Gabon
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Gabon

© Creative Commons / Axel Rouvin

Gabon Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

267,667 sq km (103,347 sq miles).

Population

1,763,142 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

6.4 per sq km.

Capital

Libreville.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Ali Bongo Ondimba since 2009.

Head of government

Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda since 2020.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

Gabon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Congo. The 800km- (500-mile-) long sandy coastal strip is a series of palm-fringed bays, lagoons and estuaries. The lush tropical vegetation (which covers much of the interior) gives way in parts to the savannah.

There are many rivers along which settlements have grown. Many of the Bantu people are concentrated in coastal areas and villages along the banks of the many rivers. The main cities are Libreville, Port Gentil, Lambaréné, Moanda, Oyem, Mouila and Franceville.

The Republic of Gabon moved peacefully into independence (from France) in 1960. President Omar Bongo, who succeeded Léon M'Ba as president on the latter's death in 1967 is now one of Africa's longest serving heads of state. In 2003, a change of constitution meant that Bongo could run for office as many times as he wanted and Bongo, now in his 70s, is likely to remain as president for life. Gabon's only problem in the region concerns the island of Mbagne which lies in the Corisco Bay, potentially the site of large oil and gas deposits: occupied by Gabon in 1970, it is also claimed by Equatorial Guinea.

But touristic natural resources are likely to centre around features such as stunning white beaches, an abundance of wildlife, including gorillas, panthers, parrots and elephants, and verdant forests.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Gabon on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Flight restrictions have been lifted. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

For foreign nationals who hold a resident permit and who wish to leave Gabon, you need to obtain a letter of permission (“autorisation de sortie”) from the Gabonese Government and have proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to departure.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Gabon.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Gabon you will be contacted by local authorities. If visiting, you will have to go to one of the hotels which the government of Gabon has nominated for isolation. This applies to all visitors aged 6 and over. There is no assistance available from the government for people who need to leave these hotels for any reason.

Holders of vaccination certificates can self-isolate in a facility of their choice and do not have to leave their passport. In addition, British nationals resident in Gabon who test positive are required to isolate at home and dial the toll free number 1410 for further instructions.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Gabon

You must wear a face mask in confined areas. All other COVID-19 restrictive measures were lifted on 9 March 2022.

Accommodation

Hotels have reopened.

Public places and services

Markets have reopened as normal. Places of worship are also open without restriction. However, the wearing of face masks remains mandatory in all public places.

Healthcare in Gabon

Pharmacies and health centres remain open.

Government of Gabon advice for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is to avoid immediately going to hospital and instead dial a toll free number (1410) and follow their instructions.

Standard COVID-19 tests are currently free of charge with results released after 3 to 5 days. The VIP faster option, with results available within 24 hours, costs CFA 20,000.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Gabon

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, you can contact the British High Commission Yaoundé on +442070085000 / +237 222220545.

The High Commission cannot provide further information or advice about departure options over the phone. This page will be updated when UK and commercial departure options become available. To get the latest information, sign up for travel advice email alerts.

Further information

For further information and to keep up to date, you should also check the Government of Gabon website.

Crime

Most visits by British nationals are trouble-free. However, there have been incidents of robbery, armed attacks and rape in the past. You should:

  • take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places.
  • avoid displaying valuables like cameras, smart phones or jewellery.
  • avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns and walking alone at night.
  • be cautious on quiet or isolated beaches in and around Libreville, and avoid them altogether at night.

Taxis in Gabonese cities operate like buses, picking up new passengers while there is still room in the car. They often take indirect routes. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers.

  • only use authorised taxis and preferably book one from a reputable company or through a restaurant or hotel.

There have been reports of car-jackings in Libreville. You’re advised to:

  • keep your car windows closed and doors locked if you are travelling at night.
  • don’t stop to pick up strangers.
  • don’t resist car-jackers. An immobiliser that operates after the vehicle has been driven a short distance or a tracking device may help with the recovery of your vehicle.

Road travel

Road conditions in the centre of Libreville are predominantly good but are poor in most local inland areas and driving can be hazardous. During the rainy season from October to mid-December and mid-February to May many roads are passable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Avoid travelling by road at night. Police checkpoints are common; you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents.

Air travel

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU. British Government employees don’t use domestic flights run by Gabonese airline companies unless this is unavoidable.

Sea travel

There have been armed attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.

Political situation

Protests in Gabon are not common but happen on occasion and may turn violent without warning, such was the case following the 2016 Presidential elections You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies and remain vigilant during periods of unrest.

Consular assistance

Consular support may be limited in Gabon. However, the British High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon or Honorary Consul in Libreville can provide consular support to British nationals.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Gabon, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence.

On 30 June 2020, consensual same-sex sexual relations was decriminalised. Gabon remains a conservative society and discrimination can be a problem for those open about their sexual identity. Same-sex marriage isn’t recognised in Gabon. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Taking photographs of military sites, the airport, the Presidency and government buildings is forbidden.

This page has information on travelling to Gabon.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Gabon set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Gabon’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All travellers

Passengers entering Gabon are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test at Libreville airport, nor are they subject to mandatory testing at Libreville airport.

You may be asked to present a negative PCR test on departure. Consult your airline before you travel.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Gabon are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You don’t need to provide your vaccination status for entry to Gabon.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Gabon are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

Entry requirements for Gabon are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

If you’re transiting through Gabon

Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.

Check with your airline before departing.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to Gabon’s entry requirements.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Visas

You will need a visa to visit Gabon. For full information on the visa application process, visit the website of the Gabonese Embassy in the UK.

If you’re arriving into Libreville International Airport you can submit an online visa application at least 72 hours before the date of travel and collect your visa on arrival. You will need to show a letter of invitation during this process. Payment for e-visa is made at Libreville International Airport. For more information, visit the website of the Gabonese Embassy in the UK.

If you’re arriving into Libreville International Airport you can submit an online visa application at least 72 hours before the date of travel and collect your visa on arrival. You will need to show a letter of invitation during this process. Payment for e-visa is made at Libreville International Airport. For more information, visit the Gabonese government’s immigration portal.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Gabon.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Gabon but ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Gabon.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate
of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Other health risks

UK health authorities have classified Gabon as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that around 44,000 adults aged 15 or over in Gabon are living with HIV; the prevalence percentage is estimated at 3.8% of the adult population compared with the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

Medical treatment

Medical facilities are limited, particularly in rural areas. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1300 or 1399 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Credit cards are not widely accepted, except at hotels. Due to the high incidence of credit card fraud, you should avoid using your credit card outside major hotel chains. Be vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.