is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in the Republic
of the Congo. 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 the Republic of the Congo at Level 2, indicating travelers
should exercise increased caution in the Republic of the Congo due to crime and
civil unrest. Reconsider travel to the southern and western districts of the
Pool Region due to potential civil unrest. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Brazzaville as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Most crime
affecting expatriates in the Republic of the Congo (RoC) is for economic gain.
In recent years, there have been several incidents of petty/street crime and
burglaries involving U.S. citizens and other expatriates. Petty crime often
happens in public places and areas of congregation (e.g. marketplaces, sports
venues, popular bars/restaurants frequented by local nationals). On rare
occasions, armed assailants have confronted expatriates. Criminal elements do
not typically single out U.S. citizens, but may view them as targets of
opportunity based on perceived affluence or vulnerability. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
Marché Total and Bacongo neighborhoods of southern Brazzaville and the Moungali
area of northern Brazzaville are higher-crime areas. The Embassy has received
reports of violent crimes perpetrated by gangs of young males. Local media and
security forces use the catch-all term of bébés noirs to describe young
criminals, who generally use knives to subdue victims. There are also reports
of fights between gangs and confrontations with security forces in the northern
neighborhoods of Brazzaville. RoC security forces have attempted to repress
gang activity by rounding up suspected young men and adolescents. In 2018, one
of these actions led to the deaths of 13 youths in custody at the Chacona
police station in Mpila.
downtown (centre-ville) areas of both Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire are generally
safe, housing high concentrations of government offices and security forces.
Most expatriates live and work in these areas, with many major shops,
restaurants, and hotels concentrated there. In recent years, expatriates have
noticed many cases of aggressive panhandlers. This may pose an indirect danger
by putting expatriates into vulnerable positions. Pay attention when entering
and exiting vehicles and stores to avoid them. The Embassy continued to receive
sporadic reports of burglars targeting expatriate homes in 2019. Homes without
adequate security features, such as razor wire, are vulnerable to home
invasion. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels:
The Inns and Outs and Considerations
for Hotel Security.
is a spike in crime each year around the December holiday season.
RoC is primarily a cash-based economy. Travelers may exchange Euros and U.S. dollars
at the airport and at some banks/hotels. ATMs are available but unreliable.
Only major hotels and two grocery stores (Park and Shop and Casino) accept
major international credit and debit cards, although connectivity problems
sometimes limit availability. Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
has the same general concerns as Brazzaville. However, its beaches are areas
for opportunistic crime, which is often associated with violence, particularly
after dark. The U.S. Embassy has designated one portion of Pointe-Noire’s
beaches as permissible for U.S. official personnel to visit; this area extends
from the western limit of The Yes Club to the eastern limit of the VIP Escale
Demex, and borders many hotels/restaurants, which provide increased security.
All other public beaches are off limits to U.S. official personnel. The Embassy
recommends that travelers avoid all beaches at night.
close attention both to events in RoC and in neighboring Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC). Unrest in Kinshasa can affect Brazzaville, as the two capital
cities are located directly across the Congo River from one another.
U.S. Embassy discourages travel in the Western Pool region due to a history of
armed conflict. The Embassy has received several reports of armed highway
robbery after dark in this area. Avoid unnecessary travel in this part of the
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity
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 Conditions
infrastructure has improved in recent years. However, campaigns to improve
road-safety awareness have not accompanied physical road improvements; in fact,
fatal accident rates are increasing in areas with new highways. Motorists
should use extreme caution and defensive driving techniques on highways. Avoid
nighttime driving on major highways.
roads outside of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire are often impassable during the
rainy seasons (September-December, February-May). Outside of Brazzaville, the
RoC environment is a mix of rainforests and open savanna. Make sufficient
preparations prior to travel and exercise extreme caution in these remote
and diesel fuel are sometimes unavailable in the major cities, and are
especially limited in the more isolated regions of the country.
soldiers or national police may conduct vehicle searches and check passengers
for identity papers. These roadblocks often are poorly marked. Local
authorities may target foreigners to solicit bribes.
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.
Public Transportation Conditions
travel by public transport (e.g. buses). Train service between Brazzaville and
Pointe-Noire is unreliable and does not meet U.S. safety standards. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
there are no officially registered taxi companies, municipal authorities in the
major cities require taxis to have an operating permit and to have a specific color
scheme (green/white in Brazzaville, blue/white in Pointe-Noire, red/white in
Dolisie). Although taxis are a convenient and relatively safe alternative for
transportation in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, the Embassy does not endorse
the use of any particular local taxi operators. Taxis do not have meters; negotiate
fares before using one. It is customary for drivers to charge a supplemental
fee to or from airports. Travelers using taxis should keep small denomination
bills. Passengers should take note of the vehicle registration in case of any
incidents or issues with taxi operators. The Embassy has received reports of a
small number of taxi operators conspiring with thieves to rob passengers. Taxis
do not undergo routine inspections and vary significantly in their state of
repair. Always wear a seat belt and use the vehicle’s door locks for added
safety. To avoid theft at intersections do not use a mobile telephone with the
window down and place your personal baggage between your legs.
commercial ferry service exists between Brazzaville and Kinshasa; however, it
may suspend service with little notice. The port closes at 1600, and is open
only until 1200 on Sundays and holidays. Passengers must already have a valid
visa to cross the Congo River.
Maya-Maya International Airport (BZV) received a new runway in 2010 and a new
terminal in 2013.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Brazzaville as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Although there
have been no terrorist attacks in the RoC, its neighbors do experience a terror
threat. Cameroon continues to experience attacks by Boko Haram and other
terrorist groups, particularly in the north. In 2017, the U.S. Embassy received
a specific terrorist threat, and in 2018, U.S. Embassy Kinshasa received what
it publicly described as “credible and specific” terrorist threat information
against U.S. government facilities in that city.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Brazzaville as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Starting
in 2016, for almost two years, the RoC Government fought an insurgent group
known as the Ninjas in the western Pool region. In 2017, the parties reached a
ceasefire agreement, which remains in effect.
2019, Brazzaville continued to experience a small number of public protests.
However, the government normally anticipates and forestalls any protests.
Travelers should avoid any demonstrations or large groups of people. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving
between Congolese nationals and West African immigrants and shopkeepers occur
occasionally. Although strong ethnic fault-lines exist among the Congolese
population (mainly along a North/South divide), ethnic violence has not
surfaced among domestic groups in recent years.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
infrastructure does not meet Western standards for workplace health, safety,
security, and environmental issues. A primary example is in the engineering and
construction sectors, where few safety standards exist on construction sites,
other than those under the control of Western companies.
access is extremely expensive, tends to be unreliable, and is often affected by
technical glitches and regular government restriction.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
abundance of pirated merchandise is readily available from street vendors. It
is a violation of U.S. law to bring this material to the United States.
law prohibits exiting the country with the local currency, the Central African
CFA Franc. The Central African CFA Franc is a currency shared by six countries
in the region, and is different from the West African CFA Franc, which is not legal
tender in RoC.
Personal Identity Concerns
sexual activity is legal in the ROC. However, members of the LGBTI community
face heavy stigmatization, and there is no legal protection against
discrimination based on sexual orientation. There have been reports of police
in Pointe-Noire verbally, physically, or sexually abusing openly gay young men
and harassing gay men in order to elicit bribes. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for LGBTI+
receive reports for only a fraction of rapes. Police reports verifying rape
cost CFA 30,000 francs ($52) to cover medical examination and report expenses,
an onerous cost for most victims. Domestic violence is widespread but rarely
reported. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
OSAC’s report, Freedom
to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few
sidewalks and no curb cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
Piracy and Maritime Security
International Maritime Bureau warns mariners to be extra cautious when
transiting the waters off Pointe-Noire, where minor piracy events happen regularly.
Sophisticated piracy events occur in and near RoC waters (about 100 nautical
miles from Ponte-Noire) targeting oil tankers, including a tanker hijacking
with its crew on board. Pirate groups involved in Gulf of Guinea piracy typically
originate from Nigeria. Increasingly, pirates have kidnapped crewmembers for
ransom from ships in more northern waters of the Gulf of Guinea; in such cases,
pirates have transferred victims to other vessels or even taken them ashore –
often to hideouts in southern Nigeria.
phone and the Internet services are private but subject to direct government
control and monitoring. The government has a history of shutting electronic and
telephonic communications nationwide during constitutional referendum-related
civil unrest and presidential elections.
law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police,
military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and
infrastructure such as roads, bridges, dams, and airports. Such sites are
rarely marked clearly. Review OSAC’s report,
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
law prohibits the exports of artifacts and other items of historical
significance. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
RoC security services, including the Army (Forces Armées Congolaises), National
Police (controlled by the Ministry of the Interior), and Gendarmerie (a police
force under the control of the Ministry of Defense), are highly visible on a
day-to-day basis across Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. There are regular reports
of law enforcement officers using excessive force. There are also occasional
reports of solicitations of bribes and participation in criminal activity by
security forces. Police resources are limited, and response to emergency calls
is often slow or non-existent.
carry some form of formal identification. The Embassy recommends that travelers
carry a copy of their passport and Congolese visa rather than the originals.
have stopped foreigners and accused them of minor infractions, which may or may
not have been justified. Police typically do not want to write a ticket and
often request the payment of a fine on the spot. The U.S. Embassy does not
encourage payment of fines directly to requesting officers.
detention of U.S. citizens is rare. In the few instances that have occurred,
Congolese police have allowed arrested U.S. citizens to contact the Embassy.
Arrested or detained U.S. citizens have the right to request that Congolese
authorities alert the U.S. Embassy and are encouraged to use whatever means of
communication available to notify the U.S. Embassy of their situation.
emergency line in the Republic of the Congo is 117. Local Emergency Fire and EMS
services number is 118. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims
reporting a crime to the police, victims should ask for an official written
police report (CFA 15,000 charge). For violent crimes, the Embassy can help
victims find appropriate medical care, contact family members and friends, and
help them send money. Consular officers can help victims understand the local
criminal justice process and provide a list of local attorneys, if needed.
facilities are very limited. Hospitals in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire suffer
from inadequate facilities, chronic underfunding, outdated equipment, and
shortages of supplies and medications. There is a shortage of physicians and
other qualified medical personnel. Some hospitals have ambulance services, but
these are limited, unreliable, and require an on-scene cash payment.
Psychiatric services and medications are very limited. Travelers must carry
their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Find contact
information for available medical services and available air ambulance services
on the U.S.
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for the
Republic of the Congo.
OSAC’s reports, The
Healthy Way, Traveling
with Medication, I’m
Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare
OSAC Country Council
has an OSAC Country Council that meets quarterly. Contact OSAC’s Africa team.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Embassy is located in Brazzaville on Denis Sassou N’Guesso Boulevard (formerly
known as Maya-Maya Boulevard), the same road as the airport.
of operation are Monday-Thursday, 0730-1700, and Friday, 0730-1230.
+242 06 612 2000.
Emergencies: +242 05 526 3533
you travel, consider the following resources: