Central African Republic Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT +1.

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

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.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

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

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

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require both a passport and a visa. All documents must be valid on arrival.

Passport/Visa Note: 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.

Travel 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.

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.

Safety Information: 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 hugely. 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, with a curfew in place from midnight to 4am, and numerous armed patrols and roadblocks in the city. Armed gangs operate in and around the city. Robbery and assault are 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 are likely to become violent.

Local Customs: The population of the Central African Republic is roughly 90 percent Christian and 10 percent Muslim. 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.

Business: The Central African Republic's economy has suffered in the recent unrest and it is thus now a poor country. 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.

Communications: Communications systems remain a bit chaotic in the Central African Republic. Mobile phone usage is on the rise, but coverage is generally limited. It is possible to get internet access in most cities and there are usually some internet cafes to make use of, though the internet speed can be quite slow. The international dialling code is +236; the country does not use city codes.

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/250 cigars/2kg of tobacco, while women may only bring cigarettes. Firearms must be declared. All animal skins and diamonds must be declared on departure.