Gabon - Consular Information Sheet
May 25, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Gabon is a developing nation in west
central Africa. French is the official language. Facilities for
tourism outside the capital city, Libreville, are available, but
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required.
Visas must be obtained in advance, as airport visas are no longer
available. Travelers should obtain the latest information and
details from the Embassy of Gabon, 2035 20th Street, N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 797-1000. Travelers may also contact
the Gabonese Consulate at 18 East 41st St., Ninth Floor, New York,
NY 10017, telephone (212) 686-6720. Overseas inquiries should
be made to the nearest Gabonese 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: In view of recent incidents, the
Embassy encourages all U.S. citizens to take extra precautions
when traveling in Libreville. To prevent carjacking, citizens
are encouraged to travel with their windows up and doors locked
at all times. Marginal neighborhoods of the city should be avoided,
especially at night. All citizens should avoid walking alone on
the beach or other isolated areas, even in daylight. When dining
in restaurants or visiting markets, carry only minimal amounts
of cash and avoid wearing excessive amounts of jewelry. The Embassy
encourages citizens to choose restaurants with locked entrances
and security guards to minimize the risk of armed attacks. If
involved in an armed robbery attempt or carjacking, citizens are
encouraged to comply with attackers to avoid injury and to report
all incidents to the Embassy.
CRIME: In Gabon, petty thievery is common. Violent crime
is common in urban areas and armed robberies are occurring with
greater frequency. The Embassy alerts the American community to
exercise caution in the wake of rising criminal activity in Libreville.
Home robberies and armed attacks on restaurants frequented by
foreigners are becoming more commonplace. Increasing brazen attacks
on well-known establishments even during daylight hours suggest
a developing trend. While the incidents do not appear to specifically
target Americans or westerners, they continue to affect neighborhoods
and establishments frequented by foreigners.
In Libreville, U.S. citizens should avoid walking alone on the
beach or in other isolated areas, even in daylight; the beach
should be avoided altogether during the evening hours. Marginal
neighborhoods of the city should be avoided, especially at night.
Carry only minimal amounts of cash when visiting markets.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to 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 more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail
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 Gabon's major
cities are limited, but generally adequate for routine or basic
needs. Medical services in rural areas are generally unavailable.
Additionally, some medicines are not available; travelers should
carry required medicines and medications with them.
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 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
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
travelers at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-934-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAX
(1-888-232-3299), or by visiting 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 Gabon 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/Ambulance Assistance: Poor/Limited
Travel by road in Gabon can be hazardous. It is recommended that
you drive with your windows up and your doors locked. Travelers
are routinely stopped at police checkpoints within cities and
on highways. Travelers should use extreme caution when driving
after dark. Two lane roads are the norm throughout Gabon. Roads
to outlying cities have visible and hidden dangers that are profuse,
including large potholes, absence of road signs, poor to non-existent
streetlights, and the presence of pedestrians and animals. Construction
work is often poorly indicated. Four-wheel drive vehicles are
recommended for travel beyond the paved road to Lambarene, especially
during the rainy season. Roadside assistance and emergency medical
services are available in Libreville but may not be dependable.
Such services are nonexistent outside of the city. Service stations
are available along main roads but vehicle repair facilities are
not always available. Drivers must have a valid international
driver's license (available from AAA and the American Automobile
Routing Alliance) when driving in Gabon.
Daytime use of taxis is generally safe as long as the rider specifies
the "course" (exclusive use/not shared) to the driver.
Rail services are available, but not dependable. Travelers should
be prepared for delays.
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://www.travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Gabon, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Gabon's
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
internet home page at http://www.faa.gov.avr/iasa. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
services for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.
All aircraft landing at Leon Mba International Airport in Libreville
are assessed airport landing fees, which must be paid in cash.
The exchange rate for dollars at the airport is extremely unfavorable;
payment in French francs or Central African Francs (CFA) avoids
exchange rate loss.
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
Gabon's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Gabon are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences
CURRENCY INFORMATION: Travelers are advised to check with
local establishments to determine what type of bankcard usage
is permitted. Some hotels access various credit cards. Many grocery
stores take Visa bankcards only, although, in addition, some will
ask for the four-digit PIN. Other institutions take only locally
issued Visa cards. Additionally, phone connections used to verify
internationally issued Visa cards are occasionally down, making
them non-functional. Traveler's checks may be cashed at local
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
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting Gabon are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Libreville and obtain
updated information on travel and security within Gabon. The U.S.
Embassy is located on Boulevard de la Mer. The mailing address
is Centre Ville, B.P. 4000, Libreville, Gabon. The telephone numbers
are (241) 76-20-03/4 or 74-34-92.