World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Gabon

Gabon travel guide

About Gabon

Gabon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Congo. The 800km- (500-mile-) long sandy coastal strip is a series of palm-fringed bays, lagoons and estuaries. The lush tropical vegetation (which covers much of the interior) gives way in parts to the savannah.

There are many rivers along which settlements have grown. Many of the Bantu people are concentrated in coastal areas and villages along the banks of the many rivers. The main cities are Libreville, Port Gentil, Lambaréné, Moanda, Oyem, Mouila and Franceville.

The Republic of Gabon moved peacefully into independence (from France) in 1960. President Omar Bongo, who succeeded Léon M'Ba as president on the latter's death in 1967 is now one of Africa's longest serving heads of state. In 2003, a change of constitution meant that Bongo could run for office as many times as he wanted and Bongo, now in his 70s, is likely to remain as president for life. Gabon's only problem in the region concerns the island of Mbagne which lies in the Corisco Bay, potentially the site of large oil and gas deposits: occupied by Gabon in 1970, it is also claimed by Equatorial Guinea.

But touristic natural resources are likely to centre around features such as stunning white beaches, an abundance of wildlife, including gorillas, panthers, parrots and elephants, and verdant forests.

Key facts


267,667 sq km (103,347 sq miles).


1,763,142 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

6.4 per sq km.





Head of state:

Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema since 2023, after military coup is president of Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions.

Head of government:

Interim prime minister: Raymond Ndong Sima since 2023.

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.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

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

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 Gabon set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Gabon High Commission on 020 7823 9986 or email

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Gabon.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ that is at least 6 months after the date you arrive in Gabon.

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 enter Gabon.

Applying for a visa

You must apply for a visa before travelling. For more information on the visa application process, contact the Gabon High Commission in the UK on 020 7823 9986 or email

The most reliable way to get a visa is through the High Commission in the UK.

For business travel, you must provide a letter of invitation from an individual or company in Gabon explaining the reason for your trip.

For tourist travel, you must provide a hotel booking or letter from your hotel confirming your stay.

Vaccination requirements

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Gabon guide.

Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever certificate.

Customs rules

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


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 Gabon

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Gabon, attacks cannot be ruled out.  

Political situation

There was a military takeover in Gabon following elections in August 2023. This may lead to protests and unrest and the situation could change quickly without warning. A curfew is currently in place each night. During periods of unrest, police checks may increase. Make sure you have all required documentation with you and avoid large gatherings. 

Borders have reopened following the military takeover, but some disruption may happen. Contact your travel provider for more information and follow instructions from local authorities.

You should:

  • follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel provider
  • monitor local media and follow any curfew restrictions
  • remain vigilant and stay indoors where possible
  • avoid protests or large gatherings and any military activity

Detention of tourists

Political and security tensions following the 30 August military coup resulted in some tourists being held and questioned about their reasons for travelling to Gabon. Some individuals had their passports taken and were briefly prevented from leaving the country. While the situation has stabilised, current political and security sensitivities mean that the authorities may treat tourists with heightened scrutiny.


Protests in Gabon are not common but happen on occasion and may turn violent without warning. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies and remain vigilant during periods of unrest.


There have been incidents of robbery, armed attacks and rape in Gabon.

You can take steps to reduce your risk and help protect your belongings, including:

  • avoiding remote areas, particularly after dark
  • being cautious on quiet or isolated beaches around Libreville, and avoiding them at night
  • not wearing expensive jewellery or carrying large amounts of cash
  • keeping smartphones and other electronic items out of sight
  • keeping car windows shut and doors locked


Taxis in Gabonese cities operate like buses, picking up more passengers if there is room in the car. They often take indirect routes. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Use licensed taxis, and ask to book the taxi exclusively so it does not pick up other passengers. Check with your tour operator or travel provider if they have a taxi service you can use.


There have been reports of carjackings in Libreville. If you’re a victim of an attack, stay calm and surrender your valuables and your vehicle if asked. Do not resist.

To reduce your risk:  

  • check your route for any hazards or disruptions before you set off   
  • keep to main roads and park in well-lit areas
  • keep your doors locked and windows closed while driving, especially when stopped at junctions
  • avoid being stationary inside your vehicle for long periods
  • check your car is locked when you leave it
  • keep valuables out of sight, ideally in the boot
  • do not pick up strangers

Money and credit card fraud

Credit cards are not widely accepted except at hotels. Credit card fraud is common outside the major hotel chains. Be alert when paying by card and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

By law, you need to be able to show proof of your identity to the authorities if asked. Carry your passport and visa, or a certified copy of the photo and visa pages of your passport.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession of drugs is a serious offence and punishment can be severe, including a prison sentence.

Using cameras in secure areas

Photography of government and military buildings and airports is illegal and may lead to arrest.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is not illegal. There are no laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Gabon remains a conservative society and discrimination can be a problem for those open about their sexual identity. Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Gabon.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Transport risks

Road travel  

If you are planning to drive in Gabon, see information on driving abroad.

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

Driving conditions in Gabon 

Road conditions in the centre of Libreville are generally good. Conditions in local inland areas are poor and driving can be hazardous. During the rainy season from October to mid-December and mid-February to May, many roads are passable only with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Avoid travelling by road at night as many roads are unlit.

Official checkpoints are common. Police will ask for your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration documents. See more information on drivers being stopped by police (in French). Your car should also have a:

  • first aid kit
  • fire extinguisher
  • catalytic converter
  • warning triangle
  • torch
  • set of wheel chocks

Air travel

British government employees do not use domestic flights run by Gabonese airline companies unless this is unavoidable.       

Sea travel

Pirates have carried out armed attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.

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 117, 1300, 011760873 or 1333 and ask for an ambulance. Operators may only speak French.

These numbers are not always reliable. Emergency help can be limited.

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

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that around 44,000 adults aged 15 or over in Gabon are living with HIV; the prevalence percentage is estimated at 3.8% of the adult population compared with the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should take normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.


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 Gabon

Medical facilities are limited, particularly in rural areas. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Gabon.  

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 Gabon  

Ambulance: 117. Depending on your mobile network, call: 1300, 0174 or 0880 for SOS Médecins. Operators may only speak French.   

Fire: 177

Police: 177

None of these numbers are guaranteed to be reliable. Emergency help can be limited in some places that are hard to reach

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 Gabon and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon who provide consular assistance for Gabon.

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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