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Central African Republic

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Summary

  • Do not travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to the dangerous security situation, activities of armed groups and high levels of serious crime.
  • If you are in the CAR, depart by commercial means if it is safe to do so.
  • If despite this advice, you choose to remain in the CAR, have appropriate personal security measures in place.
  • Tensions are high throughout the country. Indiscriminate violence continues and the security situation remains fragile and unpredictable. Intercommunal violence has worsened since 2017 and there have been incidents in Bangui has caused thousands of deaths.
  • Law enforcement personnel is unable to ensure the security of civilians.
  • 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 is extremely limited. See Where to get help for more information.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.

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.

Passport

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

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

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Tensions remain high throughout the country. Despite the security environment in the capital Bangui being relatively calm, incidents have occurred and it may deteriorate with little or no warning. In April and May 2018 violence in the capital caused deaths and injuries.  Armed groups are active across the country and many areas outside the capital are in a state of lawlessness. Illegal roadblocks could be set up without notice. Foreigners, including aid workers and peacekeepers, have been killed. The security situation is particularly dangerous in border areas.

In March 2013, a coalition of rebel forces overthrew the government. Presidential and parliamentary elections saw the establishment of a new government in 2016. The security situation remains unstable despite the presence of a United Nations stabilisation mission. Intercommunal violence is frequent and widespread. Thousands have been killed.

Law enforcement personnel are unable to ensure the security of civilians in CAR.

Respect curfews and restrictions on movement which may be imposed without warning.

Depart by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If, despite this advice, you choose to remain in the CAR, have appropriate personal security measures in place.

Terrorism

Based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Uganda the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has made periodic incursions in the southeast of the CAR, especially into Haut-Mbomou province. Many people have been killed and thousands more have fled the region. LRA attacks continue to target civilians.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat overseas

Kidnapping

Foreigners, including aid workers, have been the target of kidnappings and violent crime.

The Australian Government does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers.

If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to this area:

  • seek professional security advice
  • have effective personal security measures in place
  • check whether your hotel has appropriate security measures in place
  • exercise extreme caution.

More information: Kidnapping threat

Crime

Banditry and crime are common. Serious and indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in some parts of Bangui since March 2013 and is widespread in regional areas.

Random road blocks may be installed by local police and security forces or people posing as them. Armed 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

There are very few ATMs in Bangui. Several Western Union offices exist in Bangui but only a very limited number of banks. Most hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners only accept cash for payment.

The currency is the African Financial Community franc (XAF), also used in Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Bangui is the only city where you can change money. Euros or USD can usually be converted into local currency. Be vigilant when changing money through official or unofficial change agents.

If you're carrying significant amounts of cash, be extremely careful and, if possible, consider sharing the holding of it with your travelling companions.

Local travel

Travel throughout the CAR 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 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.

More information: Road safety and driving

The rainy season is from May to October when flooding may occur and some roads become impassable.

Borders may be closed without warning.

Airline safety

Very few commercial airlines continue to provide services to Bangui.

Be aware of your personal belongings even within the airport terminal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the CAR.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Follow local laws, including those that may 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 is illegal, particularly around military zones, military assets, military or police personnel, government buildings and mining leases. Penalties include 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.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Information for dual nationals

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Get comprehensive travel insurance to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm 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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you leave, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up. Discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

The WHO and our health pages provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities throughout the 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 be extremely costly.

Health risks

WHO has listed the CAR 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. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • use insect repellent and wear long, loose, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking prophylaxis against malaria
  • discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before travel.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis and rabies) are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water. 
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid 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.

Natural disasters

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 Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. In the event of an earthquake, volcanic activity or other natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.  

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 CAR. The Australian Government's capacity to deliver consular assistance in the CAR is extremely limited. In an emergency contact our 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

Turkish compound (off Cape Verde Street)
Bole Subcity, Woreda 3   
Phone: +251 11 667 2678
Fax: +251 11 667 2868
Email: adba.consular@dfat.gov.au
Website: ethiopia.embassy.gov.au

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

Additional information

Additional resources