Foreign travel advice

Central African Republic

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR).

British nationals who remain or visit against our advice should be aware that the FCO is not able to provide consular services nor organise or assist your evacuation from the country. If the situation deteriorates further, leaving the country by commercial means will become increasingly difficult. Flights out of Bangui are limited.

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

Tensions are high in Bangui and across the country. There are armed patrols that have set up several roadblocks across the country. Reports of violence, reprisal killings, looting and human rights abuses continue across the country.

Since January 2015, there have been a number of kidnappings of government ministers and humanitarian and UN workers.

Over the last year there have been periodic outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence, particularly in Bangui and Bambari.

Terrorist attacks in the Central African Republic can’t be ruled out.

UK health authorities have classified the Central African Republic as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Safety and security

Local travel

There are reports of rebel activity, banditry and hostage-taking across the country. The situation in the capital, Bangui remains fragile with periodic instances of killings, looting and gunfire. There are armed patrols in Bangui and you will encounter several roadblocks – official and unofficial – that are likely to be manned by armed personnel. Take particular care when approaching these. You are strongly advised not to travel around Bangui especially after dark. You should take extreme care, and travel in groups if possible.

Crime

Incidents of theft and robbery occur regularly and armed gangs are known to operate in the outlying areas of Bangui. Take personal security precautions and be vigilant in public places. Avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewellery in public. Don’t walk alone at night. Avoid isolated or poorer areas.

Road travel

Roads are poorly maintained and most require a four-wheel drive vehicle. Road travel is particularly difficult during the wet season (May to November). If you do decide to travel by road, you should keep a private supply of fuel if possible and carry supplies with you if travelling outside Bangui.

Illegal road blocks operate in remote areas. You may be forced to hand over money or possessions in order to continue your journey. There have been indiscriminate and violent attacks on travellers in remote areas. Vehicles have been fired on, and passengers killed or injured. In many of these cases victims have been robbed or taken hostage and vehicles taken or burnt.

Seek local advice before travelling and we recommend that you do not travel after dark.

Political situation

The armed rebel coalition Seleka seized power on 24 March 2013. The interim leader, Michel Djotodia, stood down on 11 January 2014 and was replaced by a transitional government. In early 2016 Presidential and legislative elections were held, leading to the inauguration of President Faustin Archange Touadera on 30 March 2016 and the installation of a new Parliament and government. Despite this change and an increase in the number of international security forces in CAR, the situation in Bangui and the rest of the country remains fragile as reports of widespread looting and violence continue.

You should keep up to date with local political developments and avoid all political rallies, demonstrations or large public gatherings.

Consular assistance

There is no British Embassy in the Central African Republic. There is an Honorary Consul in Obo, but given the current security situation he is not able to offer consular assistance. British nationals needing urgent help should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on +44 20 7008 1500.

The nearest British diplomatic mission is the British Embassy, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

In an emergency, the French Embassy in Bangui may also be able to offer some consular assistance (telephone: +236 613 000 or +236 610 584).

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in the Central African Republic can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

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 should carry a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport at all times. Failure to produce ID can lead to detention by the police.

Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe.

Buying diamonds or precious stones is prohibited except through agents authorised by the government. All cultural artefacts are subject to an export tax.

Be careful when taking photographs in public places as permission is often required. Photographing government property, uniformed law and enforcement officers, military installations and personnel, may lead to detention, fines and confiscation of your camera.  

Taking photographs which the authorities deem as damaging the image of the country (street children, people with disabilities) is not permitted.  

The situation is more relaxed outside of the capital, where people are generally open to having their picture taken, but you should ask first. You can get a permit for more serious photography from the Ministry of Tourism.

Satellite telephones should be registered with the Bangui or regional Agence chargée de la Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) Government Telecommunication offices.

Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Central African society and some sexual acts between members of the same sex are illegal.

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.

Medical facilities are extremely limited and strikes by government workers have affected medical services and hospitals. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation, including medical evacuation by air ambulance.

UK health authorities have classified the Central African Republic as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cholera is known to occur in the Central African Republic.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 610600 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

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

British nationals need a visa to visit Central African Republic. To apply for a visa and for further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Central African Republic in Paris at 30 rue des Perchamps, 75116 Paris.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Passport validity

Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry into Central African Republic.

Departure tax

There is a Departure Tax of 10,000 CFA per person when leaving the Central African Republic on international flights from Bangui airport.

Money

It is easier to exchange euros rather than US dollars to the Central African Franc – CFA. Travellers cheques may be exchanged at banks.

There are no international ATM machines and very few places (including hotels) accept major international credit or debit cards.

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.