Cameroon

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 18 May 2015.   This advice has been reviewed and updated. The level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Cameroon.

Cameroon overall

North and Adamaoua regions

Far North region and within 40 kms of borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria's Adamawa state

Within 40 kms of the border with Nigeria in the Bakassi Peninsula region

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Cameroon because of the high levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings throughout Cameroon as they may become violent.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the Far North region and to within 40 kilometres of the borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria’s Adamawa state because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry.
  • There is a very high threat of kidnapping in the Far North and North regions, where the militant group Boko Haram is active. Foreigners were kidnapped from the Far North region in 2013 and 2014.
  • We advise you not to travel to the border region with Nigeria’s Adamawa regions because of the threat of kidnapping and the possibility of terrorist attack by Boko Haram militants from neighbouring Nigeria.
  • We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel elsewhere in North and Adamaoua regions due to the terrorism threat.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to within 40 kilometres of the border with Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula because of the possibility of localised violence.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Cameroon headed by an Honorary Consul who can provide limited consular assistance. The Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, provides full consular assistance to Australians in Cameroon.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cameroon for the most up to date information.

Cameroon is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Cameroon. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We strongly advise against all travel to the Far North region of Cameroon, including Lake Chad, and to within 40 kilometres of the border with Nigeria’s Adamawa state due to the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry.

We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel elsewhere in North and Adamaoua regions due to the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry.

The security situation in northern Cameroon is being directly affected by the violent conflict in northern Nigeria. The Nigeria-based militant group, Boko Haram, is undertaking an extremely violent campaign of terror, centred in the Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Militants regularly cross the border to carry out attacks in Cameroon’s Far North, North and Adamaoua regions.

The Nigerian military has escalated military operations against Boko Haram. This has adversely affected security in neighbouring regions of Cameroon, with refugees and some terrorists crossing into Cameroon to avoid Nigerian military operations. The Cameroonian military has increased its operations in northern Cameroon.

These developments have led to a significant increase in the number of attacks in Cameroon, particularly in areas bordering Nigeria. Attacks could take place at any time and could target locations frequented by westerners, including tourist, commercial and transport facilities.

There is also a very high threat of kidnapping in the Far North region and in areas close to the border with Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states. A number of foreigners were kidnapped by militants in this area in 2013 and 2014.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat bulletin.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings throughout Cameroon as they may become violent.

Eastern border areas with Central African Republic and Chad: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border area with the Central African Republic and Chad in eastern Cameroon. On occasion conflict in the Central African Republic has spilled across the border into Cameroon, affecting outposts in the Adamaoua and East Regions. In March 2015, a number of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings occurred in or near Garoua-Boulai, in the east of Cameroon, near the border with the Central African Republic.

Bakassi Peninsula: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border area between Cameroon and Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula. Sovereignty of the area had been disputed for many years and was handed from Nigeria to Cameroon in 2008. Tensions in the area remain high and resettlement of the residents of the region is being negotiated. There is also tension between the police and security personnel of both countries and localised violence may erupt without warning.

Crime

Criminal activity is a serious problem throughout Cameroon. Violent crime is common in residential centres and on rural highways. Armed highwaymen operate throughout the country. Armed banditry is common in the border areas with the Central African Republic. Carjackings, muggings, robberies and petty theft occur in the capital city, Yaoundé, and in the regional cities of Douala, Kribi and Maroua. In Yaoundé, the suburbs of la Briquetterie, Mokolo and Mvog-Ada are particularly dangerous. There have been several incidents of robbery and rape committed against foreigners in Douala. Avoid travel after dark, especially outside city limits.

The US Embassy in Yaoundé prohibits its personnel from using taxis in Cameroon due to the high levels of crime associated with public transport.

There have been a number of attacks by gangs of armed gunmen on restaurants and hotels known to be used by foreigners.

Petty theft is a common occurrence on trains, coaches and bush taxis and around bus stations.

Car-jackings and armed robberies have occurred along roads close to the borders with Nigeria, the Central African Republic and Chad and along the Bamenda-Banyo, Bafoussam-Banyo, Bafoussam-Doula and Bafoussam-Yaoude roads.

Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Incidents of piracy have occurred in the coastal areas of Cameroon. In February 2011, two people died in a pirate attack. For more information about piracy, see our Piracy bulletin. The International Maritime Bureau also issues piracy reports.

Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract or extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a financial scam, we advise you to obtain legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of serious physical assault from the perpetrators. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

Money and valuables

Cameroon is largely a cash economy and credit card facilities are not widespread. Travellers cheques and credit cards are accepted at major hotels in Yaoundé. Travellers' cheques will only be cashed if accompanied by the original purchase receipt. ATMs that accept international cards are limited in Cameroon and you should check the location of any such ATMs with your bank before you travel.

Counterfeit currency has been discovered in circulation.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Road travel: Driving in Cameroon can be hazardous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles, local driving practices and inadequate lighting. Poor road conditions make it difficult to depart Cameroon via the land border with Gabon. You should plan your journey carefully and travel in convoy wherever possible. As mobile phone coverage is limited you should consider taking a VHF radio or satellite phone. You should also travel with food and water. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Police checkpoints are common in Cameroon and the police may request payments from drivers and other occupants of the vehicle. If you can't produce identification (residence permit, driver’s license or certified copy of your passport) you may be detained by the police.

Taxis in cities operate like buses, picking up passengers while there is still room in the vehicle. They often take indirect routes and many don’t meet basic safety requirements. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Only use trusted taxis and preferably book one from your hotel or restaurant. The US Embassy in Yaoundé prohibits its personnel from using taxis in Cameroon due to the high levels of crime associated with public transport.

Road travel during the rainy season (from June to September in the north and from July to November in the south) to some rural areas may be difficult, as heavy rains and flash floods could make unpaved roads impassable.

Should you opt to visit Lake Chad, despite our advice not to travel, you should report to local authorities on arrival. The local authorities advise visitors to engage a reliable guide due to the dangerous security situation.

Sea travel: A ferry which operates between Limbe/Tiko in Cameroon and Calabar in Nigeria passes through an area where pirates may operate. Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Brigade patrols the waters around the coastal areas of Bakassi Peninsula.

Rail travel: The tracks and many of the trains in Cameroon are in poor condition.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Cameroon.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Cameroon including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment. See our Drugs page.

Travellers should carry identification (residence permit or certified copy of your passport) at all times. Failure to produce identification when requested may result in being detained by the police.

Penalties for serious crimes, such as homicide, include the death penalty.

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include prison sentences from six months to five years, and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 CFA francs. Attacks and arrests targeting LGBTI individuals have been reported in the media. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography of and around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel, government buildings, airports and ports is illegal.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Cameroon and you should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

Cameroon does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Cameroonian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in urban centres in Cameroon are limited and are extremely limited in rural areas. Even in urban centres care may be affected by a lack of trained personnel, poor sanitation and outdated equipment. Pharmaceuticals are in short supply and poor quality substitutes are often used. Up-front payment for medical services is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation to London, Paris or Johannesburg would be recommended. Costs for a medical evacuation can range from $A25,000 to $A200,000.

Malaria occurs widely and throughout the year in Cameroon. Other insect-borne diseases (including filariasis and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Cameroon is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Cameroon. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, meningitis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, loiasis and river blindness) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

In May 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern” and issued temporary recommendations that may affect your travel to Cameroon.

It is recommended that Australians travelling to Cameroon are up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook, prior to departure.

Australian travellers planning to visit Cameroon, and staying for periods greater than 4 weeks, are encouraged to carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Cameroon. If you do not have documented evidence of polio vaccination within this 12 month period, you may be encouraged to be vaccinated prior to departure from Cameroon.

Please see your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Further information is available from the Australian Department of Health polio website.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Cameroon is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. For more information on the outbreak and travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police. There is no national emergency number in Cameroon. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Cameroon headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides only limited consular assistance (not including the issue of passports). Contact details for the Consulate are:

Australian Consulate, Yaoundé

Les Manguiers
BAT Compound Bastos,
BP 7063 Yaoundé
Republic of Cameroon

Telephone (237) 22 217 442
Facsimile (237) 22 208 431
Mobile (237) 96 802 662
Email: bellah_chambers1@yahoo.com

Full consular assistance is available from the Australian High Commission in Nigeria:

Australian High Commission, Abuja

48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria
Telephone (234 9) 461 2780
Facsimile (234 9) 461 2782
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au.

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Cameroon, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we also encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate in Yaoundé or the Australian High Commission in Abuja you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is June to September in the north, and from July to November in the south. During these times flooding may occur and some roads become impassable.

Explosions and lava flows have occurred at Mont Cameroon. You should seek advice from local authorities before climbing.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following link:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.