International Travel

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Country Information

Republic of the Congo

Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Exercise increased caution in the Republic of the Congo due to crime and civil unrest.

Exercise increased caution in the Republic of the Congo due to crime and civil unrest.

Reconsider travel to:

  • The southern and western districts of the Pool Region due to civil unrest and armed conflict.

Violent crime, such as armed robbery and assault, is common.

Political demonstrations can be unpredictable and violent.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Brazzaville.  U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to the Pool Region because of ongoing violence.  They must also obtain special permission to travel to Pointe Noire’s beaches due to crime.

Read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information Page.

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

  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location. 
  • Visit the CDC Travelers Health Page for the Republic of the Congo.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for the Republic of the Congo.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Southern and Western Districts of the Pool Region

Military operations are ongoing and armed groupsare active in this region. Soldiers, police, and civilians have been killed and thousands of civilians displaced.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Pool Region as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to the area.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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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:

Not to exceed 5 million CFA ($10,000)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Declare CFA over 1 million

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville

Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso
Brazzaville
Republic of the Congo
Telephone: +242 06 612 2000 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +242 06 612 2010

Destination Description

See our Fact Sheet on Republic of Congo for information on U.S.-Republic of Congo relations. 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa, obtain before traveling
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination
  • Invitation letter or a hotel reservation (multiple copies)

Visit the Embassy of the Republic of the Congo website and "Before you go checklist" or the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work visas. Working without authorization is punishable by prison and/or deportation.

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.

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

Safety and Security

Political violence and civil unrest may occur.  In the past, political demonstrations have led to armed clashes, deaths, and injuries. Refrain from travel in the western and southern Pool region, where despite a recent cease-fire, tension between military and rebel forces remains and armed banditry occurs sporadically. Exercise caution in the ROC-DRC border region due to the potential for insecurity in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Precautions: 

  • Avoid demonstrations. 
  • Maintain caution at public gatherings and areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Use vigilance during your movements around the country.
  • Be cautious when traveling outside of cities and along border areas.
  • Monitor news and consular messages. 

National Parks and Wildlife Areas: Heed all instructions given by guides or trackers.  Armed poachers are present in some parks and along forested border regions. Ensure you have the proper medical and medevac insurance for safari/adventure tours. 

Roadblocks:  Armed soldiers or national police may conduct vehicle searches and check passengers for identity papers. These roadblocks often are poorly marked, and local authorities may target foreigners to solicit bribes. 

Crime: Violent crime such as armed robbery and assault are common.  Armed bandits are active on roads in all areas of the country. 

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

Victims of Crime:  Legal action or recourse is extremely limited. 

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

Report crimes to the local police (French) at +242 06 665-4804 and the U.S. Embassy at +242 06 612 2000. 

Emergency services are limited in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and virtually non-existent elsewhere.  

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.  There is a CFA 15,000 franc charge for the police report ($26). 

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

  • 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 for assistance. 

For further information: 

  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 

  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). 

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. You may be taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines. 

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 immediately. Dual nationality is legally recognized; if however, Congolese officials prosecute you as a Congolese citizen, we may be limited in our ability to assist. See our webpage for further information. 

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, key infrastructure such as ports, train stations, and airports, and along border areas. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of Congolese without their permission. 

Phone Service: Cell phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally to use with a compatible cell phone. Telecommunications systems outside of cities are unreliable or non-existent. 

Currency: The Central African CFA franc (XAF) is the official currency. It is a cash economy. ATMs dispense funds in local currency. You must declare CFA over 1 million upon arrival with a bank or cashier’s receipt or risk fines and CFA confiscation. 

Customs: Arts and crafts, particularly wooden objects, are subject to an export tax. Ask to speak with the airport supervisor if customs agents solicit bribes when you seek to export these items. 

Artifacts: It is prohibited to export items of historical significance such as wood pieces, sculptures, and paintings. Violators risk imprisonment and heavy fines. For a list of prohibited items, contact a Congolese embassy or consulate. 

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

LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI individuals face societal discrimination and harassment. There have been reports of police in Pointe-Noire verbally, physically, or sexually abusing openly gay young men and harassing gay men in order to elicit bribes. There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Republic of Congo. 

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

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. 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: Only a fraction of rapes are reported. Police reports verifying rape cost CFA 30,000 francs ($52) to cover medical examination and report expenses. Domestic violence is widespread but rarely reported. 

Health

Medical facilities are extremely limited. There is a shortage of qualified medical personnel and supplies. 

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Health care providers expect payment in cash CFA before treatment is performed. 

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. 

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Washington, D.C. to ensure the medication is legal in Republic of Congo. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Malaria is endemic. Use CDC recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

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

Further health information:

 

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Fatal accident rates are rising in areas with new highways, attributed to excessive speed, erratic driving habits, and lack of safety standards. Several highways have been completed, connecting the southern port city of Pointe-Noire to Brazzaville and to the northern town of Ouesso on the border with Cameroon and west to neighboring Gabon. However, most roads are dirt tracks and require an off-road vehicle; during the rainy season, September-December and February-May, they become impassable. Other hazards include pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs, and animals.         

Be aware of increased risk of ambush and highway robbery when driving in rural or isolated areas. Carry: 

  • spare tires
  • food and water
  • satellite phone
  • maps and navigation equipment
  • first aid kit
  • protective clothing 

Service stations and fuel are scarce in rural areas. Professional roadside assistance is not available. 

Traffic Laws: A valid U.S. state or international driver’s license is required. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited. 

Traffic stops:

  • Resist paying bribes. Politely ask for a ticket or for the officer’s name and badge number if no violation is alleged.
  • Ask to contact the U.S. Embassy if you are not released.
  • Report attempts to solicit bribes to the U.S. Embassy. 

Accidents: Remain inside the vehicle and call for police. If a hostile mob forms, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered. 

Public Transportation

Buses

  • Travel can be unsafe due to reckless driving, overcrowding, poor vehicle maintenance, and the potential for crime.

Taxis

  • Hire only government authorized green and white taxis in Brazzaville and blue and white taxis in Pointe-Noire.
  • Maintenance varies greatly; taxis do not undergo routine inspections and are generally not air conditioned.
  • Negotiate fares before embarking since taxis are not metered. Most taxi drivers will round-up fares or not return change.

Railroads

  • The line between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville is currently inoperative. Railroad travel is prone to criminal attacks, extortion by security forces, minor derailments, and frequent delays caused by mechanical issues.

Speed Boats

  • Accidents may occur but travel is relatively safe.
  • Expect delays since captains wait to fill seats before departing.
  • Operating hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily (stops 12 noon on Sunday) though service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close with minimal notice.
  • A visa is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa (DRC). 

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Congo’s national tourism office. 

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the 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.

International Parental Child Abduction

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

Last Updated: April 3, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville
Boulevard Denis Sassou
Nguesso
Brazzaville
Republic of the Congo
Telephone
+242 06 612 2000 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency
+242 06 612 2010
Fax
No Fax

Republic of the Congo Map