Sao Tome and Principe
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Latest updates: The Health tab was updated - travel health notices (Public Health Agency of Canada).
COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Sao Tome and Principe - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Sao Tome and Principe.
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
Preventative measures and restrictions are in place. You must wear a face covering in public spaces and in private vehicles.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, including those related to physical distancing
- Avoid crowded areas
Armed robbery and pickpocketing occur, particularly in public areas such as markets, streets or near hotels. Burglaries and home invasions also occur, but are rare. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times. Avoid deserted beaches and poorly lit areas after dark.
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Although the country is generally stable, unrest can arise occasionally.
Demonstrations occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations.
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Streets in Sao Tome are paved but there are many large potholes. Roads outside the capital are paved and in fair condition, but they are poorly lit and can be impassable during the rainy season. Roaming animals pose a hazard to drivers. Drivers should exercise caution around motor bikes, as some motor bike drivers don’t have drivers licenses and may not follow the rules of the road. Car rental, with or without a driver, can be arranged through major hotels. Honking to warn of your approach is considered a normal practice. Emergency roadside services are non-existent.
Other than taxis, there is no public transportation. Taxi fares should be negotiated prior to departure.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
There are few international airlines serving Sao Tome and Principe. International flights do not depart daily, making it difficult for travelers to quickly exit the country by air in case of an emergency.
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
General safety information
Tourist facilities are limited but adequate.
Power outages occur frequently.
Telecommunications services such as landlines and Internet access are limited, making it difficult to communicate with anyone outside the country.
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory. While some countries have started to ease some of these measures, most remain in place.
Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any specific restrictions or requirements related to this situation. Consider even your transit points, as many destinations have implemented strict transit rules which could disrupt your travel.
These could include:
- entry bans, particularly for non-residents
- exit bans
- quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, some in designated facilities, at your own cost
- health screenings and certificates as well as proof of adequate travel health insurance
- travel authorization documents to be obtained before you travel
- border closures
- airport closures
- flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
- suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
- Monitor the media for the latest information
- Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
Foreign diplomatic offices in Canada – Global Affairs Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of Sao Tome and Principe. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays of less than 15 days
Business visa: Required
Student visa: A tourist visa is issued to students
Canadians must obtain a visa prior to arrival for stays of 15 days or longer.
You must pay an airport tax (US$21 per adult and US$10 per child) upon departure. These fees may change without notice.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - January 16, 2021
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is low potential for yellow fever exposure in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever may occur sporadically. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas of Central Africa, like Ebola, rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited and substandard, and many medicines are not available. There are no decompression chambers on the islands. Serious medical cases may need to be evacuated to another country for treatment.
International flights don’t take off daily and the islands do not have any aircraft on standby to perform medical evacuations. These factors may cause delays in medical evacuations.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.Travel health and safety
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
It is prohibited to photograph airports, military establishments and government buildings.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Sao Tome and Principe law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely accepted in Sao Tomean society.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Sao Tome and Principe.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Sao Tome and Principe.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Sao Tome and Principe, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You must carry an international driving permit.
More about the International Driving Permit
The currency is the dobra (STD). U.S. dollars, euros and Central African francs (CFA, issued by BEAC [Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale]) are widely accepted. Credit cards can only be used at major international hotels. Traveller’s cheques may be cashed at hotels and banks.
Foreign bank cards cannot be used to withdraw money from ATMs.
Natural disasters and climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from September to May. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
More about hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 2222222
- medical assistance: 221221
- firefighters: 112
There is no resident Canadian government office in Sao Tome and Principe. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria.
Abuja - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria, in Abuja, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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