COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich, developing country on the western coast of central Africa. Its capital and main port, Malabo, is located on the island of Bioko, off the coast of Cameroon. A secondary port, Luba, is also on Bioko. The mainland territory of Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Cameroon and Gabon. The principal city on the mainland is Bata. Official languages are Spanish, which is widely spoken, and French, which is not widely understood, but sometimes used in business dealings. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Equatorial Guinea for additional information on U.S. – Equatoguinean relations.
Equatorial Guinea is nominally a multiparty constitutional republic. In practice, however, all branches of government are dominated by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled since 1979. In November 2009, he was declared the winner of the presidential election with more than 95 percent of the vote.
Facilities for tourism are limited but growing. Cash machines are rare and often out of service. The cash machine located at Malabo’s airport and one at the SGBGE Bank in downtown Malabo are open to the public; other cash machines that do exist require membership in the local bank. There are no ATMs outside of Malabo and Bata. Equatorial Guinea is a beautiful country with many interesting sites and beautiful beaches, but there is little tourism information to assist in planning a vacation. There is no public transportation and renting a vehicle is difficult. Rental vehicle choices are limited and can be expensive. Taxis are readily available in the larger cities and are generally inexpensive. Unless you pay a significantly higher price, drivers will pick up additional people until the vehicle is full. Passengers are delivered to their destinations at the convenience of the driver, not the passenger.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Equatorial Guinea, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important, local and world-wide safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date. It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, you make it easier for the Embassy in Malabo to contact you in case of emergency.
U.S. Embassy Malabo
Carretera de Aeropuerto KM-3 (El Paraiso)
Immigrant visa services are provided through the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Avenue Rosa Parks in the Mbankolo Quartier, adjacent to the Mount Febe Golf Club.
P.O. Box 817, Yaounde, Cameroon
Emergency after-hours telephone: 237-2220-1500
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: According the Government of Equatorial Guinea’s website, visas are not required for U.S. citizens, but they must fill out a visa application and present two passport photos and a letter of invitation from the visitor’s Equatoguinean employer or sponsor at the point of entry. In addition, a certification of vaccination for small pox, yellow fever, and cholera are required to enter Equatorial Guinea. In practice, U.S. citizens are rarely asked to provide either the above paperwork or proof of vaccination upon entrance.
Of the three vaccines listed, the CDC recommends only the yellow fever vaccination. Small pox and cholera vaccinations are generally not available in the United States. Immigration officials may bar entry into the country for those that cannot comply with the vaccination requirements. All other nationals must acquire a visa prior to arriving in country. It is extremely difficult to obtain a visa upon entry into Equatorial Guinea. U.S. citizens staying longer than 90 days should register with the local police station.
Private ships landing at an Equatoguinean port must get clearance prior to approaching the shore.
You can obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, 2020 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, telephone (202) 518-5700, fax (202) 518-5252.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Equatorial Guinea.
You can find information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although large public demonstrations are uncommon, you should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations.
In February 2009, approximately 50 gunmen arriving by speedboats attacked government buildings in Malabo but were repelled by Equatoguinean military and police.
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The Department of State urges you to take responsibility for your personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Violent crime is rare and the overall level of criminal activity is low in comparison to other countries in the region. However, there has been a rise in non-violent street crime and residential burglaries. You should exercise prudence and normal caution, including avoiding dark alleys, remote locations, and traveling alone. Sexual assault is either rare or not reported (there are no crime statistics or studies) and there is no specific group of people specifically targeted. There is little evidence of racially motivated hate crimes and U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted. There is also limited evidence of scams or confidence schemes.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. You will find such products widely available on the streets, local shops, and in market places. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, carrying them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
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:
There is no local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Equatorial Guinea.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Equatorial Guinea, 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 could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. Persons violating Equatoguinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Equatorial Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. 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. 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 Equatorial Guinea, 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 where you are going.
Official Corruption: It is not uncommon for a uniformed member of the security forces to stop motorists on the pretext of minor or nonexistent violations of the local motor vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes. Visitors are advised not to pay bribes, and to request that the officer provide a citation to be paid at the local court or a receipt stating the violation, amount due, and the officer’s name. If a U.S. citizen visitor is asked to go to a police station or is held up at roadblocks for an extended period of time, he/she should contact the Embassy Duty Officer at 516-008 to report the situation.
Currency: Equatorial Guinea is almost exclusively a cash economy. The country has very few hotels that accept credit cards. Generally, credit cards and checks are not accepted, and credit card cash advances are not available. Most local businesses do not accept travelers' checks, dollars, or Euros. However, dollars can be exchanged at local banks for Central African Francs (CFA). Cash in CFA is usually the only form of payment accepted throughout the country.
Photography: In the recent past a special permit from the Ministry of Information and Tourism (or from the local delegation if outside Malabo) was required for virtually all types of photography. This law changed, but many police or security officials may still attempt to impose a fine on people taking photographs. It is still forbidden to take photos of the Presidential Palace and its surroundings, military installations, airports, harbors, government buildings and any other area deemed sensitive by the local government. Police and security officials may attempt to take a violator into custody, or seize the camera of persons photographing in the country.
Unusual Customs: Possession of camouflage-patterned clothing, large knives, binoculars, firearms, walkie-talkies, or radios, and a variety of other items may be deemed suspicious by the security forces, and grounds for confiscation of the item(s) and detention of the carrier.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are very limited. Pharmacies in Malabo and Bata stock basic medicines including antibiotics, but cannot becounted on to supply advanced medications. Outside of these cities, many medicines are unavailable. You are advised to carry a supply of properly-labeled prescription drugs and other medications that you require for your entire stay; an adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies is generally not available. The sanitation levels in hospitals are very low, except for the new La Paz Hospitals in Bata and Malabo, which meet the medical standards of a modern hospital in a developed country. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services, and patients are sometimes expected to supply their own bandages, linen, and toiletries.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. The national government, along with international oil companies in the country, has taken aggressive steps to control the mosquito population and limit the impact of malaria on the population centers in Malabo and Bata. Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the type that predominates in Equatorial Guinea, is resistant to the anti-malarial drug chloroquine. Travelers to the country are at high risk for contracting malaria; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that you take one of the following anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine,doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone™). If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area, and up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention and tell your physician your travel history and what anti-malarials you have been taking. Visit the CDC's Travelers' Health page for additional information on malaria, including protective measures.
There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in Equatorial Guinea. Yellow fever can cause serious medical problems, but the vaccine, required for entry, is very effective in preventing the disease. Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Equatorial Guinea. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Many insect-borne illnesses are present. Insect precautions are encouraged at all times. Avoid non-chlorinated freshwater contact on the mainland to lessen the risk of Schistosomiasis.
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. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO 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 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 go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Equatorial Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Generally, Equatorial Guinea's road networks are increasingly well developed. Nevertheless, livestock and pedestrians still create road hazards. New road construction and repair is taking place all over the country, and road conditions have improved markedly over the course of the past year. If you plan on staying in Equatorial Guinea and driving around the country for any length of time, you should attempt to purchase a cell phone for assistance in case of an emergency.
Travelers outside the limits of Malabo and Bata will encounter military roadblocks. You should be prepared to show proper identification (for example, a U.S. passport) and to explain your reason for being at that particular location. The personnel staffing these checkpoints normally do not speak or understand English or French; travelers who do not speak Spanish should have their reason for being in the country and their itinerary written down in Spanish before venturing into the countryside. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
There are currently no distracted driving laws in effect in the Equatorial Guinea, but police may pull over drivers who talk or text while driving for not following unspecific safe driving procedures.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Equatorial Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
Commercial air travel options to and from Equatorial Guinea have improved. Malabo is now served by Air France, Lufthansa, and Iberia Airlines, which allow service to Europe seven days a week. Additionally, Ethiopian Airlines has begun regular service to Addis Ababa. The island of Bioko and the African mainland are connected by several small local airlines offering daily service. Schedules are subject to change or cancellation on short notice; flights are sometimes overbooked andreservations may not guarantee seats.
Malabo Airport has navigational aids and can accommodate night landings. There are no navigational aids at Bata Airport. Special clearances are required to land in or overfly Equatorial Guinea’s territory.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Equatorial Guinea, dated September 24, 2012, with updates to the sections on ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS and SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.