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Sao Tome and Principe Country Travel Infomation

Travel Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Streets in the capital city of S?o Tom? and major roads outside of the capital city are paved, but large potholes are common. There are no sidewalks or shoulders outside of S?o Tom?, so pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals on the roads can be a major hazard. Secondary roads are unpaved. In rural areas, drivers are expected to honk their horn periodically as a warning signal of their approach. There is no street lighting outside of the capital city. Some roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Only a few miles of paved roads exist on the island of Pr?ncipe; the conditions are similar to those found on S?o Tom?.

Public Transportation: Although taxis are fairly safe, you should make sure that the taxi has seatbelts and negotiate the rate before entering the taxi. If you are staying at a hotel, ask the front desk personnel to call a taxi for you, as they generally use reliable providers. Hotels can also identify private drivers for hire.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

Air Travel: Airline service to S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe is limited. Flights are offered from Lisbon by TAP Air and STP Airways and regionally by Ceiba Airline and Afric Aviation. Ceiba and Afric Aviation flights are subject to frequent delays and sudden cancellations. African Connection flies between S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe islands four times a week and also has charter flights.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe?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 S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website.

Health

Medical facilities in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe are extremely limited. You will need to travel abroad for all but minor medical needs. The only hospital in the country is on S?o Tom?, Hospital Central Ayres de Menezes. A few clinics provide very basic services. Payment in cash is almost always expected before treatment is rendered. The availability of medicine in local stores or pharmacies is very limited. You should carry prescription medication in its original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most medical care providers in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe only accept cash payments and expect payment in advance. Even if your health insurance does provide overseas coverage, you will have to pay your medical charges at the time of service and later seek reimbursement from your insurance company.

See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

The following diseases are prevalent:

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 while in S?o Tome & Pr?ncipe. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Libreville immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Illegal drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Language: Portuguese is the official language of S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe. English is not widely spoken or understood. 

Currency: Credit cards are not widely accepted in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe. ATMs in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe only accept cards from local banks. Travelers must exchange their currency for the S?o Tomean Dobra. Banks only accept a limited range of foreign currency for exchange. U.S. dollars and Euros are both widely accepted for exchange at banks. 

Photography: Taking photographs of the Presidential Palace, military, or other government buildings is strictly forbidden.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State?s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe. Some societal discrimination does exist, and there are no legal protections for LGBTI individuals against discrimination.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe law does not prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities, but reported discrimination is rare. The law does not mandate accessibility and it is not provided in most areas.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Domestic violence is a crime, punishable by up to eight years in prison when it results in harm to the health of the victim, and up to 16 years in prison when it leads to a loss of life. However, domestic violence remains widespread throughout the country. 

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Safety and Security

There have been isolated incidents of civil unrest in the city of S?o Tom?. Avoid large gatherings or any other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. 

The local equivalent to the ?911? emergency line in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe is 2-22-22-22. In the event of a fire, dial 112.

Crime: Crimes such as burglary, pick-pocketing, and armed home invasion have occurred on the islands, particularly around the winter holidays. Pick-pocketing is prevalent in markets, on the streets, or near hotels.

To minimize your risk of being the victim of crime, you should:

  • Not display large amounts of cash;
  • Carry a minimal amount of cash;
  • Avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry;
  • Put valuables and extra cash in your hotel safe.

If you are the victim of an attempted robbery or carjacking, you are encouraged to surrender your property to avoid injury, and to report all incidents to the police and the U.S. Embassy in Libreville. Police response time can be slow.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at +2-22-22-22 and contact the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, Gabon at +(241) 01-45-71-00.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • 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 United States;
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution;
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home;
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. 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

You must present a passport and proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe. Holders of a valid U.S. passport do not require a visa when visiting for a period of up to 15 days.

S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe does not currently maintain an embassy in the United States. Travelers transiting Gabon can obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe in Gabon, B.P. 49, Libreville, Gabon, telephone +(241)-72-15-27, fax +(241)-72-15-28. For all other inquiries, please contact S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe?s Permanent Mission to the United Nations at 400 Park Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022, +1 (212) 317 0644.

There are no restrictions on bringing foreign currency into S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe. Visitors leaving the country must report carrying any sums equal to or greater than 10,000 Euros, and be able to provide financial statements proving that they entered the country carrying a larger sum than the amount with which they plan to depart.

Lost or Stolen Passports: U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen while in S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe could face delays in receiving a replacement passport. An applicant must normally come to the Embassy in Libreville to present an application for a lost or stolen passport. Though there are several commercial flights per week from S?o Tom? to Libreville, a person without a passport would face great difficulty in both boarding an international flight in S?o Tom?, and disembarking from that flight in Libreville. If an applicant is unable to travel to Libreville, the logistical difficulties in processing a passport application from a remote location will cause at least several days? delay.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe.

S?o Tom? & Pr?ncipe may deny entry to people coming from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) affected countries. 

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Destination Description

See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on S?o Tom? and Pr?ncipe for information on U.S.-S?o Tom? and Pr?ncipe relations.

Travel Embassy and Consulate

There is no U.S. diplomatic presence in S?o Tom? and Pr?ncipe. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, Gabon if you need consular assistance while in S?o Tom? and Pr?ncipe.

 

U.S. Embassy Libreville, Gabon

Sabli?re B.P. 4000
Libreville, Gabon

Telephone: +(241) 01-45-71-00

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(241) 07-38-01-71

Fax: +(241) 01-45-71-05

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