Safety and security
The political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is fragile. Things can deteriorate quickly and dangerous incidents can happen. For this reason, we advise against non-essential travel to the country, particularly all travel to the eastern, north-eastern and Bas-Congo areas, including the town of Goma.
Be aware that if unrest in the country worsens, commercial flights may be suspended and border crossing points closed. This will restrict your ability to leave the country.
If you are travelling to the DRC, avoid entering or leaving overland from Uganda, Rwanda or Burundi except via Goma and Bukavu and be extremely careful at crossing points. The border crossings between Rwanda and the DRC at Gisenyi/Goma and Cyangugu/Bukavu are currently open between 6am and 6pm. Both borders are liable to short notice closure and you shouldn’t rely on them as a point of exit from the DRC. The border with Angola can also be subject to closure at short notice. You must have the correct documentation for to enter the country, including a visa issued by the nearest DRC Embassy to your country of residence. It is no longer possible to buy a short-term pass at the border to enter the country.
Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational. Always keep yourself informed of changes to the political situation by monitoring local and international media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.
Crime is on the rise, particularly in Kinshasa, and you should be extremely careful, especially at night and always take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
In Kinshasa, robberies by gangs of street children are increasingly common and becoming more aggressive. You should always stick to the main thoroughfares when driving and make sure that you park in a supervised area.
There’s no emergency services number in the Democratic Republic of Congo, equivalent to the 999 service in Ireland.
If you’re a victim of crime, notify the nearest police station or gendarmerie. However, you should be aware that laws and regulations are not administered consistently in the DRC and legal recourse in cases of theft and robbery is limited. If you need assistance, you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Pretoria.
If you’re planning to drive in Democratic Republic of Congo, you should be extremely careful. Roads are generally in poor condition, and often impassable in the rainy season. If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law
- Be aware of Democratic Republic of Congo’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
- Stick to the main routes and always park in a supervised area
Travellers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country. Requests for bribes in such instances are common, and security forces are reported to have occasionally injured or killed people who refuse to pay.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:12:13 GMT