Côte d'Ivoire

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 02 July 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Côte d'Ivoire due to the threat of a terrorist attack, the unpredictable security environment and the high risk of crime. We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to the regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra, due to the unstable security environment and presence of armed militias.

Côte d'Ivoire overall

Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Côte d’Ivoire due to the threat of a terrorist attack, the unpredictable security environment and the high risk of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for possible new safety or security risks.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra. The security situation in these regions remains unstable because of inter-communal tensions and the presence of armed militias in the proximity of the Liberian border.
  • There is a continued risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in West Africa following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. Terrorist groups in the region have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners.
  • There is a high risk of violent crime throughout Côte d’Ivoire, including in the major city of Abidjan.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Côte d’Ivoire. The Canadian Embassy located in Abidjan, provides consular assistance to Australians in Côte d’Ivoire. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, can also assist Australians in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • 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) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Côte d’Ivoire for the most up to date information. The closest Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire to Australia is located in Japan:

2-19-12 Uehara
Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Phone: (3) 5454-1401
Email: ambacijn@yahoo.fr.

An exit permit is required for all art objects being removed from Côte d’Ivoire. The National Museum issues these permits.

Cote d’Ivoire 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. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Cote d’Ivoire (see Health section). A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Côte d’Ivoire. 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

We assess that there is a continued risk of retaliatory attacks against government and Western targets in West Africa following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. Terrorist groups in the region have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. Such attacks could take place at any time, including at locations frequented by Westerners.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

Although the political and security situation in Côte d’Ivoire has stabilised since 2011, you should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Côte d’Ivoire as they may become violent without warning.

Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to these regions, as the security situation remains unstable due to inter-communal tensions and the presence of armed militias in the proximity of the Liberian border.

There have been cross border attacks in areas bordering Liberia and Ghana since June 2012. Some militia attacks in border areas have killed UN peacekeepers and Ivorian military forces. Attacks occurred most recently in February and May 2014. Australians in Côte d’Ivoire should reconsider their need to travel to the Liberian border and exercise a high degree of caution in areas near the Ghanaian border. Monitor local media for developments.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Côte d’Ivoire due to the high incidence of crime. Violent crime occurs throughout Côte d’Ivoire. You should avoid confrontations with police and security forces. Armed robbery is common, including of businesses and restaurants. Some robbers reportedly wear military uniforms.

Several attacks by armed highway robbers (known as “coupeurs de route”) occurred in 2013 on the main road from Yamoussoukro to Korogho and the Adibjan to Yamoussoukro highway. Attacks have also been reported in the west of the country during daylight hours as well as at night. Plan road journeys carefully and take security precautions. When driving ensure that doors are locked, windows are up and valuables kept out of sight.

Australians should be aware of high rates of violent crime in Abidjan. We advise you not to walk across the De Gaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges to and from the Le Plateau areas in Abidjan as pedestrians have been attacked and robbed even during the day. You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in the districts of Treichville, Adjame, Abobo and Yopougon. The risk of being a victim of crime increases at night. Snatch-and-run robberies and pickpocketing occur, especially in crowded areas.

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

Commercial and internet fraud: Commercial and internet fraud often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a financial scam, we advise you to get legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical harm from the perpetrators. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find whether your ATM card will work in Cote d’Ivoire. Australian currency is generally not accepted in West Africa.

Access to cash through banks and ATMs is not always reliable.

Credit card fraud is common, be sure to keep your card in sight when making purchases.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

The road system is generally good but road conditions deteriorate outside of Abidjan. Roads may become impassable during the rainy season. Unskilled drivers, poorly maintained and overloaded vehicles, and inadequate lighting make driving conditions hazardous. Driving at night should be avoided. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Several attacks by armed highway robbers (known as “coupeurs de route”) occurred in 2013 on the main road from Yamoussoukro to Korogho and the Adibjan to Yamoussoukro highway. Attacks have also been reported in the west of the country during daylight hours as well as at night. Plan road journeys carefully and take security precautions. When driving ensure that doors are locked, windows are up and valuables kept out of sight.

Piracy occurs in coastal waters off West Africa. See our travel advice on piracy for further information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Strong coastal currents make swimming dangerous.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Côte d’Ivoire, 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.

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 the use of illegal drugs include imprisonment.

Homosexuality is not illegal, however public displays of affection between members of the same sex can be considered an 'offence against public decency'. Penalties for this include fines and imprisonment for up to two years. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is prohibited to take photographs near sensitive installations, including military sites, government buildings such as the radio and television stations, the Presidency building, the airport and the De Gaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan.

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 Australians 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.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Côte d’Ivoire and you should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

Ivorians by birth who have acquired Australian citizenship will be regarded as Ivorian by local authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Ivorian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

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.

Outside Abidjan, medical facilities are very limited. Serious medical conditions would require a medical evacuation to Australia or another suitable location. Medical evacuation costs could exceed $A100,000.

There has been a serious outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, resulting in over 500 deaths (WHO Disease Outbreak News). Monitor closely the health advice issued by local authorities and avoid travel to affected areas. For more information, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.

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

Côte d’Ivoire 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 Côte d’Ivoire. 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 and other tropical diseases are common in west African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take precautions against insect bites including using an insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including measles, cholera, hepatitis, meningitis and tuberculosis) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. It is advisable to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and 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 and/or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Côte d’Ivoire. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Abidjan provides consular assistance to Australians in Cote d’Ivoire. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Embassy, Abidjan

Immeuble Trade Centre
23 Avenue Nogues
Le Plateau
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Telephone: (225 20) 300 700
Facsimile: (225 20) 300 720
Email: abdjn@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/cotedivoire/index.aspx

You can also obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in Accra, Ghana:

Australian High Commission, Ghana

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments
Accra, Ghana
Telephone: (+233) 302 216400
Facsimile: (+233) 302 216410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website:www.ghana.highcommission.gov.au

If you are travelling to Côte d’Ivoire, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend you 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 missions you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Flooding can occur during the rainy seasons. Roads may become impassable during these periods. In southern coastal regions, the rainy season occurs from May to August and October to November. In the central and north-central region, heavy rain can occur during July to October and March to May. In the north, the rainy season is from July to November.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



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.