Democratic Republic of the Congo — Travel Tips
French is the official language of the Congo, but Kikongo, Swahili, Tshiluba, and Lingala are also widely spoken.
The Congolese franc or franc Congolais (CDF) is the currency of the Congo. The banknotes are available in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 francs, while coins are in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes. The most common bills in circulation are 50, 100, 200, and 500 francs. Some shops use the symbol “FF,” which stands for 1,000 francs. Visa and MasterCard are only accepted in major hotels in Kinshasa. Travelers’ checks are also not recommended because of high commission fees, and they too are only accepted in the capital.
The Congo is on two different time zones: Central Africa Time (UTC+1) and West Africa Time (UTC+2).
The Congo uses the standard European plug, which is 220V/50Hz. Most electrical outlets are Type C, Type E, or Type F Schuko so bring a converter and adapter just in case.
The calling code for the Congo is +243. Telephones can be found in major cities and towns. Cell phones are more reliable than landlines and even international companies use them to conduct business. It is possible to buy a local SIM card for your iPhone or device, but refrain from using cell phones in public because it could make you a target. Some of the Congo’s mobile operators include Equateur Telecom, MTN, Celtel, and Warid. Internet connectivity is also available and there are plenty of web accessible cafés in Kinshasa.
People over the age of 18 are allowed to import one bottle of alcohol and 227 grams of tobacco, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes without incurring customs duty. Cameras, as well as a reasonable amount of personal-use perfumes may be imported temporarily by tourists. All gifts, audio equipment, and radios are subject to tax. Those who need to bring in ammunition and arms must have an import license.
Office National du Tourisme de la Republique Democratique du Congo, Kinshasa-Gombe: +243-893-22-38, +243-815-0916-25, +243-816-871-184, or http://www.rdcongo-tourisme.com/accueil.php
Consulates in the Congo
US Consulate, Kinshasa: +243-81-556-0151
German Consulate, Kinshasa: +243-89-48-201 or +243-89-48-202
Consulate of the Netherlands, Kinshasa: +243-9800-1140 or +234-9800-1142
Canadian Consulate, Kinshasa: +243-9960-21-500
Spanish Consulate, Kinshasa: +243-81-88-43-195
Consulate of Austria, Kinshasa: +243-83-107
British Consulate, Kinshasa: +243-98-169-100 or +243-98-169-111
Emergency services: +242-6-665-4804