Darfur refugees Sam Ouandja, Central African Republic
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Darfur refugees Sam Ouandja, Central African Republic

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Central African Republic Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

622,984 sq km (240,535 sq miles).

Population

4.829.767 (UN estimate 2020).

Population density

8.7 per sq km.

Capital

Bangui.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra since 2016.

Head of government

Prime Minister Henri-Marie Dondra since 2021.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard.

One of the least visited countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Central African Republic ranks amongst the poorest nations on the planet and has struggled to find its feet since gaining independence from France in 1960. Suffice to say few tourists venture out this way.

A country of contrasts, the Central African Republic is a place where the Sahara Desert meets tropical Africa, where the pastoral traditions of Africa’s tribespeople rub shoulders with the colonial architecture of imperial France.

The French influence is particularly strong in the capital, Bangui, which retains its colonial aesthetic and is scattered with patisseries serving fresh baguettes and éclairs. Vibrant stalls around the central market provide cheap and tasty local cuisine, which ranges from fish straight out of the Ubangi River to fried plantain and fufu, a sour-tasting starch prepared from manioc flour which is a staple of the region.

The country’s frenzied markets are perfect places to interact with and better understand the culturally diverse tribespeople that make up the population. The shortest interaction with these people shows them to be inquisitive, warm and generous beyond their means.

Geographically, much of the Central African Republic is composed of rolling grasslands, dusty deserts and steamy jungles. The northern reaches of the country are dominated by the seemingly infinite Sahara. With so little light pollution here, the night skies gleams with millions of stars.

The far south is home to equatorial rainforests, which are considered some of the best places in Africa to see forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. The jungle is also home to pygmy tribes, which live off the land in remote pockets of central Africa. Visits to these tribes are possible and offer an insight into their extraordinary lives.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for CAR 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.

International travel

International and UN missions flights are operating from Bangui M’Poko international airport.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in CAR.

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.

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 while in CAR you will need to stay where you are to isolate. You must test negative before traveling. You may need to seek treatment where you are. 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

Accommodation

There are limited options for accommodation in Bangui.

Public places and services

A national curfew is in place. This curfew comes into effect at 10pm and ends at 5am. You should follow the government’s instructions and avoid travel around Bangui during these hours.

The following measures remain in place:

  • it is compulsory to wear face masks in public places;
  • no handshakes or kissing, instead use non-contact greetings for social interactions;
  • public spaces must have hand-washing stations;
  • places of worship and restaurants remain open;
  • staying in your house or accommodation is encouraged

Healthcare in CAR

The government of CAR has established a coronavirus hotline (French and Sango) – call 1212 if you have questions or to report possible exposure.

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 CAR.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in CAR

This page will be updated as information is available about how you can get a vaccination in Central African Republic. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

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 Central African Republic, 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

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British Embassy in Kinshasa via email: Kinshasa.Consular@fco.gov.uk

Sign up for travel advice email alerts and follow the British Embassy Kinshasa on Twitter and Facebook.

Local travel

Bangui remains fragile with periodic instances of killings, looting and gunfire. Violent clashes may continue. There are also armed patrols in Bangui and you will encounter several roadblocks (official and unofficial) that are likely to be manned by armed personnel. Take particular care when approaching these and travel in groups if possible.

There are reports of rebel activity, banditry and hostage-taking across the country.

Crime

Incidents of theft and robbery occur regularly and armed gangs are known to operate in the outlying areas of Bangui. Take personal security precautions and be vigilant in public places. Avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewellery in public. Do not walk alone at night. Avoid isolated or poorer areas.

Road travel

You need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in CAR. IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted for use in CAR after this date. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. It may be extremely difficult to obtain an IDP in CAR. FCDO recommends buying one in the UK before departure.

Roads are poorly maintained and most need a four-wheel drive vehicle. Road travel is particularly difficult during the wet season (May to November). If you do decide to travel by road, you should keep a private supply of fuel if possible and carry supplies with you if travelling outside Bangui.

Illegal road blocks operate in remote areas. You may be forced to hand over money or possessions in order to continue your journey. There have been indiscriminate and violent attacks on travellers in remote areas. Vehicles have been fired on, and passengers killed or injured. In many of these cases, victims have been robbed or taken hostage and vehicles taken or burnt.

Seek local advice before travelling and FCDO recommends that you do not travel after dark.

Political situation

On 6 February 2019, President Faustin Archange Touadéra signed a peace agreement with all 14 major armed groups in CAR under an AU-led initiative.

Presidential and legislative elections took place on 27 December 2020. On 18 January, the Constitutional Court confirmed incumbent President Faustin Archange Touadéra as the winner of CAR’s Presidential election. A second round of legislative elections took place on 14 March. On 23 May, legislative elections were held across CAR. The last round of legislative elections took place on 25 July.

On 21 June, President Faustin Archange Touadéra appointed a new cabinet, forming a new government.

Consular assistance

Consular support is severely limited in the CAR as there is no British Embassy. However, the British Embassy Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo can provide limited remote consular support to British nationals. In an emergency, British nationals should contact the British Embassy Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The French Embassy in Bangui may also be able to offer some consular assistance (telephone: +236 613 000 or +236 610 584) to those requiring urgent help.

Terrorist attacks in the CAR cannot be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

You should carry a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport at all times. Failure to produce ID can lead to detention by the police.

Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe.

Buying diamonds or precious stones is prohibited except through agents authorised by the government. All cultural artefacts are subject to an export tax.

Be careful when taking photographs in public places as permission is often needed. Photographing government property, uniformed law and enforcement officers, military installations and personnel, may lead to detention, fines and confiscation of your camera.  

Taking photographs which the authorities deem as damaging the image of the country (street children, people with disabilities) is not permitted.  

The situation is more relaxed outside of the capital, where people are generally open to having their picture taken, but you should ask first. You can get a permit for more serious photography from the Ministry of Tourism.

Satellite telephones should be registered with the Bangui or regional Agence chargée de la Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) Government Telecommunication offices.

Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Central African society and some sexual acts between members of the same sex are illegal. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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 Central African Republic 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 CAR

Some incoming passengers need to undertake a (COVID-19) test on arrival. You should arrange to take a private test.

Some air companies and airports also require a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding to CAR. You should check with your travel provider.

Do not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country.

14 days self-isolation is mandatory for any person entering CAR who is coming from a location with local transmission of COVID-19.

Airline companies must also cooperate with the government of CAR concerning quarantine and other measures necessary to manage the spread of coronavirus.

All travellers entering CAR are required to wear face masks, use hand sanitiser, have their body temperatures taken and disinfect luggage among other measures.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British nationals need a visa to visit CAR. To apply for a visa and for further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of CAR in Paris at 30 rue des Perchamps, 75116 Paris.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Passport validity

Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry into CAR.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

A UK emergency travel document with 6 months validity will be accepted on entry to and departure from CAR.

Departure tax

There is a Departure Tax of 10,000 CFA per person when leaving CAR on international flights from Bangui airport.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for CAR 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 CAR.

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 facilities are extremely limited and strikes by government workers have affected medical services and hospitals. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation, including medical evacuation by air ambulance.

UK health authorities have classified the CAR 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.

Cholera is known to occur in the CAR.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 610600 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Ebola

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.

It is easier to exchange euros rather than US dollars to the Central African Franc – CFA. Travellers cheques may be exchanged at banks.

There are no international ATM machines and very few places (including hotels) accept major international credit or debit cards.

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 & 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.

Travel safety

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’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 cannot find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

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.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.