Road Conditions and Safety: All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts, lock doors, and keep windows closed. Travelers are routinely stopped at police checkpoints within cities and on roads to the interior. During routine stops, the police may occasionally seek bribes.
Use extreme caution when driving after dark. Roads to outlying cities are usually unpaved and in poor condition, with large potholes, absence of road signs, poor to non-existent streetlights, timber-laden trucks, and the presence of pedestrians and animals. Construction work is generally poorly indicated. Drivers may change lanes or stop unexpectedly and lane markings are frequently ignored. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for travel beyond the paved road to Lambar?n?, especially during the rainy season.
Roadside assistance and emergency medical services are available in Libreville, but they may not be dependable. These services are nonexistent outside of the city. Service stations are available along main roads, but vehicle repair facilities are not always available.
Traffic Laws and Culture: During short-term tourist or business visits, U.S. citizens may drive a vehicle in Gabon provided they have both a valid U.S. and an international driver?s license. Those residing or working in Gabon (holders of a carte de s?jour) must either obtain a Gabonese driver?s license (permis de conduire), or register their U.S. driver?s license with the Direction National de Transport Terrestre.
The following items must be kept in the vehicle at all times: the vehicle registration (carte grise), proof of insurance (assurance), proof of vehicle inspection (visite technique), fire extinguisher (extincteur de feu), triangles (triangles), and first aid kit (boite de soins de premiers secours). The police may verify that the driver has all of the required documentation and equipment if they stop a car on the road or at a police checkpoint.
It is against the law to use a cell phone while driving in Gabon.
When driving a vehicle or as a passenger in a taxi, you should:
- Keep your belongings out of sight
- Ensure the doors are locked
- Fasten your seat belts
- Keep the windows rolled up
If you are driving, while stopped in traffic, scan rearview mirrors to identify potential trouble. If you are idling at a stop light or sign, leave adequate maneuver room between vehicles to allow for a hasty departure if necessary. Even in daylight, thieves may open unlocked vehicle doors to snatch valuables. Park only in well-lit areas, preferably in parking lots with a security guard.
Public Transportation: Avoid public transportation throughout Libreville due to the substantial risk of serious and fatal accidents. Many lack proper safety equipment such as seat belts and headlights and are often overcrowded and unlicensed. Drivers are often reckless, making frequent stops to pick up passengers, drive at high speeds, and ignore traffic or road conditions.
Taxi safety and maintenance varies widely. Informal, unregulated taxis are common throughout the city. Select taxis in good condition and verify that there are passenger seatbelts and avoid those in poor condition. Most major hotels will call an official taxi upon request. Unless using a metered taxi, negotiate the fare and request sole use of the taxi with the driver before entering the taxi.
An inter-city rail system exists, running from Libreville to Franceville with stops at numerous small cities and towns along the way.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Gabon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Gabon?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Gabon should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation?s Maritime Security Communications with Industry WebPortal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency?s website.
Medical facilities in Gabon’s major cities are limited, but may meet basic needs. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Gabon, and hospitals almost always expect payment, in cash, before rendering service. Medical services in rural areas are unavailable or of very poor quality. Some medicines are not available locally; carry your own supply of medications to cover your entire stay. For medical emergencies in Libreville, the emergency room at El Rapha Polyclinic, a private clinic, can be reached at 07 98 66 60. An ambulance can be requested by calling El Ralpha directly or by calling 13-00 from a Gabon telecom landline for other ambulance services (SMUR, SAMU).
You are responsible for all medical costs.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans. Medicare from the United States does not cover you overseas.
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Yellow fever
- Dengue fever
- Diarrheal illness
- African trypanosomiasis
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Immigration Violations: U.S. citizens working or residing in Gabon must comply with Gabonese immigration laws. Non-compliance with such laws may be punished with fines and up to six months? imprisonment. You should consult a Gabonese lawyer to assure compliance with immigration and residence laws.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Language: The official language of Gabon is French. English is not widely spoken or understood.
Identification: You should always carry identification and proof of legal immigration status in Gabon. Examples of identification include a residence permit (carte de s?jour), U.S. passport, or an authenticated photocopy of your U.S. passport?s biographic information page, and your Gabonese visa. City hall offices in Gabon can authenticate passport photocopies for a nominal fee.
Photography: Taking photographs of the Presidential Palace, airport, and military or other government buildings is strictly forbidden.
Official Corruption: Official corruption is common, but paying bribes is strongly discouraged and may make you a target for further attempts at securing bribery payments.
Currency: Gabon is largely a cash economy. Credit cards are accepted at only a few major hotels. Due to the high rate of credit card fraud, you should exercise caution when using them. Traveler?s checks can be cashed or dollars exchanged for Central African Francs (CFA) at hotels and banks. ATMs are available in major urban centers and dispense CFA. Exercise caution while withdrawing funds from ATMs.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Gabon. Although there have been no reports of violence against LGBTI persons, discrimination, including in housing and employment, is a problem. Many LGBTI individuals choose to keep their status secret, except in trusted circles. Stigma is a likely factor in preventing the reporting of incidents.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different in Gabon from what they find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with ?physical, mental, congenital, and accidental? disabilities and requires access to buildings or services for persons which such disabilities. Most public buildings do not provide adequate access. There is some societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and treatment facilities are limited.
Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Political rallies and social protests may occur spontaneously in Gabon, particularly in Libreville and Port Gentil. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational or violent. Be aware of your surroundings and personal security at all times. Avoid large gatherings, protests, demonstrations, and any other event where crowds congregate. Police and security forces typically disperse crowds using tear gas or other force.
Crime: Muggings, pick-pocketing, and theft of unattended possessions are the most common forms of crime visitors encounter. There have been reports of violent crime, including armed robbery. Vehicle break-ins and residential burglaries continue to be a problem in Libreville and Port Gentil.
Carry identification at all times to minimize the risk of harassment at police checkpoints.
Avoid poorly lit streets and unfamiliar areas of the city, especially at night. Avoid beaches after dusk. Carry a minimal amount of cash and avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry, especially in markets and nightlife spots. In a robbery, comply with the attacker to avoid injury.
In the event of a fire, dial 18 in Libreville. In Port Gentil, please dial 07-63-93-63 or 01-56-27-75.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(241) 01-45-71-00. The local equivalent to the ?911? emergency line to reach the police is 177 (not available on all cell phones). For the police, call 01-76-55-85 in Libreville and 01-55-22-54 (Central Police Station) or 07-36-22-25 in Port Gentil. French is often required.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodations and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are inconsistent. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be certified by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
A passport with more than six months of validity remaining, a visa, and proof of vaccination against yellow fever are required for entry into Gabon. For additional immunization information, visit the CDC?s Health Information for Travelers to Gabon.
There are a number of ways a visitor can obtain a visa to visit Gabon. The most reliable means of securing a visa for travel to Gabon is to apply prior to departure at the Embassy of the Gabonese Republic in Washington D.C. or the Consulate of the Gabonese Republic in New York. Please check their websites for visa requirements.
A visitor may also apply for a visa online via Gabon?s ?E-Visa? program. Applications submitted online are processed by the Direction G?n?rale ? la Documentation et l?Immigration (DGDI), and the visa is issued at Libreville International Airport upon arrival. Access to the online application site can be spotty, however, and there have been reports of difficulty in paying the fee required on arrival, due to the lack of access to local funds or ATMs at the security check point in the airport. For additional information about the ?E-Visa? program, visit the Immigration Gabon website.
U.S. citizens may obtain a single-entry visa at the Libreville International Airport upon arrival. Applicants must pay a cash fee of 45,000 CFA or 70 euros (the equivalent amount in dollars is not accepted). Immigration officials may require travelers to provide proof of a flight itinerary with a departure from Gabon as well as an invitation letter from a person or entity in Gabon or a confirmed hotel reservation. There have been some reports of airlines refusing to issue a boarding pass for travel to Gabon when a traveler is unable to present a Gabonese visa prior to departure.
Short-term visitors to Gabon are permitted to stay up to 90 days. Visitors who wish to remain in the country for longer than 90 days must obtain a residence permit (carte de s?jour). Exit visas for U.S. residents with a carte de s?jour are no longer required.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Gabon.
Gabon may deny entry to people coming from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) affected countries.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Gabon for additional information on U.S. – Gabon relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
Telephone: +(241) 01-45-71-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(241) 07-38-01-71
Fax: +(241) 01-45-71-05