Ivory Coast travel guide
About Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is a country of extremes; a land of pulsating metropolises and pristine rainforests, vast churches and verdant hills, fancy restaurants and sprawling street stalls. Its reputation might be sullied by the recent civil war, but most areas are now stable and ripe for discovery.
Coastal Abidjan is the unofficial capital and the entry point for most travellers. The French influence is clear to see here, not least in the food, which is served in some bistros with the kind of pomp you might expect in downtown Paris. These eateries are a stark contrast to the traditional maquis restaurants, which sprawl out onto the city’s bustling streets. Pull up a plastic pew, order some food and share a meal with locals.
Dubbed the “Manhattan of Africa” the gleaming skyscrapers and manicured gardens of The Plateau give downtown Abidjan a decidedly modern feel. This commercial district is also home to St Paul’s Cathedral, which boasts impressive stained glass windows and great views across the city.
While most of the action takes place in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro is the official capital. It is notable for its massive mosque and even bigger Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which is the largest church in the world. Football is also a religion here and watching The Elephants, the national football team, offers a memorable day out for sports fans.
Ivory Coast’s true beauty really shines through when you get out of the cities. There are no fewer than eight national parks in the country, including Comoé, the largest protected area in West Africa, which boasts the most biodiverse savannah in the world. Expect to see anything from lions and leopards to aardvarks and African elephants. The pygmy hippos of Tai National Park are also a big draw for naturalists, while the beautiful beaches around San Pedro,Assine and Grand Bassam attract bathers of all stripes.
Sure, Ivory Coast has had its problems, but a sanguine spirit is binding this country together again and putting it back on the map.
322,462 sq km (124,503 sq miles).
23,254,184 (UN estimate 2016).
72.2 per sq km.
President Alassane Ouattara since 2010.
Prime Minister Robert Beugré Mambé since October 2023.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to:
- Within 40km of the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso
- Northern Zanzan and Savenes provinces
- Comoé national park
You should carry photo ID while you are travelling in Côte d’Ivoire, including in Abidjan. This is a requirement for all local and foreign nationals.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Côte d’Ivoire’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
Protests and demonstrations in the country may occur. You should exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations, large crowds, political gatherings and rallies. See Safety and security
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Côte d’Ivoire. There is an increased risk of terrorism and kidnap in northern border areas, due to the porous nature of borders into the Sahel region. However, there remains a risk elsewhere in the country. Attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners are possible and could occur without warning. Be especially vigilant in these places. See Terrorism
You will need to get a visa before you travel. See Visas
Violent crime can occur at any time. Be particularly vigilant and take care when travelling by road, especially at night. See Crime.
The British Embassy in Abidjan can provide emergency consular assistance. Consular support is not available in parts of Côte d’Ivoire where the FCDO advises against all but essential travel.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Côte d’Ivoire 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 are now operating to and from Côte d’Ivoire. 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 Côte d’Ivoire.
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 may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
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 Côte d’Ivoire
Travel is open within Côte d’Ivoire. Land borders with neighbouring countries were closed in March 2020 and some remain officially closed – check before travel.
Most hotels and other accommodation are open. You may be required to wear face masks in some public areas.
Public places and services
You may be required to wear face masks in some public places. There are hand-washing facilities and/or antibacterial gel available before entering most public buildings and restaurants. Schools, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and theatres are open.
If you think you have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 or you have symptoms yourself, you should self-isolate for 14 days.
COVID-19 testing is available at testing centres in Abidjan and around the country. PCR test results will take at least 24 hours but may take longer.
Unlike in the UK, you will need to go to a pharmacy to obtain most over-the-counter medicines as these are not generally available in supermarkets. Many items that would require a prescription in the UK do not require one in Côte d’Ivoire. For items that do require a prescription in Côte d’Ivoire, UK prescriptions will be accepted but the duty doctor at the pharmacy may need to authorise the purchase. Pharmacies are usually identified by a green cross outside and will display a list showing which pharmacies are on duty (‘de garde’) out of hours.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is encouraging those seeking any information or who have concerns about coronavirus to call these local free hotline numbers: 143 or 101.
For contact details for English speaking doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.
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 Côte d’Ivoire.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
Testing positive for COVID-19 in Côte d’Ivoire
Government medical agents will be in contact if you test positive. Those who test positive are required to self-isolate at home for 14 days. If visitors do not have a home in which they can isolate themselves, there are dedicated COVID hotels available at your own cost.
Government medical agents may also organise visits to accommodation to ensure individuals are self-isolating.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is encouraging those with any information or concerns about coronavirus to call these local free hotline numbers: 119, 143 or 101.
Protests and demonstrations may occur. You should exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations, large crowds, political gatherings and rallies. Crowds can gather quickly and roadblocks are common. In the event of unrest, monitor local media and follow instructions and announcements from the local authorities. You should comply with any additional checks or security measures requested by the authorities, which may be introduced at short notice.
Presidential elections took place in October 2020. There were outbreaks of violence (including between communities), which caused a number of civilian deaths. Legislative elections in March 2021 were broadly peaceful. You should be vigilant near military barracks, military installations, large crowds and demonstrations
If you’re staying longer in Côte d’Ivoire you should regularly review personal security arrangements and seek professional security advice. You should keep a stock of food and water.
There’s a risk of crime in Abidjan, including violent crime, car-jackings, armed break-ins to private residences, hold-ups in the street, and theft from cars. These incidents aren’t common, but they do occur. In vehicles, keep doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight. If possible, avoid using public transport, shared taxis, or walking around after dark. On bridges to and from the Le Plateau areas of Abidjan, pedestrians have been attacked and robbed even during the day. Avoid displaying your wallet; for instance, have money to hand to tip supermarket trolley attendants. Attacks by armed robbers have occurred on the main road between Yamoussoukro, Bouaké and Korhogo. Attacks have been reported in the west of the country, during daylight hours as well as night.
Please be alert to the risks of cyber criminality and card fraud during your visit.
You should carry photo ID while you are travelling in Côte d’Ivoire, including in Abidjan. This is a requirement for all local and foreign nationals.
Northern border with Mali and Burkina Faso (including Comoé national park area)
The FCDO advises against all travel to within 40km of the border with Mali and Burkina Faso, due to the security situation in these neighbouring countries. See Terrorism
The FCDO advises against all travel to Northern Zanzan and Savenes provinces, and Comoé national park.
Border with Liberia
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 20km of the border with Liberia owing to the risk of serious violence by local militias. Fatal clashes between militias and the security forces have taken place in and around this area in the past. Seek professional local advice before embarking on any travel to these areas. Take care if you intend to travel to any rural areas.
Driving standards and road conditions in Côte d’Ivoire are poor, although they are improving in Abidjan where the road infrastructure is being upgraded. There is a high rate of fatal road accidents, and emergency service provision outside Abidjan can be limited or absent. Avoid driving outside towns and cities at night as roads and vehicles can be poorly lit, and unlit broken-down vehicles can block the road. You should be alert to the risk of stray livestock that could cause a safety hazard. Grass or leaves strewn on the carriageway often means an accident or other hazard in the road ahead. During the rainy season roads, especially those that are minor and unpaved, may become impassable.
Take care when using public transport; driving standards and vehicle maintenance are poor. Unskilled drivers, poorly maintained vehicles and overloaded vehicles and inadequate lighting make driving conditions hazardous. Taxis are available in main cities, but are likely to be in bad mechanical condition. Red taxis, which can be hailed on the street tend to be for private use and yellow ones are shared. Caution is advised with shared taxis and try to avoid using them after dark. Online taxi booking services operate in Abidjan. Wear a seat belt at all times.
Roadblocks and checkpoints
You might still occasionally encounter checkpoints in and around Abidjan. You might also find official and unofficial roadblocks and checkpoints on the major routes outside of Abidjan. Take care and co-operate with those operating them.
The European Commission has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the European Union. You should check the list to see whether this will affect your travel.
You should monitor changes to travel restrictions and make sure that you have adequate and flexible travel arrangements in place for your onward journey from Côte d’Ivoire.
Ocean currents are very strong along the coast, and rip tides cause many swimming accidents. There is no lifeboat or rescue service and numerous drownings occur each year.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Côte d’Ivoire.
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.
The main threat in Côte d’Ivoire comes from Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and its associated groups. These groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. AQ-M mainly operates in the Sahel. The Sahel region includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, but the threat may extend to other neighbouring countries in the region, including Côte d’Ivoire, due to the porous nature of the borders.
There is an increased risk in the northern border areas of Côte d’Ivoire, including the Comoé national park area in the north-east. There has been an uptick in attacks throughout 2020-21, with growing use of improvised explosive devices. Attacks have so far mainly targeted government security forces, but the situation may evolve and travellers should remain vigilant.
There is a risk of a terrorist attacks elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire, including in Abidjan. A terrorist attack took place at Grand Bassam near Abidjan on 13 March 2016, in which 18 people were killed including a number of foreigners. The attack was claimed by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M). Further attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners are possible and could occur without warning. Be especially vigilant in these places.
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. You should remain vigilant at all times, including in and around Abidjan.
Religions have a strong influence on life in Côte d’Ivoire, which has a tradition of respecting different beliefs and faiths. You should respect local religious customs and traditions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure they do not cause offence. There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in the country and you should take care not to offend. Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. It is prohibited to take photographs near sensitive installations, including military sites and government buildings, e.g. radio and TV stations, the Presidency building, airport, de Gaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Côte d’Ivoire but the law does not recognise same sex partnerships or marriage. Public attitudes may be less tolerant and there are no specific anti-discrimination laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
This page has information on travelling to Côte d’Ivoire.
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 Côte d’Ivoire set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Côte d’Ivoire’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
You should also check the official Côte d’Ivoire government’s website before travel for the latest updates.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire have withdrawn COVID-19 testing for all passengers, regardless of vaccination status. Proof of vaccination status is no longer required.
On arrival, all travellers may be subject to a systematic temperature check. Wearing a face mask is no longer mandatory but is still recommended especially for vulnerable and chronically ill people.
You will need a visa to enter Côte d’Ivoire as a visitor. Anyone wishing to enter Côte d’Ivoire who does not already have a visa should make their visa application through the e-visa service online before travel . This is available in English. If you are not an ECOWAS national, you must hold a valid visa or have had your application for an e-visa approved for Côte d’Ivoire before you travel.
You will need to apply for the e-visa online several days before your date of travel to allow time for your application to be processed. Make sure you follow instructions on the website carefully to avoid any difficulties with airlines or immigration authorities. After registering and paying online, you will be able to collect your visa on arrival at Abidjan airport.
On arrival, you may be required to register your contact details before exiting the airport at the ‘Stop COVID-19’ facility.
Biometric in-person visa services at the Côte d’Ivoire Embassy in London are suspended due to COVID-19.
Departing Côte d’Ivoire
Airline companies will be responsible for checking health documents against COVID-19 regulations according to the recommendations of the relevant destination country.
If you’re transiting through Côte d’Ivoire
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination. You will not require a visa for any airside transit.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting Côte d’Ivoire, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date you arrive into Côte d’Ivoire. Keep your passport safe, if criminals have possession of your passport, they may use your identity to commit crimes.
If you are a resident in Côte d’Ivoire, your passport must be valid for six months from the date you arrive.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
You will need to show a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate on arrival at the airport. Check requirements by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
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.
Other health matters
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 brought 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 treatment of a reasonable standard is available in Abidjan, but it can be expensive, and emergency facilities are limited to a few major hospitals. Medical facilities outside the major towns are often rudimentary. Serious medical treatment could require medical evacuation to Europe. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation
Further information and updates on Ebola can be found on the WHO website and the Public Health England (PHE) website though there are no reported cases in Côte d’Ivoire. Public Health England has guidance for humanitarian or healthcare workers travelling to countries at risk of Ebola.
Malaria is endemic.
Since September 2022, there is an increased number of dengue fever cases in Abidjan. The last dengue fever outbreak in Côte d’Ivoire was in September 2017. You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.
UK health authorities have classified Côte d’Ivoire as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 180 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS
The rainy season in Côte d’Ivoire is generally from May to November. Torrential rains can cause floods, landslides and large potholes at any time. Flash flooding has caused deaths. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas. The Our Africa website has more details.
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 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.
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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.