Gabon

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 16 October 2014.   This has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Gabon because of the high levels of crime.

Gabon overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Gabon because of the high levels of crime.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. In an effort to prevent the spread of the disease into Gabon, authorities have cancelled all incoming flights from or via countries affected by EVD, including Nigeria. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.
  • You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds and rallies as they may turn violent.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Gabon. The Canadian Honorary Consul in Libreville, Gabon and the Canadian High Commission in Yaoundé , Cameroon, provides consular assistance to Australians in Gabon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, can also assist Australians in Gabon.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Gabon for the most up to date information. Gabon does not have diplomatic representation in Australia. Their nearest embassies are in Jakarta and Tokyo.

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. In an effort to prevent the spread of the disease into Gabon, authorities have cancelled all incoming flights from or via countries affected by EVD and from Nigeria. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.

Gabon is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination (see Health section).

Valid yellow fever vaccination and cholera certificates are required for entry into Gabon.

Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/Political tension

There have been political demonstrations in Libreville and Port-Gentil in the past. You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds and rallies as they may turn violent.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Gabon because of the high levels of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Petty theft is common throughout Gabon, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and vehicle break-ins, particularly in crowded areas such as markets, transport hubs and tourist areas. Violent crime, including robberies, carjackings and armed attacks also occurs, especially in the cities of Libreville and Port-Gentil. Security risks increase when walking alone and on beaches, particularly at night.

Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Money and valuables

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Gabon. There have been reports of credit card fraud and of internet scams originating in Gabon.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Driving in Gabon can be hazardous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles, local driving practices and inadequate lighting, especially outside urban areas. Towing and repair services are not common outside Libreville. Pedestrians and animals on the road pose additional safety risks. Traffic accidents are common. You should avoid travelling at night. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Carjacking, snatch and grab robbery from unlocked cars and violent incidents of road rage have previously targeted foreigners in Gabon. We recommend travelling with doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight.

There are police road blocks throughout the country and you may be asked to show identity and motor vehicle registration papers. It is mandatory that all drivers carry their licence, proof of insurance, proof of inspection, an emergency triangle and a first aid kit. International driving licences are only valid for the first 30 days in Gabon.

Public Transport

Buses and trains in Gabon are reasonably safe but services are infrequent. Many locals utilise taxis for regular travel. Taxis pick up multiple passengers and often taken indirect routes. You should negotiate the fare with a taxi driver before entering and avoid using taxis alone or at night. Where possible use hotel taxi services.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Gabon.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Gabon, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences.

Serious crimes, including murder and serious assaults, carry the death penalty.

Homosexual activities are not illegal, however the local community may be intolerant of homosexuality. Same sex relationships are not recognised. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is prohibited to photograph military sites and Government buildings, including the Presidential Palace.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Gabon are limited in major cities and very basic to unavailable in rural areas. Up-front payment is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a major illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate medical facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation would be considerable.

Gabon is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Gabon. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Malaria occurs widely and throughout the year in Gabon. Other insect-borne diseases (including chikungunya fever, dengue fever, filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Gabon is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. In an effort to prevent the spread of the disease into Gabon, authorities have cancelled all incoming flights from or via countries affected by EVD, including Nigeria. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police on. The national emergency number is 177. However, it does not work on certain cell phone networks. For the police, call 01-76-55-85 in Libreville and 07-36-22-25 in Port Gentil. French is often required.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Gabon. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Honorary Consul in Libreville, Gabon and the Canadian High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Gabon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Honorary Consul, Libreville

Quartier Batterie IV
Pont de Gué-Gué (1st Street behind the EU)
Libreville, Gabon
Telephone: (241) 01 44 29 65
Email: conhongab@gmail.com

Canadian High Commission, Yaounde

Immeuble Stamatiades
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telephone: (237) 223 2311
Facsimile: (237) 222 1090
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/cameroon-cameroun.

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission located in Nigeria:

Australian High Commission, Abuja

48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria
Telephone (234 9) 461 2780
Facsimile (234 9) 461 2782
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au.

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Gabon, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above Embassy or High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is from October to mid-December and mid-February to May when flooding occurs. During this period some roads may become impassable without the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle. You should monitor local weather reports, especially during these periods. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following link:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.