Foreign travel advice

Guinea-Bissau

Summary

Guinea-Bissau suffers from political instability. Although the security situation is currently calm, you should stay alert to local developments and avoid sensitive areas like military installations. You should also avoid any demonstrations. See Political situation

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

Terrorist attacks in Guinea-Bissau can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate. You should be vigilant, especially in places visited by foreigners.

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

Crime rates in Guinea-Bissau are low but Guinea-Bissau is an extremely poor country. You should take sensible precautions, and avoid carrying valuables in public.

Local travel

Land mines remain a problem in parts of the country and de-mining operations are continuing. The capital city of Bissau was declared mine-free in June 2006 by the national de-mining centre (CAAMI), which is responsible for de-mining operations and maintains lists of known minefields. Outside of the capital city, you should take local advice and stick to paved roads.

If you’re travelling to or from Guinea-Bissau by road through Senegal you should see our travel advice for Senegal.

Road travel

Traffic is generally light but road conditions (including in the capital) and driving standards are poor. You should avoid road travel at night and take suitable precautions in the rainy season (June to October) when road and driving conditions can become particularly poor.

Political situation

Guinea-Bissau is a country in which political instability can, and does, occur without warning. A military coup d’état in April 2012 established a transitional government which the UK did not recognise.

Successful and internationally recognised elections (legislative and presidential) were held in 2014. However, a political crisis which has been ongoing since August 2015 has resulted in further political instability. The next Parliamentary elections are due to take place in 2018 with Presidential elections due to follow in 2019.

Terrorism

Attacks in Guinea-Bissau can’t be ruled out. Guinea-Bissau contributes to the UN peacekeeping initiative in Mali (MINUSMA) and may therefore be considered a legitimate target by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and its associated groups.

As seen in Mali, Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners. Be especially vigilant in these places.

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

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. There are heavy penalties for those convicted and local prison conditions are harsh.

Carry ID (passport or residence permit) with you at all times, particularly when driving or taking a taxi, when the likelihood of having to produce it is high.

The FCO is not aware of any laws against homosexuality. It is generally tolerated if couples are discreet.

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 enter Guinea Bissau. Guinea Bissau does not have an Embassy in London. Contact the Guinea Bissau Embassy in Paris at 94 Rue St Lazare for further information. Guinea Bissau also has Embassies in neighbouring countries, including Senegal, which issue visas.

Yellow fever

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

Passport validity

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

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.

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

Medical facilities in Guinea Bissau are extremely limited and hospitals are not fully operational. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

There are occasional outbreaks of cholera, particularly during the rainy season and in areas where there is poor sanitation.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund’s report for 2012 estimated that 41,000 people (adults and children) in Guinea-Bissau were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 3.9% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

Money

Guinea-Bissau is very much a cash economy. Credit cards are rarely used and there are few ATMs. The CFA Franc is the local currency.

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.