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Travel Security Advice for Angola

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Angola is a large, developing country in south-west central Africa.  The capital city is Luanda.  Portuguese, the official language, is widely spoken throughout the country.  Despite its extensive oil and mineral reserves and arable land suitable for large-scale production of numerous crops, Angola has some of the world's lowest social development indicators.  Development was severely restricted by a 27-year long civil war that broke out upon independence in 1975, which destroyed the majority of the country's infrastructure.  Since the conflict's conclusion in 2002, the government has initiated extensive infrastructure reconstruction and development projects, and there are growing signs of economic recovery.  However, Angola still faces challenges with its infrastructure and with providing government services, especially in basic social services, aviation and travel safety, accommodation availability and quality and communications. Facilities for tourism, particularly outside the capital of Luanda, are often rudimentary.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Angola for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport and visa are required and must be obtained in advance.  An International Certificate of Vaccination is required.  Visitors should allow several weeks for the processing of their visa application.  Angola does not issue airport visas.  Persons arriving without visas are subject to arrest or exclusion.  Travelers may also encounter delays if they do not have at least one completely blank visa page in their passports for entry stamps.  As of November 1, 2007, Angola no longer requires travelers to have an exit visa.  Travelers whose international immunization cards do not show inoculations against yellow fever within the past ten years may be subject to exclusion, on-the-spot vaccination, and/or heavy fines.  Visitors remaining in Angola beyond their authorized visa duration are subject to fines and arrest.  It is illegal to attempt to carry local currency out of Angola and persons found attempting to carry local currency out of Angola are subject to having this currency confiscated by customs officers.  Current information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Angola at 2100-2108 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, tel. (202) 785-1156, fax (202) 785-1258.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

The overall security situation in Angola has improved markedly since the end of the civil war; however, Americans should still exercise caution when traveling in Angola.  Although the war has ended, ground travel throughout Angola can be problematic due to land mines, which were used extensively during the war.  Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a mine or unexploded ordinance.  Frequent checkpoints and poor infrastructure contribute to unsafe travel on roads outside of the city of Luanda.  Police and military officials are sometimes undisciplined, but their authority should not be challenged.  Travel in many parts of Luanda is relatively safe by day, but car doors should be locked, windows rolled up, and packages stored out of sight.  Visitors should avoid travel after dark, and no travel should be undertaken on roads outside of cities after nightfall.

Americans located in, or planning to visit, the northern province of Cabinda should be aware of threats to their safety outside of Cabinda city.  In 2007 and 2008 armed groups specifically targeted and attacked expatriates in Cabinda; these armed attacks resulted in the rape, robbery and murder of a small number of expatriates working in Cabinda.  Those responsible have declared their intention to continue attacks against expatriates.  Occasional attacks against police and Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) convoys and outposts also continue to be reported.  These incidents, while small in overall numbers, have occurred with little or no warning.  American citizens are, therefore, urged to exercise extreme caution when traveling outside of Cabinda city and limit travel to essential only.

Americans are advised to undertake only essential travel to Lunda North and South provinces.  As the government of Angola is sensitive to the travel of foreigners in the diamond producing areas of the provinces, proper permission and documentation is required to frequent these areas.  One can be subject to restriction or detention.  There have been reports of crime or banditry in these areas, especially on roads leading into these areas.

Visitors to Angola are advised not to take photographs of sites and installations of military or security interest, including government buildings, as this can result in fines and possibly arrest.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Crime is a serious problem throughout Angola.  While most violent crime occurs between Angolans, foreigners have occasionally been attacked as well.  Street crime is a regular occurrence in Luanda.  The most common crimes are pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, vehicle theft, and vehicle break-ins.  Armed muggings, robberies, and carjacking involving foreigners are not frequent but do occur.  Americans are advised to avoid Roque Santeiro and Rocha Pinto, and to only travel the “Serpentine Road” in front of the U.S. Embassy by car.  In general, movement around Luanda is safer by day than by night.  Touring after dark should be avoided.  Police and military officials are sometimes undisciplined, but their authority should not be challenged.  Air travelers arriving in Luanda are strongly advised to arrange reliable and secure ground transportation in advance; there is no regular taxi service.  American citizens are advised to avoid the use of the public transportation known as “candongueiros” or “taxistas”; these multi-passenger vans are largely unregulated and often dangerous.

Motorists should stop at all police checkpoints if so directed.  Police officers may solicit bribes or request immediate payment of "fines" for alleged minor infractions.  American citizens asked for bribes by the police should politely ask the traffic police to write them a ticket if the police allege a moving violation.  If the police officer writes the ticket, then the motorist would pay the fine at the place indicated on the ticket.  If no moving violation is alleged and the officer is asking for a bribe, the motorist should, without actually challenging the officer's authority, politely ask the officer for his/her name and badge number.  Officers thus engaged will frequently let motorists go with no bribe paid if motorists follow this advice.  Motorists are reminded to have all proper documents in the vehicle at all times (i.e. vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and driver's license), as the lack of documentation is a violation and can also be a reason an officer would solicit a bribe.  Local law requires that every driver in Angola have the proper permission to drive.  Further information on driving in Angola can be obtained from the Embassy of Angola.  Police are not always responsive to reports of crime or requests for assistance.  Most police are on foot and are assigned to designated stationary posts.  The Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) unit is frequently seen patrolling various areas of the city.  This unit, which is well trained and organized, will respond to major criminal incidents.

There have been police operations against illegal aliens and private companies resulting in deportation of illegal resident foreign nationals and loss of personal and company property.  Independent entrepreneurs in Angola should carry relevant immigration and business documents at all times.

Travelers should be alert to fraud occasionally perpetrated by Luanda airport personnel.  Immigration and customs officials sometimes detain foreigners without cause, demanding gratuities before allowing them to enter or depart Angola.  Airport health officials sometimes demand that passengers arriving without proof of current yellow fever vaccination accept and pay for a vaccination at the airport.  Travelers are advised to carry their yellow fever vaccination card and ensure their yellow fever vaccine is up-to-date.  If travelers forget to bring their yellow fever vaccination card and do not wish to receive the vaccine offered at the airport, they should be prepared to depart the country on the next available flight.  Searches of travelers' checked baggage is common; travelers are advised to take precautions against this possibility.  Travelers should also be aware that criminals sometimes attempt to insert items into baggage at the airport, particularly for flights from Luanda to South Africa.  It is important that travelers maintain control of their carry-on baggage at all times, and if they believe something has been inserted into their baggage, they should report the incident immediately to airport authorities.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.  The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of crimes are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

In addition to reporting crime to local police and the U.S. Embassy in Angola, victims of crime who are residing in Angola are also encouraged to report the crime to the security department of their employer.  Short-term visitors are encouraged to report the crime to the management of the hotel where they are staying if the crime occurred in or near the hotel.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Angola for police is 113; for fire fighters: 115, and for ambulance services: 112.  Please be advised that the emergency numbers listed may or may not have an English speaking operator available.

See our information on Victims of Crime.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Angola’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Angola are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

 

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Customs Regulations:  Angolan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Angola of sensitive items including firearms, antiquities, and currency.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Angola in Washington, DC or one of Angola's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Financial Transactions:  Angola is generally a cash-only economy; neither traveler’s checks nor credit cards are used outside the capital of Luanda.  In Luanda, credit cards are accepted in extremely limited circumstances, namely large hotels.  Although, in April 2007 a major campaign was launched to expand credit card acceptance this effort has yet to expand beyond the capital city.  In general, Automated Teller Machine’s (ATM’s) are only accessible to those individuals who hold accounts with local banks.  Dollars are generally accepted in all provincial capitals; travelers should carry a sufficient supply of U.S. dollars with them.  Only the newer series U.S. dollar bills (with large faces) are accepted.  U.S. dollars can be converted to local currency at exchange businesses authorized by the Angolan government.  Angolan currency (the Kwanza) may not be taken out of the country and travelers, who attempt to carry currency out of Angola, are subject to having the currency confiscated.

Personal Identification: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Luanda can prepare copies of American passports at no charge for individuals who register with the Embassy.  To avoid the risk of theft of or confiscation of original documentation, the U.S. Embassy recommends that Americans keep their passport in a secure place and carry a copy to avoid the possibility of authorities confiscating identity and travel documents.

Labor Disputes:  American performers traveling to Angola to perform in concerts and/or other events should be aware that there have been several serious allegations made against talent agencies making arrangements for foreign performers.  These allegations include, among other things, several charges of breach of contract and the forcible retention of passports and persons.  Performers should assure themselves of the reputation of any agency they may contract with before traveling.  Many find it useful to contact performers who have previously worked in Angola and are familiar with agencies in Angola.  Persons experiencing any incidents of this nature in Angola should report these to the local Angolan police and the U.S. Embassy.

Long Delays in Renewal of Visas: U.S. citizens who opt to renew their work or other visa while in Angola should expect delays of 2-10 weeks or more, during which time the Angolan immigration authorities will retain one's passport and one will not be able to travel.  U.S. citizens are advised to plan accordingly, and if travel during this time cannot be avoided, one should apply for a second U.S. passport PRIOR to turning over the primary passport to Angolan authorities for visa renewal.  To apply for a second U.S. passport, you must write a letter explaining the need for the second passport, as well as meet all the requirements for a normal application for passport renewal, including being able to show a current valid passport.  Receiving a second passport will take 7-10 business days.  Expatriates who stay beyond their visa expiration date are subject to steep fines.

Hotel Availability:  Hotels are limited in Angola, and demand for the limited number of rooms is high.  Hotels are often booked months in advance, especially in the capital city of Luanda.  Only a few large hotels in Luanda accept credit cards; hotels in the provinces generally do not accept credit cards.  Adequate hotels are found in most provincial capitals, but some provide limited amenities.

Please see our Customs Information sheet.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical facilities and services are available in Angola, but are limited and often do not meet U.S. standards.  Adequate care for medical emergencies is limited to Luanda, where there are some good private clinics that usually have 24-hour service provided by a general practice physician and specialists on call.  A list of such facilities can be found at http://angola.usembassy.gov/medical_information.htmlRoutine operations such as appendectomies can be performed.  Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines/drugs.  Travelers are, therefore, urged to carry with them an adequate supply of properly-labeled medications they routinely require for the duration of their projected stay in Angola.  Malaria is endemic in most areas of Angola.

Angola and surrounding African countries have experienced outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers.  Most recent incidences are the 2005 Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Uige province, and the 2008 Ebola virus outbreak in the border region of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that prompted the Government of Angola to close its border between Lunda Norte and the DRC.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Angola. 
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site.  Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Angola is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Since the end of the civil war in 2002, overland access to the interior has increased.  However, fighting in most of the country damaged or destroyed many roads and bridges, and services for motorists outside urban areas cannot be counted on.

Road travel can be dangerous, especially during the rainy season (October - March), which can cause large potholes and erosion and due to the presence of landmines.  Road conditions vary widely outside the capital from acceptable paved surfaces to virtually impassable dirt roads, particularly secondary routes.  Many secondary roads, including secondary roads in urban areas, are impassable during the rainy season.  Overloaded, poorly marked, and disabled vehicles, as well as pedestrians and livestock, pose hazards for motorists.  Ground travel in rural areas should be undertaken during daylight hours only.  Landmines also pose a continuing hazard to travelers.  Many areas were heavily mined during the war, including roads, bridges, and railroad tracks.  Areas with suspected landmines are generally clearly marked and travelers should heed these warnings.  Primary roads are considered to be landmine free in most provinces, but travelers should not venture far from the margins of the road.  Extensive government, commercial, and NGO demining projects continue throughout the country.

Traffic in Luanda is heavy and often chaotic, and roads are often in poor condition.  Few intersections have traffic lights or police to direct vehicles.  Drivers often fail to obey traffic signals and signs, and there are frequent vehicle breakdowns.  Itinerant vendors, scooters and pedestrians often weave in and out of traffic, posing a danger to themselves and to drivers.  Most public transportation, including buses and van taxis, should be avoided as the vehicles are generally crowded and may be unreliable.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at insert site here.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Angola, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Angola’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site.

The U.S. Embassy in Luanda prohibits U.S. Government employees from using TAAG, the Angolan national airline, and all other Angolan-owned and -operated commercial air transportation services for official domestic or international travel due to concerns regarding safety and maintenance.  International flights on foreign-owned and -operated carriers are not affected by this restriction.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Angola are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site, so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Angola.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Rua Houari Boumedienne #32, in the Miramar area of Luanda, P.O. Box 6468, tel. (244) 222-641-000, (244) 222-447-028, (244) 222-445-481, (244) 222-446-224; after-hours (244) 222-641-000; use (244) 923-640-154 only if first after-hours contact number is not available; fax (244) 222-641-259.  The Consular Section may be contacted by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Further information on travel to Angola is also available at the Embassy web site.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Angola dated June 20, 2008, to update sections on Medical Facilities and Health Information, Aviation Safety Oversight and Registration/Embassy Location.

 


 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has information regarding Angola also, you can access it HERE

Need to find an Embassy ?, check out our Embassy Listing Sections HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).....

Regards

The SW Team........

 

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