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GABON - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Gabon. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to political, economic and social tensions that still exist after the contested elections of August 2016. The safety and security situation is calm, but tense. The situation could degrade rapidly.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and vehicle break-ins, is common, particularly in markets, transportation hubs and areas frequented by tourists. Do not show signs of affluence. Resisting a robbery can lead to further violence.
Although rare, violent crime occurs, including business and residential robberies and armed attacks, particularly in Libreville and Port-Gentil. Remain alert to your surroundings and avoid walking alone after dark, even in places visited by tourists. Avoid walking alone in isolated areas, including beaches, particularly at night.
There have also been occurrences of theft from parked cars targeting foreigners. Keep car doors locked, windows up and your belongings out of sight.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequent.
Fraud involving the use of a credit card or automated banking machines (ABM) occurs in Gabon. Credit card holders should be cautious when making a payment with their credit card and monitor their transaction statements regularly. Use ABMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business, avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature, cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN and check any unauthorized transactions on your account statements.
See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the safety instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Driving can be hazardous. Outside urban areas, road conditions are poor and there are very few road signs. Insufficient lighting and overloaded vehicles also pose hazards. If possible, use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, particularly outside urban areas.
In the event of a traffic accident, proceed to the nearest police station to avoid possible confrontations. Cooperate with local authorities and avoid travelling after dark.
Towing and repair services are not widely available outside Libreville.
Public transportation such as trains or buses are available and are generally safe. The Trans-Gabon Railway offers a passenger train service that runs from Libreville to Franceville and includes stops in Ndjolé, Booué and Lastoursville.
If taking taxis in the cities, negotiate the price before getting in the cab. Taxi drivers may at times pick up more than one fare at a time. Drivers may charge more if they don’t pick up any other fares during your ride. Most taxi drivers automatically double their fares after 9 pm. Avoid taking taxis alone, particularly at night.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Ensure that personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital. Ecotourism is generally safe; however, you should make arrangements only with reputable companies and not venture from your organized tour group.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Gabonese authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Gabonese Republic and its consulates for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Gabon, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Gabon. Consult the Embassy of the Gabonese Republic for information on how to obtain a visa.
Tourist/Family visits visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
If you reside in Gabon, you must obtain an exit visa a few weeks before departure.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider 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 and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
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 a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- 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 provider.
- 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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider 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.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at 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 Central Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
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 provider.
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 adequate in major cities but are very limited elsewhere in the country. Even where facilities are well-equipped, there may be a shortage of staff to assist you. Upfront payment is generally required. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
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
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Be prepared to show identification to local authorities. Always carry originals of your passport, visa and migration card, as you may be asked to prove your identity and date of entry into the country. Failure to provide internationally recognized identification could result in detention.
An international driving permit is recommended but, along with a Canadian driver’s licence, can only be used for the first 30 days of a visit in Gabon.
Drivers must carry:
- a valid licence
- proof of insurance
- proof of inspection
- a reflective vest and an emergency triangle
- a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Gabon. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Gabonese citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Gabonese passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Penalties for possession and use of illegal drugs are strict and usually include jail sentences.
Photography of military installations, presidential palaces, airports and other government buildings is strictly prohibited.
Although the laws of Gabon do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Gabon.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
The currency is the African Financial Community CFA franc (or XAF bank code).
Exchange rates are those quoted by the Bank of Central African States. Euros and American dollars are widely accepted, but high exchange charges may apply. Credit cards are accepted only in Libreville’s large hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
ABMs are available, but cash withdrawals are limited. If possible, use cash for all transactions.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy seasons extend from October to mid-December and mid-February to May. Some roads outside urban areas may be impassable during these periods. Monitor local weather reports and plan accordingly.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 177
- medical assistance: 1300, 0174 or 0880 (for SOS Médecins)
- 18, 01-74-09-55 or 01-76-15-20 in Libreville
- 07-63-93-63 or 01-56-27-75 in Port Gentil
Libreville - Consulate of Canada
Yaoundé - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé, Cameroon 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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