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Liberia

If you’re travelling to Liberia, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security Status

We advise Irish citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in Liberia. 

Latest Alert

Liberia was declared Ebola free in April 2016. Visitors should nonetheless exercise vigilance in their healthcare.

The availability and quality of medical services in Liberia is poor. Citizens should be aware that you may have difficulty accessing even basic medical services, particularly in remote areas. If you need treatment, you may be asked to pay up front. If you have a pre-existing medical condition or underlying health concerns, you should note that it may not be possible to get appropriate drugs or treatment during your stay. If you choose to travel, bring enough medication with you for the duration of your visit.

If you develop fever, unexplained fatigue, diarrhoea or any other severe symptoms while in Liberia, or in the few weeks following your departure from Liberia, you should telephone your GP or Accident and Emergency Department mentioning your symptoms and your travel history, since it may result from an infection like malaria that requires immediate investigation and treatment.

If you're planning to drive in Liberia, you should be extremely careful as traffic accidents are common. Emergency medical services in Liberia are limited, and poorly equipped to deal with road traffic accidents, particularly those involving complex trauma. Therefore, extra caution should be exercised when using the road, either as a driver or as a passenger.

Our advice

Ireland doesn’t have an Embassy or Consulate in Liberia, so we can’t verify detailed travel advice to ensure that it’s accurate, appropriate and up to date. However, we encourage you to conduct your own research and to read these links to travel advice from other foreign ministries:

Emergency assistance

There is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in the Liberia. However, if you need assistance, please contact our Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000. 

Other EU Embassies  

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.  

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates    
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Political Stability / Unrest

Security and stability in Liberia have improved since internal conflict in the country ended in 2003. However, tensions remain and there is still a risk of violence. We strongly advise you to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Liberia and to consider and plan any proposed travel carefully. 

The security situation in Liberia is unpredictable, particularly outside of Monrovia, notably close to the border with Côte d’Ivoire. You should avoid all non-essential travel to Grand Gedeh, River Ghee and Maryland counties where there have been reports of armed groups living in areas bordering Côte d’Ivoire. 

Terrorism

The threat of terrorism in Liberia is low, although there is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which can target areas frequented by foreign tourists.

Crime

Crime levels, including violent crime, armed robberies and sexual assaults, are high in Liberia. Most crimes are opportunistic theft, with the perpetrators often armed with knives or firearms. The risk of burglaries increases around Christmas, from November until the New Year. Be vigilant at all times, particularly after dark when crime levels are higher 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.
  • Take a number of photocopies of your passport with you in case your passport is lost or stolen. Leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid carrying valuables or large sums of cash in public.
  • Take particular care when in large crowds or when out at night, especially in central Monrovia or in the beach area, or at bars or nightclubs. Concerts and sporting events are often crowded and unsafe, and pickpocketing is common.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that your accommodation and vehicle are well secured, with locked doors and windows at all times.

If you’re a victim of crime while in Liberia, you should make a report to the local police and contact the Embassy of Ireland in Sierra Leone. 

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Liberia, you should be extremely careful as traffic accidents are common and collisions can attract hostile crowds. Road conditions are generally poor, including in Monrovia, and deteriorate during the rainy season from May to October as heavy rains damage road surfaces and create large potholes. Most roads have no street lighting or painted markings. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for minor roads outside of Monrovia. You should avoid travelling after dark outside of urban areas.

Emergency medical services in Liberia are limited, and poorly equipped to deal with road traffic accidents, particularly those involving complex trauma. Therefore, extra caution should be exercised when using the road, either as a driver or as a passenger. Road traffic accidents can lead to heated disputes. If you are caught up in a serious road traffic accident, you are advised to remain inside your vehicle, with the doors locked, until such time as the police arrive. If it becomes unsafe to remain at the scene of a road traffic accident, you should make your way immediately to the local police station to report the incident.

If you are travelling outside of Monrovia, you should plan your journey in advance, and travel in convoy where possible, to avoid being stranded in the case of breakdowns. 

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.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked, especially when stopped in traffic.
  • Remember that in Liberia, you drive on the right-hand side of the road. 

Public Transport

Private taxis, motorbike taxis or mini buses available for public transport can be hazardous as vehicle maintenance and driving standards are often very poor and vehicles overcrowded. 

Higher risk activities

Currents and riptides are strong and unpredictable on Liberia’s beaches, making swimming conditions very dangerous. Beaches are not manned by lifeguards. Canoes and fishing boats offering passenger services along the coast are often overwhelmed by waves and should be avoided.

Corruption and fraud

Corruption is common in Liberia. Business fraud against foreigners is also a problem. If you’re thinking of making an investment or entering into a contract, we advise you to research the person or company concerned before making any commitments. Be particularly careful when the business opportunity is the result of unsolicited contact or promises rapid financial gain. 

Border Regions

Liberia shares its border with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. If you’re visiting border areas, you should get local advice and keep informed of political developments. Particular caution should be exercised in Grand Gedeh, River Ghee and Maryland counties, where there have been reports of armed groups living in areas bordering Côte d’Ivoire.

Local laws and customs

While you’re in Liberia, you are subject to local laws and customs. You should respect local traditions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs. Any Irish citizen who commits a criminal offence can expect to be prosecuted and jailed or expelled from the country. Prison conditions are extremely difficult. 

Personal ID

You should carry photographic ID with you at all times, as you may be asked to produce it at any time by immigration officials or the police. We recommend you carry a photocopy of your passport, along with another form of photographic ID. You should store your passport in a safe place.

LGBT

Homosexual activity is illegal. Caution and discretion are advised at all times. Transgender persons may face additional discrimination or adverse treatment.

Religion

Approximately 85% of the population of Liberia practices Christianity, with 12% practicing Islam. While the Constitution protects freedom of religion, some religious tensions exist.

Always be sensitive to local customs when you’re abroad. It is often best to behave conservatively, at least until you know your way around. Avoid public displays of affection and dress modestly, particularly in places of worship.

Illegal activities

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of drugs and for diamond smuggling are severe and you should not become involved in these activities in any way. The importation of firearms into Liberia is prohibited under UN sanctions.

 

Health

The availability and quality of medical services in Liberia is poor. Citizens should be aware that you may have difficulty accessing even basic medical services, particularly in remote areas. If you need treatment, you may be asked to pay up front. If you have a pre-existing medical condition or underlying health concerns, you should note that you may not be able to get appropriate drugs or treatment during your stay. If you choose to travel, bring enough medication with you for the duration of your visit and copies of your prescription.

Travel Insurance

Before travelling, we strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you in Liberia for the activities you want to undertake.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has been brought under control in West Africa. On 1st April 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola public health emergency in West Africa to be over. While the risk of contracting Ebola is extremely low, as it is expected that response systems in Liberia will be capable of containing, and dealing with, potential future flare-ups, travellers should nonetheless exercise due caution, and take necessary precautions to prevent infection. Travellers should avoid being directly exposed to any bodily fluids from a dead or living Ebola-infected person, including through unprotected sexual contact with patients that have recovered from Ebola. If you do become exposed, you should seek rapid medical attention. You should contact the medical care facility by phone before your visit, in order to enable medical personnel to use appropriate protection at the time of admission.

Further information on Ebola is available from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre website.

If you develop fever, unexplained fatigue, diarrhoea or any other severe symptoms while in Liberia, or in the few weeks following your departure from Liberia, you should telephone your GP or Accident and Emergency Department mentioning your symptoms and your travel history, since it may result from an infection like malaria that requires immediate investigation and treatment.

Yellow fever

The yellow fever vaccination is an entry requirement for Liberia and a yellow fever vaccination certificate will be requested by border control on arrival in the country.

Malaria

Malaria, including cerebral malaria which can be fatal within 72 hours, is endemic in Liberia and we strongly recommend using a malaria prophylaxis, together with other precautions such as using bed nets and insect repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers. You should also bring enough malaria treatment for the duration of your visit.

Water-borne diseases

Cholera and other water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, giardia, dysentery and typhoid are also very common, so practise good hygiene, drink and brush your teeth with bottled water only, and avoid eating uncooked vegetables, salads, seafood and meats.

General diseases

Other diseases including but not limited to, rabies, HIV, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio and Lassa fever are also present in some parts of Liberia and can pose a risk.

 

Additional information

Climate

The climate in Liberia is consistently hot and humid year round, with temperatures fluctuating between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. The dry season extends from November to April and the rainy season lasts from May to October. The rainy season brings extremely heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms. Travellers should be careful when travelling during the rainy season as flash floods can occur in exceptional circumstances.

Banking and Money

The official currency of Liberia is the Liberia Dollar. However, US dollars are widely accepted. Liberia is a cash-based economy and you should bring enough cash to cover your expenses while you’re here. Credit cards and travellers’ cheques are very rarely accepted and you shouldn’t rely on them.

Although there are a number of ATMs in Monrovia, many don’t accept foreign bank or credit cards and the security of the transactions can’t be guaranteed. The exchange rate given by ATMs is also highly unfavourable.

There are restrictions on how much cash you can bring into the country, and you should verify the latest requirements with your nearest Embassy of the Republic of Liberia before travelling. Always be careful when carrying cash. Facilities to exchange Euro for dollars in Liberia are very limited, and you should not assume that you will be able to exchange Euro in Liberia.

Visas and Immigration

Irish citizens require a valid visa to enter Liberia. Visa applications from Ireland should be submitted to the Embassy of the Republic of Liberia in London. Those travelling to Liberia are also required to show evidence of having received a yellow fever vaccination. 

Language

English is the official language of Liberia.

Water and Power

Mains water is limited, and tap water should be boiled before drinking it. Bottled water is readily available.

Power is improving but remains unreliable, particularly during the dry season. Rented accommodation and hotels rely on generators and private water supplies.