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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Cote D Ivoire ( Ivory Coast )

Cote d'Ivoire - Consular Information Sheet
July 19, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Cote d'Ivoire (a.k.a. Ivory Coast) is a developing country on the west coast of Africa. Tourism facilities in Abidjan are good; accommodations outside the capital, however, are limited in quality and availability. The ocean currents along the coast are extremely strong and treacherous and result in numerous drownings each year.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. U.S. citizens traveling to Cote d'Ivoire for business or tourism do not require visas for stays of 90 days or less. For longer stays a visa or "carte de sejour" is required (NB: "cartes de sejour" are not issued to children under the age of 16; they are covered under their parents' "carte de sejour"). Travelers may obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 797-0300. There are honorary consulates for Cote d'Ivoire in San Francisco and Detroit. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Cote d'Ivoire 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 traveling to and residing in Cote d'Ivoire are urged to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times. Cote d'Ivoire is undergoing a period of extended political, social, and economic uncertainty. There have been several instances of violence ending in bloodshed since December 1999, when a military coup d'etat overthrew the civilian government. Although Cote d'Ivoire has returned to civilian rule following presidential elections in October 2000, there have been several violent encounters since that time, most recently during a failed coup d'etat in January 2001. The country has since returned to relative though uneasy calm. Furthermore, the country is experiencing a period of economic decline after years of growth, creating the potential for labor unrest. U.S. citizens should bear in mind that violent demonstrations have occurred in Cote d'Ivoire in the past and that further unrest or military action could recur with little or no warning.

Crime in Abidjan is at a critical level, with numerous carjackings, home invasions, and muggings. Armed assailants should not be resisted; they will not hesitate to use their weapons if challenged.

The Liberia/Cote d'Ivoire border region is unsettled and potentially dangerous. Travelers to this region and other areas of the country may encounter roadblocks, armed military personnel, vehicle searches, and police shakedowns. Travelers arriving at or departing from Abidjan's international airport or over land borders often experience harassment from customs or immigration officials.

All U.S. citizens who must travel to Cote d'Ivoire should be aware of their surroundings and use common sense to avoid situations and locations that could be inherently dangerous. Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Travel at night is strongly discouraged. U.S. citizens are urged to contact the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan upon arrival to register and to obtain the latest information on crime and security.

CRIME: Crime in Abidjan has increased over the past several years and is now at a critical level. Street crime of the "grab and run" variety, as well as pickpocketing in crowded areas, is widespread. Armed carjacking, robberies of businesses, and home invasions are on the rise, and are often targeted at expatriate residents who are seen to be wealthy. Armed criminals have used force when faced with resistance. Travelers displaying jewelry and carrying cameras are especially at risk. Travelers have found it useful to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents. It is particularly dangerous to visit the Treichville, Adjame, Abobo, and the Plateau business districts after dark. The DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges, which cross the lagoon in Abidjan, are dangerous areas for pedestrians, even in the daytime. Many hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets provide security guards to protect clients and their vehicles.

U.S. citizens should use caution when traveling outside Abidjan, especially through the central western region of Cote d'Ivoire, where an increased incidence of crime has been reported. Traveling at night is discouraged. U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the central western region and other rural areas of Cote d'Ivoire are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan for the latest travel and security information.

Business fraud stemming from Nigerian scam operations targets foreigners, including Americans, and poses a danger of financial loss and physical harm. Persons contemplating business deals in Cote d'Ivoire with individuals promoting investment in Nigeria, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria or the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing any information, making financial commitments, or traveling to Cote d'Ivoire.

Such advance-fee scams are no longer limited to Nigeria, but have extended also to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. Anyone receiving an offer to transfer large sums of money, or to purchase gold or diamonds, should also check with the Department of Commerce or Department of State before making any commitments.

Single copies of the Department of State's brochure, Tips for Business Travelers to Nigeria, are available at no charge from the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. This brochure and an accompanying booklet entitled "Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud" are available for review at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to 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 Cote d'Ivoire are adequate in Abidjan, but limited elsewhere. Many medicines are unavailable.

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. 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: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international traveler's at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or by via the 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 Cote d'Ivoire is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Automobile accidents are one of the greatest threats to the well-being of Americans in Cote d'Ivoire. Night driving is particularly hazardous due to poorly lit roads and vehicles. Direct or indirect requests for bribes from the police and other security officials are commonplace, especially at highway checkpoints and near Abidjan's airport.

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: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Cote d'Ivoire Civil Aviation Authority as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Cote d'Ivoire's air operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, Cote d'Ivoire's air carriers are permitted to conduct limited operations to the U.S. subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the U.S. by Cote d'Ivoire air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international 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 home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Airline travel in West Africa is routinely overbooked; schedules are limited, and airline service is of varying quality. Prudent passengers get the required seat reconfirmation stamped on the ticket; ensure that they have emergency funds for food and lodging in the event of unexpected delays; and arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time.

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 Ivoirian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cote d'Ivoire are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

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 living in or visiting Cote d'Ivoire are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Cote d'Ivoire and obtain updated information on travel and security within Cote d'Ivoire. The U.S. Embassy is located in Abidjan at 5 Rue Jesse Owens, mailing address 01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, telephone (225) 20-21-09-79, consular fax (225) 20-22-45-23, central fax (225) 20-22-32-59.

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