Liberia - Consular Information Sheet
July 11, 2001
TRAVEL WARNING (issued May 31, 2001): The Department of
State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Liberia due to the
unstable security situation throughout the country. Because of
the security situation, the Department prohibits dependents from
accompanying U.S. Government employees to Liberia.
Although the Department has terminated the authorized departure
of U.S. Embassy personnel in non-emergency positions from Liberia
on May 31, 2001, U.S. citizens in Liberia should carefully review
their own personal security situation in determining whether to
remain in the country. U.S. citizens should be aware that the
ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide direct assistance to U.S.
citizens outside of the Monrovia area is severely limited.
U.S. citizens should be cautious of their surroundings at all
times. The presence of many ill-trained and armed government security
personnel continues to constitute a potential danger. The northwestern
part of the country is unsettled as rebel activity in Sierra Leone
and Guinea continues to affect stability along the Sierra Leone-Guinea-Liberia
border areas. In particular, there have been reports of intensified
hostilities in upper Lofa County. Travel anywhere in Liberia after
dark is discouraged. From time to time, the U.S. Embassy restricts
the travel of U.S. Government employees both by time and location.
U.S. citizens in Liberia should check with the Embassy for current
information regarding these restrictions.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Liberia is a developing west African
country which is recovering from seven years of devastating civil
war (1989-97). Although a democratically elected government was
installed in August 1997, limited progress has been made toward
the following goals: resettlement of refugees and displaced persons,
reintegration of former combatants, reconstruction of the country's
infrastructure, respect for human rights and the rule of law,
a stable environment for economic development, and the elimination
of corruption. Tourism facilities are poor or, in many cases,
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required,
as is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. For persons who
are traveling from countries that do not have a Liberian Embassy
or Consulate, an airport entry visa may be obtained, but the Bureau
of Immigration and Naturalization must authorize the visa in advance
of arrival. Further information on entry requirements for Liberia
can be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Liberia, 5201
16th street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011. The telephone numbers
are (202) 723-0437 to 723-0440. Overseas inquiries should be made
to the nearest Liberian mbassy 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: The ability of Liberia's security
forces to maintain law and order in the countryside is open to
question, and travelers should check with the U.S. Embassy Consular
Section or Security Office before undertaking travel outside Monrovia.
U.S. Government employees require special Embassy authorization
to travel outside the greater Monrovia area. Travelers are advised
to avoid northwest Liberia as continued instability and strife
in southeastern Sierra Leone heightens government sensitivity
about security in the border area.
Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid
crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain
security awareness at all times. In addition, due to recent animosities
among security forces, U.S. citizens should avoid any gathering
of such forces.
CRIME: Monrovia's crime rate is high. Theft and assault
are major problems and occur more frequently after dark. Foreigners,
including U.S. citizens, have been targets of street crime and
robbery. Residential armed break-ins are common. The police are
ill-equipped and largely incapable of providing effective protection.
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
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,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Hospitals and medical facilities are
poorly equipped and incapable of providing basic services. Medicines
are scarce or often unavailable in most areas.
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)
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 telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299); or by visiting
the CDC Internet home page 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 Liberia 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 to nonexistent
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor to nonexistent
Road travel can be hazardous. Cars, trucks, and taxis are frequently
overloaded with people and goods and make frequent stops without
signaling. Many vehicles operate with threadbare tires and blowouts
are common. There are no operating traffic lights in the country;
therefore, intersections should be approached with caution. There
are also no public streetlights; pedestrians in Monrovia's streets
and those walking on country roads are difficult to see at night.
Pedestrians often walk in the streets and cross busy roadways
with little or no warning. Drivers and pedestrians are cautioned
that high-speed car convoys carrying government officials force
vehicles to pull off the road until they have passed.
Although it is possible to travel overland to and from Cote d'Ivoire
and Guinea, travelers should expect frequent delays at government
security checkpoints, as well as time-consuming detours around
the many bridges and roads damaged during the civil war or by
the heavy annual rains which occur from May to November. Travelers
can expect strict enforcement of border controls by Liberian,
Ivoirian, and Guinean authorities.
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 by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Liberia, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Liberia'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 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 DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers
may contact DOD at (618)229-4801.
All international commercial air service to Monrovia now arrives
at Roberts International Airport (RIA), located 35 miles (approximately
one hour by car) outside Monrovia. Very limited daytime air service
exists to Freetown, Sierra Leone; Conakry, Guinea; Abidjan, Cote
d'Ivoire; and Accra, Ghana. Most airlines do not meet Western
standards of punctuality, security, or service. Luggage and passengers
undergo inspection prior to boarding. At this time, an armed para-military
security force provides airport security. Conditions at the airport
upon arrival and departure are frequently crowded and chaotic.
As public transportation to Monrovia is not always available,
travelers should attempt to make arrangements for an expediter
and chauffeur through their hotel, employer, or business associates.
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
Liberian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Liberia are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and heavy fines.
CONSULAR ACCESS: The Embassy does not always receive timely
notification of the arrest of U.S. citizens by Liberian authorities.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports
with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials,
proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.
If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to
contact the U.S. Embassy (see Registration/Embassy Location below).
COUNTRY INFRASTRUCTURE: Lodging, fuel, transportation,
and telephone services are unevenly available in Liberia. They
are nonexistent or severely limited in rural areas. Neither water
nor electricity is commercially available in Monrovia. Most hotels
have utilities available, but not on a 24-hour basis. Few facilities
and homes have telephones, and disruption of telephone service
is common. Public mail delivery is very unreliable, but commercial
air courier service is available through DHL and Federal Express.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: The U.S. dollar is readily accepted
in Liberia. While the official rate of exchange is one U.S. dollar
to one Liberian dollar, the street rate is substantially different
and varies. In the past few months, the street rate has been 40-50
Liberian dollars to one U.S. dollar. The Central Bank of Liberia
has recently issued new currency and all older Liberian currency
such as the "Liberty" and the "JJ" is no longer
legal tender. The use of traveler's checks is subject to substantial
fees and few commercial establishments accept them. ATMs are unavailable
and credit/debit cards are not accepted anywhere in Liberia. Wire
transfers through Western Union and some banks are available but
subject to substantial fees.
PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Taking photographs of military
installations, air and seaports, and important government buildings
is restricted. Visitors should refrain from taking pictures of
any sites or activities, including official motorcades or security
personnel that might be considered sensitive.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are strongly
encouraged to register and to obtain updated information on travel
and security in Liberia at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy
at 111 United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia, telephone
(231) 226-370, fax (231) 226-154. U.S. citizens who wish to write
to the U.S. Embassy may address letters to the American Embassy
Monrovia, Consular Section, Washington, D.C. 20521-8800. Consular
assistance in Liberia is limited to the greater Monrovia area.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 11, 2001
to include the revised the Travel Warning of May 31, 2001 and
to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Insurance,
Currency Regulations, and Aviation Safety Oversight.