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Angola travel guide

About Angola

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.

Key facts

Area:

1,246,700 sq km (481,354 sq miles).

Population:

25,830,958 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

15.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Luanda.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President João Lourenço since September 2017.

Head of government:

President João Lourenço since September 2017.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Angola on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

There are a number of indirect commercial flights to Angola from the UK operated by TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates.

Angola has banned entry to arrivals from Brazil and India, with exceptions for Angolan nationals and those with residence permits who must go into mandatory quarantine on arrival at a government facility.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Angola.

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should check that the test result can be provided in the correct format and language.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Angola before returning to the UK, you must self-isolate in private accommodation or in a hotel, for 10 days. If you are visiting and staying in a hotel, you may be asked to self-isolate in your room.

If you test positive, the Angolan authorities may occasionally conduct wellbeing checks during the period of quarantine, to ensure self-isolation compliance. You are not permitted to leave your accommodation during self-isolation. Food and household essentials can be ordered online and will be delivered to your hotel room or private accommodation.

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:

  • you are encouraged to stay at home, particularly between midnight and 5am.
  • you should work remotely and practise social distancing
  • face masks are compulsory in all enclosed public areas including public transport, shops, and educational facilities. Immediate on-the-spot fines will be issued for non-compliance
  • higher fines will be imposed for breaching a number of restrictions

Accommodation

Hotels and private rentals continue to operate with some restrictions and coronavirus precautionary measures in place. You should contact your accommodation provider before booking to confirm what restrictions are in place.

Public places and services

The majority of shops, banks, restaurants and markets continue to operate, with some restrictions (e.g. reduced opening hours). COVID-19 precautionary measures are in place including capacity limits for public transport and funerals. There are limits on the numbers allowed to do collective sports. Public beaches will reopen on 15 September.

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.

COVID-19 Vaccines if you live in Angola

We will update this page when the Government of Angola announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Angolan national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines. The Government of Angola has stated that British nationals resident in Angola are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Ministry of Health website (only in Portuguese).

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad. If you’re a British national living in Angola, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Further guidance from the Angolan government on coronavirus (only available in Portuguese) can be found on the Angolan government’s COVID-19 page.

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 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. 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 FCDO 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 FCDO advise 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. The Angolan authorities are extremely sensitive to the presence of foreigners in this area and there is a risk of detention by the security forces. Please note that the FCDO advise 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. You may be subject to movements restrictions or detention by the security forces. 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.

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 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 FCDO 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. The European Commission maintains a list of banned airlines. UK government employees are permitted to travel with TAAG; they are not permitted to use other Angolan airlines.

Flooding

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

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.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

  • 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

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).

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 reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Angola set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Angola

There are a number of indirect commercial flights to Angola from the UK operated by TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates.

Angola has banned entry to arrivals from Brazil and India, with exceptions for Angolan nationals and those with residence permits who must go into mandatory quarantine on arrival at a government facility.

Advance passenger information requirement

All passengers are required to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test completed 72 hours before travel to Angola.

All passengers are required to complete an Advance Passenger Information form (FRV form) 72 hours before travel to Angola. Several travel documents must be uploaded onto the form in PDF format to be accepted before entry to Angola.

Angola has banned entry to arrivals from Brazil and India, with exceptions for Angolan nationals and those with residence permits who must go into mandatory quarantine on arrival at a government facility.

Testing prior to arrival and departure

From 16 January, all air passengers are required to undergo a rapid COVID-19 test immediately on disembarking the plane. This is currently free of charge, which is undertaken in a hangar at the airport, but can take time. Passengers arriving in Angola, should carry water and a refreshment in case there is a long wait.

Those receiving a negative result will be allowed entry and can continue through immigration. You will need to undertake compulsory self-quarantine for 7 days before undergoing a further COVID-19 test. Those receiving a positive COVID-19 result will go immediately into mandatory quarantine at a government facility for observation and further testing.

All passengers are required to show evidence of negative COVID-19 test completed 72 hours before departure from Angola.

Quarantine requirements

On 31 August, the Angolan government announced that passengers who can show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination (ie two doses) and who test negative on disembarkation will be exempt from quarantine on arrival.

All other passengers will need to undertake compulsory self-quarantine for at least 7 days once tested for COVID-19 on arrival. If you test negative, returning residents can quarantine in their own homes. Non-resident essential workers have to quarantine in a government or government-approved facility. You must spend at least 7 days in quarantine before being tested. On arrival, health officials at the airport will issue a handout with contacts to your local health centre where you can get tested. On receipt of a negative PCR test, a Titulo De Alta (ALTA) will be issued by the health centre to authorise the end of quarantine.

Those testing positive on arrival can isolate at home if asymptomatic, but those showing symptoms may be required to go into mandatory quarantine at a government facility.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

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

If you’re applying for a tourist visa, you can submit documentation online in advance of travel and be granted a pre-approval 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, Visa or MasterCard. Further information can be found on the online application portal.

You’ll be fined 15,000 Kwanzas (Angolan currency) per day if you overstay your visa. You won’t 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.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are not valid for entry or transit into Angola. However, ETD are accepted to exit 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Angola on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Angola.

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).

Health risks

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 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.

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

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

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.

Travel safety

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.

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.

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