Travel advice has been issued for DR Congo. The country, especially the capital Kinshasa and other major cities, is characterized by political and social tensions, widespread corruption and economic downturns. At the same time, the presidential elections, which were held at the end of 2018, have resulted in a considerable political situation. The country is now characterized by cautious hope and some improvement in security matters related to the political situation, although this may change rapidly.
The presidential and parliamentary elections held at the end of 2018 with Felix Tshisekedi as the winner led President Joseph Kabila to resign under calm circumstances. This has mitigated the risk of political unrest. At the same time, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu and his supporters have continued to urge protests against the election results. These protests have been allowed without too much government restrictions. Some of the country’s many armed groups, especially in the Kasai provinces where the new president comes from, but also in the east, have voluntarily laid down their weapons and asked for amnesty. This could in principle mean a reduced risk of violence in these areas. At the same time, increased security risk could develop rapidly if these groups are not properly disarmed.
The situation during and after the elections has been relatively peaceful both in Kinshasa and the rest of the country. At the same time, there are ongoing unrest in eastern Congo, where armed groups are still active.
- Countryaah: Kinshasa is the capital of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Check to find information of population, geography, history, and economy about the capital city.
Despite a somewhat improved security situation, it is recommended that people staying in the country exercise extreme caution and avoid political gatherings, demonstrations and large crowds. Although political demonstrations have been allowed in recent times, security forces will still be able to quickly and hard-down on demonstrations and other forms of action. Political actions will usually be planned, but can also occur spontaneously. Violent clashes between security forces and activists can occur without warning, especially in Kinshasa and other major cities.
The security situation in Eastern Congo is characterized by the presence of over a hundred armed groups, and continues to be very unclear and tense. Kidnapping of humanitarian actors occurs. The Ebola epidemic in North Kivu and Ituri provinces is still not under control, and health workers linked to the Ebola response have been attacked. Lately, local ethnic and armed conflicts have flared up elsewhere in the country. This includes the city of Yumbi in Mai-Ndombe province, as well as Kasai provinces, Tanganyika and Bas-Congo. The UN has deployed a peacekeeping force (Monusco) with extended offensive mandate in the country, which mainly has its involvement in the East.
The risk to travelers is primarily related to everyday crime and accidents. The risk of terror is considered low.
The Gombe district of Kinshasa, which houses larger hotels, shops, offices and diplomatic missions, is considered a relatively safe area to travel in. Many foreigners use the area along the Congo River at Hotel du Fleuve for walking and running. However, visitors are asked to be aware of the possibility of theft, as well as people who claim to be police or security forces. They typically present themselves with fake identity cards and ask a companion to enter their car for “identification” with the intent to commit robbery. When requesting “identification”, including by roadblocks, visitors are encouraged to stay in the car and present the documents through closed car windows.
The crime in Goma and Bukavu in North and South Kivi is generally considered somewhat less than in Kinshasa, but increasing crime is reported against the international community in these cities, especially robbery after dark.
Western foreigners are not usually targets for kidnappings and abductions, but it is reported as an increase in kidnappings by humanitarian actors in eastern Congo, especially in Northern Kivu.
Norwegians are advised to carry a copy of passports and visas, as well as limit the storage and exposure of valuables when moving outdoors. Movements on foot are not recommended after dark. During the day, transfers on foot should be carefully considered and not done alone. By car, it is recommended to keep windows closed and doors locked, as well as to stick to main roads and park in monitored areas. Driving outside the big cities is not recommended after dark. At times, especially in eastern Congo, transfers in major cities will not be recommended even by car. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advice and listen to the advice of local authorities, locals and international organizations in the area. Be careful, do not seek out larger crowds of people.
Traffic and transport: There is a right-hand drive in DR Congo and Norwegians need an international driver’s license to drive a car in the country. Travelers are advised that persons who are within sight of an official flag are expected to stop in connection with hoisting and firing of the flag (around 07:30 and 18:00).
The standard of the road network and the car park is generally very low and deteriorates during the rainy season (September-May). Traffic accidents and other dangerous traffic situations often occur. The risk includes not only being exposed to an accident, but also being involved in an accident that can attract large crowds. There are cases of harassment by police and military at roadblocks. Driving after dark is not recommended, especially outside the center of the big cities. It is recommended to group at least two cars outside Kinshasa. There is no rescue service that can be called if the accident is out and it is difficult to get the necessary help if needed.
Public transport by bus, train, taxi and boat is not recommended, with the exception of taxi service organized through the larger hotels. Accidents occur regularly due to poor maintenance and overcrowded means of transport. On rivers and lakes, strong currents and changing sandbanks also cause accidents. Visitors are encouraged to arrange airport pick-up in advance upon arrival. It is not recommended to fly with DR Congo-certified flight operators.
Land mines will still be located in eastern Congo. Most cities and surrounding areas are cleared of mines, but the areas are not completely cleared. Visitors are encouraged to stick to main roads.
Political unrest and demonstrations: Periods of increasing unrest cannot be ruled out, especially in the larger cities. The country is now in a very precarious political period with a high risk of politically motivated turmoil. Western foreigners are usually not targets during demonstrations and protests. However, these can quickly turn into violent and threaten people who happen to be in the area.
It is recommended to avoid all types of demonstrations and gatherings. In case of turmoil, it is also recommended to limit transfers and be especially careful when transporting through the populous areas on the road from Gombe to the N’djili International Airport in Kinshasa.
Women’s security: Women are generally low in DR Congo and reports of rape and other violations of women’s rights are regularly reported. Western women are not usually targets of abuse, but cases have occurred.
Special considerations for clothing beyond normal western standards are not normally required.
Sexual orientation: Homosexuality is not illegal in DR Congo, but prejudice against gays is widespread and homosexuality is still a cultural taboo. Cases of prosecution and harassment by security forces are reported by people who have publicly disclosed their orientation.
Natural disasters: DR Congo’s tropical climate brings heavy rainfall, and lightning strikes can cause damage to both humans and material. The danger of landslides and floods is high in exposed areas.
The volcanoes Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamulagira, both in the Northern Kivu Province, are active. Local authorities, the UN and civil society organizations monitor the activity. Check status with local authorities.
The volcanoes can also produce deadly CO2 gases. The gas pockets will usually stay close to the ground. As a result, deaths have been reported around Lake Kivu.
Norwegian citizens are encouraged to have valid travel insurance
Due to large distances and limited infrastructure in DR Congo, it may take time before the embassy can follow up consular matters that may occur outside of central areas.
Please note that entry regulations may change. The Foreign Service is not responsible if the following information on entry regulations or visa requirements is changed at short notice. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that travel documents are valid for entry and to familiarize themselves with the current entry rules for each country.
Norwegian citizens need a visa when entering DR Congo. It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure that travel documents, visas and vaccination cards are valid.
A visa is obtained from the DR Congo’s embassy in Stockholm and must be arranged before departure from Norway. It is not possible to obtain a visa upon arrival at DR Congo airports. A written invitation from a contact unit in DR Congo is usually required to obtain a visa. New visa rules from March 2015 mean that some type of visa applications must be sent to Kinshasa for decision. Stamping the invitation letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kinshasa in advance will help to speed up the processing of the application. The processing of first-time visas may take several weeks.
For the latest updated information on entry rules to the country, travelers are encouraged to check with the country’s nearest embassy.
The passport must be valid for at least six months from the time of entry into DR Congo. DR Congo does not recognize dual citizenship.
Valid yellow fever vaccine is required for anyone over one year upon entry into the country. In the absence of this, you risk being vaccinated at the airport.
Luggage receipt from the airline is controlled by Congolese authorities when delivering luggage at the airport. Flight tax is required and paid at the airport upon departure from DR Congo.
Travelers to mining areas need permission at the government level. Application is made to the responsible ministry or authority well in advance of departure to the area.
Coronavirus (Covid-19): Coronavirus has been detected in DR Congo. Norwegian travelers should keep abreast of how the virus is developing. Feel free to follow local authorities’ advice, guidance and instructions on how to deal with the situation.
A coronavirus emergency number has been created on the following national telephone lines: +243 818 130 199, +243 815 060 554, +243 841 363 176 or +243 852 002 458. Tests are conducted under the auspices of the Institut National de Recherche Biomedical (INRB): https://inrb.net/
As of March 20, restrictions on travel in and out of DRC have been introduced including to and from Norway due to coronavirus. It is recommended to contact the Kinshasa Embassy office for updated information if travel to the DRC is planned: [email protected]
You can find more information and guidance from the Norwegian health authorities on the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. See also UD’s answers to frequently asked questions about travel and coronavirus.
Congolese authorities declared a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in DR Congo on August 1, 2018. The outbreak is mainly limited to the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, north-east of DR Congo, but there have also been a few cases in neighboring Uganda. In total, around 2,500 cases have been registered during the first year of the epidemic. The work to deal with the outbreak is made difficult by a very challenging security situation in the core areas of the outbreak.
In July 2019, a first case of infection was reported in the city of Goma, a million town which is a hub for travelers to neighboring countries. July 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the Ebola as an international public health crisis. The risk of spreading nationally and regionally is considered high.
Congolese health authorities and WHO coordinate the outbreak management and follow-up measures have been implemented in cooperation with national and international partners. The World Health Organization regularly updates its websites with information on developments. The public health website’s websites are also regularly updated with information about the outbreak.
This is the tenth Ebola outbreak in DR Congo since 1976.
The health service in DR Congo generally maintains a low standard. Public health services in the country have come a long way from collapsing, and the infrastructure has worn down. In Kinshasa and several other major cities, there are private clinics and health centers that hold a certain standard. Outside of these, health care is largely very limited. For visitors, private offers will be the only real alternative. Evacuation to Europe or South Africa in case of serious accidents, surgeries and births is common. A comprehensive and good health insurance is therefore necessary. Norwegians are strongly recommended to take out insurance that also covers evacuation.
In Kinshasa, Center Prive d’Urgence (CPU) offers emergency assistance and stabilization of a patient exposed to accidents. The CPU is affiliated with the Center Medial de Kinshasa (CMK).
Center for Private
Cruise Bas-Congo and Commerce,
Gombe, Kinshasa Tel: +243 898950305/+243 898950302/+ 243 898950305
Access to medicines is limited. It is recommended to bring well-marked medication upon entry if taking the medication regularly.
The biggest health challenge for visitors is considered traffic accidents and malaria. There is also extensive incidence of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, TBC, jaundice and dengue. Epidemics can easily occur as a result of the tropical climate and poor sanitary conditions. The air pollution in Kinshasa comes primarily from the combustion of charcoal, but is not perceived as troublesome.
Water should not be drunk directly from the tap, but filtered and boiled, or purchased in bottles.
Travelers to DR Congo are advised to consult a physician well in advance of their departure (around eight weeks) to have enough time to complete any recommended vaccination program.
Valid yellow fever vaccine is required for anyone over one year upon entry into DR Congo.
Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for short-term travelers to DR Congo. For long-term residents, practice varies.
For official health professional travel advice and health professional guidance for Norwegians when traveling abroad, see the Public Health Institute travel advice and vaccination.
For updates on disease outbreaks etc. in DR Congo, see the World Health Organization’s country pages for DR Congo.
Kinshasa and Mbandaka are one hour after Norway summer time, and are at the same time winter time.
Lubumbashi, Kisangani and Goma are at the same time as Norway summer time, and one hour before winter time.
Power voltage: 220 V. Sockets such as those used in Norway are most prevalent in DR Congo, but Belgian type also occurs. Due to frequent power outages, VPS (power stabilizer) should be connected to PCs, TVs, stereos etc.
There is GSM coverage in the largest cities in DR Congo. The telephone network is relatively stable.
According to allcitycodes, national phone code is: +243.
The local currency is Congolese Franc (COF), but the use of US dollars (USD) is very widespread. The dollar bills must be issued after 2006 and in good condition in order to be accepted as payment. It is illegal to export Congolese francs.
ATMs where you can withdraw USD are available in Kinshasa and in most major cities. The largest hotels, restaurants and shops with international clientele accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard). Western Union and other money transfer operators are found in most major cities.
Opening hours for public offices are usually 09.00-16.00, for banks 10.00-15.00 and for shops 09.00-18.00. Some supermarkets are open until 5 p.m. 10 pm and on Sundays.
National holidays: Nouvel an (1 January), Martyrs de l’ind¨¦pendance (4 January), Journ¨¦e du h¨¦ros national Laurent Desire Kabila (16 January), Journ¨¦e du h¨¦ros national Patrice Lumumba (17 January), F¨ºte du travail (May 1), Journ¨¦e de la Revolution et des forces armies (May 17), Anniversaire de l ‘l’ind¨¦pendance (June 30), F¨ºte des parents (August 1) and F¨ºte de Noel (December 25).
French is the official language of DR Congo. Other national languages are lingala, kikongo, tshiluba and Swahili.
Useful radio stations: BBC (English): 92, 6 FM in Kinshasa and 92 FM in Kisangani and Lubumbashi. Radio Okapi (French): 103, 5 FM.
In case of crisis, the Belgian embassy in Kinshasa will send information in French over its own radio system: FM 98.8.
It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military installations and other important infrastructure, such as airports, on or near the Congo River and at border crossings. Journalists and photographers must obtain local permission from the Kinshasa Department of Information to conduct interviews and/or photograph. Improper photography can lead to detention. In general, photography of people is not recommended without their consent.