Foreign travel advice

Gabon

Summary

Political stability in Gabon remains uncertain following the result of the August 2016 presidential election, with violent clashes occurring between demonstrators and security forces at that time. Further protests may quickly turn violent without warning. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies and remain vigilant during periods of unrest.

During periods of unrest, police checks may increase. Make sure you have all required documentation with you and avoid large gatherings.

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

UK health authorities have classified Gabon 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.

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

Safety and security

Crime

Most visits by British nationals are trouble-free. However, there have been incidents of robbery, armed attacks and rape in the past. You should take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places. You are advised to avoid displaying valuables like cameras, smart phones or jewellery. Avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns and walking alone at night. Be cautious on quiet or isolated beaches in and around Libreville, and avoid them altogether at night.

Taxis in Gabonese cities operate like buses, picking up new passengers while there is still room in the car. They often take indirect routes. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Only use authorised taxis and preferably book one from a reputable company or through a restaurant or hotel.
There have been reports of car-jackings in Libreville. You are advised to keep your car windows closed and doors locked if you are travelling at night. Do not stop to pick up strangers. Do not resist car-jackers. An immobiliser that operates after the vehicle has been driven a short distance or a tracking device may help with the recovery of your vehicle.

Local travel

Road conditions are poor in most local areas and driving can be hazardous. During the rainy season from October to mid-December and mid-February to May many roads are passable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Avoid travelling by road at night. Police checkpoints are common; you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents.  

Air travel

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU. British Government employees don’t use domestic flights run by Gabonese airline companies unless this is unavoidable.

Sea travel

There have been armed attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.

Political situation

A presidential election was held in Gabon on 27 August 2016, the outcome of which led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Avoid all demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings, even peaceful demonstrations have the potential to escalate.

Consular assistance

There is no British Embassy in Gabon. In an emergency, you can get consular assistance via the British High Commission in Yaoundé Cameroon

email: bhc.yaounde@fco.gov.uk Telephone:+237 22 222 07 96 / +237 22 222 05 45

In an emergency, if you’re unable to contact the British High Commission in Yaoundé, you should call the FCO in London:

Telephone: +44 (0) 207 008 1500.

You can also find further advice on our webpage: Yaounde, Cameroon

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Gabon, 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

Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence.

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

Taking photographs of military sites and government buildings is forbidden.

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 require a visa to visit Gabon. Full information on the visa application process can be found on the website of the Gabonese Embassy in the UK.

Alternatively, if you’re arriving into Libreville International Airport you can submit an online visa application at least 72 hours before the date of travel and collect your visa on arrival. For more information, visit the Gabonese government’s immigration portal.

Passport validity

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

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.

Medical facilities are limited, particularly in rural areas. 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 Gabon 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.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that around 44,000 adults aged 15 or over in Gabon are living with HIV; the prevalence percentage is estimated at 3.8% of the adult population compared with the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1300 or 1399 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

Credit cards are not widely accepted, except at hotels. Due to the high incidence of credit card fraud, you should avoid using your credit card outside major hotel chains. Be vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs.

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.