This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan.
OSAC encourages travelers to use this
report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Côte
d’Ivoire. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S.
Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s
publication assesses Côte d’Ivoire at Level 2, indicating travelers
should exercise increased caution in Côte d’Ivoire due to crime and terrorism. Reconsider
travel to the northern border region due to terrorism. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Abidjan as being a CRITICAL-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
The majority of crimes against foreigners are economically motivated and
opportunistic (e.g. smash-and-grabs, threat-of-force muggings, pickpocketing,
and theft of unattended possessions). The risk of petty crime is often higher
in areas of congregation, particularly markets and popular sports/soccer
matches. Hotel rooms are occasional targets for theft of valuables. Review
OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
Certain sections of Abidjan
continue to experience crimes of opportunity committed by small groups of
disaffected teenagers and young adults. These youth usually operate in the more
densely populated neighborhoods, engaging in flash mobs, roughing up
pedestrians, and stealing valuables. One such youth killed a gendarme in
Abidjan in 2018; police have conducted mass detentions of street youth in
Property crime (e.g. burglaries
of residences, car theft) and violent crime (e.g. carjacking, armed
residential/street robberies) are ubiquitous. Illegal firearms are readily available
throughout the country. There continue to be numerous incidents (during both
day and night) of highway banditry and other violent crimes in the countryside.
During holiday seasons (including major Muslim and Christian holidays), there
is typically an increase in stick-ups and opportunistic crimes such as
burglaries of cars and homes. Criminals seldom harm victims of street crime if
they comply with demands. Assailants will follow through on violent threats if
victims refuse to hand over valuables. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
Avoid travel to the Abidjan areas
of Yopougon, Abobo, Banco Forest, Adjame, and Koumassi, except for specific
business purposes during daylight hours, due to crime. Avoid walking across the
Charles de Gaulle and the Houphouet Boigny bridges connecting the Plateau and
The U.S. government has limited
ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Abidjan.
Embassy personnel may not drive outside major cities after dark, to include Abidjan,
Grand Bassam, and Assinie. Plan and coordinate any travel outside of Abidjan with
family, friends, or colleagues. The U.S. Embassy generally does not restrict
travel, other than to the aforementioned Abidjan neighborhoods, for its
Côte d’Ivoire’s borders are
porous, enabling the unregulated circulation of weapons, illicit goods, and
individuals. Minimize road travel near Côte d’Ivoire’s border regions. Travel
to the northern and western border areas presents some risks due to nighttime
banditry along the roadways. Security along Côte d’Ivoire’s northern borders
with Mali and Burkina Faso is a concern, given increasing instability in those
countries and the potential for cross-border criminal and terrorist activity
from Mali- and Burkina-based groups. The security situation along Côte
d’Ivoire’s border with Liberia is also problematic, due to occasional local
land disputes that can escalate into violence on the Ivoirian side of the
Financial and internet-based
scams are proliferating in Côte d’Ivoire. The country has developed a
reputation in West Africa for cybercrime. The U.S. Embassy receives multiple
inquiries per week about scams. Scams typically target Francophone internet
users but occasionally target Anglophones. Internet romance and financial scams
are prevalent in Côte d’Ivoire. Scams are often initiated through Internet
postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always
pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams
include Romance/online dating; Money transfers; Lucrative sales; Gold purchase;
Contracts with promises of large commissions; Grandparent/relative targeting; Free
trip/luggage; Lotteries; Inheritance notices; Work permits/job offers; and Bank
overpayments. The U.S. Embassy is not able to assist victims of scams. For more
information on scams in Côte d’Ivoire, see the U.S.
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and
Road safety is a major concern in
Côte d’Ivoire. Impatient drivers frequently disregard traffic laws and drive
recklessly. Cars frequently travel without functioning headlights. Visibility
is often poor, even in developed areas with streetlights. Roadway accidents
involving large commercial or privately owned vehicles are common along roads
connecting major cities. It is common to see overturned or broken-down vehicles
that block routes and create traffic congestion. Transport vehicles often
overload their cargo and rarely follow standard safety practices.
Improving road and bridge
infrastructure and traffic flow in Abidjan is a government priority. New
bridges and thoroughfares connecting growing residential areas are helping. Nevertheless,
there are large intersections with non-working traffic lights and chaotic
traffic. Infrastructure improvement projects and temporary road closures often
have a severe impact on traffic, particularly in Abidjan.
The addition of traffic lights
within Abidjan has created a perverse hazard for pedestrians and increased the
risk of drivers hitting pedestrians. Although the streetlights (when respected)
control vehicular traffic, there are few walk lights for pedestrians, many of
whom use “zebra” crosswalks even when the traffic light gives vehicles the
right of way.
Outside of Abidjan, road
conditions vary, and many roads suffer from years of neglect and little
maintenance. Large potholes and washed-out or flooded segments can interrupt
stretches of well-paved highway. While sizable potholes are common within and
outside of Abidjan, heavy rains often wash out heavily trafficked dirt roads in
outlying areas. Heavy rain can make unpaved roads impassable. There is no
lighting along most of the main routes outside of Abidjan.
U.S. Embassy personnel may not
travel on roads at night outside of Abidjan or other major cities. The vast
majority of vehicular fatalities involve persons traveling at night, often by
public transportation or in commercial vehicles on poorly lighted roads.
Authorities rarely enforce traffic
laws, and there are allegations that some traffic police solicit bribes. The
patrol presence of Ivoirian security forces on roadways outside of the capital at
night is limited or non-existent. Still, uniformed security checkpoints are
common on major roadways throughout the country, and often increase in number
and intensity following security incidents. There are many police
roadblocks/checkpoints on the major routes outside of Abidjan, which may be
permanent or ad hoc, at which officers have allegedly pressured travelers for
Persons cited for a traffic
violation should request a receipt for any items confiscated or fines paid. It is
legal to pay fines to police officers on the side of the road for small
speeding violations not to exceed 2000 CFA (approximately US $4). The amount
should be clearly printed on the ticket. Some traffic violations (driving
without insurance) may result in driver detention.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques;
and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Use of public transportation can
be hazardous. Taxi and minibus drivers are particularly erratic and reckless,
and traffic accidents occur frequently. Taxi services arranged by phone or the
Internet may offer more secure and safer transportation. The quality of metered
taxis (red/orange) and communal taxis (various colors) varies considerably. Many
taxis often pick up multiple passengers, which can create dangerous or
confusing situations. Passengers may also be at greater risk of theft and
robbery in shared taxis. The safety of buses and taxis is questionable due to
lax and unenforced safety standards. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Visitors should be aware of scams
that can occur at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport (ABJ). One
scam consists of someone offering expediting assistance through passport
control and customs in exchange for payment in advance. Travelers are not
required to pay police, customs, or immigration officers for any service.
Another scam involves someone
posing as a greeter/expediter/driver in the arrival area or at a hotel. At the
airport, the scam artist may obtain the traveler’s name or organization by
reading the traveler’s luggage tag and then positioning himself to guide the
traveler to transportation. The scammer typically charges the traveler an
exorbitant fee, possibly driving them to an ATM to withdraw the fee en route to
Another variation involves the
scam artist posing as someone from an organization’s local affiliate. Make all
travel arrangements in advance, and devise a way to identify local support at
the initial encounter.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Abidjan as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. Mali-based terrorist groups, which include regional al-Qa’ida and
ISIS affiliates, pose a threat to Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa more broadly. Many
of these groups have stated or signaled their intention to target Westerners
and countries whose governments support or participate in regional
stabilization and/or counterterrorism efforts.
The government of Côte d’Ivoire
has actively supported regional and international operations against extremist
groups in Mali. Terrorist and criminal activity along Côte d’Ivoire’s northern
border remains a growing concern as the security situation deteriorates in Mali
and increasingly in Burkina Faso as well. Mali-based terrorist groups have kidnapped
Westerners. Mali-based al-Qa’ida affiliates have demonstrated their willingness
and capacity to launch attacks outside of their main areas of operation in Mali,
and have specifically targeted locations foreigners frequent.
The terrorist group Hizb’allah may
receive financial support from various Côte d’Ivoire-based persons and/or
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Abidjan as being a HIGH-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
There is widespread domestic
uncertainty about the process leading to, and the possible outcomes of, the
country’s presidential and legislative elections (scheduled for October 2020). There
were four confirmed deaths directly related to regional and municipal elections
in 2018. At that time, there were several barricades and mass demonstrations
throughout Abidjan that the heavy presence Ivoirian security forces dispersed
with the use of tear gas (as is common). Unidentified actors ransacked several
polling stations during a December 2018 special election. This recent electoral
violence, combined with the country’s experience with more severe electoral
violence in 2002 and 2010, has exacerbated political and social tensions during
the pre-electoral period.
Travelers should avoid
demonstrations, protests, political rallies, and large crowds, as they can
escalate into violence. Clashes among demonstrators or between protestors, and
security forces may occur with little warning. Police and security forces may
disperse crowds using tear gas or other coercive measures, including force. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Severe storms can result in
flooding and extended power outages. In low-lying areas, flooding is a major
problem during the rainy season and can impede and/or damage roads. Annual
flooding continues to cause extensive damage to poorly built homes.
There is often a general
disregard for environmental standards, leaving land and water polluted. The
government has made efforts to clean certain visible areas, but large sections
of the lagoon and beaches near Abidjan remain littered with trash and heavily
Côte d’Ivoire is a major transit hub for
wildlife trafficking, although the government has demonstrated a willingness to
Economic espionage occurs
infrequently and is on par with
other countries in Africa. If you encounter an economic crime, contact the
Economic Police directly. They are located in the Plateau district of Abidjan.
Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for female
There are no legal restrictions
on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Côte
d’Ivoire. The only mention of same-sex sexual activity in the law is as a form
of public indecency that carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment,
the same prescribed for heterosexual acts performed in Côte d’Ivoire that
contravene the law. Antidiscrimination laws exist, but they do not address
discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Societal
stigmatization of the LGBTI community is widespread. Police, gendarmes, and
members of the armed forces reportedly beat, imprison, verbally abuse, extort,
or humiliate members of the LGBTI community. The few LGBTI organizations in the
country operate freely, but with caution. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for LGBTI+
Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
Individuals with disabilities
should be aware that there are almost no accessibility accommodations made for
individuals with disabilities in Côte d’Ivoire. This is true virtually
everywhere, from the airport to hotels and public buildings. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for travelers
Now a transit, source, and
destination country, Côte d’Ivoire is seeking help to discourage drug use,
treat addicts, detect drug shipments, prosecute offenders, and unearth hidden
assets of drug traffickers. Cocaine, heroin, opioids, amphetamines, and cannabis
are entering and transiting the country, which is now also an important
cannabis producer. An estimated 12% of the population (15-64 years) consumes
drugs. Most of the domestic production supplies the local market (of which
Abidjan makes up 50%), and the sub-region (e.g. Ghana, Guinea and Burkina
Faso). Ivoirian authorities have been successful seizing product, confiscating
5,198 tons in 2018 and 8,456 tons in 2019. The growing drug problem links with
other problems it is struggling to control, with corruption and money
laundering chief among them. Drug use is becoming more common in schools, and is
widespread in Abidjan’s main prison. With a bulging youth population, poor
employment prospects for many, and easy connectivity to Europe and other
African countries, Côte d’Ivoire could well see an even worse drug problem
before too long.
Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
Read the State Department’s
webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into
or out of other countries.
Law enforcement is somewhat
effective at deterring crime but needs further capacity building. Security
services often lack communications equipment, weapons, and vehicles, severely
limiting their capacity to respond. Many gendarmes and police stations outside
of Abidjan have one vehicle for the entire precinct and often receive distress
calls from the public via cell phone because they lack a centralized dispatch
system. Responses to incidents of crime are often slow and generally limited to
writing a report. The judicial system is equally under-resourced and
ill-equipped to process its current case load and to incarcerate
convicted criminals in accordance with international standards.
Government corruption remains a
serious problem in Côte d’Ivoire, and has an impact on judicial proceedings,
contract awards, customs, and tax issues. Uniformed security forces (police,
military, and gendarmes) routinely stop vehicles for traffic violations and
security checks. If you find yourself at such a stop, politely present your
identification. Police and security officials rarely speak English. Incidents
of police or security force harassment or detention of foreigners are rare but
do occur. If an officer asks you to pay a bribe, politely refuse and present a
photocopy of your U.S. passport, visa, and entry stamp.
Visitors requiring police
assistance should appear in person at either the police station in their area
or the police headquarters in Plateau. After doing so, contact the Embassy’s
There is no single emergency line
in Côte d’Ivoire. Call Abidjan’s Prefecture of Police/ Police Headquarters at +(225)
20 22 16 33 or +(225) 20 22 16 87. Download the State Department’s Crime
Victims Assistance brochure.
While many medical services are
available in Abidjan, the quality of medical care and facilities frequently
does not meet U.S. standards. Most providers do not speak English. Doctors
typically complete medical school in Côte d’Ivoire and specialized training in
France. Ambulance response time can be very slow, and traffic may cause severe
delays. Emergency response is extremely limited outside Abidjan and major
cities. Find contact information for available medical services and available
air ambulance services on the U.S.
Serious illnesses/injuries often
require travelers Ivoirian providers to stabilize and then medically evacuate
(medevac) patients to locations where a higher level of care is available. Air
ambulance services are very expensive and are generally available only to
travelers who either have travel insurance that covers medevac, or who can pay
for the service in advance. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends
purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally.
Review the State Departments webpage on insurance
Travelers must have a yellow
fever booklet from WHO bearing a valid stamp for yellow fever inoculation. Authorities
will deny entry into Côte d’Ivoire until they see proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Travelers may receive fever vaccination at the airport for a minimal fee.
Strongly consider using an appropriate
malaria prophylaxis. Other mosquito-borne illnesses are present in Côte
d’Ivoire from time to time; take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. In 2019,
there were outbreaks of Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever in Abidjan.
In many areas, tap water is not
potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be
aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is
specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap
water. Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My
Air pollution is a significant
problem in several major cities in Côte d’Ivoire. Consider the impact seasonal
smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you, and consult with your
doctor before traveling if necessary. People at the greatest risk from particle
pollution exposure include infants, children, and teens; people over 65 years
of age; people with lung disease, such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema; people
with heart disease or diabetes; and people who work or are active outdoors.
The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Côte
d’Ivoire. Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
Abidjan has an active OSAC
Country Council. Contact OSAC’s Africa team
for more information.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Abidjan is located
in the Riviera Golf section of Cocody on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy hours
of operation are Monday through Thursday 0730-1730 and Friday 0730-1230. The
Consular Section is open for American Citizen Services Mon-Thurs, 0800-1230 and
1330-1600. The Embassy closes for most U.S. and Ivoirian holidays.
Embassy Operator +(225) 22 49 40 00
Duty Officer +(225) 06 60 77 04 (after hours)
Marine Post One +(225) 22 49 44 50 or +(225) 22-43-91-49
Before you travel, consider the