Caution
October 19, 2023

Worldwide Caution

Update
January 10, 2024

Information for U.S. Citizens in the Middle East

International Travel

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Learn About Your Destination

Republic of the Congo

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

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

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

Country Summary: While not common, violent crime, such as armed robbery and assault, remains a concern throughout the Republic of the Congo.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Brazzaville.  U.S. government employees must use two vehicles to travel to the Pool region. They are also restricted to beaches adjacent to their hotels in Pointe Noire due to crime.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to the Republic of Congo.

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 our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • 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 Country Security Report for the Republic of the Congo.
  • Have a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
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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 (~$8,000)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Declare CFA over 1 million (~$1,500)

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville

70-83 Section D
Maya Maya Boulevard 
Brazzaville
Republic of the Congo
Telephone:
+242 06 612 2000 
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +242 06 612 2010
Email: BrazzavilleConsular@state.gov

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

COVID-19 Requirements:

  • There are no COVID-related entry requirements for U.S. citizens. 

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 or the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work visas, and review the Before You Go Checklist. 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 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. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. Official travel outside Brazzaville must be approved by the Embassy on a case-by-case basis. The Republic of Congo’s borders remain porous, particularly with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic; cross-border crime and armed activity may occur.

National Parks and Wildlife Areas: Heed all instructions given by guides or trackers. Armed poachers are present in some parks and 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: While not common, violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, and assault, remains a concern throughout the Republic of the Congo. Opportunistic crime, such as petty theft, pickpocketing, mugging, vehicle theft, and burglary, are frequently reported. Most crimes affecting expatriates in Brazzaville involve financially motivated opportunistic theft, robbery, and/or burglary, sometimes involving the use of bladed weapons. Risk of crime increases at night and in remote or isolated areas. Violent crime exists in outlying southern and northern neighborhoods of Brazzaville due to armed gang activity.

Demonstrations occur, though they have been on a small-scale in recent years. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. Gatherings of armed gangs may occur in Brazzaville’s outlying neighborhoods; gang members have been known to perpetrate random acts of violence against passersby.

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent.  
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.  
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.

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

Internet romance and financial scams are not prevalent in Republic of the Congo. Those scams that do occur are typically initiated through Internet postings/profiles, dating apps, or by unsolicited emails and letters.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police (French) at +242 06 665-4804 and the U.S. Embassy at +242 06 612 2000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. There is a CFA 12,000 franc charge for most police reports (~$20). Legal action or recourse is extremely limited. Emergency services are limited in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and virtually non-existent elsewhere. 

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 request.
  • 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 case 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:

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. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is extremely limited in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. 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. 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 may 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. On a day-to-day basis, the Congo is a cash economy. Credit or debit cards are not widely accepted. 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 the following webpages for details:

LGBTQI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Republic of the Congo. LGBTI individuals, however, 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 to elicit bribes.

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

Travelers with Disabilities: The law in the Republic of the Congo prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, but the law is generally not enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access. Expect accessibility to be extremely limited in the main cities and nonexistent in the rest of the country.

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

Women Travelers: Women travelers may face additional risks and must stay vigilant of their surroundings. See more tips for Women Travelers here. Sexual assault is a threat that is significantly under reported. Police reports for cases of sexual assault are free. However, the victim may be responsible for hospital fees charged for the associated medical examination. Domestic violence is widespread but likewise rarely reported.

Health

For emergency services in Republic of the Congo, dial 117.

Ambulance services and emergency services are:

  • Available, but response times are unpredictable.
  • 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.

The U.S. Embassy does 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.

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. 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 insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Ministry of Health and Population to ensure the medication is legal in Republic of the Congo.

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

Further health information:

Air Quality:

  • Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in Republic of the Congo. 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 rainy season. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:

o   Infants, children, and teens

o   People over 65 years of age

o   People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;

o   People with heart disease or diabetes

o   People who work or are active outdoors

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

Health facilities in general:

  • Adequate health facilities are not available throughout the country. Health care in rural areas is extremely poor and well below U.S. standards.
  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors often require payment “up front” prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not always available. Most hospitals and medical professionals require cash payment.
  • Private hospitals usually require advance payment before admitting a patient.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • Generally, in public hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight in non-emergency wards. 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, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions.

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.

Water Quality: 

  • 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.

General Health:

The following diseases are prevalent:

Other diseases that may be present: 

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: HIV treatment is available at the Central Hospital in Brazzaville.

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

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 in a poor state of repair or 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 in service for freight only

River Boats

  • Accidents may occur but travel is relatively safe.
  • Expect delays since captains wait to fill seats before departing.
  • Operating hours of Brazzaville port on the Congo River are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily (stops 12 noon on Sunday) though ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close with minimal notice.
  • A visa is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa (DRC) in both directions.

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 Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Republic of the 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 Republic of the Congo 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 the Republic of the Congo. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: June 19, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville
70-83 Section D
Maya Maya Boulevard
Brazzaville
Republic of the Congo
Telephone
+242 06 612 2000
Emergency
+242 06 612 2010
Fax
No Fax

Republic of the Congo Map