- We strongly advise you not to travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to the dangerous security situation, activities of armed groups and high levels of serious crime.
- Pope Francis will visit the Central African Republic on November 29-30. Large crowds can be expected. Expect traffic delays and a heightened security presence during his visit.
- Violence broke out in Bangui in September. Around 40 people were killed, 250 injured and more than 500 prisoners reportedly escaped from Bangui’s main prison, Ngaragba.
- Bangui airport reopened to commercial flights on 5 October. We strongly advise any Australians in the CAR to depart by commercial means if it is safe to do so. There are limited commercial options available.
- Indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in the CAR since the overthrow of the Government in March 2013. Despite the creation of a transitional government in January 2014 and the presence of a United Nations stabilisation force, the security situation across the country remains fragile. Sectarian violence is frequent and has resulted in thousands of deaths.
- Law enforcement personnel throughout the country are unable to ensure the security of civilians.
- A curfew remains in place in Bangui between 6pm and 6am. You should respect all curfews and restrictions on movement.
- Presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 18 October 2015 did not proceed on schedule. The security situation is likely to remain volatile at least until a new election timetable is set.
- The CAR’s borders with Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are currently closed. Other land border crossings may close at short notice.
- If, despite this advice, you choose to remain in the CAR, you should have appropriate personal security measures in place, and stay in a safe place with sufficient stocks of food and water.
- Given the dangerous and unpredictable security situation, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the CAR. Given the current security environment the Australian Government’s capacity to deliver consular assistance in the CAR is extremely limited. See Where to get help for more information.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
The CAR's borders with Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are currently closed. Other land border crossings may close at short notice.
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the CAR for the most up to date information. The Consulate-General of France in Sydney may be able to assist with the issue of visas for the CAR.
The CAR is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into the CAR. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
Civil unrest/political tension
The security situation remains unstable throughout the country despite the presence of a United Nations stabilisation mission. Sectarian violence is frequent and widespread and has resulted in thousands of deaths.
Armed groups have been active across the country and many areas outside the capital are in a state of lawlessness. Foreigners, including aid workers, have been killed. The security situation is particularly dangerous in border areas.
Law enforcement personnel throughout the country are unable to ensure the security of civilians.
Violence broke out in Bangui on 26 September. Around 40 people were killed and 250 injured. On 28 September, more than 500 prisoners reportedly escaped from Bangui’s main prison, Ngaragba.
Bangui airport reopened to commercial flights on 5 October. We strongly advise any Australians in the CAR to depart by commercial means if it is safe to do so. There are limited commercial options available. If, despite this advice, you choose to remain in the CAR, you should have appropriate personal security measures in place, and stay in a safe place with sufficient stocks of food and water.
Presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 18 October 2015 did not proceed on schedule. The security situation is likely to remain volatile at least until a new election timetable is set.
In March 2013, a coalition of rebel forces known as Seleka entered the capital, Bangui, and overthrew the government. In January 2014, a transitional government was established.
A curfew remains in place in Bangui between 6pm and 6am. You should respect all curfews and restrictions on movement. and restrictions on movement may be imposed in other parts of the country without warning.
Based predominantly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has made periodic incursions in the southeast of the CAR, especially Haut-Mbomou province. Many people have been killed and thousands more have fled the region. Civilians continue to be targeted by the LRA in attacks.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information.
Kidnapping: Foreigners, including aid workers, have been the target of kidnappings and violent crime in the CAR.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place and seek professional security advice. For more information about kidnapping see our Kidnapping threat bulletin.
Banditry and crime are common throughout the CAR. Serious and indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in the capital Bangui since March 2013.
Random road blocks may be installed by local police and security forces or people posing as them. All groups may attempt to extort money from travellers through illegitimate fines or intimidation.
Humanitarian groups are a target for criminals seeking money, communication equipment and vehicles.
Money and valuables
Credit cards and other electronic forms of accessing cash are not accepted in the Central African Republic. There are no ATMs, even in Bangui. Several Western Union offices exist in Bangui but only a very limited number of banks. Hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners will only accept cash for payment.
The currency is the African Financial Community franc (XAF), also used in Chad, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The West African CFA franc is not legal tender in the CAR. Bangui is the only city where you can change money. Euros or US dollars can usually be converted into local currency. Care should be taken when changing money with any official or unofficial change agents.
If you are carrying significant amounts of cash, be extremely careful and, if possible, consider sharing the holding of it with your travelling companions.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Travel throughout the country is dangerous because of the presence of armed groups, bandits, poachers and illegal road blocks. Convoys have been attacked resulting in deaths of civilians and military personnel.
Roads in the CAR are in a very poor condition. Driving at night is particularly dangerous due to insufficient lighting. Most roads require a four-wheel drive vehicle. Fuel shortages are common. For further advice on road safety, see our page on road travel.
The rainy season is May to October when flooding may occur and some roads become impassable.
Borders may be closed without warning due to the presence of armed groups and risk of cross border incursions. In May 2014, Chadian authorities announced that the border between Chad and the CAR was closed to all but returning Chadian citizens, until further notice.
Very few commercial airlines continue to provide services to Bangui.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the CAR.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
Be aware of your personal belongings and passport even within the airport terminal.
You are subject to the local laws of the Central African Republic, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Police checks are common and failure to produce identity documents (or notarised copies) can lead to detention or falsified fines.
Unauthorised photography, particularly around military zones, military assets, military or police personnel, government buildings and mining leases is prohibited and may lead to the confiscation of cameras, fines and detention. A government permit is required for photography. Permits will not be granted for strategic sites such as the airport, military buildings and the Presidential Palace.
A licence is required to buy or sell precious gems. There are heavy penalties for illegally exporting precious gems.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual nationals page provides information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities throughout the Central African Republic (CAR) are extremely limited. Pharmaceuticals are in short supply and hygiene standards are poor. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front payment before commencing treatment. In the event of illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation could cost over a hundred thousand dollars depending on circumstances.
The CAR is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into the CAR. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.
Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in the CAR. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water. Avoid ice cubes, raw and undercooked food, fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Australian Government's capacity to deliver consular assistance in the CAR is extremely limited. In an emergency you should contact 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia or the Australian Embassy in Ethiopia:
Australian Embassy, Addis Ababa
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to the CAR, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend that you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season extends from May to October and the dry season extends from December to April. Some roads may become impassable during the rainy season.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. In the event of an earthquake, volcanic activity or other natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.