Cameroon

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 24 June 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Where to get help (the Canadian High Commission in Cameroon can provide consular assistance to Australians), and under Health (updated information on poliovirus). We continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel to the Far North Region due to the risk of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry. We also strongly advise against travel to borders with the Central African Republic, Chad and with Nigerias Adamawa state. The overall level of advice for Cameroon remains at exercise a high degree of caution because of political uncertainty and high levels of serious crime.

Cameroon overall

Far North Region and borders with Central African Republic and Chad

Border area with Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula

Region bordering Nigeria’s Adamawa state

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Cameroon overall because of the risk of terrorist attack, political uncertainty and 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.
  • On 5 May 2014 the World Health Organisation declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern” and has issued temporary recommendations that may affect your travel to Cameroon.
  • 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 borders with Central African Republic and Chad because of the risk of terrorist attack, kidnapping, armed banditry and cross-border skirmishes. On 5 April 2014 a Canadian and two Italian nationals were kidnapped from their residence in Tchere, in the Far North Region. Further such kidnappings could occur.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the border region with Nigeria’s Adamawa state. In May 2013 Nigeria declared a state of emergency in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and stepped up military operations against extremists. (Borno and Adamawa states border Cameroon’s Far North, North and Adamaoua provinces). The security situation in Cameroon could decline should extremists displaced from Nigeria seek refuge across the border in Cameroon.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the border area with Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula because of the risk of localised fighting erupting without warning.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Cameroon. The Canadian High Commission located in Yaounde, provides consular assistance to Australians in Cameroon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, can also assist Australians in Cameroon.
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Entry and exit

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

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Cameroon.

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. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Cameroon (see Health section).

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. 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. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

The ongoing instability in northern Nigeria has increased the potential for attacks by militants on Western interests in Cameroon. Attacks could take place at any time at locations frequented by Westerners, including tourist, commercial and transport facilities.

Far North Region: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to the Far North Region of Cameroon, including Lake Chad, due to the risk of terrorist attack, kidnapping and armed banditry. On 5 April 2014 a Canadian and two Italian nationals were kidnapped from their residence in Tchere, in the Far North Region. Further such kidnappings could occur.

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 do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.

Border area with Nigeria’s Adamawa state: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border region with Nigeria’s Adamawa state. In May 2013 Nigeria declared a state of emergency in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and stepped up military operations against extremists. (Borno and Adamawa states border Cameroon’s Far North, North and Adamaoua provinces.) The security situation in neighbouring Cameroon could decline should extremists displaced from Nigeria seek refuge across the border in Cameroon.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution due to political uncertainty. 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. Armed banditry, kidnapping and carjacking are prevalent in these regions. Cross-border skirmishes have also occurred.

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 on 14 August 2008. Tension in the area remains high and resettlement of the residents of the region is being negotiated. Tensions also remain high between the police and security personnel of both countries and you risk being caught up in localised fighting that may erupt without warning.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Cameroon because of 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.

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, Yaounde, and in the regional cities of Douala, Kribi and Maroua. In Yaounde, 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.

The US Embassy in Yaounde 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.

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 issues piracy reports on its website.

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

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. 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. Travellers' cheques and credit cards are accepted at major hotels in Yaounde. Travellers' cheques will only be cashed if accompanied by the original purchase receipt.

Counterfeit currency has been discovered in circulation.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

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

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. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Visitors to the Lake Chad area should report to local authorities on arrival. The local authorities advise visitors to engage a reliable guide due to the dangerous security situation.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Cameroon, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

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

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. 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 for dual nationals.

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. 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 depending on the circumstances.

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.

On 5 May 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern” and has 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, will be required to have 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 required 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.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Cameroon. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian High Commission in Yaounde, provides consular assistance to Australians in Cameroon. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian High Commission, Yaounde

Immeuble Stamatiades
Place de l'Hotel de Ville
Yaounde, Cameroon
Telephone: (237) 2223 2311
Facsimile: (237) 2222 1090
Email: yunde@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/cameroon-cameroun.

You can also obtain consular assistance 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.

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 Canadian High Commission in Yaounde 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. In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is June to September when 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.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



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.