Equatorial Guinea Basics

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The Basics

Time: Local time is GMT +1.

Electricity: Electrical outlets in Equatorial Guinea usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs with round or flat pins are standard.

Money: The Central African CFA Franc (XAF) is the official currency of Equatorial Guinea (along with five other central African countries). It is divided into 100 smaller units called centime. Equatorial Guinea is largely a cash economy and credit cards are seldom accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at hotels and banks in major cities but the process is expensive and time consuming and travellers are advised to bring funds in the local currency.

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

Language: Spanish and French are the official languages of Equatorial Guinea, although the majority of the population speak African languages.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a valid passport to enter Equatorial Guinea. No visa is required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreign visitors to Equatorial Guinea require two passport-sized photographs for police control, if arriving there for the first time, and must provide evidence of their ability to financially support themeselves during their stay. It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: Equatorial Guinea is a malaria area and malaria medication is essential - consult your doctor to decide which prophylaxis will suit you best. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites should also consider a rabies vaccination. Yellow fever certificates are required for any travellers arriving from infected areas in Africa or the Americas, and a yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all visitors to Equatorial Guinea. Travellers should not drink tap water in Equatorial Guinea unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. Don't drink anything with ice in it, don't eat fruit and vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked, and ensure that meals are eaten while hot and not left to cool. Travellers should note that food bought from street vendors can be hazardous. Medical facilities are extremely limited in Equatorial Guinea and the country suffers frequent shortages of essential medications and supplies. Comprehensive travel insurance is recommended but most doctors will expect payment in cash. Visitors should bring along any medicine they require, in the original packaging and with a signed and dated letter from their doctor detailing what the medication is and why it is necessary.

Tipping: Small tips for good service are appreciated and often expected in Equatorial Guinea. Service charges are not usually included in restaurants and tips of about 10 percent for waitrons are customary. Taxi fares should be rounded up if the service is good.

Safety Information: There is little threat of terrorism in Equatorial Guinea and violent crime is rare. The overall level of criminal activity is low compared to other countries in the region, but petty crime and theft is on the rise and has become common. As tourism is rare there is little evidence of tourist scams. Official corruption, however, is very common and it is not unusual for foreigners to be stopped by uniformed officers and confronted with various 'violations' that will go away with a bribe. Visitors are not advised to encourage this corruption and it is best to request an official citation of the violation to be paid at the local court, or to demand a receipt stating the violation, the amount paid and the officer's name. There is a risk of piracy off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.

Local Customs: Both the people and the customs of Equatorial Guinea are friendly and welcoming. Greetings are important, and may last longer than foreign visitors are accustomed to. People tend to stand close together when conversing. Always ask permission before photographing someone; photographing military personnel or buildings is prohibited. Various things may make officials suspicious in Equatorial Guinea, including camouflage gear, weapons, binoculars and radios, and these things may be confiscated or lead to questioning.

Business: Businesses in Equatorial Guinea tend to shut down daily between 1pm and 4pm for a long lunch break and siesta; working hours are generally 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Lightweight suits are acceptable attire for meetings and shaking hands is an appropriate greeting. Greetings tend to be formal. Business cards should be in Spanish or French and a translator may be necessary if you only speak English.

Communications: Landline telephone penetration is low in Equatorial Guinea and there is only one GSM mobile telephone operator which has coverage in Malabo, Bata, and several other mainland cities. Internet is available in the major cities and some internet cafés do operate but internet usage is not yet widespread among the local population. The international access code for Equatorial Guinea is +240.

Duty Free: Visitors to Equatorial Guinea may import the following goods into the country: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, one litre of wine and one litre of spirits, and an amount of perfume reasonable for personal use.