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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea - Consular Information Sheet
May 24, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Equatorial Guinea is a developing country in central Africa. Malabo, the capital, is located on the island of Bioko, off the coast of Cameroon. The mainland territory of Equatorial Guinea is located between Cameroon and Gabon. The principal city on the mainland is Bata. Facilities for tourism are limited. The official languages are Spanish, which is widely spoken, and French, which is sometimes used in business dealings and with government officials.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and evidence of immunization against yellow fever are required for entry into Equatorial Guinea. U.S. citizens are not required to have visas to enter Equatorial Guinea. However, travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Suite 410, 1712 I Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20006, telephone 202-296-4174, fax 202-296-4195 or on the Internet at http://www.equatorialguinea.org. Overseas inquiries may be made to the nearest Equatoguinean 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.

CRIME: Violent crime is rare and the overall level of criminal activity is low in comparison to other countries in the region. There has, however, been a rise in non-violent street crime and residential burglaries.

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 are extremely limited. Pharmacies in Malabo and Bata are well-stocked, but in other areas many medicines are unavailable. Travelers are advised to bring with them any special medication they require. There is no trauma center in the country. In case of serious illness or accident, a medical evacuation to another country is required.

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 including 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 vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid fever and meningococcal meningitis are strongly recommended.

Further information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's International Travelers Hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (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 Equatorial Guinea 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: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Nonexistent

Equatorial Guinea has no equivalent to the emergency telephone number 911. American citizens should contact the Consular Agent in Bata (see paragraph 14) or the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde if they need emergency assistance.

Equatorial Guinea's road network, both paved and unpaved, is poorly maintained and unsafe. Vehicles are poorly maintained. During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards, and road safety rules are routinely ignored. There are few road and traffic signs; speed limits are neither posted nor enforced.

Traffic stops, as well as police and military roadblocks are common. Traffic stops may be on any pretext, such as making an illegal turn or driving a dirty vehicle. Travelers should be prepared to accept a traffic citation, which must be paid at police headquarters. Travelers are advised not to offer money to police on the road. If stopped at a roadblock, always cooperate with local officials. Motorists should be aware that security forces frequently use roadblocks to solicit money, especially around the holidays. Roadblocks are also used to control the movements of political dissidents. Travelers should not pick up hitchhikers on the roads as police at roadblocks may infer involvement in the hitchhiker's affairs.

Local law states that vehicles involved in an accident should not be moved until the police arrive and a police report can be made. If an accident results in injury, drivers should be aware of the possibility of there developing a "village justice" mentality. If an angry crowd should form, the traveler should proceed directly to the local police headquarters or to any other safe location where she or he can receive assistance. Once safely away from danger, the traveler should contact the local police.

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. For specific information concerning Equatorial Guinea's driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea.

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 Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Equatorial Guinea'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 the DOD at 1-(618) 229-4801.

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 Equatoguinean law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS: The government of Equatorial Guinea has established stringent currency restrictions, applied upon arrival and departure from the country. Visitors for business or tourism must declare any currency in excess of 50,000 CFA (currently, approximately 70 dollars (US)) upon arrival. Although this requirement is not clearly posted, travelers who fail to declare their excess currency risk forfeiture of any amount over the 50,000 CFA limit upon departure. They may also be frisked and have their bags searched to ascertain whether they are attempting to take excess currency out of the country.

Cash in Central African francs (CFA) is usually the only form of payment accepted in Equatorial Guinea. Credit cards and checks are not accepted. Most local businesses do not accept Travelers' checks or dollars. Dollars may be changed at local banks for Central African francs (CFA). Credit card cash advances are not available.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Special permits from the Ministry of Information and Tourism (or from the local delegation 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, government buildings, airports, harbors and other areas.

CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS: Travelers are advised that the import or 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 possessor.

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.

U.S. REPRESENTATION: The United States closed its Embassy in Malabo in November 1995, and the U.S. does not currently have a diplomatic presence in Equatorial Guinea. The U.S. does have a consular agent who is based in Bata and travels to Malabo twice a month. The consular agent is available to assist American citizens with problems that may arise during their sojourns in the country. The consular agent is Timothy L. Edwards, and he may be reached at 240-7-5507. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register their presence in Equatorial Guinea with the consular agent, through the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon or with the Embassy Branch Office in Douala, Cameroon. Travelers may obtain updated travel and security information from these offices. The U.S. Embassy in Yaounde is located on Rue Nachtigal. The mailing address is B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon, telephone 237-23-40-14, fax 237-23-07-53. The Embassy Office in Douala may be contacted at 237-42-53-31, fax 237-42-77-90.

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