is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Liberia.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Liberia country 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 Liberia at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal
precautions. Exercise increased caution in urban areas and public beaches due
to crime. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Monrovia as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Crime remained at a critical level
throughout the country in 2019, owing to growing public discontent with
Liberia’s faltering economy. Reports of home and residential compound invasions
increased, as did violent robberies in populated areas.
2019, there was an increase in reporting of non-violent crimes. Many of these
crimes are “snatch-and-grabs” of electronics, purses, bags, and backpacks; vehicular
vandalism; and vehicle break-ins categorized as theft. These crimes of
opportunity usually occur in densely populated areas throughout the country.
Most snatch-and-grabs involve young male assailants between the ages of 13 and
25. Criminals often carry knives or homemade handguns, and occasionally work in
small groups to target unsuspecting victims. Most of these cases end without
violence if the victim is compliant. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
resulting in the use of lethal force have also increased. Crimes of this nature
tend to target local nationals, not foreigners. Violent crimes consist of
robberies, burglaries, muggings, and assaults. The perpetrators, usually carrying
a knife or firearm, often use force even when the victim complies with the
assailant’s demands, a practice that was uncommon during previous years.
thefts are not commonly reported; when reported, vehicles are rarely recovered.
There are cases of international car thefts where authorities traced stolen
vehicles discovered in Liberia to source countries through international law
enforcement partnerships. Crimes of this nature are subject to investigation,
but go unprosecuted due to a corrupt and ineffective judicial process.
of home invasions in 2019 plagued local nationals at higher levels;
particularly in outlying areas of Monrovia lacking community security
organizations. Most home invasions occur overnight, between 0100-0400, and
usually involve multiple armed assailants using a combination of homemade guns
or semi-automatic weapons.
justice is common in greater Monrovia, and in most cases, directed at
miscreants engaged in property theft or domestic abuse. Members of a community often
identify these criminals are as “rogues.” Residential burglaries occur
throughout the year, but are more common during the rainy season, when there
are fewer people moving about to notice outdoor criminal activity, which is
largely obscured by rainy conditions. Lack of effective security measures make
home invasions more inviting. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels:
The Inns and Outs and Considerations
for Hotel Security.
and organized kidnappings are rare.
assault and rape are the most commonly reported violent crimes. The
overwhelming majority of sexual assault victims are Liberian nationals, and
many are minors. Sexual violence against expatriates in Liberia is uncommon,
but has been reported at public beaches. Use caution when visiting any public
beach, the areas of greater Monrovia known as Red Light, Waterside, Congo Town,
ELWA Junction, and all market areas. Petty crimes and armed robberies are
common in those areas, especially after dark.
are no administratively imposed curfews or off-limit areas in Liberia for U.S.
Embassy personnel. U.S. Chief of Mission personnel may not drive outside the
greater Monrovia area (which includes Roberts International Airport) or between
counties after dark. Although the Regional Security Office (RSO) has not
designated any areas off-limits, public beaches and the area in Monrovia known
as “Red Light” are less safe due to sparse law enforcement and security
areas with neighboring states are more susceptible to a variety of criminal
activities due to the lack of security presence and effective security
enforcement at most border crossing areas.
primarily a cash economy, the occurrence of credit card theft and fraud in
Liberia is low compared to other parts of Africa and the United States. Credit
card terminals do exist in major hotels and some supermarkets. Inform your
credit card providers of any intended use in Liberia, check credit card
statements shortly after transactions occur, and monitor credit card statements
closely following use in Liberia. Most of the wire fraud that is connected to
Liberia happens to unsuspecting foreigners who fall victim to monetary schemes.
Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
fraud schemes are prevalent throughout Africa and pose a danger of serious
financial loss to victims. These scams, otherwise known as ‘419’ scams—so-named
after the section of Nigeria’s criminal code addressing financial
crimes—typically begin when the victim receives an unsolicited communication
(usually e-mail, text message, dating site correspondence, or social media
message) from an unknown entity who promises quick financial gain. The
fraudster promises a monetary payment for such services as hospital stays,
inheritances, mineral exploration rights, land or property development, but
then requires a series of "advance fees" to be paid, such as fees for
legal documents or taxes. The final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the
scam is simply to collect the advance fees as frequently and as long as
possible. Carefully check any unsolicited business proposal originating in
Liberia before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, or
undertaking any travel, particularly if the proposal involves mining or the
sale of gold and diamonds. There has also been an increase in romance fraud as
Liberians initiate internet relationships with a U.S. citizen for the purpose
of eventually requesting money.
was rocked by an enormous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that
crippled the Liberian internet infrastructure in 2016. The DDoS attack was
reported to have infected computers, and many internet-connected devices such
as DVR players and digital cameras. No major cybersecurity incidents have been
reported in Liberia since 2016. Cybercrime remains a low-moderate threat here
due to the lack of electricity and computer ownership throughout the country. Review
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
general, the main roads in and around Monrovia are in acceptably passable
condition. In rural areas, approximately 7% of roads are paved (this area is
commonly referred to as Upcountry). A six-month rainy season, which begins in
May or June, contributes to rapid deterioration of unpaved roads. Many regions
are inaccessible even with well-equipped 4x4 vehicles. In addition to the road
conditions, drivers must pay particular attention to pedestrians, vendors,
motorcyclists, and taxi operators, who often demonstrate blatant disregard for
rules of the road and the safety of other motorists. Transportation accidents
do occur frequently for reasons including poor maintenance of vehicles,
hazardous road conditions, aggressive drivers, and widespread disregard for
traffic laws. The most prevalent danger posed is vehicular accidents,
especially at night. The RSO encourages organizations to develop and implement
travel plans in Liberia that incorporate personnel tracking technology and
in Liberia are expected to hold either a Liberian or an international driver’s
license; a driver’s license from your home country will not be sufficient. At
the same time, traffic laws are either nonexistent or not enforced. You must
pull off the road to make way for high-speed car convoys carrying government
have been repeated occurrences of mob violence taking place following traffic
accidents with motorcycle (Pehn-Pehn or KeKe) operators.
Regardless of fault, exercise extreme caution in the aftermath of a motor
vehicle accident. Unless it is physically unsafe to remain in your vehicle, it
is often safest to stay in your locked car and call the police immediately if
the situation will not defuse.
driving through populated areas like markets, keep windows rolled up and car
doors locked. Carjacking is not prevalent, but snatch-and-grab robberies do
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
buses are crowded and may make you vulnerable to pickpockets or robbers. Avoid
three-wheeled kekes (motorized rickshaws), which are extremely dangerous.
U.S. Embassy prohibits its personnel from using commercial taxis, buses, and
motorbike taxis due to potential crimes associated with public transportation,
poor maintenance and reliability, and other security concerns. Embassy personnel
use commercial transportation services from a list of reputable companies
maintained by the Embassy’s Community Liaison Office. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
primary international airport is Roberts International Airport (ROB), which
opened a new terminal in 2019. The airport is located approximately 35 miles
east of Monrovia on a paved road. Travel time varies based on traffic, but is
often 1 ½ to 2 hours. Like other roads in Liberia, the road to the airport is
not lighted at night, resulting in an increased risk of traffic accidents. Drive
with care after dark. Taxi service from the airport is unreliable and visitors should
pre-arrange transportation to Monrovia.
Payne Airport (MLW) is located approximately 3 miles east of downtown Monrovia,
in the Sinkor neighborhood, on a paved road. The airport accommodates regional
international flights, and can be much more convenient for regional travelers
there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers
registered in Liberia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not
assessed the government of Liberia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance
with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety
U.S. Department of State has assessed Monrovia as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests.
exists a real and growing threat of regional terrorism due to the operational
presence of known terrorist entities in West Africa’s Sahel region. Liberia has
not experienced terrorist attacks, but vulnerabilities exist given the
country’s porous borders, and the increase in terror activities by
transnational and international terrorist organizations such as al-Qai’da in
the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin
(JNIM), and the Macina Liberation Front (MLF).
citizens are generally accepted and well-liked in Liberia and are not specific
targets for criminal activity due to their nationality. However, foreigners
have been targets in Liberia due to their race/ethnicity.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Monrovia as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. Poor economic conditions have prompted
public demonstrations, which at times resulted in violence.
weakening economy, high unemployment, systemic corruption, limited health-care
options, and political tensions create conditions for increased civil unrest.
In addition to the U.S. Embassy recording a 112% increase in protests in
Liberia over the previous year, many protests in Monrovia resulted in some
violence and civil disorder. Some protests in 2019 were in response to
dissatisfaction with low wages and/or lack of salary payment, the need for
economic reforms, educational fees, fuel and transportation costs, access to
healthcare, poor living and working conditions, and lack of adequate
electricity. Liberia security services
generally demonstrated their capability to control and resolve instances of
social factors exist that tend to increase public expression of discontent and
unrest include politically motivated student organizations, organized unions of
commercial drivers and currency exchangers, lack of vital resources (e.g. electricity,
water, fuel, and food) in impacted areas, and groups organizing to protest
corruption, as well as atrocities committed by former warlords. While most
protests in the past were episodic and mainly peaceful, the size of protests,
the introduction of hostile acts by protestors, and unprofessional conduct by
some law enforcement and security services have increased. Protests ranged from
a few hundred to a few thousand participants in 2019. Protests and
demonstrations are likely to continue to increase in frequency and intensity
with greater focus on prevailing freedoms to assemble, social issues, and the
faltering economy. High unemployment and underemployment, systemic corruption,
limited healthcare and educational options, and political tension are constant
sources of dissatisfaction that could rapidly trigger public protests and
demonstrations. Liberian security services generally demonstrated their
capability to control and resolve instances of civil disorder. However, lacking
sufficient anti-riot equipment and less than lethal means tools, Liberian
security forces have used tear gas and water cannons against even peaceful
demonstrators; this can exacerbate security challenges and is inconsistent with
internationally recognized best practices. Avoid large gatherings, as even
peaceful demonstrations can become confrontational and escalate into violence. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving
85% of Liberia’s population is Christian. There is a moderate Muslim minority (approximately
12%), with the remaining 3% practicing other religions. Instances of
religious/ethnic violence in Liberia are rare.
six-month rainy season (May - November) makes Monrovia the wettest capital in
the world. The heavy rains can cause severe flooding and wash out most roads
outside the capital. Deep mud and puddles require 4x4 vehicles to travel
not swim in the Atlantic if you are unfamiliar with swimming in water where
very strong rip currents occur. Riptides can occur anywhere on the coast. The
Liberia Weather Service does not provide information on where and when these
tides form, and there are no lifeguards posted on beaches.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
fuel, transportation, utilities, and telephone services are not consistently
available, especially outside of Monrovia. Hotel rooms can be difficult to find
without an advance reservation.
has a limited utility infrastructure. Liberia depends on cellular phone
networks for voice and internet communications. There is no working landline
telephone system in Liberia; rent or purchase a local cellular phone. Most
homes and businesses have no electricity, and those that do largely depend on
home generators. In addition, most institutions depend on truck delivery for
water. In 2016, the Liberia Electricity Corporation with the assistance of the
U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) re-opened the Mt. Coffee hydropower
plant that is beginning to generate electricity for the city of Monrovia,
though transmission and distribution challenges have stalled progress. The
Embassy had to consider contingencies to provide reliable deliveries of potable
water due to a November 2019 employee strike at the Liberian Water and Sewer
Economic Concerns/Intellectual Property Theft
of the poorest countries in the world, Liberia began 2019 with multiple
economic and security challenges that worsened throughout the year. Increased
violent crime, worsening economic conditions, government payroll arrears, as
well as corruption continue to plague the nation’s progress following 14 years
of civil war (1989-2003) and the regional Ebola crisis (2014-15). President
George Weah and his administration struggle to foster confidence across the
economic sector, which has led to a reduction in foreign investment and greater
Liberian dollar is the official currency; however, the U.S. dollar is legal
tender. Liberian dollars are preferable for smaller purchases, especially
outside of Monrovia. Wire transfers may be limited and subject to fees if you
do not have a Liberian bank account. ATMs are not widely available.
interested in business ventures should be aware that corruption is endemic throughout
Liberia’s institutions. Counterfeit documents and fraudulent licenses are easy
to obtain. Fully vet the business sector within which you desire to work, and any
individuals with whom you seek a partnership, as well as reviewing the Commercial
Climate Guide for Liberia.
Personal Identity Concerns
is illegal in Liberia. The Liberia senate voted unanimously to prohibit and
criminalize same-sex marriages in 2012. Members of the LGBTI+ community face a
maximum penalty of one year imprisonment or $1,000 Liberian dollars if caught
engaging in same-sex sexual activity. LGBTI+ community members may be subject
to discrimination and verbal/physical attacks. LGBTI+ persons have reported
being victim to forced evictions when landlords discovered their sexual
orientation. Reports of attacks on the LGBTQ community in Monrovia increased in
2019. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
is a crime in Liberia punishable by up to life in prison. However, the Liberian
government does not effectively enforce the law, and rape remains a serious and
pervasive problem. Domestic violence also remains a serious problem despite
being punishable by up to six months in prison. Female genital
mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is not specifically against the law in Liberia, and
is often performed during initiation into the Sande secret societies. 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
are no accommodations for individuals with disabilities in Liberia. Those with
disabilities that hinder mobility should take this into consideration before
planning travel. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
drugs are present, trafficked into Liberia from neighboring West African
countries. The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency publicized several success
stories in 2019 highlighting the agency’s drug interdiction achievements—to
include the largest drug seizer in the organization’s history—at the
international airport in Monrovia and throughout the country.
is uncommon in Liberia. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
other constraints, the lack of robust law enforcement capacity hampers
Liberia’s ability to get off the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons
Tier 2 watch list.
military installations, airports and seaports, and important government
buildings is illegal. Do not take photographs of sites or activities that authorities
may consider to be sensitive; police may confiscate the camera. Review OSAC’s
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Liberia is also 911. However, emergency services are not reliable
or consistent. A call to 911 in Liberia may go unanswered, and you may need to
employ other resources to obtain emergency assistance. Contact the police via
the LNP Chief of Patrol at +231 (0)880-800-117.
primary law enforcement agency is the Liberia National Police (LNP). The LNP
has continued to develop its law enforcement capabilities. Locals and visitors
alike might experience inconsistency in the level of responsiveness and
services provided by the LNP. Due to a lack of resources, the LNP is limited in
its ability to respond to criminal acts or provide full services to crime
victims. Travelers should anticipate that stolen property will not likely be
recovered, nor are perpetrators likely to be brought to justice. It is common
for LNP officers to request bribes from travelers at major intersections or
police checkpoints during hours of darkness, or request funding for fuel in
order to respond to a report of a crime.
Liberian security services, in particular the LNP, are not always able
to cope successfully with myriad security challenges, which has resulted in
increased public criticism of LNP response. The LNP sometimes employs
unorthodox practices, such as throwing rocks at protestors or dispensing tear
gas at underage protestors to quell demonstration violence.
the departure of UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) in 2018, Liberian
security forces took over the responsibility of maintaining nationwide security
for the first time since 2003. Some security institutions such as the LNP, the
principle law enforcement body in the country, have struggled to maintain the effective
nationwide law enforcement and security functions that UNMIL once provided.
However, other law enforcement and security agencies such as the Liberian
Immigration Service, the Liberian Revenue Authority, the Department of Customs,
and the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency have improved their capabilities and
effectiveness. Safeguarding the nation’s porous borders and providing effective
security outside of Monrovia continues to be problematic. These challenges are
compounded by the establishment of illegal checkpoints and solicitation of
unauthorized “fines” from vehicle operators, actions which erode public confidence
in security officers.
advises that Embassy personnel and visitors treat police officers in the same
manner they would when interacting with a U.S. law enforcement official.
Ignoring reasonable lawful orders, becoming belligerent, or showing lack of
respect will only exacerbate the situation and could result in your arrest.
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
facilities are poorly equipped and staffed and generally struggle to provide
basic services. Emergency services comparable to those in the United States or
Europe are non-existent, and the blood supply is unreliable and unsafe for
transfusion. For serious medical problems, consider traveling to the United
States, Europe, or South Africa for treatment.
Ebola outbreak in 2014-15 highlighted the low level of medical services. Even
today, medicines are scarce, and some are counterfeit and distributed beyond
their expiration date. Doctors, clinics, and hospitals expect immediate cash
payment for health services and, in many cases, before rendering service. Local
healthcare facilities typically employ healthcare professionals who have not
received Western or Western-equivalent medical training. 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
Malaria and yellow fever are prevalent throughout the country. Chemoprophylaxis
(anti-malarial medication) is recommended for all travelers, even for short
stays. All travelers must have up-to-date immunizations and a yellow fever
vaccination in their shot record. Carry and use insect repellents containing
either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Treat
clothing and tents with permethrin, and sleep in screened or air-conditioned
rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.
The following diseases are also prevalent: Typhoid; Hepatitis A; Rabies;
Diarrheal Illnesses; Tuberculosis; Schistosomiasis; Onchocerciasis; and Lassa
Fever. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance
Review 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
for Travel, and Fire
OSAC Country Council
established a Liberia Country Council in 2017, and met frequently in 2019 to
foster increased communication. For more information or to join, contact OSAC’s
U.S. Embassy Contact
502 Benson Street, Monrovia
Embassy Hours of Operation: Monday
- Thursday 0800-1730, Friday 0800-1300.
Consular Section by appointment only
Monday through Thursday.
U.S. Embassy Switchboard: +231 77
MSG Post One: +231 77 677 7001
Regional Security Office: +231 77
Consular Affairs / American Citizen
Services: +231 77 677 7111
you travel, consider the following resources: