Sao Tome and Principe travel advice
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On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
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
COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- mandatory mask use
- required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.
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.
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.
There are few international airlines serving Sao Tome and Principe. International flights do not depart daily, making it difficult for travellers 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.
Entry and exit requirements
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:
- entry or exit bans
- mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
- suspensions or reductions of international transportation options
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
- verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
- consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
- monitor the media for the latest information
- reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator
The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.
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 the Foreign Representatives 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.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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 foreign representative 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).
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.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines 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.
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.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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.
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.
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.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
- 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.
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!
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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
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.
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 and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a 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, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- 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.
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.
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
COVID-19 - Testing
Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.
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.
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.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Sao Tome and Principe.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Sao Tome and Principe by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Sao Tome and Principe to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
You must carry an 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.
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
Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and PrincipeAppointment Book your appointment online
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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