U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
This information is current as of today,
January 04, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who plan to stay in Conakry, the capital, should make reservations well in advance. French is the official language but Pular and Malinké are also widely spoken. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Guinea at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2824.htm for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa, international vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. The Guinean embassy does not maintain a current web site. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Guinea and other countries.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in Conakry and larger towns throughout the country. While U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times.
Despite the Guinean military's attempts to maintain strict control of the country’s borders, instability in neighboring countries has created tense situations along Guinea's perimeters. Hostilities along the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia escalate from time to time, resulting in border incursions and kidnappings by various armed factions. Major incursions occurred from September 2000 through March 2001; skirmishes also occurred along the Guinean-Liberian border in October 2002. The current civil unrest in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire has also increased tensions along Guinea's southeastern border. As a result of the periodic tenuous situation in some of Guinea’s neighboring countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire), the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take precautions when traveling south of Kissidougou, including the prefectures of Gueckedou, Macenta, N'Zerekore, Yomou, Lolo, and Beyla. The road connecting Conakry, Coyah, and Kissidougou is not restricted and there are several border crossings between Guinea and Sierra Leone. U.S. citizens considering travel to the border regions with Liberia, Sierra Leone or Côte d’Ivoire should consult the latest Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets for those countries (available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site at http://travel.state.gov) and should contact the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. Crossing borders requires visas and complete paperwork, and can be difficult.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at ../../tips/safety/safety_1747.html.
CRIME: In Conakry, as in many large cities, crime is a fact of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments
toward Americans in Guinea are generally positive, but criminals regularly target U.S. and other foreigners because they are
perceived as lucrative targets. Nonviolent and violent crimes are a problem. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts
of pick pocketing and purse snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. There
have been reports of armed and unarmed banditry near the borders with Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. In spite of
good intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been cases of direct
and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials.
Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.
Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners can create legal difficulties for U.S. citizens because corruption
is widespread in Guinea. Business routinely turns on bribes rather than the law, and enforcement of the law is irregular
and inefficient. The U.S. Embassy has extremely limited recourse in assisting Americans who are victims of illegal business
Business fraud is rampant and the targets are usually foreigners, including Americans. Schemes previously associated with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea, and can result in severe financial loss. Typically these scams begin with an unsolicited communication (usually e-mails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of "advance fees" to be paid – such as fees for legal documents or taxes – to release the transferred funds. Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is a claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring cash. Still others appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Some victims provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of such fraud is common sense – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel. A good clue is the phone number provided; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones. It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.
The Department of State's brochure “Advance Fee Business Scams” is available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at ../../tips/brochures/brochures_1216.html.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime at ../../tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited both in the capital city and throughout Guinea. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment should not be assumed, and treatment is frequently unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities but are still well below global standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited. Water in Guinea is presumed contaminated, so you should use only bottled or distilled water for drinking. Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Guinea. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC Travelers’ Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at cis_1470.html.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Drivers in Guinea tend to be poorly trained, and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, paved and unpaved,
is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, road signs are insufficient, and roads and vehicles
are frequently unlit. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Guinea
has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making inter- and intra-city travel difficult from 10:00 p.m. to
6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. Roadside
assistance is not available in Guinea.
Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis frequently stop and start without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles, with drivers, are available from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.
Please refer to our Road Safety page at ../../tips/safety/safety_1179.html for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
SN Brussels, Air France, and Royal Air Morocco operate flights from Brussels, Paris and Casablanca to Guinea’s Gbessia International Airport. Other regional airlines service the airport, but are not always reliable.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. You should contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington, DC (see contact information above in the Entry Requirements section) for specific information regarding customs requirements.
The local currency is the Guinean franc (FG). Travelers may not have more than 100,000 FG (currently about $23) or more than
$5,000 when they depart Guinea. Guinea has a cash economy. ATMs are not available and traveler’s checks are accepted only
at some banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry, but should be used only at reputable
hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of Bicigui, a local bank. Inter-bank
fund transfers are possible at Bicigui branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked
successfully in the past. Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown.
Visitors should restrict photography to private gatherings and should obtain explicit permission from the Guinean government before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings, or public works. Photographing without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or a dangerous confrontation with people who find being photographed offensive.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit cis_1467.html.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues web site at ../../../family/family_1732.html.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Guinea are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 2nd Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Conakry. The mailing address is B.P. 603, Conakry, Guinea; tel. (224) 41-15-20/21/23; fax: (224) 41-15-22; web site: http://usembassy.state.gov/conakry/.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 9, 2005, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime. Medical Facilities and Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight and Special Circumstances Information.