See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sierra Leone for information on U.S. – Sierra Leone relations.
A passport and visa are required for travel to Sierra Leone. Visitors to Sierra Leone are required to show their International Certificates of Vaccination (yellow card) upon arrival at the airport with a record of vaccination against yellow fever.
Visit the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone’s website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Sierra Leone.
Areas outside Freetown lack basic services. Travel outside the capital after dark is not allowed for U.S. Embassy officials and should be avoided by all travelers. Emergency response to vehicular and other accidents ranges from slow to nonexistent.
Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive device/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.
Crime: Crime is widespread in Sierra Leone; U.S. citizens have experienced armed mugging, assault, and burglary. Petty crime and pick-pocketing of wallets, cell phones, and passports are very common, especially on the ferry to and from Lungi International Airport, as well as in the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the Lumley Beach and Aberdeen areas of Freetown.
Victims of Crime:
There is no local number equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sierra Leone. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.
Report crimes to the local police at (232) (76) 771 721 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.
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:
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.
Exports: Sierra Leone's customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the export of gems and precious minerals, such as diamonds and gold. All mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, belong to the State, and only the Government of Sierra Leone can issue mining and export licenses. The National Minerals Agency (NMA) can provide licenses for export, while the agency’s Directorate of Precious Minerals Trading is responsible for Kimberly Process certification of diamonds. For further information on mining activities in Sierra Leone, contact the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, or see the Department of State’s annual Investment Climate Statement.
The Embassy has received reports in recent years of U.S. citizens investing in Sierra Leone who have been victims of fraud, often in the mining industry. Examples of fraud include advance-fee schemes where individuals have approached U.S. citizens urging them to purchase diamonds directly from Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy cannot interfere or intervene in any legal disputes, including those related to precious minerals. Please be aware that the U.S. Embassy cannot conduct checks on potential local partners.
Photography: Travelers must obtain official permission to photograph government buildings, airports, bridges, or official facilities including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the U.S. Embassy.
Dual Nationals: U.S. citizens who are also Sierra Leonean nationals must provide proof of payment of taxes on revenue earned in Sierra Leone before being granted clearance to depart the country.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual sexual relations between men are criminalized in Sierra Leone. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent prosecutions for consensual sexual activity between men, such activity is illegal and penalties can include imprisonment. While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, lesbians of all ages can be victims of “planned rapes” initiated by family members in an effort to change their sexual orientation.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Sierra Leone law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and offers no specific protections for such persons. The law does not mandate accessibility of buildings or assistance to disabled persons and there is no government policy or program to assist persons with disabilities.
Women Travelers: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal in Sierra Leone and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, rape is common and indictments are rare. Domestic violence is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to five (5) million leones ($943) and up to two years in prison. However, domestic violence is common and police are unlikely to intervene.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is widespread in Sierra Leone. The government imposed a moratorium on practicing FGM/C as an emergency health response to the Ebola outbreak, and the moratorium remains in place, but the prohibition is not actively enforced.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
There are no 911 equivalent ambulance services in Sierra Leone. Travelers should expect only the most rudimentary health care facilities. The most recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak taxed the country's healthcare system and the possibility of another outbreak exists.
The quality of medications in Sierra Leone is inconsistent and counterfeit drugs remain a problem. In the event medications are needed, travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy's American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit to receive general information about reliable pharmacies. ACS maintains a list of physicians, clinics, and pharmacies.
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.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that the medication is legal in Sierra Leone.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, and a copy of your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevelant:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Most main roads in Freetown are navigable, but narrow and often have potholes. There is limited roadside assistance in country and it is often difficult to find adequate fuel for longer journeys. Serious accidents are common, especially outside of Freetown, where the relative lack of traffic allows for greater speeds. Nighttime travel should be avoided.
Traffic Laws: International road signs and protocols are not rotinuely observed in Sierra Leone. In the event of a traffic accident, you should follow all police instructions. Large mobs often form at the scene of an accident and threaten the safety of the driver. You should go to the nearest police station for safety, even in the smallest of accidents.
Public Transportation: Public transport (bus or group taxi) is erratic, unsafe, and not recommended. U.S. Embassy officials are prohibited from using public transportation or taxis.Motorcycle taxis are ubiquitous in Freetown and are often the cause of serious accidents. The U.S. Embassy strongly advises against utilizing these motorcycles. Pick pocketing is common in public taxis and mini-buses.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Visit the website of Sierra Leone’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 Sierra Leone, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Siera Leone’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 Sierra Leone should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
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Available. A certified copy of an entry in the register of births or deaths may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, 3 Wilberforce St., Freetown. Local registrars record births and deaths outside of Freetown. When registry volumes are full, usually after a period of several years, they are forwarded to the central archives of the Freetown registrar. Thus, records of recent births and deaths outside Freetown are available only at the local registries.
Available. Four types of marriages are recognized as legal in Sierra Leone: civil, native (also called customary), Moslem and Christian. All civil and Christian marriages are required to be registered. Certified copies of certificates of registered marriages are available from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown. Certificates of Moslem marriages are also available from the mosque where they were performed; a certificate of a native marriage may also be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the marriage.
Available. Divorces of people married in civil and Christian ceremonies must be granted by the courts, and therefore are registered. Certified copies of these divorce decrees are available from the Master and Registrar, High Court, Freetown. A certificate of Moslem divorce may be obtained from the mosque that sanctioned the divorce, and a certificate of native divorce may be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the divorce. If a Moslem or native divorce was also registered with the civil authorities, a certified copy may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown.
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Available. Police records are available at the Criminal Investigation Department at No. 1 Pademba Road. For Sierra Leone passport holders, a police clearance certificate fee is LE 50,000; for foreign nationals the fee is LE 150,000. The certificates are usually available on the same day they are requested.
Available. May be obtained from the Director of Prison, Prison Headquarters, New England, Freetown.
Available. May be obtained from the Records of Officer, Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces, Wilberforce, Freetown.
Effective June 05, 2002, only machine-readable Sierra Leonean passports will be valid for travel. The bio data page contains a photodigitized picture of the bearer as well as a smaller copy of the same photo.
Immigrant Visas: 9 FAM 42.64 discusses passport requirements for immigrant visa applicants. Generally, the passport must be valid for at least sixty (60) days beyond visa validity. The Government of Sierra Leone decision on passport validity produces the following results:
If the alien is exempt from the passport requirement under 9 FAM 42.2, post may continue to process the case despite the presentation of the old passport, but post must annotate the visa properly to indicate that the visa was issued based on a passport exemption (see 9 FAM 42.64 PN1).
In most other cases, no immigrant visas can be issued if an old passport is presented because it is impossible for the passport to be valid for sixty days beyond the visa's expiration date. In such cases, the alien must either be required to obtain a new, machine-readable Sierra Leone passport or the alien must apply for and obtain an individual passport waiver under 22 CFR 42.2(g).
Nonimmigrant Visas: Unless the alien benefits from a waiver of the passport requirement, posts may not issue nonimmigrant visas to applicants bearing non-machine-readable Sierra Leone passports because INA 212(a)(7)(B) requires nonimmigrant visa applicants to have a passport with at least six months of validity. Posts are reminded that, for nonimmigrant visa applicants who are unable to obtain a machine-readable Sierra Leone passport and who are otherwise qualified for a visa, they may consider recommending an emergency passport waiver to INS under 212(d)(4) if the purpose of travel is of compelling humanitarian or USG concern. Such a visa would be issued on Form OF-232.
Freetown, Sierra Leone (Embassy)
The U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone processes family-based immigrant visas, diversity visas, and nonimmigrant visas.