COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Togo is a small West African country with a developing economy based primarily on agricultural production and port activity. Following a sustained period of political instability that began in the early 1990s, Togo has made considerable progress in recent years, highlighted by a succession of relatively free and fair elections in 2007, 2010, and 2013. Although significant challenges remain, Togo’s economy is developing by instituting business reforms, improving its health care and educational systems, and making significant new investments in infrastructure.French is the official language, while the most commonly spoken local languages areEwe, Mina, and Kabiye. Some tourism infrastructure exists within the capital city, Lomé, and the cities of Kpalimé and Kara.Outside these areas the infrastructure for tourism is underdeveloped or non-existent. Lomé is the headquarters and flight hub for Asky Airlines, which operates flights to most West and Central African capitals. Togo is also accessible by direct flight from France, Belgium, Ethiopia, and Brazil. Read the U.S. Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Togo for additional information on U.S.-Togo relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Togo, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
The U.S. Embassy is located on Boulevard Eyadema, Neighborhood Cité OUA, in Lomé, Togo. The local mailing address is B.P. 852, Lomé.
Telephone: (228) 22 61 54 70
Facsimile: (228) 22 61 54 99
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A passport and visa are required. You are encouraged to obtain visas prior to arrival due to difficulties in obtaining them at the airport in Lomé or at land borders. Visas issued in Togo are limited to seven days. Travelers applying for visa extensions can also experience significant delays. Vaccination against yellow fever is required before entry.
To apply for a Togolese visa from the United States, you may contact the Togolese Embassy in Washington, D.C. at (202) 234-4212, or consult the Togolese Embassy website for the most current visa information. The Embassy of Togo is located at 2208 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. If you are overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Togolese embassy or consulate. To apply for a visa at a land border or the airport, you will need to fill out an application form, and provide a passport photograph and 15,000 FCFA (approximately $30).
U.S. citizens should carry copies of their U.S. passports and vaccination records with them at all times while traveling in Togo so that, if questioned by local officials, they have proof of identity, U.S. citizenship, and required vaccinations readily available.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Togo.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: You are urged to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Togo experiences periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions, especially during the lead-up to elections. Land borders with Ghana and Benin are sometimes shut down during elections for any of these three countries. The March 2010 Presidential election was largely non-violent with only minor incidents reported during the period. Since June 2011, Togo has also experienced student protests in Lomé, Kara, and Dapaong. These protests have sometimes turned violent, prompting the universities to close for days or weeks. The most recent election in July 2013 was generally considered peaceful and a success. However, protests and demonstrations by opposition groups periodically occur with little or no notice.
Armed robbery at sea and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea remain threats for the Government of Togo and its regional neighbors. While governments and regional organizations have taken some steps to combat the issues, concern remains over the reported number of incidents and level of violence of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. If you are visiting any coastal areas in Togo, you should be alert to the threats of armed robbery at sea and piracy and move inland if you detect a potential threat. If you are caught in such an attack, you should comply immediately with any demands made by the aggressors and avoid any action that could be interpreted as an attempt to escape. See our fact sheet on International Maritime Piracy.
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CRIME: In recent years, Togo has seen high levels of violent crime throughout the country. Incidents have included machete attacks as well as firearms-related crimes. You should avoid certain areas within Lomé during the hours of darkness, including public beaches, the beach road, and the Ghana-Togo border areas. You should avoid beaches where no security is provided, even during daylight hours, as purse-snatchings and muggings occur regularly. We recommend that you not visit the Grand Marché area alone during the day and avoid the area altogether in the evenings.
Pick-pocketing incidents and theft are common in Togo, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lomé. Residential and business burglaries are becoming frequent in Lomé. Foreigners are less commonly targeted in incidents of carjacking, but have been the victims of violent crime in the past. Theft while riding in taxis is common, as thieves steal bags, wallets, and passports. Don’t share taxicabs with strangers.
You should closely monitor their surroundings when using ATMs because of petty theft during and after ATM usage. You should only use ATMs during the day and choose ATMs with lots of people and guards around if possible.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may also be breaking local law.
Buying or using drugs may result in an indefinite period of detention. Illicit drugs, particularly marijuana, cocaine, and some pharmaceuticals, are regularly seized by drug enforcement entities.
Internet Financial Scams: Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including U.S. citizens. Formerly associated with Nigeria, these fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout western Africa, including Togo, and pose dangers of both financial loss and physical harm. An increasing number of U.S. citizens have been targets of such scams, resulting in the loss of considerable money on these scams, ranging from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication, usually by e-mail, from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Common e-mail scams have been sent by individuals claiming to be a U.S. citizen who is “trapped” in Togo and needs financial assistance to return to the United States or receive urgent medical care. More sophisticated scams include targeting U.S. businesses and ordering a large amount of their product, if the U.S. business will provide banking information or pay legal fees. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to use common sense. Do not wire or transfer money to anyone you’ve never met in person. You should carefully check out any unsolicited business proposals originating in Togo before you commit any funds, provide any goods or services, or undertake any travel. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a U.S. citizen in trouble, ask him/her to call the Embassy directly at (228) 22 61 54 70.
Please check the Embassy website for the most current information on fraud in Togo. For additional information, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ brochure on International Financial Scams.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Togo are 117 or 171 for police, 172 for Gendarmerie, 242 for the Pharmacy on Duty, and 118 for Fire Services. Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Togo, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. Photographing subjects affiliated with the government of Togo, including official government buildings, border crossings, checkpoints, police stations, military bases, utility buildings, airports, government vehicles, and government or military personnel, is strictly prohibited, and local authorities will confiscate film and cameras. Government buildings are not always clearly identifiable, as they vary from being very well marked to not being marked at all.
In some places, driving under the influence can land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Togo, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Persons violating Togolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Togo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Power outages, voltage fluctuations, and water shortages happen occasionally throughout the country. Credit cards are rarely accepted in the country. Travelers planning to use credit cards should know which cards, if any, are accepted before they commit to a transaction. Travelers should keep all credit card receipts, because unauthorized card use and overcharging are common. Some major banks have Automatic Teller Machines that dispense local currency, but they will only accept Visa cards. Travelers will not be able to withdraw money using Mastercard. Well-known money transfer firms, including Western Union, operate in Togo.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on Travel.State.gov.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Togo. Penalties include fines and up to three years in prison. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Togo, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. While the law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, mental, intellectual, and sensory disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, transportation, or in the provision of other state services, the government does not effectively enforce these provisions. The government does not mandate accessibility to public or private facilities for persons with disabilities, although some public buildings had ramps. There are very few sidewalks in the country, and handicapped access is not prioritized in construction or planning. U.S. citizens with disabilities that hinder mobility should consider this information when planning travel to Togo.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Togo are limited and of very poor quality; emergency medical care is inadequate. Availability of medications through local pharmacies is unreliable, and travelers should carry all necessary medications, properly labeled, with them. Malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease, is prevalent in Togo.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC Website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Togo. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t cover you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to purchase travel insurance for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Togo, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. While some major thoroughfares in urban parts of Togo are paved, many secondary streets are not, and they can become severely flooded when it rains. Driving conditions are hazardous throughout Togo due to the presence of pedestrians, large swarms of small motorcycles, disorderly drivers (moped, car and truck drivers), livestock on the roadways, and the poor condition of the roads, which often contain deep potholes. Overland travel off the main network of roads generally requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Many drivers in Togo do not obey traffic laws and most traffic signals do not function properly. Drivers should be prepared for the possibility that other drivers may run red lights or stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets.
Nighttime travel is dangerous. Poorly marked checkpoints, often manned by armed, undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country, including in the capital. Banditry, including demands for bribes at checkpoints, has been reported on major inter-city highways, including the Lomé-Cotonou coastal highway. You should be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively. At official checkpoints, Togolese security officials prefer that you approach with your interior light on, and have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance ready.
If driving in Lomé, you should be aware of the staged-accident ploy. In this scam, a motorbike will cut in front of you, cause a collision, and draw a crowd, which can turn hostile if you attempt to leave the scene of the so-called accident. Such encounters appear designed to extort money from the vehicle driver. Pedestrians have also staged accidents. Genuine accidents can also draw hostile crowds. You should always keep car doors locked and windows closed, and have a cell phone in the vehicle. If you are involved in an accident and feel you are in danger (e.g. if your vehicle is attacked or you are threatened) you should leave the scene, drive to a safe location such as your hotel or a police station, and alert both the police and the U.S. embassy. Carjackings are periodically reported in Togo and tend to increase during the summer months and holiday seasons.
You are advised to exercise caution when using any form of local public transportation. Never get into a taxi with unknown passengers and always agree on the fare before getting in.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Togo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Togo’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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Togo dated March 28, 2013, to update all sections.