Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Democratic Republic of the Congo International Travel Information
Requirements for Entry:
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:
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:
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the DRC.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.