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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Togo

Togo - Consular Information Sheet
June 19, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Togo is a small developing country in west Africa. French is the official language. Tourism facilities are limited, especially outside the capital city of Lome.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain visas prior to arrival, as only visas of limited validity are available at the airport and some border posts. Travelers applying for visa extensions have experienced significant delays. Travelers may obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Togo, 2208 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 234-4212. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Togolese 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: Togo has experienced periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions since 1990. These periods of unrest often lead to a clampdown by security forces, particularly in Lome. In addition, the government has in the past been known to open/close its border with Ghana from time to time. Motorists should be prepared to stop at numerous police checkpoints in Lome and upcountry. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. When driving, keep windows rolled up and doors locked. If possible, carry a working mobile phone in your car.

CRIME: Pickpocketing and theft are common, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lome. Residential burglary is becoming more common, as are carjackings.

Business fraud, usually stemming from Nigerian scam operations, targets Americans and poses dangers of financial loss and physical harm. Persons contemplating business deals in Togo are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of State or U.S. Embassy in Togo before providing any information, making financial commitments, or traveling to Togo. Recent variations of this advance-fee fraud include what appear to be legitimate business deals requiring advance payments on contracts. Another common variation is a request for an American to pretend to be the next-of-kin to a recently deceased Togolese who left a fortune unclaimed in a Togolese bank. This variation generally includes requests for lawyers' fees and money to pay taxes to withdraw the money. These are all variations of advance-fee fraud, and the best way to avoid becoming a victim is common sense - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Please check the Embassy web site at http://usembassy.state.gov/togo/ for the most current information on fraud in Togo.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling. Both are available 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 Togo are limited. There is no emergency medical care. While some medicines are available through local pharmacies, travelers should carry needed prescription medicines and medication 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 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: Malaria is endemic in Togo, and anti-malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. Travelers who contract malaria while taking an anti-malaria prophylaxis should discuss their treatment options with their physician due to potentially fatal drug interactions between treatment drugs commonly used in Togo and the prophylaxis. For more information on this subject, please refer to the U.S. Embassy Internet home page at http://usembassy.state.gov/togo/.

Additional 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 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 Togo 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: Poor

Urban roads are generally paved, but driving conditions are hazardous due to the presence of pedestrians and livestock on the roadways. Overland travel off the main network of roads generally requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Poorly marked armed checkpoints, often manned by undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country. Nighttime travel on unfamiliar roads is dangerous. Banditry, including demands for bribes at checkpoints, has been reported on major inter-city highways, including the Lome-Cotonou coastal highway. The presence of many small motorbikes and poorly maintained vehicles add to the danger of driving in Togo. Travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings, and drive defensively.

Americans should also be aware of the possibility of staged accidents when driving in Lome. Motorbikes have been known to cut in front of a vehicle, cause a collision, and draw a crowd, which can turn hostile if you attempt to leave the scene of the so-called accident. Such encounters appear designed to extort money from the vehicle driver. Pedestrians can also cause staged accidents. Travelers should drive with their doors locked and windows closed, and have a radio or cell phone in the vehicle. If you are involved in this kind of accident and can drive away, leave the scene, drive to a safe location, and alert both the police and the U.S. Embassy.

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 by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Togo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Togo's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Togo's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site 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 Department of Defense (DOD) policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

POWER SHORTAGES: Although Togo is taking measures to increase its energy-generating capacity, tourist facilities, especially those upcountry, often experience power outages.

CREDIT CARDS: Only certain U.S. credit cards are accepted in Togo. Most major hotels and the restaurants attached to them accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, while smaller hotels and restaurants do not. Travelers planning to use credit cards should know which cards are accepted before they commit to any transaction. Keep all credit card receipts, as unauthorized card use and overcharging are common.

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

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Taking pictures of, or near, government or military buildings is strictly prohibited. Government buildings may not always be clearly identifiable, as they vary from very well marked to not marked at all. In addition, taking pictures of government or military personnel is strictly prohibited. Cameras and film may be confiscated.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: At this time, Togo is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. 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 and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Togo. The Embassy is at the intersection of Rue Kouenou and Rue Tokmake (formerly known as Rue Pelletier Caventou and Rue Vauban), Lome, telephone (228) 21-29-92 (days) or (228) 21-29-93 (after hours), fax (228) 21-79-52. The mailing address is B.P. 852, Lome.

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