Liberia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 19 May 2015.   On 9 May 2015, the World Health Organization declared that the Ebola outbreak in Liberia was over and that Liberia was now Ebola-free. In response to this development, we have lowered the level of the advice for Liberia. We now advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Liberia, and to reconsider your need to travel to Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties.

Liberia overall

Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Liberia due to the unpredictable security environment and incidence of crime.
  • On 9 May 2015, the World Health Organization declared that the Ebola outbreak in Liberia was over and that Liberia was now Ebola-free. However, while the disease is still present in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, there is a possibility that further cases will emerge in Liberia.
  • Many commercial airlines discontinued flights to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and may be slow to re-establish these routes. Also, many countries in Africa banned entry to travellers who had been in EVD affected countries. These bans may persist. See Entry and exit.
  • Medical services in Liberia, including routine immunisation programs, were severely disrupted during the Ebola outbreak. Australians should take this into account when planning travel.
  • Sporadic demonstrations and local disturbances were reported across Liberia related to the Ebola outbreak. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
  • Liberia is recovering from a devastating civil war which ended in August 2003 and left it with little infrastructure. Although there is a deployment of UN peacekeepers and police advisers in Liberia, the security situation remains unpredictable.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties due to the presence of armed groups in the areas bordering Côte d’Ivoire and the possibility of cross-border attacks.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Liberia. You can contact the Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana to enquire about consular assistance in Liberia.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all 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 Liberia for the most up to date information.

Many commercial airlines discontinued flights to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and may be slow to re-establish these routes. Also, many countries in Africa banned entry to travellers who had been in EVD affected countries. These bans may persist despite Liberia’s Ebola-free status.

Liberian authorities instigated rigorous health screenings at border crossings in response to the Ebola outbreak. Travellers should be prepared for health screenings to continue at some border crossings.

Liberia is listed by the WHO as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Liberia. 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.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

Sporadic demonstrations and local disturbances were reported across Liberia related to the EVD outbreak. You should avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they may turn violent.

Liberia is recovering from a devastating civil war which ended in August 2003 and left the country with little or no infrastructure. Although there is a deployment of UN peacekeepers and police advisers in Liberia, the security situation remains unpredictable. The downturn in economic activity due to the EVD outbreak may lead to an increase in civil unrest.

You should reconsider your need to travel to Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties due to the presence of armed groups in the areas bordering Côte d’Ivoire and the possibility of cross-border attacks. Cross border attacks occurred in 2014, increasing the risk to travellers.

Some political issues remain sensitive in Liberia, such as the imprisonment of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes. Exercise caution if discussing political issues.

Crime

Crime occurs throughout Liberia and foreigners are a target for robbery. Muggings, residential burglary and armed robbery are common. The situation may worsen following the deterioration in the economic situation as a result of the EVD outbreak.

There is a high incidence of rape, with an increasing number of expatriate victims. Crime levels are higher at night and travelling alone or after dark is not recommended. Police forces have limited capacity to provide effective protection.

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

Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and 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 obtain legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Some Australian citizens have also been defrauded or had their lives endangered by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from West African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely. In some instances, foreigners who have travelled to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner have been kidnapped and held to ransom.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Money and valuables

Credit cards are rarely accepted in Liberia and few commercial establishments accept travellers' cheques. There are a limited number of ATMs in Monrovia. Western Union and Moneygram have a number of agents in Monrovia.

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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Liberian authorities instigated rigorous health screenings at border crossings in response to the Ebola outbreak. Travellers should be prepared for health screenings to continue at some border crossings.

You will be required to show photographic identification at government security checkpoints.

Driving in Liberia is dangerous, especially after dark, due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and a lack of sufficient street lighting. See our road travel page.

Public transport options are limited.

Tourist facilities are severely limited outside of Monrovia and infrastructure is poor.

There have been a number of attacks on security forces by illegal rubber tappers in the Firestone rubber plantation area near the Monrovia airport. Should you be in this area, you should only travel on major routes, particularly within the plantation.

Strong coastal currents are common in Liberia and you should seek advice from locals before swimming.

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 Liberia.

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

Laws

You are subject to the local laws Liberia, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

It is a requirement to carry photographic identification with you at all times.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include heavy fines and lengthy jail sentences. See our Drugs page.

Homosexual acts are illegal. Penalties include imprisonment up to one year. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Photography around military installations, air and seaports and government buildings is prohibited.

You should seek up-to-date legal advice before trading in diamonds. While the United Nations has lifted the ban on the importation of rough diamonds from Liberia, laws controlling the international trade in rough diamonds continue to operate. Penalties for illegally exporting diamonds from Liberia can include jail sentences.

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

Liberia is a conservative society, particularly outside Monrovia, and you should take care not to offend. We encourage travellers to be aware of local customs regarding dress. Typical dress for women includes loose fitting clothing that covers the upper arms and legs.

Information for dual nationals

See our Dual nationals page.

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 are poor in the capital Monrovia and non-existent elsewhere. The Ebola outbreak further weakened medical services in Liberia. Australians should take this into account when planning travel. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical care. In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medivac costs could exceed $A100,000.

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

Liberia 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 Liberia. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into the country.

Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in West African countries, including Liberia. You should consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, and taking measures to avoid insect bites such as using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, lassa fever, hepatitis 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 fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak

On 9 May 2015, the World Health Organization declared that the Ebola outbreak in Liberia was over and that Liberia was now Ebola-free. However, while the disease is still present in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, there is a possibility that further cases will emerge in Liberia. Medical services in Liberia, including routine immunisation programs, were severely disrupted during the Ebola outbreak. Australians should take this into account when planning travel.

The Ebola outbreak persists in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea. See the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin for information on the outbreak and travel restrictions.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 911. You should be aware that a call to 911 in Liberia may go unanswered, and you should employ other resources to obtain emergency assistance. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

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 Liberia. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian High Commission in Ghana for consular assistance:

Australian High Commission, Accra

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments
Accra, Ghana
Telephone: (+233) 302 216 400
Facsimile: (+233) 302 216 410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.ghana.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 or staying in Liberia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend that 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 Embassy, 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 May to November when flooding may occur. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

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



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.