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Travel Security Advice for Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial_Guinea_National_Flag

eq_guinea_mapEquatorial_Guinea_Overview


 

 

 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich, developing country on the western coast of central Africa.  Its capital and main port, Malabo, is located on the island of Bioko, off the coast of Cameroon.  A secondary port, Luba, is also on Bioko.  The mainland territory of Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Cameroon and Gabon.  The principal city on the mainland is Bata.  Facilities for tourism are limited but growing.  Official languages are Spanish, which is widely spoken, and French, which is not widely understood, but sometimes used in business dealings.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Equatorial Guinea for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport and evidence of a yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Equatorial Guinea.  Visas are not required for U.S. citizens unless the traveler will be there for an “extended stay” or is intending to work there.  U.S. citizens entering without a visa but staying longer than 90 days should register with the local police station.

Private ships landing in an Equato-Guinean port must get clearance prior to approaching the shore.

Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, 2020 16th Street NW, Washington, DC  20009, telephone (202) 518-5700, fax (202) 518-5252.

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:

Although large public demonstrations are uncommon, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations.

In February 2009, approximately 50 gunmen arriving by speedboats attacked government buildings in Malabo but were repelled by Equato Guinean military and police.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's, 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 A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Violent crime is rare and the overall level of criminal activity is low in comparison to other countries in the region.  However, there has been a rise in non-violent street crime and residential burglaries.  Travelers should exercise prudence and normal caution, including avoiding dark alleys, remote locations, and traveling alone.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the U.S. Embassy in Malabo at (240) 098895; Embassy personnel will assist in contacting the local police.  If you are the victim of a crime while in Equatorial Guinea, please remember to report the incident to local police, and contact the U.S. Embassy in Malabo for assistance.  The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you in finding appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, the consular officer can help you understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

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 Equato-Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Equatorial Guinea 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:

It is not uncommon for a uniformed member of the security forces to stop motorists on the pretext of minor or nonexistent violations of the local motor vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes.  Visitors are advised not to pay bribes, and to request that the officer provide a citation to be paid at the local court.  If visitors encounter any of these problems they should contact the Embassy Consular Officer at 516008 and inform him/her of the situation.

Equatorial Guinea has a strictly cash economy.  Credit cards and checks are not accepted; credit card cash advances are not available and there are no ATMs.  In addition, most local businesses do not accept travelers' checks, dollars or euros.  However, dollars can be changed at local banks for CFA.  Cash in CFA is usually the only form of payment accepted throughout the country.

Special permits from the Ministry of Information and Tourism (or from the local delegation if outside Malabo) are required for virtually all types of photography.  Police or security officials may charge a fine, attempt to take a violator into custody, or seize the camera and film of persons photographing the Presidential Palace and its environs, military installations, airports, harbors, government buildings, and other areas.

Travelers are advised that the possession of camouflage-patterned clothing, large knives, binoculars, firearms, or a variety of other items may be deemed suspicious by the security forces and grounds for confiscation of the item and detention of the carrier.  Please see our Customs Information sheet.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical facilities are extremely limited. Pharmacies in Malabo and Bata stock basic medicines including antibiotics, but cannot be counted on to supply advanced medications. Outside of these cities, many medicines are unavailable. Travelers are advised to carry any special medication that they require. The sanitation levels in even the best hospitals are very low though the new Israeli-built and staffed La Paz Hospital in Bata approaches European standards of sanitation and is reported by Red Cross officials to be the best in the region. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services, and patients are often expected to supply their own bandages, linen and toiletries.  The Malabo hospital is likewise undergoing a complete update, with expected completion in late 2009.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. The national government, along with U.S. oil companies in the country, has taken aggressive steps to control the mosquito population and limit the impact of malaria on the population centers in Malabo and Bata.  Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the type that predominates in Equatorial Guinea, is resistant to the anti-malarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to the country are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam™), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone™). Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarials they have been taking.  Visit the CDC travelers’ health page for additional information on malaria, including protective measures.

There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in Equatorial Guinea. Yellow fever can cause serious medical problems, but the vaccine, required for entry, is very effective in preventing the disease.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Equatorial Guinea.

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.  It is extremely important to understand that the hospitals, clinics, as well as other businesses and hotels do not accept credit cards.  If there are any concerns that travelers may need medical care or assistance while in Equatorial Guinea, they should make arrangements to have access to enough cash to cover possible expenses.  There are companies such as Western Union where international money orders can be arranged and cash obtained.  There are no ATM machines in the country (See SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES Section above).  You can see more 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 Equatorial Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Generally, Equatorial Guinea's road networks are underdeveloped.  There are few road and traffic signs, though more signs are becoming evident.  Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards.  During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.  However, new road construction and repair is taking place all over the country and road conditions have improved markedly over the course of the past year.  If you plan on staying and driving around the country for any length of time you should attempt to purchase a cell phone for assistance in case of an emergency.

Travelers outside the limits of Malabo and Bata may expect to encounter occasional military roadblocks.  Travelers should be prepared to show proper identification (for example, a U.S. passport) and to explain their reason for being at that particular location.  The personnel staffing these checkpoints normally do not speak or understand English or French; travelers who do not speak Spanish would do well to have their reason for being in the country and their itinerary written down in Spanish before venturing into the countryside.

Please refer to 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 Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Equatorial Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards For more information, travelers may visit the FAA web site.

Commercial air travel to and from Equatorial Guinea can be difficult.  Malabo is served by European airlines a few times per week.  The island of Bioko and the African mainland are connected by several small local airlines offering daily service.  Schedules are subject to change or cancellation without notice; flights are often overbooked and reservations may not guarantee seats.

Malabo Airport has navigational aids and can accommodate night landings.  There are no navigational aids at Bata Airport.  Special clearances are required to land in or overfly Equatorial Guinea territory.

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 Equatorial Guinea are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Malabo through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Equatorial Guinea.  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 in Malabo to contact them in case of emergency.

The United States reopened its Embassy in Malabo in October 2003.  However, due to reduced staffing, it can offer only limited services to U.S. citizens in distress.  The U.S. Embassy in Malabo is located at: Carretera de Aeropuerto KM-3 (El Paraiso), Apartado 95, and can be contacted at (240) 098-895.  Additional services are provided through the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon, located on Avenue Rosa Parks in the Mbankolo Quartier, adjacent to the Mount Febe Golf Club; mailing address P.O. Box 817; embassy tel. (237) 2220-1500, fax: (237) 2220-1572.  The Embassy Branch Office in Douala, Cameroon, is located on Rue Flatters, in the Citibank Building, tel.: (237) 3342-53-31, fax: (237) 3342-77-90.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Equatorial Guinea, dated November 15, 2007, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Registration/Embassy Location.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Equatorial Guinea HERE....

There is also a Malaria Alert for equatorial Guinea which you can check via the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)......

Regards

The SW Team..........

 

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