisonment for six months to two years or a fine. When one of the participants is underage, the adult may be sentenced to two to five years imprisonment or a fine.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Public infrastructure is generally in poor condition and sidewalks, buildings, and public transportation do not cater to special accessibility needs.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers:  Sexual assault and domestic violence are widespread in the CAR. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

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 to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Medical facilities are extremely limited in the CAR, and the quality of care is unreliable. Sanitation levels are low. Many medicines are not available; you should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with you that will suffice for your entire visit.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Malaria
  • Diarrheal diseases
  • HIV
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Tuberculosis

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions vary. Watch out for:

  • Large potholes and degraded roadways
  • Unpaved roads throughout CAR
  • Drivers ignoring traffic laws to drive on the smoothest section of roads
  • Roads to tourist areas are accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles and inaccessible during the October-May rainy season.

We recommend you avoid:

  • Overland travel in the northern, eastern, and western regions due to the risk of armed attacks on motorists
  • Driving after dark outside of Bangui

Traffic Laws: If you are involved in a traffic accident, it is recommended to wait until the police or the Gendarmerie arrive unless your health or safety is threatened. There are currently no distracted driving laws in effect in the Central African Republic, but police may pull over drivers who talk or text while driving for not following safe driving procedure.

Public Transportation: The city of Bangui does have a public transportation system consisting of green buses and yellow taxis, though these vehicles are often dangerously overcrowded and very badly maintained.

See 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 the CAR, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the CAR’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.

Last Updated: August 30, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon
Avenue Rosa Parks
P.O. Box 817
Yaounde, Cameroon
Telephone
+(237) 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023
Emergency
+(237) 22220-1500, ext. 4531
Fax

Central African Republic Map