Democratic Republic of the Congo — Visas and Vaccinations
To enter the Congo, you will need a valid passport, proof of yellow fever vaccination and a visa. It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain a visa from a Congo embassy and make prior arrangements to avoid being deported or detained. Further information and inquiries about entry and exit formalities are available on the Congolese Immigration website (http://www.dgm.cd/contacts.php) or at the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (http://www.ambardcusa.org/index.html). It is also possible to obtain information from the DRC’s Permanent Mission to the UN (http://www.un.int/drcongo).
Travelers who plan to visit or live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should take the time to enroll in the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) at https://step.state.gov/, which will keep them up to date on security announcements and safety precautions. The program is important in helping family and friends stay in touch with travelers in case of an emergency.
Health and Safety
The Congo is comparatively more stable than it was in the previous decade, but security issues are still a concern. Since its independence, the country has been through a lot of conflicts, wars and civil unrest and some areas are still closed to travelers. LRA roam the jungles of the northeastern near the border with Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic. Very few places near the Ugandan border are safe. It is generally dangerous to travel to the eastern and northern parts of Bumba and Kisangani.
Roadblocks are often set up by the security forces, particularly at night. Travelers driving their own vehicles may be subject to search and if asked, will need to present identification papers. Security forces may seek bribes, too, and it is important to maintain a calm and courteous demeanor. If you are detained, report the incident immediately to the US Consulate in Kinshasa.
Travelers should avoid taking pictures in public of Congo government buildings, border crossings, roadblocks, and bridges, which is illegal. Taking pictures of riverbanks, airports and official areas are also discouraged.
The Congo has very poor healthcare facilities because of limited budget, so travelers are advised to bring their own personal medicines especially if they are staying in remote areas. Hospitals and doctors need to be paid in cash. Your travel insurance should cover emergency air evacuation.
Boiled or sterilized water must be used for making ice, brushing your teeth or drinking. Drink only bottled water and avoid dairy products, as tinned or powder milk is safer. Fruits should be peeled before eating.
Travelers are not advised to swim in fresh water in the Congo because of schistosomiasis or bilharzia. Meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis E are also a potential threat, as well as diarrhea, parasitic worms and dysenteries. There have been incidents of Ebola outbreaks, African tick typhus, and infections via soil-borne parasites, so proper clothing should be worn at all times including closed shoes.