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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Cameroon

Cameroon - Consular Information Sheet
June 6, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Cameroon is a developing African country. In eight of the country's ten provinces, French is the predominant language. In the other two provinces (Northwest and Southwest), English is more commonly spoken. Facilities for tourism are limited.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon, 2349 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 265-8790/94. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Cameroonian embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

SAFETY and SECURITY: U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME: Armed banditry is a serious problem throughout all ten provinces of Cameroon. To curb banditry, security personnel may request persons to show their passport, residence card, driver's license and/or vehicle registration at random checkpoints.

The risk of street and residential crime is high, and incidents of violent crime are on the rise throughout the country. Reports of carjackings and burglaries remain high, particularly in Yaounde and Douala. Carjackings have also been reported on rural highways. Crimes against property, such as carjacking, have often been accompanied by violent acts. At all times, the U.S. Embassy advises travelers to remain aware of their surroundings and to follow routine security precautions, such as locking car, hotel, and house doors. Travel after dark is extremely risky and should be avoided if possible.

Tourists and business people should note that there is an increasing circulation of counterfeit U.S. and Cameroonian currency in the country.

Business travelers are also advised that using the services of a local agent is a strongly recommended first step in establishing a presence in the Cameroonian market. In recent years, business travelers have experienced difficulty in obtaining adequate services from Cameroon's banking sector. Caution is required in pursuing joint ventures and licensing arrangements in Cameroon.

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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Cameroon are limited. Sanitation levels are low, even in the best hospitals. While some medicines are available through local pharmacies, travelers should carry needed prescription medicines and medication with them. Hospitals and doctors often expect immediate cash payment for health care services.

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. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars (US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Malaria prophylaxis and vaccination against hepatitis A and B, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, and meningococcal meningitis are recommended. Cholera certification and yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry. Failure to present evidence of yellow fever vaccination may result in the traveler's being vaccinated at the airport with needles of questionable cleanliness and sterility. Children's immunizations should be up-to-date.

Additional information on vaccinations and other health precautions 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); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor to Nonexistent

Cameroon's road network, both paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. In general, roads and vehicles are poorly maintained. During the rainy season (May to October), many roads are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles. There are few road and traffic signs. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and road safety rules are routinely ignored. Buses and logging trucks traveling at high speeds are a threat.

Drivers are advised against nighttime travel. Outside major towns, especially in the Far North province, armed bandits pose a threat.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Cameroon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Cameroon's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Cameroonian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cameroon of items such as large quantities of medicine; customs restrict the importation of ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Cameroon in Washington or one of Cameroon's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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. Cameroon's dual colonial history is reflected in the country's judicial system. In the eight provinces that were once held by France, civil law prevails, while the two provinces that were British-held follow a common-law system. Persons violating Cameroonian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cameroon are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: While photography is not officially forbidden, security officials are sensitive about photographs taken of government buildings, military installations, and other public facilities, many of which are unmarked. Photography of these subjects may result in seizure of photographic equipment by authorities. Due to the threat of harassment and the lack of signs designating sites prohibited for photography, photography is best practiced in private homes and among friends.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Credit cards and checks are rarely accepted. Cash, in local currency, is usually the only form of payment accepted throughout the country. Credit card cash advances are not available and most banks do not cash personal or traveler's checks. Two banks in Douala, Societe Generale des Banques du Cameroun, telephone (237) 43-00-02 and Cofinest, telephone (237) 43-10-53, have wire transfer services through Western Union. The Embassy does not provide currency exchange, check cashing or other financial services.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde or with the Embassy Office in Douala, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Cameroon. The Embassy is located on Rue Nachtigal in Yaounde. The mailing address is B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon, telephone: (237) 23-40-14, fax (237) 23-07-53. The Embassy Office in Douala can be contacted at (237) 42-53-31; fax is (237) 42-77-90.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 14, 2000, to add a section on Custom Regulations and update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Criminal Penalties, and Currency Regulations.

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