COVID-19 Travel
May 28, 2021

COVID-19 Travel Guidance for U.S. Citizens

COVID-19 Alert
July 21, 2021

Update on U.S. Passport Operations

International Travel

English

Country Information

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Do not travel to Democratic Republic of the Congo due to COVID-19. Reconsider travel due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to Democratic Republic of the Congo due to COVID-19. Reconsider travel due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Democratic Republic of the Congo due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Do Not Travel To:

  • North Kivu province due to crime, civil unrest, terrorism, armed conflict, and kidnapping.
  • Ituri province due to crime, civil unrest, terrorism, armed conflict, and kidnapping.
  • The eastern DRC region due to crime, civil unrest, armed conflict and kidnapping.

Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery, armed home invasion, and assault, is common and local police lack resources to respond effectively to serious crime. Assailants may pose as police or security agents.

Demonstrations are common in many cities and some have turned violent. Police have at times responded with heavy-handed tactics that resulted in civilian casualties and arrests.

The U.S. government has extremely limited ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens outside of Kinshasa due to poor infrastructure and security conditions.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

North Kivu Province--Do Not Travel

Violent crime, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu province. Road travelers are frequently targeted for ambush, armed robbery, and kidnapping.

Demonstrations and large gatherings can occur throughout these regions, especially in urban areas, and escalate to violence. Extrajudicial mobs can form rapidly and turn violent, posing a threat to humanitarian aid workers and other personnel operating in the area.

Terrorist and armed groups operating in North Kivu province have attacked military and civilian targets and represent an ongoing threat to humanitarian aid workers and other NGO personnel operating in the area.

Armed groups, individuals, and military forces routinely clash with each other. Civilians are frequently targeted in attacks.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in North Kivu province as U.S. government travel to these areas is restricted.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Ituri Province--Do Not Travel

Violent crime, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout Ituri province. Road travelers are frequently targeted for ambush, armed robbery, and kidnapping.

Demonstrations and large gatherings can occur throughout these regions, especially in urban areas, and escalate to violence. Extrajudicial mobs can form rapidly and turn violent, posing a threat to humanitarian aid workers and other personnel operating in the area.

Terrorist and armed groups operating in Ituri province have attacked military and civilian targets and represent an ongoing threat to humanitarian aid workers and other NGO personnel operating in the area.

Armed groups, individuals, and military forces routinely clash with each other. Civilians are frequently targeted in attacks.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Ituri province as U.S. government travel to these areas is restricted.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Eastern DRC Region --Do Not Travel

Violent crime, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele. Road travelers are frequently targeted for ambush, armed robbery, and kidnapping.

Demonstrations and large gatherings can occur throughout these regions, especially in urban areas, and escalate to violence. Extrajudicial mobs can form rapidly and turn violent, posing a threat to humanitarian aid workers and other personnel operating in the area.

Armed groups, individuals, and military forces routinely clash with each other. Civilians are frequently targeted in attacks.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in eastern DRC, as U.S. government travel to these regions is restricted.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to travel to the three Kasai provinces information.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes, obtain in advance.

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


5 million CDF ($5,400).

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Illegal to export CDF.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa

310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe

Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151
Email: 

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for information on U.S. - Democratic Republic of the Congo relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport: Must be valid for six months after entry into country
  • Visa: Obtain your visa before traveling.
  • Immunizations: World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination.

Visit the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo website for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest Congolese Embassy or Consulate. However; U.S. citizens are generally required to apply for visas from the DRC Embassy in Washington, D.C. Allow at least two to three weeks for visa processing.

The DRC does not recognize dual nationality. U.S. citizens should always present themselves as U.S. citizens to Congolese authorities. Otherwise, it may impede our ability to provide consular services.

Airport Fees: All departing international travelers must pay these official fees when checking in:

  • $50 airport exit fee
  • $5 boarding fee
  • Passengers on domestic flights pay $10.

If you experience harassment at any port of entry, such as detention, passport confiscation or demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “fees,” ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Intending Residents: If you plan to reside in the DRC, register at the office of the Direction General of Migration (DGM) in your commune of residence.

Journalists: Journalists working in the DRC must:

  • enter the DRC through Kinshasa
  • obtain a permit from the Ministry of Communication and Media (a $250 permit is valid for one month)

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

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

Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Advisory and Alerts for the DRC.

The security situation in most parts of eastern DRC remains unstable due to the activities of rebel and other armed groups and ongoing military operations. Armed groups, individuals, and military forces routinely clash with each other. Civilians are frequently targeted in attacks and other illegal activities, such as kidnapping, forced taxation, and forced labor. 

Terrorist and armed groups operating in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have regularly attacked military and civilian targets and represent an ongoing threat to humanitarian aid workers and other NGO personnel operating in the area. Armed group violence has increased in parts of South Kivu.

Sporadic but severe outbreaks of violence targeting civilians, including killing, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele and three Kasai provinces of Kasai Oriental, Kasai Central, and Kasai Provinces.  

Travelers in remote area of the country, especially in the eastern DRC, should travel with a minimum of two vehicles equipped with global positioning systems (GPS) and satellite phones. Road travelers are frequently targeted for ambush, armed robbery, and kidnapping. 

Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
  • Places of worship
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)

For more information, see our Terrorism page.

Crime: Crimes of opportunity (mainly for financial gain) are the most reported incidents of crime against U.S. citizens in Kinshasa and throughout the DRC. Most incidents involve theft such as pickpocketing, burglary, and robbery. Petty crime may be more likely in public places and areas of congregation. Criminal elements do not typically single out U.S. citizens, but may view them as targets of opportunity based on perceived affluence or vulnerability.

Roadblocks: Security forces set up spontaneous roadblocks, especially after dark, to conduct vehicle searches and check identity papers. They may also solicit bribes. Remain inside your vehicle with doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate. Remain calm and, if threatened, do not resist.

Demonstrations: Demonstrations and gatherings occur with increasing frequency and with little notice. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on significant holidays, and during international events. Police have at times responded to demonstrations with heavy-handed tactics that resulted in civilian casualties and arrests. In the eastern DRC, demonstrations can rapidly become extrajudicial mobs and turn violent, posing a threat to humanitarian aid workers and other personnel operating in the area.

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent.
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
  • Check U.S. Embassy messaging and local media for updates and advisories.
    • Monitor consular Alerts and messages and local and international news from reliable sources. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.6 FM. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6:00 p.m., and provides updates throughout the day.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Kidnapping for Ransom: The risk of kidnapping for ransom exists throughout the country, but is more common in eastern DRC. International humanitarian workers have been targeted. Reports of kidnapping of a U.S. citizen should be passed to the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at +243 81-555-5944 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +243 97 261- 6145. Dial 112 to contact the police in an emergency in Kinshasa.

Remember local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

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

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion.
  • 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 for assistance.

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are limited and are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance, especially given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

You may have difficulties at immigration if you are traveling with satellite phones, GPS receivers or military clothing.

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.

International Adoption: Intercountry adoption of Congolese children is illegal in the DRC and there are no legal means for an adopted child to depart the country. U.S. adoptive families of Congolese children are cautioned that attempting to circumvent the law could have severe consequences.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and along border areas. You could be fined, have your photographic equipment confiscated, or be detained or arrested. Do not take photos of Congolese without permission.

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.

Phone Service: Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is unreliable, and landlines are nearly non-existent. It may be possible to purchase a SIM card locally and use a U.S.-compatible cell phone.

Currency: The Congolese Franc is the currency of the DRC (CDF) but U.S. dollars are widely accepted in urban areas. Most vendors and banking institutions will accept only bills printed from 2010 or later. Bills must be crisp and in good condition; even those with minor stains or small tears may be rejected. One-dollar bills are rarely accepted. Counterfeit currency is widely circulated. Examine U.S. bills before accepting them to ensure they are legitimate. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. 

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

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the DRC. However, individuals engaging in public displays of same-sex sexual conduct can be subject to prosecution under public indecency provisions. Homosexuality remains a cultural taboo, and harassment by the state security forces occurs.

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

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: 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.

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

Women Travelers: Sexual assault is widespread and occurs largely in the conflict zones in North Kivu province, but also throughout the country by security forces, rebel and militia groups, and civilians, often during attacks on villages and sometimes as a tactic of war to punish civilians. Domestic violence is common. Although the law considers assault a crime there is no specific penalty for spousal abuse. Intervention by police or action by judicial authorities is rare.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Medical facilities, medicine severely limited.

For emergency services in DRC, dial 112 for the police and call a local private hospital for medical assistance. A list of medical providers is available on the U.S. Embassy website.

Ambulance services are:

  • not present throughout the country except by private medical providers in major cities.
  • not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. All care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars before treatment.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance covers you overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance with medical evacuation coverage.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the government of DRC to ensure the medication is legal in DRC.

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

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in DRC. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you, and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.

The air quality varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the dry season from May to October. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:

  • Infants, children, and teens
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • People who work or are active outdoors

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Health facilities in general:

  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors require payment “up front” prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not always available. Hospitals and medical professionals may require cash payment.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • Generally, in public hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight and food services and supplies are the responsibility of the patient. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities.

Pharmaceuticals:     

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
  • Travelers should carry medical prescriptions for medicine they take to the DRC.
  • DRC does not allow the importation of Dipyrone (Metamizole, Noramidopyrine) and Apha Beta-Arteether. Travelers should avoid carrying these medications.

Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy:

  • If you are considering traveling to the DRC to have a child through use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or surrogacy, please see our ART and Surrogacy Abroad page.
  • There is no legal framework for foreigners or same-sex couples to pursue surrogacy in DRC. As a result, surrogacy agreements between foreign or same-sex intending parents and gestational mothers are not enforced by DRC courts.
  • If you decide to pursue parenthood in DRC via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with a gestational mother, be prepared for long and unexpected delays in documenting your child’s citizenship.

Water Quality:

  • In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

Adventure Travel:

  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

The following diseases ae prevalent:

Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.

HIV/AIDS: In 2018, HIV was noted as the 10th leading cause of death in the DRC. The disease is still prevalent and standard precautions should be taken, including safe sex practices. 

There are shortages of medicine and medical supplies throughout the rural areas of DRC and some areas suffer clean water shortages.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in DRC.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Outside of main cities, most roads are not drivable, even with an off-road vehicle. Road conditions are poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season from October to May. Traffic is hazardous due to lack of infrastructure, poorly trained drivers, poor maintenance, and indifference toward pedestrians and cyclists. Outside of Goma and Bukavu, travel in a convoy and avoid all travel after dark.

Traffic Laws: An international driving permit is necessary to drive in the DRC. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited.

Accidents: In the event of an automobile accident, remain inside the vehicle and wait for police. If in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station. Do not stop at the scene of an accident, as mobs can develop quickly.

Official motorcades pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians in Kinshasa.

  • Pull to the side of the road as far as possible and extinguish the vehicle’s headlights when sirens or security forces announce their presence.
  • Do not take photographs of motorcades.
  • Do not attempt to move until the entire motorcade has passed and proceed only when security forces permit it. 

Drivers should stop their cars and pedestrians should stand still when passing a government installation during the raising and lowering of the Congolese flag. This ceremony occurs daily at roughly 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Public Transportation: Avoid all travel by public transportation, and hire private transport from a reliable source. Any form of public transportation is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe.

  • Few taxis meet U.S. safety standards.
  • Reputable car rental firms will include the services of a driver.

Ferry: Ferry accidents are commonplace and often fatal. Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close completely with minimal notice. The ferry stops running in late afternoon, and there is no service on Sundays. A visa for the destination country (Republic of Congo or DRC) is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the DRC’s national tourist office 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Democratic Republic of 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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to DRC should also check for U.S.maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Democratic Republic of the Congo.  For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: January 25, 2021

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone
+(243) 081-556-0151 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency
+(243) 081-556-0151
Fax
No Fax

Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) Map