Electricity

Electrical outlets in the Central African Republic usually supply electricity in 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.

Language

Some 70 languages are spoken in CAR, but French and Sango are the official languages.

Money

The Central African CFA franc (XAF) is the official currency of the Central African Republic. It is divided into 100 smaller units called centimes. CAR is largely a cash economy and credit cards are seldom accepted. There are virtually no ATMs in the country. Money can only be easily exchanged in big cities like Bangui and Berberati, and the process can be very expensive.

Tipping

Small tips are appreciated in the Central African Republic and tips of about 10 percent are customary for waitrons. Small tips are appreciated by hotel service staff.

Health

Malaria is a problem all over the Central African Republic and some form of prophylaxis is recommended for travel to all areas. A yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into CAR for all travellers over nine months of age. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and meningococcus. It is also recommended that travellers be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination.

Cholera is one of the country's biggest health threats. Travellers should not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected, and should avoid ice in beverages. Meals should be eaten while still hot and fruit and vegetables that have not been cooked or peeled should be avoided.

Medical facilities are extremely limited in the CAR; emergency services are unreliable and many medications are not available. Tourists should carry all required medications with them in their original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what the medications are and why they are needed.

Safety

Travel safety in the Central African Republic is a major concern for all visitors. The country has essentially been a war zone since 2012, and reports of rebel activity, banditry and hostage-taking across the Central African Republic still occur today.

The transitional government, established post March 2013, has had little success in establishing law and order, and criminal activity has increased. The British Foreign Office and the US Department of State have warned their citizens against all travel to the country due to the indiscriminate violence, looting and crime which plagues it.

The capital, Bangui, remains very dangerous meaning there are numerous armed patrols and roadblocks. Armed gangs operate in and around the city, with robbery and assault unfortunately common occurrences. Travellers in the Central African Republic should exercise extreme caution, avoid walking or driving at night and should carry no valuables. All political gatherings and street protests should be avoided as they can potentially become violent.

Local customs

The population of the Central African Republic is roughly 80 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim and 10 percent traditional. Conservative dress is recommended in all areas, which entails covered thighs and shoulders for women. In rural areas it is customary for people to eat with their hands, but one should never eat, shake hands or offer someone money with their left hand. Always ask permission before photographing a military or government building.

Doing business

A knowledge of French is essential, and those who can't speak the language fluently should hire an interpreter. Business cards should be in French and English. Meetings tend to be formal and lightweight suits are the norm. Office hours generally run from 7.30am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Duty free

Travellers to the Central African Republic are allowed the following: five bottles of alcohol and five bottles of perfume. Men may import up to 1,000 cigarettes or cigarillos or 250 cigars or 2kg of tobacco, while women may only bring cigarettes. All animal skins and diamonds must be declared on departure.

Communications

Communications systems remain a bit chaotic in the Central African Republic. It's possible to get internet access in most cities but the speeds can be quite slow. The international dialling code is +236.

Passport & Visa

All documents must be valid on arrival. Visitors of 15 years and older not holding return/onward ticket require a deposit of between XAF 15,000 - and XAF 250,000.

Entry requirements

US citizens require both a passport. A visa is not required for a maximum stay of 180 days. Documents must be valid on arrival.

UK citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Canadian citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Australian citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

South African citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Irish citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

New Zealand citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Useful contacts

117 (Police), 1220 (Ambulance), 118 (Fire)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of the Central African Republic, Washington, D.C., United States of America: +1 202 483 7800

Consulate of France, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for the Central African Republic), +44 207 073 1200

Embassies / consulates in Central African Republic

U.S. Embassy, Bangui, Central African Republic: +236 2161 0200

British High Commission, Yaounde, Cameroon (also responsible for the Central African Republic): +237 22 22 07 96

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