Sierra Leone Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Sierra Leone
How safe is Sierra Leone?
Threat level: Low-Medium
The current travel advice for Sierra Leone is to remain cautious throughout your travels. There is a low threat from terrorism in the country but you should be vigilant after recent attacks in nearby countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso, especially in popular tourist locations as foreign nationals are high value targets.
Sierra Leone was famed for the illicit gem trade as portrayed in the 2006 film "Blood Diamond". The sale of these gems funded civil wars and other conflicts in a number of African countries including Sierra Leone itself, Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In recent years and due partly to international pressure, the Sierra Leone government has cracked down on cross-border diamond trafficking operations.
COVID-19 situation in Sierra Leone
There are reported cases of coronavirus in Sierra Leone. As a result of this, the country has implemented a series of measures to tackle the spread of the virus, imposing a nationwide curfew between 22:00 and 05:00, making the use of face masks compulsory, closing bars and restaurants at weekends and prohibiting public gatherings of over 100 people. Entry to Sierra Leone is allowed for international travellers but must be pre-approved by the local government prior to travelling following a protocole that includes taking a PCR test no more than 7 days prior to travelling, filling in a public health passenger locator form and paying for a COVID-19 test to be taken on arrival (evidence of payment will need to be presented on arrival). Travellers must undergo a COVID-19 PCR and RDT Test on arrival and another one to be taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Recent security events
Congo Cross, Wilkinson Road, Lumley Beach and Aberdeen have the highest crime areas in the country and tourists travelling to these areas should exercise particular caution at all times. Pick pocketing and muggings are the most common crimes committed, you should keep your valuables hidden and travel in a group when possible.
If you are staying for a long period of time in Sierra Leone make sure your property has security measures installed and it is highly advised to employ residential security.
It is advised to avoid large gatherings or political demonstrations as they can sometimes turn violent and escalate at a moment's notice. Police have been known to use non-lethal weapons in the past to disperse crowds. The best travel advice for Sierra Leone is to monitor local media as often as possible, familiarise yourself with your surroundings and remain vigilant.
Sierra Leone's International Relations
The government of Sierra Leone maintains 16 Embassies and High Commissions across the world and has many strong diplomatic relationships with both Western nations and former Soviet Bloc countries. It is a member of the United Nations, African Union and the Commonwealth.
The United Kingdom has played a major part in providing aid to its former colony, together with administrative help and military training since intervening to end the Civil War in 2000.
Travelling around Sierra Leone
If you plan to drive in Sierra Leone, you should be aware that most of the roads are in poor condition and have little or no lighting. The standard of driving is erratic and dangerous by road users, with many having little regard for others. You should operate your vehicle with caution and remain alert at all times.
Children will sometimes put a rope across the road and ask for a small donation for mending the road. If you don’t intend on stopping they will pull the rope tight so you drive into it. This is common in many places in Sierra Leone.
You can drive in Sierra Leone with a UK or EU driving licences as well as most other national driving licences. You should check with your local Sierra Leonean Embassy if you are unsure whether this applies to you.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency Services in Sierra Leone
Police emergency: 999
Fire emergency: 19
Medical emergency: 999
Sierra Leone Overview
Religion: Islam and Christianity
Currency: Sierra Leonean Leone
Time now in Freetown:
Consular information for Sierra Leone
Telephone: +232 0 991 050 00
6 Spur Road Freetown,
Telephone: +232 0 782 001 90
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +232 0 767 807 13
Visa requirements for Sierra Leone
All persons visiting Sierra Leone should have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the duration of their proposed stay. Nationals of the Economic Community of West African States do not require a visa to enter the country, but citizens of all other countries do. British citizens and nationals of other countries can get a visa on their arrival.
A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is required to enter Sierra Leone.
Cultural advice for visiting Islamic countries
If you have never visited an Islamic country before, you maybe have some unanswered questions the culture, what you can wear and general dos and don'ts. Intelligent Protection International Limited is highly experienced at working in Islamic countries and has done so for the past decade. We have written a guide that will help you understand what is culturally acceptable and hope you find it useful. See our page: Guide to Islamic culture for travellers.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Sierra Leone 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 and Hepatitis A vaccinations. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Malaria precautions should be taken as malaria risk is present throughout the country, especially during the wet season between May and November. Cholera is endemic in Sierra Leone with outbreaks mostly occurring in the wet season also. There is currently an outbreak of Lassa fever in Sierra Leone.
Medical facilities in Sierra Leone are poor and you should keep this in mind when travelling to the country. Ensure you have an adequate supply of necessary medication as it may not be available or can be extremely expensive. Visitors are expected to pay before treatment occurs. There have been reports of medical staff refusing to admit travellers to hospital if they are unable to prove they can pay their bills.
Be aware of the Ebola risk in Sierra Leone. Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check what preventive measures you should take. In 2014 Guinean health officials announced the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone and 3,955 people have died from the epidemic between then and 2016.