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Cameroon

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Cameroon because of the high levels of serious crime and the threat of terrorist attacks. Violent crime is common in residential centres and on rural highways. Armed bandits operate throughout the country. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the Far North region of Cameroon, or to within 40 kilometres of the borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria's Adamawa state because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry. Kidnapping is also a significant risk in the North region: militant group Boko Haram is active in areas near Cameroon's border with Nigeria and has targeted foreigners in the past. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the Northwest and Southwest regions, including the Bakassi Peninsula, due to the ongoing domestic tensions, threat of localised violence and kidnapping. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel elsewhere in the North and Adamaoua regions due to the terrorism threat.
  • Avoid all protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings. They can turn violent. Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor media for information about possible new safety or security risks, including any planned or possible protests or demonstrations.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Cameroon headed by an Honorary Consul who can provide limited consular assistance. The Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, provides full consular assistance to Australians in Cameroon.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

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 Cameroon for the most up to date information.

Other formalities

Yellow Fever occurs in Cameroon. A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry to Cameroon.

To protect yourself against this potentially fatal disease and to avoid issues entering Cameroon (and other countries after you leave Cameroon), get vaccinated for yellow fever before you travel. See Health.

More information:

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia. Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

 

Money

Cameroon is largely a cash economy. The local currency is the Central African Franc (CFCA). US dollars and Euros are widely accepted at hotels and exchangeable for local currency. Australian dollars are not accepted.

Credit card facilities are not widespread. Travellers cheques and credit cards are accepted at major hotels in Yaoundé. Travellers' cheques will only be cashed if accompanied by the original purchase receipt.

ATMs that accept international cards are limited. Check ATM locations with your bank before you travel.

Counterfeit currency is in circulation.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorists are active in the Far North region of Cameroon, including Lake Chad, and in the area within 40 kilometres of the border with Nigeria's Adamawa state. 

The security situation in northern Cameroon is directly affected by the violent conflict in northern Nigeria. The Nigeria-based militant group, Boko Haram, is undertaking an extremely violent campaign of terror, centred in the Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Militants regularly cross the border to carry out attacks in Cameroon's Far North, North and Adamawa regions, including through the use of suicide bombers. In the Far North, suicide bombers have targeted large markets, hotels, parks and sporting venues.

In response to these ongoing attacks, Cameroon has joined its neighbours, including Nigeria, in escalating military operations against Boko Haram. This has adversely affected security in the border regions of Cameroon. There have also been movements of large numbers of people into and across parts of northern Cameroon, including internally displaced persons and refugees from Nigeria.

Terrorist attacks could take place at any time and could target locations frequented by westerners, including tourist, commercial and transport facilities, as well as public places such as markets, places of worship and educational institutions (including schools, colleges and universities).

  • Do not travel to the Far North region of Cameroon, or to within 40 kilometres of the borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria's Adamawa state because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry.
  • Reconsider your need to travel elsewhere in North and Adamawa regions due to the terrorism threat.
  • Be particularly alert to suspicious behaviour and items near Cameroonian government and security installations.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Kidnapping

There is a very high threat of kidnapping in the Far North region and in areas close to the border with Nigeria's Borno and Adamawa states. Militants have kidnapped several foreigners from this area in recent years.

In March 2015, a number of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings occurred in or new Garoua-Boulai, in the east of Cameroon, near the border with Central African Republic.

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 decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.

More information: Kidnapping

Civil unrest and political tension

Tensions in the Northwest and Southwest regions remain high. We now advise you not to travel to the Northwest and Southwest regions.

Since March 2018, incidents of violence in the Northwest and Southwest Regions between Anglophone separatists and Cameroon government forces have escalated. An estimated 160,000 people in Anglophone areas have fled their homes and are internally displaced in Cameroon. There are reports of transport and movement restrictions in both regions. In September 2017, explosions were reported in the regional capitals of Bamenda and Buea, resulting in some injuries. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, as these may turn violent. Monitor local media. Follow the advice of local authorities.

Sovereignty of the border area between Cameroon and Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula was handed from Nigeria to Cameroon in 2008, following a long period of dispute. Tensions remain high and resettlement of residents is being negotiated. Localised violence between the police and security personnel of both countries can occur without warning.

On occasion, conflict in the Central African Republic has spilled across the border into Cameroon, affecting outposts in the Adamawa and East Regions.

  • Do not travel to the Northwest and Southwest regions, including the region of the Bakassi Peninsula, due to the ongoing tensions, threat of localised violence and kidnapping.
  • Civil unrest is also possible in other parts of Cameroon.
  • Avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings throughout Cameroon as can turn violent
  • Monitor the news and other sources for information on planned and possible demonstrations
  • Follow all instructions issued by local authorities.

Crime

Violent crime, theft and assault

Violent crime is common in residential centres and on rural highways. Armed highwaymen operate throughout the country. Armed banditry is common in the border areas with the Central African Republic.

Carjackings, muggings, robberies and petty theft occur in the capital city, Yaoundé, and in the regional cities of Douala, Kribi and Maroua. In Yaoundé, the suburbs of la Briquetterie, Mokolo and Mvog-Ada are particularly dangerous. Carjackings and armed robberies also happen along roads close to the borders with Nigeria, the Central African Republic and Chad and along the Bamenda-Banyo, Bafoussam-Banyo, Bafoussam-Doula and Bafoussam-Yaoude roads. Petty thieves are active on trains, coaches, bush taxis and around bus stations.

There have been several incidents of robbery and rape committed against foreigners in Douala.

There have been a number of attacks by gangs of armed gunmen on restaurants and hotels known to be used by foreigners.

  • Avoid travel after dark, especially outside city limits
  • Pay attention to your personal security at all times
  • When travelling by car, keep the doors locked, the windows up and valuables out of sight.

If you become a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical assistance. The HIV/AIDS infection rate in Cameroon is high.

Scams

Commercial and internet fraud often originates in West African countries such as Cameroon. Many victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Typically, criminals seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas (such as yours) in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). Others provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract or extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity.

Some Australian citizens have also been defrauded or had their lives endangered by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from West African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases, the relationship is terminated and there is very little chance of ever recovering the funds. In other cases, foreigners are lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and they become victims of kidnapping, extortion, assault and/or robbery.

  • Be very wary of any request or demand to send money to anyone in Cameroon
  • If you are a victim of a financial scam, obtain legal advice 
  • Do not travel to Cameroon to try to get your money back if you have been defrauded: there is a significant risk of physical assault or extortion by the perpetrators
  • Be very wary of any invitation to Cameroon to meet someone you have met over the internet as you could face extortion, kidnapping or other threats on arrival.

More information:​ Scams

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Local travel

In the past, borders with Cameroon's neighbours have closed with little or no warning. Keep an eye on the news and consult travel providers for the latest information.

If you visit Lake Chad, despite our advice not to travel there, report to local authorities on arrival. Local authorities advise visitors to engage a reliable guide due to the dangerous security situation.

Road travel

Driving in Cameroon is hazardous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles, local driving practices and inadequate lighting. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) you are five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Cameroon than in Australia.

Road travel during the rainy season (from June to September in the north and from July to November in the south) to some rural areas may be difficult, as heavy rains and flash floods can make unpaved roads impassable.

Roadside assistance is non-existent in Cameroon. Nearby crowds have been known to be hostile towards people believed to be at fault in road accidents.

  • Drive defensively.
  • Lock doors and windows.
  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Always carry adequate reserve supplies of food, water and fuel on trips outside major cities.
  • Make sure your car is in roadworthy condition.

Very poor road conditions make it difficult to depart Cameroon via the land border with Gabon. If you plan to travel this route, plan your journey carefully and travel in convoy wherever possible. As mobile phone coverage is limited, take a VHF radio or satellite phone.

Police checkpoints are common in Cameroon and the police may request payments from drivers and other occupants of the vehicle. If you can't produce identification (residence permit, driver's licence, international driver's permit or certified copy of your passport), you could be detained by the police.

More information: Road safety and driving

Taxis

Taxis in cities operate like buses, picking up passengers while there is still room in the vehicle. They often take indirect routes. Many don't meet basic safety requirements. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies of taxi passengers. The US Embassy in Yaoundé prohibits its personnel from using taxis in Cameroon due to the high levels of associated crime.

If you choose to travel by taxi, only use trusted taxis and preferably book one from your hotel or restaurant.

Rail travel

Many rail tracks and trains in Cameroon are in poor condition, but rail travel is possible between Douala, Yaounde and Ngaoundere.

Air travel

Arrange to be met on arrival at the airport in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and have confirmed, prearranged transport waiting for you. Some respected local transport companies can assist with airport formalities.

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 Cameroon.

More information:  Air travel

Laws

Local laws 

You are subject to the all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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 jail.

More information: Arrested or in prison

Drug laws

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Travellers should carry identification (residence permit or certified copy of your passport) at all times. Failure to produce identification when requested may result in being detained by the police.

While legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Cameroon:

  • homosexual acts - penalties include prison sentences from six months to five years, and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 CFCA francs. Attacks and arrests targeting LGBTI individuals have been reported in the media. More information: LGBTI travellers
  • photography of and around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel, government buildings, airports and ports.

Penalties for serious crimes, such as homicide, include the death penalty.

Australian laws 

Some Australian criminal offences apply to overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia.  These offences include, but are not limited to:

  • child sex offences and child pornography
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • drug trafficking
  • people smuggling and human trafficking
  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • money laundering
  • terrorism and foreign incursions.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Cameroon does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Cameroonian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Cameroon. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Health 

Travel insurance 

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are, and are not, covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health 

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and what is required to take that medication into the country
  • get medical documents authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before you depart (if required).

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Malaria is prevalent throughout the year. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis, dengue fever and African sleeping sickness) also pose risks to travellers.

Cameroon is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that is preventable by vaccination.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • get vaccinated against yellow fever
  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking prophylaxis against malaria.

More information:

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Cameroon is high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, meningitis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, loiasis and river blindness) are widespread.

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water
  • Avoid ice cubes
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in urban centres in Cameroon are poor and are extremely limited in rural areas. Medical facilities typically lack trained personnel and have poor sanitation and outdated equipment. Pharmaceuticals are in short supply and poor quality substitutes and counterfeit drugs are often used.

Up-front payment for medical services is usually required. If you can't pay up-front, treatment will likely be delayed.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you would need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities such as London, Paris or Johannesburg. Medical evacuation could be very expensive. Make sure you have appropriate insurance for your trip.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is June to September in the north, and from July to November in the south. During these times flooding may occur and some roads become impassable.

Explosions and lava flows have occurred at Mont Cameroon. You should seek advice from local authorities before climbing.

Be careful around the Nyos and Monoum volcanic lakes because of periodic toxic fumes.  Seek advice from local authorities before visiting.

If there is a natural disaster or one is expected:

  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • keep an eye on news sources for updates on conditions and official advice. 

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Medical emergencies: contact or attend your nearest hospital or clinic
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 117. Always get a media report when reporting a crime.

There is no national emergency number in Cameroon.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for information about what the Australian Government can and cannot do for you overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Cameroon headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance and does not issue Australian passports.

Australian Consulate, Yaoundé

Les Manguiers
BAT Compound Bastos,
BP 7063 Yaoundé
Republic of Cameroon   
Phone: (237) 222 217 442
Fax:(237) 222 208 431
Mobile: (237) 696 802 662
Email: bellah_chambers1@yahoo.com

Full consular assistance is available from the Australian High Commission in Nigeria:

Australian High Commission, Abuja

48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria   
Phone: (234 9) 461 2780
Office mobile: (234 9) 803 307 3519
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Website: nigeria.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Nigeria
Twitter: @AusHCAbuja

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

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate in Yaoundé or the Australian High Commission in Abuja, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources