Foreign travel advice

Angola

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Cabinda (but not including Cabinda city) and Lunda Norte.

You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, be vigilant and respect advice and instruction given by local security authorities.

You must get a valid visa and/or work permit before you travel to Angola. The process can take a long time and you should apply several weeks before your intended travel date.

There is a high level of crime in Luanda. Don’t walk around the city after dark.

UK health authorities have classified Angola as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Most visits to Angola are trouble-free.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Angola, attacks can’t be ruled out.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Safety and security

Crime

Most international companies and organisations operating in Angola have strict security rules and regulations for their staff. If your company has such instructions you should read them in conjunction with the FCO Travel Advice.

There is a high level of crime in Luanda. Muggings, particularly to steal mobile phones and other valuables, and armed robberies can occur in any area at any time of the day or night. Areas popular with foreigners are particular targets.

Incidents of rape have been reported in popular nightlife areas, as well as in private homes. Don’t travel alone at night.

Avoid walking around Luanda, especially after dark. Avoid wearing jewellery or watches in public places. Don’t change or withdraw large sums of money in busy public areas. Avoid walking between bars and restaurants on the Ilha do Cabo, and avoid crowded places like markets. Take extra care on the Serpentine road (Nehru) between the Marginal and Miramar, and the adjacent wooded area, due to the recent increase in crimes occurring there.

Theft from stationary or slow-moving cars is common in downtown Luanda. Keep valuables out of sight and don’t use mobiles or laptops while in traffic. A high proportion of the civilian population is armed.

When driving, be very wary if another car signals you to pull over. Thieves use the pretext of a minor traffic incident to get you out of your car either to steal it or to rob you. In 2016 there were a number of kidnapping incidents involving foreign nationals (including western nationals) taken from their vehicles in Luanda by armed gangs.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

Deposit valuables and cash in a hotel safe where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport, in a separate place from the documents themselves.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Cabinda province (but not including Cabinda city). There are regular violent incidents including rape, murder and kidnappings involving foreigners and Angolans in the province of Cabinda. Groups claiming responsibility for these attacks have declared their intention to continue attacks against foreigners.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the province of Lunda Norte. The Angolan authorities are sensitive to the presence of foreigners in diamond producing areas and you may be subject to movement restrictions or detention by the security forces. The presence of diamonds also increases the threat of crime and banditry, particularly on roads leading to and from these areas. Armed hold-ups occur from time to time.

If you travel outside Luanda and the provincial capitals, do so in the company of persons or organisations experienced in local conditions, as conditions can be difficult. There is widespread poverty, social exclusion and disease, a shattered infrastructure and mines and items of unexploded ordnance throughout many parts of the country. Transport and accommodation are extremely limited outside Luanda, so make arrangements in advance.

Road travel

Although you can drive on a UK licence for up to 30 days from the date of your arrival in Angola, an International Driving Permit or translation of your UK licence is recommended. Make sure all vehicle documentation is available for inspection. Police check points are common.

Major roads between Luanda and the provincial capitals are improving, but driving standards and some road conditions are very poor and travel outside major towns is usually in convoys of two or more 4-wheel drive vehicles. Outside major towns, mines and unexploded ordnance remain a problem, including on roads, verges and bridges, in buildings and in the countryside. There have been incidents of mines exploding with loss of life in places previously thought to be safe. Even in ‘cleared’ areas, you should keep to well-established routes and take up-to-date advice from the United Nations or an international Non-Governmental Organisation.

During the rainy season (November-April), bridges and roads risk being washed away by sudden floods and there is an increased chance of mines becoming displaced and surfacing outside known mine fields.

There are taxis at the airport and these can also be booked through your hotel or with the company direct. Local minibus transport is unsafe. In most cases your sponsor will arrange to meet you at the airport and to provide transport throughout your trip.

Air travel

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Angola.

TAAG, the Angolan national carrier, is the only carrier regulated by the Angolan civil aviation authority permitted to operate flights to/from the EU, and then only using the 9 aircraft specified in the list published by the European Commission.

For internal flights, and international flights to Sao Tome and Principe, UK government employees are permitted to travel on TAAG aircraft that are subject to the EU ban in specific circumstances; staff are not permitted to use other Angolan airlines.

Shortages

There are occasional shortages of petrol and diesel. Power and water can be cut off for days without notice. Residents should keep generator fuel stocks and water tanks topped up. Drinking water and other food supplies are not always readily available. You should keep stocks of tinned goods and drinking water.

Hotels

Hotels are expensive and of varied quality. Although availability of hotel accommodation has improved, hotels should be booked well in advance. The British Embassy is unable to book hotel rooms on your behalf.

Communications

Not all UK mobile phone companies have roaming arrangements with Angola. SMS text messages may not get through. Mobile coverage outside the main urban areas is patchy. When travelling outside Luanda carry a mobile phone with contracts to both Unitel and Movicel as coverage for each provider varies throughout the country.

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Angola, attacks can’t be ruled out.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

You must not use cameras, binoculars, maps, GPS equipment, etc. near government buildings of any description. Taking photographs in the streets can draw the attention of the authorities. Your equipment may be confiscated.

Drug taking and smuggling are offences. Punishments can be severe. Prison conditions are very poor.

If you are drunk when you arrive at Luanda airport you may be refused entry, detained and deported. Airlines can and do refuse to carry passengers out of Angola if they are drunk. Conditions inside police stations and the criminal investigation department are very basic.

Homosexual acts are illegal.

Carry a certified copy of your passport (data page and visa) and/or identity documents at all times for identification purposes or you will be liable for an on-the-spot fine of 15,000 Kwanzas (Angolan currency).

Angola is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trade in ivory. Anyone caught buying or trafficking these goods is likely to be prosecuted and receive a prison sentence or fine.

The Angolan Interior Ministry recommends that you have a Portuguese-speaking contact if you don’t speak Portuguese, in case of any dealings with the police or other authorities.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You must get a valid visa and/or work permit before travelling to Angola otherwise you will be detained at the airport and then deported. Check all entry requirements with the Angolan Embassy in London. The process can take a long time. You should apply at least 8 weeks in advance.

Visas cannot be obtained on arrival at any airport. You must obtain a valid visa and/or work permit before travelling to Angola otherwise you will be detained at the airport and subsequently deported.

You will be fined 15,000 Kwanzas (Angolan currency) per day if you overstay your visa. You will not be allowed to leave the country until your fine has been paid. Legal action will be taken against you if you don’t pay your fine. This may include being detained, deported or not being allowed to re-enter Angola.

Fines are in place for a wide range of visa offences including working, studying or residing without the correct visa, changing employment without notifying the authorities, employing staff with incorrect visas, failing to renew residence cards, or changing address without notifying the authorities.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Angola.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

There are several competent private clinics run by expatriate organisations in Luanda. Fees are high and are charged in advance. Outside Luanda health care is very limited. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

UK health authorities have classified Angola as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Money

Money

Credit cards are only accepted in a very limited number of hotels and restaurants, although this is increasing. Always ask whether your card will be accepted before using it. There have been reports of credit cards being cloned for fraudulent purposes so you should exercise caution when using your card.

The number of ATM’s is growing in Luanda and other cities although they’re frequently empty. Check with your card issuer to see if your card will be accepted.

Travellers’ cheques aren’t accepted. Funds may be sent from the UK to Angola (but not in the other direction) by Western Union which has a number of agencies in Luanda and elsewhere and whose details are listed on the company’s website.

Bring enough cash for your needs or make sure your sponsoring company or agency has made suitable arrangements. US dollars are widely used. Old series dollar bills (with small heads) aren’t accepted, nor are damaged or torn dollar bills.

There are limits on the amount of cash that can be imported and exported. The limit is currently the equivalent of 15,000 US dollars. Imports over this limit should be declared and the relevant forms completed on arrival. If you wish to re-export currency over the 15,000 US dollar limit you’ll need to show your original declaration form to the customs authority at the airport.

If you acquire currency over 15,000 US dollars while in Angola, you’ll need to get prior authorisation from the National Bank to export the currency.

Undeclared imports or exports of amounts over the equivalent of 15,000 US dollars are liable to seizure. The limits are subject to change. Check current limits with the Angolan Embassy or the National Bank.

New regulations about the import and export of foreign currency and Kwanzas (Angolan currency) came into effect in 2016:

  • if you’re an adult resident you can import/export the equivalent of 10,000 US dollars in foreign currency, and residents under 18 have a limit of 3,500 US dollars

  • if you’re an adult non-resident you can import/export the equivalent of 5,000 US dollars, and non-residents under 18 have a limit of 1,500 US dollars

  • residents and non-residents can take out of Angola up to 50,000 Kwanzas in addition to the US Dollars or foreign currency mentioned above

  • you can expect to be searched at the airport to make sure you’re not leaving the country carrying more than the allowed amounts

  • if you acquire currency over the allowed amounts while in Angola, you’ll need to get prior authorisation from the National Bank of Angola to export it

  • the destruction of Kwanza notes is illegal

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.