Angola travel guide
Its name may be synonymous with strife, but since the civil war ended in 2002 Angola has been enjoying something of a renaissance. Safe and welcoming, this friendly nation transports the laidback, community-orientated lifestyle of southern Portugal to continental Africa – and travellers are once again discovering its charms.
Most enter the country via the capital, Luanda, which has the dubious and surprising distinction of being the most expensive city in the world. With its gleaming skyscrapers, grand government buildings and palm-lined promenades, downtown Luanda’s prosperity probably comes as a revelation to many visitors. But the spoils of Angola’s considerable oil wealth soon give way to unofficial shantytowns, proving that not everyone is benefitting from the black gold rush.
It is along Angola’s stunning 1,700 km (1,000 mile) coastline, in cities like Luanda, where Portugal’s colonial influences are most striking. The faded, art deco splendour of cities like Benguela and Namibe provide a welcome distraction from the country’s sandy shores.
Further inland, the landscape becomes one of almost endless plains. Here remote national parks are slowly being restocked with wildlife, while the newly renovated Benguela railway wends through the seemingly endless countryside. One of the world’s most evocative rail journeys, riding through the landscape with its people is a great way to delve into the psyche of laughter loving Angolans.
To the north – and separated from the rest of Angola by a 40 km (25 mile) arm of the Democratic Republic of Congo – the exclave of Cabinda is Angola in miniature, with empty beaches once popular with expats, elegant towns and virgin rainforest full of wildlife.
Youthful and energetic, Angola, like its people, has its own way of doing things. Fun-loving and eager to impress, it is a country still shaking off its troubled past while looking firmly at the future.
1,246,700 sq km (481,354 sq miles).
25,830,958 (UN estimate 2016).
15.7 per sq km.
President João Lourenço since September 2017.
President João Lourenço since September 2017.
For security reasons, the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:
- the province of Cabinda (but not including Cabinda city)
- within 1km of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Lunda Norte province, except at official border crossings and their access roads.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Angola’s current entry restrictions and requirements. Due to COVID-19, these may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country on your journey, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides appropriate cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
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. See Entry requirements
There is a high level of crime in Luanda. Be particularly careful when withdrawing money from banks and ATMs. Don’t walk around the city after dark. See Crime
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Angola, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support is limited in parts of Angola where FCDO advise against all but essential travel.
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.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Angola on the TravelHealthPro website
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Angola.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Angola
Travel around the country is permitted, but the Angolan government has imposed a number of restrictions and public health measures to limit the spread of the virus.
The use of face masks are compulsory in all medical or health units (e.g. hospitals, surgeries) and large gatherings. Immediate on-the-spot fines may be issued for non-compliance.
A number of hotels and private rentals may continue to operate with some restrictions and coronavirus precautionary measures in place. You should contact your accommodation provider before booking to confirm whether restrictions are in place.
Public places and services
A number of shops, banks, restaurants and markets may continue to operate, with some restrictions (e.g. reduced opening hours).You may be required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter. Angola will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. It is recommended that you carry a printed copy whilst in Angola. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
Healthcare in Angola
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your nearest clinic or medical centre or dial 111 to contact the public health authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
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 this travel advice.
There is a high level of crime in Luanda, some of it violent. 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. You should be particularly careful when withdrawing money from banks and ATMs both during daytime and at night, as people doing so have been the subject of armed robberies, some of which have been fatal.
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 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 and all large gatherings.
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.
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.
The FCDO advises 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 FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 1km of the border between Angola’s Lunda Norte province and the Democratic Republic of Congo, except at official border crossings and their access roads. Please note that the FCDO advises against all travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo provinces of Kasaï and Kasaï Central, which border Lunda Norte province.
The Angolan authorities are sensitive to the presence of foreigners in diamond-producing areas, including the provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. Restrictions may be imposed on your movement and you may be detained by the security forces if you do not comply.
Follow the instructions of local authorities. 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. You may be asked to show your passport and Angolan visa to the local authorities. 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.
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 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.
The UK Air Safety List (ASL) lists all known airlines in Angola that do not meet international safety standards and are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the UK. Check the UK Air Safety List when considering which airlines to fly with. The list is maintained by the Department for Transport, based on advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
TAAG, the Angolan national carrier and Heli Malongo Aviacao e Servicos De Angola, LDA dba Heli-Malongo are the only carrier regulated by the Angolan civil aviation authority permitted to operate flights to/from the UK. UK government employees are permitted to travel with TAAG; they are not permitted to use other Angolan airlines.
During the rainy season (November to April), Angola experiences storms and heavy downpours. This can cause sudden and serious flooding in and around cities, including the capital Luanda. This can create hazardous conditions and can cause serious damage to buildings and bridges. Flooding can also increase the risk of road subsidence. You should remain indoors during heavy and prolonged downpours
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 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.
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 multiple local carriers as coverage for each provider varies throughout the country.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Angola, attacks can’t be ruled out.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Photography and media
Don’t 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.
Drugs and alcohol
Drug taking and smuggling are offences. Punishments can be severe. Prison conditions are very poor.
If you’re 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’re drunk. Conditions inside police stations and the criminal investigation department are very basic.
In January 2019 Angola’s Parliament prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation. However, public attitudes towards homosexuality are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
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).
Importing goods and customs
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.
This page has information on travelling to Angola.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Angola set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Angola’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
The Angolan government has removed all COVID-19 requirements to exit and enter Angola. However, you are strongly advised to check with your airline in advance of your travel should there be other requirements by the carrier or any countries you may be transiting through.
Children and young people
There are additional requirements for passengers under 18 entering or transiting through Angola without their parents or legal guardian, or travelling with one parent only. These requirements don’t usually apply to foreign nationals, but as a precaution and to avoid any possible delays, British nationals under 18 entering or transiting through Angola without their parents or legal guardian, or travelling with one parent only, are advised to bring a letter of authorisation to travel from any parent(s) not travelling.
If you’re transiting through Angola
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Check with your airline before departing.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Angola.
You must apply for a valid visa and/or work permit before travelling to Angola, otherwise you may be detained at the airport and then deported. The deportation process can take a long time. You should check all entry requirements with the Angolan Consulate in London well in advance of travel.
If you’re applying for a tourist visa, you can submit documentation online in advance of travel and be granted a pre-approval, normally within 72 hours. This allows you to receive your physical visa on entry into Angola, subject to a fee equivalent to USD $120, paid in cash (preferable) or by Visa or MasterCard to the immigration officer on arrival. Further information can be found on the online application portal.
You may be fined 15,000 Kwanzas (Angolan currency) per day if you overstay your visa. You may not be allowed to leave the country until your fine has been paid. Legal action may 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 (but not limited to) 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.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
All passengers entering Angola are required to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
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.
There’s a high risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya. The Angolan authorities have confirmed a significant increase in cases of malaria since May 2021.
You should seek medical advice from your GP, travel clinic or pharmacy about malaria prevention 4 to 6 weeks before travel. Anti-malaria medication may still be required for travel at short notice for your protection. Further information is available on the TravelHealthPro website.
Local medical care
There are several competent private clinics 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, including cover for COVID-19 and any other medical or surgical procedures that may be required and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
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.
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 USD 10,000 for adult residents. Imports over this limit should be declared and the relevant forms completed on arrival. If you wish to re-export currency over the USD 10,000 limit you’ll need to show your original declaration form to the customs authority at the airport.
If you acquire currency over USD 10,000 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 USD 10,000 are liable to seizure. The limits are subject to change. Check current limits with the Angolan Embassy or the National Bank.
Regulations about the import and export of foreign currency and Kwanzas (Angolan currency) which came into effect in 2016 include:
- if you’re an adult resident you can import/export the equivalent of USD 10,000 in foreign currency, and residents under 18 have a limit of USD 3,500
- if you’re an adult non-resident you can import/export the equivalent of USD 5,000, and non-residents under 18 have a limit of USD 1,500
- 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
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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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.
The FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.