Equatorial Guinea travel guide
About Equatorial Guinea
Perhaps best known as the inspiration for Frederick Forsyth’s coup-laden thriller The Dogs of War, the political situation of hot and humid Equatorial Guinea leaves a lot to be desired. Corruption, human rights abuses and political violence are frequently recorded, and despite huge oil wealth little has trickled down to the people, where real poverty still exists.
This means the country, which occupies a slice of mainland Africa and five offshore islands, is not set up with tourism in mind. Travel can be hard and hotel rooms both limited in number and expensive compared to neighbouring states. However, Equatorial Guinea offers a rare opportunity to experience central Africa’s colonial history and unspoiled natural beauty.
Large areas of Rio Muni, mainland Equatorial Guinea, have been set aside as protected zones. Noted internationally for their biodiversity and hiking opportunities, the country’s rainforests are the habitat of various endangered primates including mandrills, chimpanzees and gorillas, as well as forest elephants.
The capital, Malabo, lacks the frenetic energy of some cities on the continent, with nothing happening very fast. Its tranquillity and the laidback air of its people perhaps results from lying on the steamy island of Bioko. It’s atmospheric sides streets are the best place in the country to encounter the architectural splendours left by Spain’s colonial regime.
Outside the capital, Bioko Island is also the location of the crater lakes of Lago Lorento and Lago Biao. Idyllic spots for relaxation, even the least interested birdwatcher will suddenly become the most ardent ornithologist: the sheer diversity of avian wildlife is staggering.
Its natural wonders and hospitable inhabitants should have put Equatorial Guinea on the map years ago, but a reputation for political instability means this remains an untapped mine for now.
28,051 sq km (10,831 sq miles).
869,587 (UN estimate 2016).
26.4 per sq km.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo since 1979.
Prime Minister Vicente Ehate Tomi since 2012.
Last updated: 22 October 2019
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Consular support is not available from the British government in Equatorial Guinea. However, the British High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon or the Honorary Consul can provide consular support to British nationals.
Be alert and take sensible personal security precautions. Roadblocks and unannounced identification checks are likely. Carry an appropriate form of identification (passport or residence permit) with you at all times.
If you wish to travel outside Malabo on the island of Bioko, or outside Bata on the mainland, you will need to inform the local authorities in advance.
There have been no cases of Ebola in Equatorial Guinea.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Equatorial Guinea, attacks can’t be ruled out.
Safety and security
Compared with other countries in the region, the level of violent crime in Equatorial Guinea is low and there have been very few cases of British nationals needing consular assistance. However, there are an increasing number of robberies against people travelling by taxi in both Malabo and Bata including a serious incident of robbery and assault in a shared taxi in Bata. Avoid taking taxis with groups of strangers, particularly at night.
There are regular reports of petty theft affecting both visitors and expatriates. Take sensible personal security precautions. Don’t carry valuables or wear jewellery in public and avoid isolated or poorer areas of town. Don’t walk around Malabo and Bata at night and avoid travelling by road after dark.
If you do not have an Equatorial Guinean resident permit, please carry a copy of the photo page and visa page of your passport with you if you wish to travel outside Malabo on the island of Bioko, and outside Bata on the mainland.
Land borders can close with little or no notice. Check the situation with the local authorities before travelling to border areas.
Most major roads on Bioko Island and the Rio Muni mainland are now paved. In some isolated rural areas the condition of the roads is likely to be poor. Police and military roadblocks are common.
You may be asked to show your passport, or vehicle registration documents and explain your reason for being in the area. Failure to comply can lead to detention.
There are regular reports of extortion by police and uniformed security forces at roadblocks. You are advised not to pay bribes but to ask for a ticket, detailing alleged offences or violations, which can be paid at a local court.
Public transport facilities, particularly on the mainland, are extremely limited.
In 2019, visitors should expect increased disruption to travel and extra police checks focused on the main highway between Malabo airport and the conference centre area in Sipopo, due to events centred on the ‘Year of Energy’
Equatorial Guinean-registered aircraft are banned from EU airspace on safety grounds. British government employees do not use these aircraft unless this is unavoidable.
There have been armed attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.
The political situation has been calm in recent years but you should be aware that political events can lead to an increased presence of police, military or security forces on the streets. Avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large public gatherings.
There have been occasions when expatriate staff of foreign companies have been confined to the country for prolonged periods when commercial disputes have arisen.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Equatorial Guinea, attacks can’t 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.
Local laws and customs
Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence that would be served in local prisons.
The police have introduced random breathalyser testing for drivers.
Photography of the presidential palace, ports, airports and military installations is strictly prohibited and can lead to imprisonment. Special permits from the Ministry of Information and Tourism are required for all other photography.
Same sex activity is legal in Equatorial Guinea but there’s no legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Discrimination in society remains a problem with no government efforts to combat it. Same sex marriages aren’t recognised. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Caution should be exercised with public displays of affection, both same sex and opposite sex.
Failure to produce identification documents (passport or residence permit) on request can lead to detention.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry.
British nationals need a visa to visit Equatorial Guinea. For further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in London: 13 Park Place, St James’, London SW1A 1LP; telephone: 020 7499 6867.
Check that your passport is properly stamped at the airport, on arrival and departure, before leaving the immigration desk. There have been reports of travellers being delayed or threatened with detention because their passports have not been properly stamped.
If you replace your passport the Equatorial Guinea authorities will require the old passport prior to issuing a replacement visa in your new passport. The authorities will not admit travellers on visas entered into old passports, even if the visa is still valid.
Long term visitors are required to obtain a residence permit of 1 year validity from the Ministry of National Security. Holders of a residence permit no longer require a visa to exit or enter Equatorial Guinea during the validity of their residence permit.
In 2014 the authorities cancelled a number of incoming and outgoing flights as a preventative measure against the spread of Ebola to Equatorial Guinea. Flights to/from Sao Tome et Principe, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Republic of Congo, Benin, Togo, Nigeria and Gabon have now resumed. If you’re arriving by air you’ll be required to fill in a health questionnaire related to recent travel to Ebola-affected countries (Liberia/Guinea/Sierra Leone).
There have been no cases of Ebola in Equatorial Guinea.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Emergency travel documents
Emergency travel documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into Equatorial Guinea but ETDs are accepted for exit from Equatorial Guinea.
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).
Medical facilities are generally poor, apart from the La Paz hospital in Malabo. Pharmacies in Malabo and Bata stock basic medication. Emergency facilities are extremely limited. For serious medical treatment, evacuation to Europe would be necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 3101 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
It is not possible to use credit cards except at the major airline offices (Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa) and some hotels (Hilton, Sofitel). The local currency is the Central African Franc (CFA), issued by the Banque des Etats de L’Afrique Centrale (BEAC). This is not the same Central African Franc as issued by the Banque des Etats de L’Afrique Ouest (BEAOC) which is not legal tender in Equatorial Guinea. There are only a limited number of ATMs available, located in Malabo and Bata. Not all of these accept international credit and debit cards. Euros, Pound Sterling and US Dollars are the preferred currencies for exchange at local banks.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re 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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