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Central African Republic travel guide

About Central African Republic

One of the least visited countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Central African Republic ranks amongst the poorest nations on the planet and has struggled to find its feet since gaining independence from France in 1960. Suffice to say few tourists venture out this way.

A country of contrasts, the Central African Republic is a place where the Sahara Desert meets tropical Africa, where the pastoral traditions of Africa’s tribespeople rub shoulders with the colonial architecture of imperial France.

The French influence is particularly strong in the capital, Bangui, which retains its colonial aesthetic and is scattered with patisseries serving fresh baguettes and éclairs. Vibrant stalls around the central market provide cheap and tasty local cuisine, which ranges from fish straight out of the Ubangi River to fried plantain and fufu, a sour-tasting starch prepared from manioc flour which is a staple of the region.

The country’s frenzied markets are perfect places to interact with and better understand the culturally diverse tribespeople that make up the population. The shortest interaction with these people shows them to be inquisitive, warm and generous beyond their means.

Geographically, much of the Central African Republic is composed of rolling grasslands, dusty deserts and steamy jungles. The northern reaches of the country are dominated by the seemingly infinite Sahara. With so little light pollution here, the night skies gleams with millions of stars.

The far south is home to equatorial rainforests, which are considered some of the best places in Africa to see forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. The jungle is also home to pygmy tribes, which live off the land in remote pockets of central Africa. Visits to these tribes are possible and offer an insight into their extraordinary lives.

Key facts


622,984 sq km (240,535 sq miles).


4.829.767 (UN estimate 2020).

Population density:

8.7 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra since 2016.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Félix Moloua since 2022.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.

FCDO advises against all travel to the whole of the Central African Republic, including the areas of Bimbo, Begoua and Coline, except to the capital, Bangui.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Bangui, including Bangui M’Poko International Airport.

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.

Limited consular support

There is no British Embassy in the Central African Republic, and consular support is severely limited. The British Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, can provide limited remote consular support to British nationals.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice 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 the Central African Republic set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Central African Republic Embassy in Paris (in French).    

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering the Central African Republic.

Passport validity requirements

To enter the Central African Republic, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You must have a visa to visit the Central African Republic.

Applying for a visa

Apply for a visa through the Central African Republic Embassy in Paris (in French). Requirements can change at short notice, contact the Central African Republic Embassy in Paris for the latest requirements.

Vaccine requirements

To pass border control in the Central African Republic, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination.

For more details about health entry requirements and recommended vaccinations for the Central African Republic, see TravelHealthPro’s Central African Republic guide

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of the Central African Republic. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

There is an export tax on cultural artefacts.


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. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

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.

Terrorism in the Central African Republic  

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Central African Republic, attacks cannot be ruled out.    

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. 

Political situation

Current President Faustin-Archange Touadéra came to power through an election in 2015 and was re-elected in 2020. In August 2023, a constitutional referendum was passed, which included the removal of presidential term limits. Presidential elections are due in 2025.

Protests, marches and demonstrations can happen with little notice and have encountered a strong police and security force presence. Protests have previously resulted in deaths and injuries. Protests have taken place in front of Western embassies as well as areas of political significance in the capital. If you are near any protests, marches or demonstrations, you should leave the area immediately. Stay alert and follow the local news, as the atmosphere can change quickly and without warning. Stay away from any blockades set up by the police and security forces. 

If the authorities suspect you of engaging and supporting activities that break the law in Central African Republic, you could be detained.

Security situation

Tensions remain high following decades of violence between the Central African Republic government and rebel groups. The security situation could worsen without notice.

Outside of Bangui, security conditions are extremely unstable. Armed groups continue to occupy areas in the north and south east of the country. Government services are limited outside of Bangui. There are ongoing incidents of armed conflict, banditry and hostage-taking.

Outside of Bangui there are frequent cases of:

  • homicides
  • looting
  • criminal kidnapping
  • house burglary
  • unlawful detention
  • gunfire
  • carjacking

Attacks are unpredictable and have taken place against UN peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and foreign mining companies. There are unidentified improvised explosive devices in the north west of the country.

Security conditions in Bangui are more stable with a significant presence of security forces, but could deteriorate rapidly.

If you decide to remain in the Central African Republic against FCDO advice, you should have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance, especially outside of Bangui.       

Armed patrols and roadblocks

Government security forces, UN peacekeepers, rebel groups and militias conduct armed patrols across the Central African Republic, including in Bangui. Armed personnel control roadblocks (both official and illegal) where you may be asked for a bribe. Take particular care when approaching these. Travel in groups if possible and avoid travelling at night.

It is common for the police and armed groups to arbitrarily search and detain people, mainly Central African nationals but also foreign nationals.


Theft and robbery are common, and armed gangs operate in the outlying areas of Bangui, especially in the PK5 district. Bandits often target foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers. Weapons are common and can cause normal disputes in establishments such as bars to escalate quickly.

Be alert to the risk of street crime, armed robbery and bribery at all times.Take care around:

  • government buildings
  • military sites
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • bars

You can take precautions such as:   

  • taking professional security advice
  • travelling in pre-arranged transport with trusted operators
  • not taking valuables or wearing jewellery in public
  • not walking alone at any time, especially at night
  • keeping valuables in a safe location
  • keeping copies of documents, including your passport
  • staying away from isolated areas

Violent attacks in remote areas  

Armed groups and bandits have used illegal roadblocks and have indiscriminately attacked travellers in remote areas. The attackers have burnt or stolen vehicles, and injured, kidnapped or killed passengers.

Always keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you while travelling by road. Lock vehicle doors, keep windows closed and avoid driving off main routes. Medical help in the event of an accident is likely to be limited.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

You must always carry ID by law, such as a certified copy of your passport or a residence permit. The police can detain you if you do not have ID with you.

Buying diamonds

It is only legal to buy diamonds or precious stones through government-authorised agents.

Illegal drugs penalties

There are severe penalties for drug use and possession. If convicted, you can expect heavy fines and a long jail sentence.

Using cameras

You often need permission to take photos in public places. You may be detained, fined and have your camera confiscated for photographing government property, uniformed law enforcement officers or military installations and personnel.

It is not permitted to take photographs the authorities think damage the country’s image (for example, street children and people with disabilities).

You can get a permit for more serious photography from the Ministry of Tourism.  

LGBT+ travellers

While homosexuality is not illegal, same-sex relationships are not widely accepted in Central African society. LGBT+ travellers may face arrest for “public expressions of love”.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.


It is easier to exchange euros for Central African francs rather than US dollars. You can exchange traveller’s cheques at banks.

There are very few ATMs. Most places, including hotels, do not accept international credit or debit cards. 

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in the Central African Republic, see information on driving abroad.

Roads are in extremely poor condition, especially in the rainy season from May to November. Most roads are unpaved, may close at short notice and require a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Outside of Bangui, there are very few roads.

You’ll need to have both the 1968 version of the international driving permit (IDP) and your UK driving licence with you in the car.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience or a higher minimum age.      

Keep a private supply of fuel, food and drink if possible, especially if you are travelling any distance outside of Bangui.  

Extreme weather and natural disasters  

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.


During the rainy season from May to November, roads outside of Bangui can become impassable. Flooding in Bangui is common and has killed people and destroyed homes. There is a risk of being cut off by floods in areas outside the capital, particularly in northern regions. There is also a risk of flash flooding.


Earthquakes are a risk in the Central African Republic. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 610600 or 117 and ask for an ambulance.

Emergency numbers are unreliable in the Central African Republic. The emergency services are unlikely to respond outside of Bangui.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

At least 8 weeks before your trip: 

Go to TravelHealthPro to see risks you’ll face in the Central African Republic, including:

  • yellow fever
  • malaria
  • cholera
  • Zika virus


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in the Central African Republic

There are very few healthcare facilities in the Central African Republic. Facilities in Bangui are very basic. 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.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in the Central African Republic where some staff will speak English.

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in the Central African Republic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in the Central African Republic

Telephone: 117 (ambulance, fire, police)


Ambulance: 610600           

Fire: 118

Military police (‘gendarmerie’): 2161 2200

Emergency numbers are unreliable in the Central African Republic. The emergency services are unlikely to respond outside Bangui.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in the Central African Republic and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who provide consular assistance for the Central African Republic.

The French Embassy in Bangui may also be able to offer some consular assistance (telephone: +236 613 000 or +236 610 584) to those who need urgent help.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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