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XYZ Consular Info: Central African Repub

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XYZ Consular Info: Central African Repub

Central African Republic Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 29, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Central African Republic (CAR) is a developing African country. Facilities for tourism are limited. The Dzanga-Sangha National Park, a primeval rain forest in the southwest region of the country, is an attractive site for eco-tourism. Big game hunting is a significant tourist attraction. Expeditions are available in the country's northern and eastern provinces through licensed companies in the CAR. The capital is Bangui.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport and visa are required. A yellow fever vaccination is also required before entering the country. Current information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Central African Republic, 1618 22nd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-7800/7801, fax (202) 332-9893. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Central African Republic embassy or consulate.
NOTE: In any country where there is no Central African Republic diplomatic mission, the French Embassy has authorization to issue a visa for entry into the Central African Republic.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments, including the Central African Republic, have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The security situation in Bangui is unstable and remains unpredictable. American citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
In May 2001, armed rebel forces within the CAR military, led by former President and Army General Andre Kolingba, attempted a military coup. After several days of heavy fighting, government forces were able to put down the coup attempt. In November 2001, there were several days of sporadic gunfire exchanged between members of the Presidential Security Unit and rebellious army units.
Due to the inability of the CAR's government to provide security arrangements for foreigners traveling outside the capital city of Bangui, the CAR government has established military checkpoints in up-country provinces outside the capital.
A curfew remains in place, but hours may vary. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Bangui for the latest security information.
CRIME: Street crime does occur in downtown Bangui, although it is uncommon. Armed gangs operate in outlying residential areas, although police anti-crime efforts have, to some extent, reduced this problem. Armed highway robbery in rural areas is common, especially during the December through May dry season, but it has been curbed by the presence of CAR military escorts. American missionaries in up-country provinces reported recent spates of robberies in early 2002. When a crime does occur in Bangui, the victim may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to the shortage of police vehicles; the other option is to use a vechicle to take the police to the scene of the crime.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa," provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and travel in the region in general. Both pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and the quality of acute care is unreliable. Sanitation levels are low. Many medicines are not available; travelers should carry any needed, properly-labeled, medicines and medications with them.
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 if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars (US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions 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); fax, 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
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 CAR is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Due to the risk of armed attacks on motorists in the central, eastern and northern regions, overland travel in these areas without a military escort should be avoided. Most remote areas in CAR that are frequented by tourists and hunters are accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles, although some roads are not be passable at all during the rainy season, which is May through October.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and the CAR, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed CAR's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 618-229-4801.
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 CAR laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in CAR are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
PROHIBITIONS ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Taking photographs of police or military installations, or any other government buildings, is prohibited. These official buildings and installations are often unmarked. Unauthorized photography may result in the seizure of photographic equipment by CAR authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting CAR are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangui at Avenue David Dacko, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the CAR. The mailing address for the U.S. Embassy in Bangui is American Embassy Bangui, Avenue David Dacko, B.P. 924, telephone (236) 61-02-00; fax (236) 61-44-94; after-hours telephone for U.S. citizens (236) 61-34-56 or 61-69-14.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 5, 2001 to delete the Travel Warning and to update information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Aviation Safety Oversight and Registration/Embassy Location.