Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Advice
Security travel advice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Threat level: High
Although the threat of terror in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is very low, the risk presented by civil unrest and high levels of serious crimes makes it a dangerous country to visit. Travel to Goma, Bukavu and to the regions of N’djili and Kimbanseke in Kinshasa are strictly forbidden to foreign nationals.
If visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo, extreme caution and a high level of vigilance should be exercised at all times. Many regions are advised against travelling to and it is highly recommended to only travel with a Close Protection team. If you are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for business purposes, it is your employer’s duty of care to ensure the correct security measure are in place to keep you safe.
Recent Security Risk Events
On Friday the 8th of December 2017 it was reported that 14 United Nations peacekeepers (from Tanzania) have been killed and a further 40 injured in an attack in the North Kivu province. More to follow...
In March of 2017 members of militia group Rahiya Mutomboki abducted a French national, a Tanzanian and three Congolese nationals at the Namoya gold mine. It is belived that the militants have demanded a ransom and a contract to construct roads and other basic infrastructure in the area.
The French mining company Banro's four other gold and precious materials mines in Twangiza, Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been repeatedly targeted by armed militias in recent years, which remain active despite the official end to a regional conflict in 2003. It is advised not to take trips to these mines as a tourist unless deemed absolutely necessarily.
In early 2015 there were political demonstrations in the Kinshasa region in response to an electoral reform bill being considered by parliament. These demonstrations turned violent overnight and without warning. Troops and armed police were deployed to the streets to maintain order. 30 people were killed as a result of the violent demonstrations. Avoid large gatherings and monitor the local media when possible to avoid getting mixed up in any political demonstrations.
Many small armed conflicts occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Katanga Province has experienced wide spread fighting in recent years, the situation there remains tense.
North Kivu has experienced a recent series of kidnappings. There are also ongoing military operations against armed groups in North Kivu and bystanders can easily get caught up in conflicts. You should not travel alone in this area, only drive as part of a convoy and avoid all travel at night.
Foreign nationals are at particular risk of street robbery. Robberies are usually carried out by gangs of street children and armed bandits. North and South Kivu are particularly high risk areas. You should be extra vigilant after dark and avoid displaying any expensive jewellery on you. Tourists are often targeted for their perceived wealth so it is advised not to carry large sums of cash.
The political situation in the wide spread region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains unstable. As well as political unrest which sometimes leads to anger at the international community, the risk of criminal acts are at an increased level, and attacks by armed men on NGO compounds regularly occur in this part of the country.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the process of a civil war that has drawn in military forces from neighbouring African countries, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting the rebel movements that occupy much of the eastern portion of the country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US military.
You will need an international driving permit to drive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, renting a car is very difficult and options are very limited. The conditions of the roads are extremely poor that most are barely drivable even with a 4x4. The rainy season which runs from September to May make most roads impassable. The British FCO advise against using any form of public transport.
Be aware of the risk of vehicle theft and hijackings. Lock vehicle doors and keep windows closed when driving. Armed gangs may target your car so be vigilant at all times. It is advised not to drive in rural areas.
Currency: Congolese franc (CDF)
Time now in Kinshasa:
A passport valid for the proposed duration of your stay. A Democratic Republic of the Congo visa and yellow fever vaccination certificate are required for entry into the country. You will have to purchase a visa in advance to travel as they can no longer be issued upon arrival.
It is advised that visitors to the Democratic Republic of the Congo are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is essential that you get vaccinated against Yellow Fever as there is risk of the disease throughout the country. It is an entry requirement that you present a certificate proving your immunisation. This should be completed at least 10 days prior to departure.
It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus, Typhoid, Polio and Hepatitis A vaccinations. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Cholera, Malaria, Sleeping sickness and Ebola are all present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You should take precautions to prevent contracting any illnesses, good standards of hygiene and anti malarial medication are essential measures.
Medical evacuation to South Africa is often necessary in the event of a serious medical emergency, as the medical facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are of poor quality and very limited. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance that will cover the cost of medical evacuation.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered from an AIDs epidemic in 2012. AIDs is still a serious problem and you should be cautious of its presence in 390,000 of adults. Exercise normal precautions to prevent the contraction of the disease.
U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
American Embassy, Kinshasa B.P. 697,
Democratic Republic of Congo
Telephone: +243 81 556 0151
83, Avenue Roi Baudoin,
Democratic Republic of Congo
Telephone: +243 81 556 6200
Emergency telephone: +243 81 556 6200
Other useful info
Police emergency: 112
Fire emergency: 118