Democratic Republic of Congo travel guide
About Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the largest and most enigmatic countries in Africa. It has many beautiful landscapes, mainly comprising dense and undulating rainforest interspersed with waterfalls and teeming with fascinating wildlife.
The great body of the Congo River runs across the northern reaches of the country and has long been a site of considerable historic importance, made famous by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley and later used as the backdrop for Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
In many ways, much of the DRC remains as wild and impenetrable today as it would have been in Conrad’s time. The transport infrastructure built by the brutal Belgian colonial regime has largely been reclaimed by the jungle and there are few links between the country’s vast interior and the urban areas dotted around its fringes.
Kinshasa, the capital, is situated in the far west of the country and, though largely impoverished and crumbling, it is a veritable hub for colourful African music and culture.
DRC’s tourist capital, if such a thing exists, is Goma, which sits on the banks of Lake Kivu in the far east of the country. It is presided over by the imposing Nyiragongo volcano, which sits at the heart of Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa and one of just a handful of places where you can still see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Goma and the mineral-rich Kivu region were hit particularly hard by a civil war from 1998 to 2003 that resulted in the deaths of at least three million people; sporadic bouts of violence since the war officially ended have continued to burden the region’s considerable tourist potential.
However, peace and a semblance of stability have returned to Goma for the time being and small handfuls of adventurous tourists are beginning to trickle across the border once again. Visitors are advised to check the latest travel advice before visiting.
2,345,410 sq km (905,563 sq miles).
79,722,624 (UN estimate 2016).
33.8 per sq km.
President Félix Tshisekedi since 2019.
Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge since February 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Republic of the Congo 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.
Commercial flights to and from the Republic of the Congo have resumed. Check with your travel company for the latest information.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in the Republic of the Congo.
Land and river borders are now open.
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.
If you test positive for COVID-19 you will not be able to travel and must isolate for 14 days at home (if you are a resident) or in a hotel specifically requisitioned by the government (if you are a visitor), at your own expense. You must test negative before traveling. Health authorities will inform you if you test positive and monitor the progress of those who do. The government does not provide any assistance for treatment, this would need to be covered by your insurance. This applies to all, including those under 18.
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 the Republic of the Congo
There are currently no COVID-related restrictions on travel.
Public places and services
The state of health emergency, which runs until 22 April 2022, is maintained until that date.
However nightclubs and other closed and recreational spaces can now re-open. Customers must show proof of vaccination. Sports and mass activities can resume, in strict compliance with regulations.
Face masks must be work in closed environments, on public transport and during all activities in an open environment, which involve a concentration of people e.g. family events, sports events and political or other gatherings.
Healthcare in the Republic of the Congo
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the response number: 3434
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in the Republic of the Congo.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
You may be asked to provide proof of identity by the police. You should carry a colour photocopy of your passport and the Republic of the Congo visa with you at all times during your stay. If you are a resident, you should also keep a colour copy of your residency card.
There’s been a steady increase of crime reported in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. Foreigners in particular may be targeted by criminals. You should take sensible precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings, particularly in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. Do not walk in the streets after dark, or carry large amounts of money or valuables. The chance of being targeted by criminals is higher in rural areas.
Criminals have been known to target the beaches at Pointe Noire. Stay on main beaches, secure valuables, and avoid all beaches at night.
While tensions have cooled following a peace agreement between Government and rebel groups in late 2017, there continue to be reports of sporadic rebel group activity and military operations against them, large numbers of displaced people, and continued instances of crime and armed banditry in the Pool region. Any attempt to travel by night may be prevented, and a permit from the Congolese army plus a military escort may be needed for travel by day.
There are no rail services running between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. When rail services were running there were several instances of criminal gangs targeting trains on this route.
Avoid travelling anywhere around the country at night.
The river crossing/border with Kinshasa is subject to closure without warning. The ferry stops running in late afternoon, and there’s no service on Sundays. Check the situation locally before travelling.
Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate during the wet season (November to May). Overland travel off the main roads needs a four-wheel drive vehicle. Lock vehicle doors and keep windows closed when driving; watch out for armed gangs who may target your car. Do not drive off the main routes or park in unsupervised areas.
There are frequent vehicle checkpoints throughout the Republic of the Congo, which can be poorly marked. If you are asked to produce documents for inspection at a checkpoint, remain in your vehicle and show them documents through closed windows.
All airlines from the Republic of the Congo have been refused permission to operate services to the EU because of safety concerns. British Embassy staff aren’t allowed to use any of the airlines operating between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso was inaugurated for a third term on 16 April 2021.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Republic of the Congo, attacks cannot 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.
This page has information on travelling to the Republic of the Congo.
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 the Republic of the Congo set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Congo’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
You will need get a visa before entering or travel through the Republic of the Congo as a visitor. For more information, see the website of the honorary consulate of the Republic of the Congo in the UK.
Before departure, all passengers travelling to the Republic of the Congo are required to complete a Health and Immigration Declaration Form. All passengers arriving in the Republic of the Congo by commercial flights should provide proof of a negative RT-PCR coronavirus (COVID-19) test undertaken within 72 hours upon entry.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Travel between provinces
Travellers moving from one province to another must present a negative coronavirus test result. The test result date must fall within 3 days before the date you intend to leave the province.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for the Republic of the Congo are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. See All travellers.
Proof of vaccination status
No proof of vaccination status is required to enter the Republic of the Congo.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for the Republic of the Congo are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. See All travellers.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
Entry requirements for the Republic of the Congo are the same for all travellers, whether or not you have had COVID-19 in the past year. See All travellers.
Children and young people
Children under 10 years old do not need to take an RT-PCR test to enter the Republic of the Congo, and are not subject to the mandatory test on arrival.
If you’re transiting through the Republic of the Congo
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
The same measures apply whether or not you are transiting through the Republic of the Congo. See All travellers above for further information.
There are no exemptions to the Republic of the Congo’s entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting the Republic of the Congo, your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is needed.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
You must get a visa before travel. For more information, see the website of the honorary consulate of the Republic of the Congo in the UK.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
A UK emergency travel document with 6 months validity will be accepted on entry to and departure from the Republic of the Congo.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Returning to the UK
Before departure, all passengers are subject to a mandatory COVID-19 test, passengers must register and pay for their test before their departure. Passengers who test positive will not be authorised to travel. Passengers are responsible for covering all costs associated with self-isolating and testing.
For more information and instructions on how to register and a pay for the mandatory arrival is available form the Ministry of Health.
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 are abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or brought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you are travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, check 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 are 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)
If you become ill during or immediately after travelling to the Republic of the Congo, seek medical advice immediately. Medical facilities in the country are limited, particularly in rural areas, and medical evacuation is likely to be necessary for all but the most basic treatments.
Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation; this should specifically include the very high costs of evacuation by air ambulance. If you take medication regularly, bring a properly-marked supply, sufficient for the time you will be in the country.
Other health risks
Visitors should be aware that on 23 April 2022 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared a new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka city, Equateur province in north-western DRC. Equateur province borders the Republic of Congo.
Further information and updates on Ebola can be found on the WHO website and the Public Health England (PHE) website. Public Health England has guidance for humanitarian or healthcare workers travelling to countries at risk of Ebola.
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 and 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 cannot 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 cannot 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 are 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 cannot find the page you are looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you are 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.