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 Patrick Achi since March 2021.
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 on a limited number of routes. 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.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (available in French only).
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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
The ban on all movement to and from Abidjan was lifted on 15 July.
Most hotels and other accommodation are now open. Everyone is required to wear face masks in public areas.
Public places and services
Most COVID-19 related restrictions have been lifted; however, you need to wear face masks in 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. Results will take at least 24 hours but may take longer.
Unlike in the UK, you will need to go to 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. You can also send a text message to 1336 to receive information about coronavirus by text.
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.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Côte d’Ivoire
We will update this page when the Government of Côte D’Ivoire announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Côte D’Ivoire national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to be available later in 2021. The Government of Côte D’Ivoire has stated that British nationals resident in Côte D’Ivoire are eligible for vaccination. A list of vaccination sites is available here.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Côte D’Ivoire, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
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: 143 or 101. You can also send a text message to 1336 to receive information about coronavirus by text.
From 17 June, protests and demonstrations in the country are likely to 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 introduced by the authorities, which may be introduced at short notice.
Presidential elections took place on Saturday 31 October 2020. There were outbreaks of violence (including between communities), which caused a number of civilian deaths. In Dabou, there were at least 16 deaths. You should be vigilant near military barracks, military installations, large crowds and demonstrations. There were several incidents of violence and protest related to the military during 2017 and 2018.
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 and Korogho.
Attacks have been reported in the west of the country, during daylight hours as well as night.
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 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. 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. There’s an online taxi booking service operated in Abidjan by Africab, whose service is becoming increasingly popular. 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 many swimming accidents are caused by rip tides. There’s no lifeboat service and many drownings occur each year.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Côte d’Ivoire.
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 is an increased risk in the northern border areas of Côte d’Ivoire. On the night of 28 March, two soldiers and three assailants were killed during an attack on a military post near Kafolo, near the border with Burkina Faso. On 11 June 2020, 11 soldiers and one gendarme were killed in an attack on a military post near Kafolo, near the border with Burkina Faso. On 11 June 2020, a second attack happened at Gbeya, in Kaniasso department: unidentified individuals opened fire on a security post. Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.
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’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. Remain vigilant in all public places, 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.
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Côte d’Ivoire, but there’s no legal recognition of LGBT couples. The government doesn’t recognise same sex marriage and there are no specific anti-discrimination laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. As public attitudes may be less tolerant, you should be discreet. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
It’s prohibited to take photographs near sensitive installations, including military sites and government buildings, eg radio and TV stations, the Presidency building, airport, de Gaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan.
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.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Côte d’Ivoire
Biometric in-person visa services at the Côte d’Ivoire Embassy in London are suspended due to COVID-19. 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, 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.
After registering and paying online, you’ll be able to collect your visa on arrival at Abidjan airport. You’ll 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.
Testing / screening for arrivals
If you are arriving in Côte d’Ivoire, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, dated a maximum of 5 days prior to travel, before being allowed to board your flight. 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.
You’ll also need to complete the DDVA form prior to arrival at a cost of 2000 XOF, available online. You’ll need to hand in this form on arrival and comply with the medical monitoring system which has been put in place by the authorities for anyone arriving in Côte d’Ivoire from outside. This includes providing temperature readings and registering your contact details. If you have a temperature below 38 degrees and a valid negative COVID-19 test result, you may be permitted to enter Côte d’Ivoire. You will be monitored by SMS tracking for 14 days. If you have a temperature high than 38 degrees and/or an invalid COVID-19 test result on arrival, you’ll be required to take a COVID-19 test at your own expense.
Measures are subject to frequent review so may change at short notice.
Departing Côte d’Ivoire
If you’re departing Côte d’Ivoire you’ll need to complete the online DDVA form at a cost of 2000 XOF. All travellers aged 11 and over who are departing Côte d’Ivoire will also need to pay 48,000 XOF online for a COVID-19 test at a COVID-19 test centre.
Once you have taken the COVID-19 test, you’ll receive an SMS within 48 hours if your results are negative. The test must be taken no more than 5 days before your date and time of departure. The Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene will issue a negative COVID-19 test certificate to passengers, which will be available online to download. You must present this certificate at the airport on the day of travel.
If you return a positive COVID-19 test, you will not be permitted to travel for a 14-day period.
Transiting Côte d’Ivoire
You will not require a visa for any airside transit.
You may be advised to self-isolate in your own accommodation for 14 days on arrival in Côte d’Ivoire.
On arrival, you will be required to register your contact details before exiting the airport at the ‘Stop COVID-19’ facility.
Testing / screening on departure
For departures, you’ll need to complete the DDVA (air travel declaration) form at a cost of 2000 XOF. If you are aged 11 or over, you’ll also need to pay 48000 XOF online for a COVID-19 test at any of the approved test centres in Abidjan including:
Centre de Cocody St. Jean: Dr. Kragbé – 09 02 87 49
Centre de Marcory: Dr. Vé – 49 35 57 33
Centre du Plateau: Dr. Méné - 09 72 39 54
Centre de Yopougon: Dr. Diakité - 07 75 65 47
Centre du CHU de Treichville (SMIT): Pr. Eholié - 08 641 080
The test must be taken no more than 5 days before your date and time of departure. If you’re departing Côte d’Ivoire, you’ll receive an SMS within 48 hours if your COVID-19 test results are negative. The Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene will also issue a negative COVID-19 test certificate to passengers, which will be available online to download.
You should bring this certificate with you to the airport when you travel. Your temperature may be checked at the airport. If the temperature reading is higher than 38 degrees, passengers will be transferred to the airport medical facilities for further investigation.
All those requiring a visa will need to apply via the online e-visa service. Biometric in-person visas at the Côte d’Ivoire Embassy in London are suspended due to COVID-19.
If you are already in Côte d’Ivoire and your visa is about to expire, for a fee you can apply for an extension in person to the Sûreté Nationale office in the Plateau district in Abidjan. Opening hours are from 8 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday.
Regular entry requirements
You will need to get a visa before you travel.
It is possible to apply for a visa online, available in English. After registering and paying online, the visa is collected on arrival at Abidjan airport. You’ll 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.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Côte d’Ivoire. Keep your passport safe, if criminals have possession of your passport, they may use your identity to commit crimes.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry or transit through Côte d’Ivoire. However, ETDs are accepted for exit from Côte d’Ivoire.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Côte D’Ivoire on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Côte D’Ivoire.
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 would 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
Malaria is endemic.
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. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season. 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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.