COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Togo is a small West African country with a developing economy based primarily on agricultural production and port activity. Togo emerged from 40 years of autocratic rule, and held presidential elections in 2010 that were widely deemed free and fair by the international community. French is the official language, and Ewe, Mina, and Kabiye are commonly spoken as well. Some tourism infrastructure exists within the capital city, Lomé, and the cities of Kpalimé and Kara. Read the U.S. Department of State’s information on bilateral relations with Togo for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Togo, please take the time to tell the U.S. Embassy about your trip. If you sign up, 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. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
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
Click here to contact the Embassy via e-mail.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Travelers 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 and can take an hour or more to be issued. 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 updated contact 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, travelers 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: U.S. citizens are urged to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times. Togo has experienced periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions since 1990. Following the death of President Eyadema in February 2005, political activists took to the streets and held demonstrations throughout the country that resulted in more than 500 deaths and thousands of political refugees to neighboring countries. Land borders with Ghana and Benin are routinely 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. Municipal and legislative elections are being scheduled for 2012. Since June 2011, Togo has also experienced student protests in Lomé and Kara. These protests have recently turned more violent, causing the universities to be closed for several weeks. The government of Togo successfully negotiated with student groups, and universities re-opened in January 2012.
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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. Inflation and poverty contribute to critical crime levels in both urban and rural areas. You should avoid certain areas within Lomé, especially during the hours of darkness, including public beaches, the beach road, and the Ghana-Togo border areas. Travelers should avoid beaches where no security is provided, even during daylight hours, as purse-snatchings and muggings occur regularly. We recommend that U.S. citizens 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.
U.S. citizens 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.
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, losing anywhere from several thousand to several hundred thousand 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. 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.
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 be breaking local law too. In addition, carrying or shipping them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem.
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.
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 (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates ). 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 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. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. 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. 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 do something illegal in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
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.
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.
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.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Togo. Penalties include fines and up to three years in prison. LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
Accessibility: There is extremely limited handicap accessibility to government and other buildings in Lomé and around Togo. There are very few sidewalks in any of the major towns, 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. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC travelers’ health website.
For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
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. 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 doctors’ 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 a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Togo is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
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 numbers 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 on unfamiliar roads 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. Travelers should be aware of their surroundings and drive defensively. At official checkpoints, Togolese security officials prefer that you approach with your dome light on, and have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance ready.
U.S. citizens driving in Lomé 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 website.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Togo dated April 25, 2012, to update all sections.