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Travel Security Advice for Togo

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togo_mapTogo_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: 

Togo is a small West African country with a stagnant economy in a state of political uncertainty.  French is the official language, but Ewe and Mina are commonly spoken as well.  Tourism facilities are limited, especially outside the capital city, Lomé.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Togo for additional information.

REGISTRATION: 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Togo are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Lomé.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

A passport and visa are required.  Travelers are encouraged to obtain visas prior to arrival due to recent difficulties in obtaining them at the airport in Lomé or at some of the land borders.  Visas issued in Togo are limited to 7 days and can take an hour or more to be issued.  Travelers applying for visa extensions can also experience significant delays.  Vaccination against yellow fever is also required before entry.  U.S. citizens should carry copies of their U.S. passports and vaccination records with them at all times while traveling in Togo so that, if questioned by local officials, they have proof of identity, U.S. citizenship, and required vaccinations readily available.

Travelers may obtain additional information from the Embassy of the Republic of Togo, 2208 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC  20008; telephone (202) 234-4212.  Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Togolese embassy or consulate.

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

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

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: 

U.S. citizens are urged to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations, and to maintain security awareness at all times.  Togo has experienced periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions since 1990.  Following the death of President Eyadema in February 2005, political activists took to the streets and held demonstrations throughout the country that resulted in more than 500 deaths.  Land borders with Ghana and Benin are routinely shut down during elections. The October 2007 legislative elections were non-violent with only minor incidents reported during the single post-election demonstration. The next major elections are the presidential elections scheduled for 2010. 

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.  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 extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.



CRIME: 

Over the past year, Togo has seen a marked increase in incidents of violent crime throughout the country.  Recent incidents have included machete attacks as well as an unfortunate rise in the number of firearms-related crimes.  Rapid inflation and food shortages have contributed to increases in already-critical crime levels in both urban and developing areas.  Particular areas for Americans to avoid within Lomé, especially during the hours of darkness, include the Grand Marché area, the beach, the beach road and the Ghana-Togo border areas.  Travelers should avoid the beach even during daylight hours, as purse-snatchings and muggings occur there regularly. 

Pick-pocketing incidents and theft are common in Togo, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lomé.  While foreigners are less commonly targeted in incidents of residential burglary, carjackings are on the rise, even against western diplomats.  Theft while riding in taxis is also increasing, as thieves steal bags, wallets, and passports.  Taxicabs should not be shared with strangers. 

Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans.  Formerly associated with Nigeria, these fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout western Africa, including Togo, and pose dangers of both financial loss and physical harm.  An increasing number of Americans have been targets of such scams, losing anywhere from several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars.  Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication, usually by e-mail, from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country.  The scenarios vary:  an American must pretend to be the next-of-kin to a recently deceased Togolese who left a fortune unclaimed in a Togolese bank, or a person claiming to be related to a present or former political leader needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash, or even a business deal that appears to be legitimate.  More recent fraudulent e-mail scams have been sent by alleged Americans who are “trapped” in Togo and need financial assistance to return to the United States or receive urgent medical care.  The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is common sense. Do not wire or transfer money to anyone you’ve never met in person. You should carefully check out any unsolicited business proposals originating in Togo before you commit any funds, provide any goods or services, or undertake any travel. If you are contacted by an alleged American who needs help in Togo, please ask them to call the Embassy directly at (228) 261-5470. 

Please check the Embassy website for the most current information on fraud in Togo.  For additional information, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ brochure on International Financial Scams

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.  The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem.



VICTIMS OF CRIME: 

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime 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.  The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Togo are 117 or 171 for police, 172 for Gendarmerie, 242 for the Pharmacy on Duty, and 118 for Fire Services. 

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.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Persons violating Togolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Togo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 

Power outages, voltage fluctuations, and water shortages are common throughout the country.  For the most part, only Visa credit cards are accepted in Togo.  Travelers planning to use credit cards should know which cards are accepted before they commit to any transaction.  Travelers should keep all credit card receipts, as unauthorized card use and overcharging are common.  Some major banks have Automatic Teller Machines that dispense local currency, but they will only accept Visa cards.  Travelers will not be able to withdraw money using a Mastercard.  Well-known money transfer firms, including Western Union, operate in Togo.

Photographing subjects affiliated with the government of Togo, including official government buildings, border crossings, checkpoints, police stations, military bases, utility buildings, airports, government vehicles, and government or military personnel, is strictly prohibited, and local authorities will confiscate film and cameras.  Government buildings are not always clearly identifiable, as they vary from being very well marked to not being marked at all.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

Medical facilities in Togo are limited and of very poor quality; emergency medical care is inadequate.  Availability of medications through local pharmacies is unreliable, and travelers should carry all necessary medications, properly labeled, with them.  Malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease, is prevalent in Togo.  For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC travelers’ health website.

For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.

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 (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.



MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad.  Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

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 Togo is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

While some major thoroughfares in urban parts of Togo are paved, many secondary streets are not, and they can become severely flooded every time it rains.  Driving conditions are hazardous throughout Togo due to the presence of pedestrians, large numbers of small motorcycles, disorderly drivers (moped, car and truck drivers), livestock on the roadways, and the poor condition of the roads, which often contain deep potholes.  Overland travel off the main network of roads generally requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle.  Many drivers in Togo do not obey traffic laws and most traffic signals do not function properly.  Drivers should be prepared for the possibility that other drivers may run red lights or stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets. 

Nighttime travel on unfamiliar roads is dangerous.  Poorly marked checkpoints, often manned by armed, undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country, including in the capital.  Banditry, including demands for bribes at checkpoints, has been reported on major inter-city highways, including the Lomé-Cotonou coastal highway.  Travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings and to drive defensively.  At official checkpoints, Togolese security officials prefer that you approach with your dome light on, and have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance ready. 

Americans driving in Lomé should be aware of the staged-accident ploy.  In this scam, a motorbike will cut in front of you, cause a collision, and draw a crowd, which can turn hostile if you attempt to leave the scene of the so-called accident.  Such encounters appear designed to extort money from the vehicle driver.  Pedestrians have also staged accidents.  Genuine accidents can also draw hostile crowds.  Drivers should keep their car doors locked and windows closed, and have a cell phone in the vehicle.  If you are involved in this kind of accident and can drive away, you should leave the scene, drive to a safe location, and alert both the police and the U.S. Embassy.  Violent carjackings are periodically reported in Togo and tend to increase during the summer months and holiday seasons. 

Travelers are advised to exercise caution when using any form of local public transportation.  Never get into a taxi with unknown passengers and always agree on the fare before getting in.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  We also suggest that you visit the website of Togo’s national tourist office and the 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 Togo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Togo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s website.

CHILDREN’S ISSUES: 

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

EMBASSY LOCATION: 

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.

Embassy Lomé


The U.S. Embassy is located on Boulevard Eyadema, Neighborhood Cité OUA, in Lomé, Togo.  The local mailing address is B.P. 852, Lomé.
Telephone:  (228) 261-5470
Facsimile:  (228) 261-5499
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Togo dated September 10, 2008, to update sections on Registration, Crime, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, and Embassy Location


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

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

There is a Malaria Warning for Togo HERE........

Regards

The SW Team.......

 

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