Official advice:
High degree of caution

Map of Gabon

Warnings by area

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Advice levels

Gabon overall, exercise a high degree of caution ↓

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

Conditions can change suddenly

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Latest advice, 10 May 2016

Presidential and legislative elections will take place in August and December 2016, see Safety and Security. Piracy against commercial shipping has occurred off the coast of Gabon, see Local Travel. The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Gabon.

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Gabon because of the high levels of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • Incidents of violent crime, including robberies and armed attacks, have been known to occur, especially in the cities of Libreville and Port-Gentil. You should avoid displays of wealth, as this can make you a target for crime. See Safety and security.
  • Presidential and legislative elections are due to take place in Gabon during August and December 2016 respectively. We remind travellers to avoid demonstrations, large crowds and rallies as they may turn violent.
  • The rainy season is from October to mid-December and mid-February to May when flooding occurs.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Gabon. The Canadian Honorary Consul in Libreville, Gabon and the Canadian High Commission in Yaound, Cameroon, provides consular assistance to Australians in Gabon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, can also assist Australians in Gabon.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:

Entry and exit

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 Gabon for the most up to date information. Gabon does not have diplomatic representation in Australia. Their nearest embassies are in Jakarta and Tokyo.

Gabon 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 (see Health).

Valid yellow fever vaccination and cholera certificates are required for entry into Gabon. Failure to produce proof of vaccination may lead to a further vaccine being administered at the travellers expense before entry is allowed.

Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. 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

Crime

Petty theft is common throughout Gabon, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and vehicle break-ins, particularly in crowded areas such as markets, transport hubs and tourist areas.

Incidents of violent crime, including robberies and armed attacks, have been known to occur, especially in the cities of Libreville and Port-Gentil. Resisting during an attack can lead to further violence. You should avoid displays of wealth, as this can attract attention.

Carjacking, snatch and grab robbery from unlocked cars and violent incidents of road rage have previously targeted foreigners in Gabon. We recommend travelling with doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight.

Security risks increase when walking alone or at night, especially in isolated areas and on beaches.

Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Strikes and political demonstrations can occur spontaneously across Gabon, especially in the capital Libreville and in Port-Gentil. You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds and rallies as they may turn violent.

Presidential and legislative elections are due to take place in Gabon in August and December 2016 respectively. We recommend extra vigilance around polling stations, party offices and public events in the lead up to these elections.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism in Gabon. Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

Gabon is largely a cash based economy and the local currency is the Central African franc (XAF). Credit cards are not widely accepted in Gabon, except at major hotels and restaurants. There have been reports of credit card fraud and of internet scams originating in Gabon. Be particularly cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs, as you may be targeted by thieves. Travellers cheques must be either Euro or US Dollar denominated and can only be cashed at larger banks in major cities.

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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Ecotourism is generally considered to be safe throughout Gabon, provided you travel with a reputable tour company and don't venture too far from your group.

Road travel

Driving in Gabon can be hazardous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained and overloaded vehicles, local driving practices and inadequate lighting and road signs, especially outside urban areas. Travel outside of major urban centres usually requires the use of a four-wheel drive. Towing and repair services are not common outside Libreville. Pedestrians and animals on the road pose additional safety risks. Traffic accidents are common. You should avoid travelling at night. For further advice, see our road travel page.

There are police road blocks throughout the country and you may be asked to show identity and motor vehicle registration papers. It is mandatory that all drivers carry their licence, proof of insurance, proof of inspection, an emergency triangle, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. International driving licences are only valid for the first 30 days in Gabon.

Public transport

Buses and trains in Gabon are reasonably safe but services are infrequent. Many locals utilise taxis for regular travel. Taxis are generally safe, however they often pick up multiple passengers and take indirect routes. You should negotiate the fare with a taxi driver before entering and avoid using taxis alone or at night. Where possible, use hotel taxi services.

Airline safety

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 Gabon.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Sea travel

Cases of armed robbery and piracy against commercial shipping have occurred off the coast of Gabon and across the Gulf of Guinea. See our piracy page for more information. The International Maritime Bureau also issues piracy reports on its website.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Gabon, 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.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences. See our Drugs page.

Serious crimes, including murder and serious assaults, carry the death penalty.

Homosexual activities are not illegal, although the local community may be intolerant of homosexuality. Attempts to have homosexual marriages charged under ‘affront to public order’ and ‘obscenity’ laws have occurred in the past. Same sex relationships are not recognised. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is prohibited to photograph military sites and Government buildings, including border posts, airports and the Presidential Palace.

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.

Information for dual nationals

Dual citizenship is legally recognised in Gabon. However our assistance to dual nationals can be limited if local authorities consider you a Gabonese citizen. See our Dual nationals page for more information.

Health

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 in Gabon are limited but adequate in major cities and very basic or unavailable in rural areas. Pharmaceuticals may be in short supply and we recommend you carry sufficient regular medications for the duration of your stay in Gabon. Up-front payment is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a major illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate medical facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation would be considerable.

Services and accessibility for people with disabilities are not up to the standard you would expect in Australia.

Gabon 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. See Entry and exit for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Malaria occurs widely and throughout the year in Gabon. Other insect-borne diseases (including chikungunya fever, dengue fever, filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria and 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, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis 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 and raw and undercooked food. 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.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Gabon is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

The national emergency number is 177. However, it does not work on certain cell phone networks. For the police, call 01-76-55-85 in Libreville and 07-36-22-25 in Port Gentil. French is often required.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Gabon. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Honorary Consul in Libreville, Gabon and the Canadian High Commission in Yaound, Cameroon, provide limited consular assistance to Australians in Gabon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Honorary Consul, Libreville

Quartier Batterie IV
Pont de Gu-Gu (1st Street behind the EU)
Libreville, Gabon
Telephone: +241 01 44 29 65
Email: conhongab@gmail.com

Canadian High Commission, Yaounde

Les Colonnades Building
New Bastos, Road 1 792
Yaound, Cameroon
Telephone: +237 222 50 39 00
Facsimile: +237 222 50 39 04
Email: yunde@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/cameroon-cameroun.

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission located in Nigeria:

Australian High Commission, Abuja

48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria
Telephone +234 9 461 2780
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au.

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Gabon, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to 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 issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is from October to mid-December and mid-February to May when flooding occurs. During this period some roads may become impassable without the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle. You should monitor local weather reports, especially during these periods. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional resources

Warnings by area

Map of Gabon