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Still Current at: 7 February 2008
Updated: 6 February 2008

Flag of Liberia
Liberia
 
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary, Crime, Political Situation, Road Travel, Health and Consular Registration sections. The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Liberia.  You should not travel to Liberia unless you have made adequate security arrangements for accommodation and travel with a reliable organisation in advance of your arrival.

  • The main security risk is from violent crime which is particularly prevalent in Monrovia after dark.  We recommend that you do not walk anywhere in Monrovia at night.  See the Crime section of this advice for more details.

  • Demonstrations anywhere in the country can quickly become violent.  The Liberia National Police supported by UN peacekeepers will respond to any public order incidents.  You should avoid large crowds.  See the Political Situation section of this advice for more details.

  • The ability of the national authorities and the UN to provide emergency assistance in areas outside Monrovia is more limited. We recommend that you do not overnight outside Monrovia, and that you should check the security situation before travelling to any part of the country.

  • There is no British Embassy in Liberia.  The British Government has limited ability to assist British nationals in Liberia.  The British Ambassador to Liberia resides in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

  • Most British visitors to Liberia are working for the UN or international NGOs.  The main type of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Liberia in 2007 was for replacing lost or stolen passports.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • Medical facilities in Liberia are poor.  We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

For more information read Security and General Tips and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas.

Crime
 
There is a significant level of crime in Monrovia - including violent crime. Levels of crime are much higher after dark, and we recommend that you do not walk anywhere in the city at night.  You should avoid walking alone at any time. 
 
The Liberian National Police currently has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country.
 
Most crime is opportunistic theft, although there are some more organised criminal gangs.  Thieves are often armed with knives or machetes, but occasionally also carry firearms.  While Liberians are the main victims of crime, the relative wealth of international visitors makes them an attractive target for criminals when the opportunity arises. You should avoid carrying valuables in public and be vigilant at all times, especially at night. 
 
There have been incidents of muggings of foreigners in the Mamba Point and Sinkor areas of Monrovia, where most international visitors stay. Criminals also operate in other areas frequented by foreigners, such as nightclubs and beaches.  Accommodation occupied by international workers has occasionally been targeted by burglars.  Thefts have occurred in taxis, and you are advised not to use local public transport.
 
There is a high incidence of rape in Liberia and there have been a number of rapes and attempted rapes involving expatriate women.  For more information see the FCO's Assault, Sexual Assault and Rape Overseas leaflet.
 
You are advised to consider your security arrangements carefully before your arrival in Liberia.  You should ensure that you are supported by a reliable organisation with a comprehensive and adequate security plan.  You should stay only in reputable accommodation with adequate guarding and other security arrangements, and arrange for transport for the duration of your stay, including travel to and from the airport.
 
For more general information see:  Victims of Crime Abroad

Political Situation

Liberia Country Profile

The security situation in Liberia has improved following the end of conflict in 2003.  Following elections in October and November 2005, a democratically-elected Liberian government is working closely with the UN and the international community to provide increased stability and development.
 
UN Peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) are deployed to the main population centres around Liberia, and patrol the principal roads.  They have the ability to deploy in any part of the country in response to any public order incidents or other threat to security.  However, some more remote areas of the country may be patrolled only irregularly under normal conditions.
 
The security situation remains volatile.  Localised protests over political developments, salaries or working conditions can quickly turn into violent demonstrations.  You should avoid all crowds.  The local security authorities, supported by UNMIL, respond to outbreaks of public disorder.  In recent instances, demonstrations have dispersed with only low level violence.
 
Following the end of the conflict, a large number of weapons were collected through a voluntary disarmament programme, and the carrying of firearms other than hunting weapons is now banned.
 
Particularly in rural areas, violent incidents are also possible as a result of land disputes, illegal mining and occupation of rubber plantations.  Illegal rubber tappers have been responsible for a number of attacks on security forces in the Firestone rubber plantation, and you are advised to avoid travelling away from the major routes within the plantation.  Organised groups of former combatants may be present in some inaccessible areas of the country with limited government and UNMIL presence, including Sinoe rubber plantation and Sapo National Park.
 
A dispute with local communities over the expansion of the LAC rubber plantation in Grand Bassa county led to the fatal shooting of the plantation manager, a Belgian national, on 17 November 2007.  The murder is under investigation, and a number of arrests have been made, but tensions remain high.  UNMIL has increased its patrols in the area of the plantation, but there is a possibility of further disturbances and we recommend that you avoid the area.
 
You should monitor the security situation in the local media, for example on UNMIL radio 91.5 FM.
 
The political and security situation in some neighbouring countries is also volatile.  You should avoid areas in Liberia bordering Ivory Coast, in particular in Grand Gedeh county.  Check the Travel Advice and latest situation in any countries that you will be transiting on your way to/from Liberia.
 
LOCAL TRAVEL
 
We advise against all but essential travel to Liberia, and in particular against spending the night outside Monrovia.  UNMIL and the local security services are less able to offer assistance outside the capital.  The availability of secure accommodation in most towns and in rural areas is very limited.  Medical facilities are even more basic than in Monrovia, and in many areas non-existent.
 
Many organisations, including the UN and the US Embassy, impose restrictions on staff travel outside Monrovia. If you decide to travel outside Monrovia, you should avoid travelling alone, particularly at night and to secluded places.
 
The rainy season (May to November) makes travel to outlying areas particularly difficult and hazardous.
 
Roberts International Airport is around 30 miles from central Monrovia.  There is no reliable public transport between the airport and the city centre.  You should arrange for private transport in advance of arrival.
 
Public transport (including taxis) may be neither reliable nor safe.  You are advised not to use local public transport.
 
Road Travel
 
Road conditions are generally poor.  Apart from a small number of major roads in central Monrovia, all roads are unlit.
 
The roads from Monrovia to Roberts International Airport, to the border with Sierra Leone at Bo Waterside, and to the border with Guinea at Ganta are paved and in reasonable condition.  Most other roads outside Monrovia are unpaved.  Driving and road conditions deteriorate significantly during the rainy season (May to November), and some roads may become impassable.
 
You should make precautionary arrangements for dealing with breakdowns with the general security situation in mind, including considering travel with more than one vehicle. Traffic accidents can quickly draw hostile crowds, who may attempt to take justice into their own hands.
 
The standard of driving is generally poor.  If driving yourself, you should be particularly alert to dangers from other vehicles swerving to avoid potholes and from taxis slowing or stopping unpredictably to pick up or drop off passengers.
 
Drivers should be prepared to stop at checkpoints operated by UNMIL, the Liberian National Police, or other Liberian security authorities, which are found on roads throughout the country.  You should also immediately pull over to the side of the road when instructed by security forces accompanying VIP convoys.
 
For more general information see Driving Abroad

Air Travel

The European Commission has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the European Union.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm.

Any airline from outside the EU or European Economic area, which wishes to pick up or put down passengers or cargo in the UK, requires a permit from the Secretary of State.  It is a condition of the permit that the airline should be operated in accordance with international safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.  No airline registered in Liberia currently has a permit to land in the UK.
 
There are currently no commercial operators of domestic flights within Liberia.

An UNMIL cargo helicopter crashed near to Ganta in northern Liberia on 2 November.  The cause of the crash is not yet known and is under investigation. UNMIL has resumed flights of its civilian helicopters following safety checks.

Following the October 2005 crash (cause unknown) of a Boeing 737 operated by Bellview Airlines en route from Lagos to Abuja (killing all 117 passengers and crew) and a more recent emergency landing (hydraulic failure) by another Bellview operated Boeing 737, the airline was grounded for a week by Nigerian authorities.  We advise that these incidents are taken into consideration when planning any regional travel in West Africa.
 
River and Sea Travel
 
Liberia has many attractive beaches, but the Atlantic Ocean can be unpredictable and subject to rip tides and other dangerous currents.  Swimmers should take care and consult local advice before entering the water.
 
For more general information see:  River and Sea Safety

LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You should not become involved with drugs of any kind.  The import of arms is prohibited by UN sanctions.  If you commit criminal offences, including drug trafficking and diamond smuggling you can expect to be subjected to local law.  There are heavy penalties for those convicted.  Local prison conditions are harsh.
 
Homosexuality is illegal in Liberia.
 
You should carry photographic identification with you at all times, and may be asked to produce it at any time by immigration officials or the police.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see:  Travel Checklists
 
ADOPTION
 
The government office responsible for adoptions in Liberia is the Ministry of Justice.  All petitions for adoption are filed in the Probate Court, which issues a decree of adoption if all legal requirements are met.
 
Adoption orders from Liberia are not recognised in the UK.  Liberian nationals require visas to enter the UK.  If you are returning to live in the UK, you will need to apply for entry clearance for the child as a child coming for adoption in the UK.  Please refer to the UKVisas website for further details at www.ukvisas.gov.uk.
 
A UN report published in March 2007 expressed concern about shortcomings in Liberian national regulation and central oversight of adoption, as well as the lack of implementation of international standards.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas
 
All British nationals require a visa to enter Liberia.  Visas must be obtained before arrival and can be obtained from Liberian representation in the UK.
 
Passport validity
 
You should ensure that your passport is valid for the full duration of your stay in Liberia.
 
Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate
 
You need to show a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate when entering Liberia.
 
Registration of residents
 
If you are intending to reside in Liberia, you are required to register after your arrival with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (Broad Street, Monrovia). Short term visitors are not required to register with the BIN.
 
Exit tax

A departure tax of US$40 is payable in cash at the airport. Exact change is required.
 
Travelling with children

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration, please contact the Liberian representation in the UK.

HEALTH

Hospitals and medical facilities throughout Liberia are poorly equipped.  There are no emergency services.  Blood supplies are unreliable and unsafe, and medication is scarce.  You should carry basic medical supplies.  Waterborne diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases are prevalent; there have been outbreaks of yellow fever.  HIV/AIDS infection rates are high.
 
There is no effective public or commercial Accident and Emergency or Ambulance service anywhere in the country.
 
There are seasonal and sporadic outbreaks of cholera, normally associated with poor sanitation and a lack of access to clean drinking water. We advise that you take particular care with hygiene and recommend that you drink only boiled/bottled water. A significant cholera outbreak occurred in January 2008 in the south east of the country (Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee counties.
 
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  NHS Direct (0845 46 47) can provide you with advice on vaccination requirements for Liberia.
 
For further information on endemic diseases, health outbreaks and vaccination requirements for Liberia you should check the websites of NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel.
 
For more general health information see the Travel Health

GENERAL

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  Please see the Travel Insurance.  This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage.
 
If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
 
Consular registration
 
British nationals are advised to register with the British Honorary Consul, Mr Roy Chalkely, who is the first contact for consular issues. His contact details in Liberia are: UMARCO, Clara Town, UN Drive, Bushrod Island, Monrovia. Telephone (+231) 6 516 973 Fax: (+ 231)77 059 636 E-mail: chalkleyroy@aol.com

The British High Commission in Freetown, Sierra Leone is responsible for Liberia.
 
Money
 
Credit cards are not accepted in Liberia and very few outlets will accept travellers' cheques.  There are no cash machines/ATMs, and foreign exchange and banking facilities are extremely limited.  Western Union has a number of agents in Liberia who are able to transfer money from the UK, although there are very few outside Monrovia.  You should bring sufficient funds, in US Dollars cash, to cover all expenses.

CONTACT DETAILS

Address:
 
British High Commission
6 Spur Road
Freetown

Telephone:
 
(232) (22) 232961
(232) (22) 232362
(232) (22) 232563-5

Facsimile:
 
(232) (22) 228169
(232) (22) 232070

Email:
 
freetown.visa.enquiries@fco.gov.uk
freetown.consular.enquiries@fco.gov.uk
freetown.passport.enquiries@fco.gov.uk

Office Hours:
 
GMT: (Local Time = GMT)
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1630  
Fri: 0800-1300

Website:
  www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/sierraleone


See Also:
  UK Overseas Mission: Liberia
 

GLOBAL TERRORISM WARNING

You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate attacks (that could take place at anytime, anywhere).

When overseas, you should always maintain at least the same level of vigilance as you would in the UK and take sensible precautions. If you see or hear anything suspicious, you should inform the appropriate authorities or security forces.

See Risk of Terrorism.

Avian & Pandemic Flu
Find more information and advice on Avian & Pandemic Flu.

Know Before You Go
The FCO strongly recommends that all travellers abroad take out comprehensive insurance.

NB: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not assume any responsibility, including legal responsibility, in respect of any omission or statement contained in FCO Travel Advice. To see our full disclaimer visit the How We Advise page.

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