Republic of Congo travel guide
About Republic of Congo
Bordered to the East by the vast Congo River, the Republic of Congo is often confused with its bigger and more notorious sibling, the DRC, on the other side of the river, and this certainly hasn’t done its tourist reputation any favours in recent years.
But for those intrepid enough to give the smaller, quieter and lesser-known Congo a try, they’ll find that it boasts beautiful landscapes characterised by undulating virgin rainforest, waterfalls, lagoons, river rapids and swamps. These wild places are home to an abundance of interesting flora and fauna, most notably rare primate species such as mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
While these iconic primates are the main attraction for the handful of tourists now trickling into the country, the forest is also home to several indigenous tribes, which have maintained their traditional way of life, almost entirely removed from Western civilization.
Standing in stark contrast to most of the rest of the country, Congo’s fast-growing capital, Brazzaville, is a fascinating metropolis. Looking across the Congo River to the dilapidated sprawl of Kinshasa, the DRC capital, Brazzaville is by far the prettier and more appealing of the two cities, with a burgeoning arts scene, good food, vibrant nightlife, an interesting colonial heritage and welcoming locals.
Since it gained its independence from the French in 1960, the Republic of Congo has been plagued by sporadic but severe bouts of civil war and ethnic conflict, the most bloody of which followed disputed parliamentary elections in 1993 and reached its pinnacle in 1997, fuelled in part by the prize of the country's substantial offshore oil wealth, which motivated many of the warlords.
A peace accord was finally signed in 2003 and since then the country has slowly but surely been reimagining itself as a peaceful destination that is no longer defined by its torrid history, and one that deserves to be noticed and appreciated.
342,000 sq km (132,046 sq miles).
4,740,992 (UN estimate 2016).
13.9 per sq km.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso since 1997.
Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso since 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 remain limited. 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.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
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 will not be able to travel and must isolate at home or in a hotel specifically requisitioned by the government, at your expense, for 14 days. 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
The following measures are in place and may be amended at short notice:
- a curfew remains in place in Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville from 11pm until 5am
- face masks must be worn in all public places
Public places and services
Face masks must be worn in all public places.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, with the exception of public markets, which are open on weekdays (except Wednesday) and Saturday.
Bars and nightclubs are closed.
The Republic of the Congo authorities have mobilised defence and security forces to ensure compliance with the lockdown measures, at the entrance and exit of all cities across the country.
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.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in the Republic of the Congo
We will update this page when the Government of the Republic of the Congo announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Republic of the Congo national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the Sputnik V, Sinopharm, and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccines. British nationals resident in the Republic of the Congo are eligible for vaccination, depending on available stocks, if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme can be found at the emergency Public Health Operations Centre of the Ministry of Health and Population, or at the vaccination centre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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 the Republic of the Congo, 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.
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.
Presidential elections took place on 21 March. President Denis Sassou-Nguesso was inaugurated for a third term on 16 April.
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 reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in the Republic of the Congo set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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 (COVID-19)
Entry to the Republic of the Congo
All passengers arriving in the Republic of the Congo by commercial flights should provide proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test undertaken within 72 hours upon entry, with the exception of children under 11 years of age. 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.
Passengers who do not present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry will undertake a COVID-19 test at the airport, and need to self-isolate for 14 days, pending the results.
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.
Screening on arrival
Travellers entering the Republic of the Congo may be subject to screening, including temperature checks.
There are currently no track and trace requirements for arrivals.
Testing on departure
All passengers departing from the Republic of the Congo by commercial flights need to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test, undertaken within 72 hours prior to departure, with the exception of children under 11 years of age.
Travellers leaving the Republic of the Congo may be subject to screening, including temperature checks.
Public health measures and entry requirements may change at short notice and you should monitor local media for the latest developments.
Regular entry 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.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is needed.
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.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Republic of the Congo 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 the Republic of the Congo.
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
The Ebola outbreak 12 in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared over on 3 May 2021.
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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.