Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde)Official Name: Republic of Cabo Verde
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TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Rua Abilio Macedo 6
Praia, Santiago, Cabo Verde
Telephone: +(238) 260-8948
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (238) 991-3325
Fax: +(238) 261-1355
The Republic of Cabo Verde is a developing country which consists of nine inhabited volcanic islands and several uninhabited islets off the western coast of Africa. Most islands (Santiago, São Vicente, Santo Antão, São Nicolau, Fogo, and Brava) are rugged and mountainous; three (Sal, Maio, and Boa Vista) are flat, desert islands with vast white sand beaches. Cabo Verde enjoys a stable, democratic parliamentary government. Praia, the capital and largest city (with a population of 140,000), is on the island of Santiago. Cabo Verde’s major shipping port and second-largest city, Mindelo (population 75,000), is on the island of São Vicente. Two languages are spoken widely in Cabo Verde: Portuguese (the official language, spoken by many but not all Cabo Verdeans) and Cabo Verdean Crioulo (a mixture of Portuguese and African languages). While the tourist industry brings an ever-growing number of visitors, tourist facilities on most of the islands remain limited. Sal and Boa Vista islands, however, each have a well-developed tourism infrastructure and extensive nonstop charter flight connections to various European airports. See “SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES” below regarding issues which impact inter-island transport.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Cabo Verde for additional information on U.S.- Cabo Verdean relations. You may also follow the U.S. Embassy in Praia on Facebook for current news and activities.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A U.S. passport and a Cabo Verdean visa are required. Two types of visas are available: a single-entry visa valid for up to 90 days or a multiple-entry visa valid for five years. You can apply for a visa at the Cabo Verdean Embassy in Washington, D.C. (3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007, tel. 202-965-6820) or the Cabo Verdean Consulate General in Massachusetts (300 Congress Street, #204, Quincy, MA 02169, tel. 617-353-0014). You can find visa requirements on the website of the Consulate General.
Alternatively, if you are unable to travel to the Cabo Verdean Embassy or Consulate, you may apply for a visa upon arrival at one of the country’s four international airports (Nelson Mandela/Praia, Cesaria Evora /Mindelo, Amilcar Cabral/Sal, and Aristides Pereira/Boa Vista). The current fee for such a visa is 2500 CVE (also payable in U.S. dollars) but is subject to change. In theory, Visa credit cards (no Mastercard or American Express) are accepted, but intermittent power cuts in airport terminals often make electronic processing of credit card transactions impossible. We strongly advise being prepared to pay in U.S. currency.
World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination cards are not required upon entry via flights from the United States. However, the Cabo Verdean Health Ministry intermittently imposes such a requirement on persons, including U.S. citizens, arriving on flights from Senegal or other West African countries. Outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever in recent years (see “HEALTH” below) along with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 have prompted such measures. If you plan any West African travel en route to Cabo Verde, you should ensure that you have your WHO card up to date.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Cabo Verde.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Visitors traveling to Cabo Verde who wish to participate in water sports, swimming, boating, and fishing should exercise extreme caution since the tides and currents around the islands are very strong. Several small fishing boats have been lost at sea in recent years, an inter-island ferry sank in 2009, and drownings occur each year on the beaches in Praia. Most recently a ferry traveling between Praia and the island of Fogo with 26 passengers on-board sank in January of 2015.
Cabo Verde, similar to Hawaii, is an archipelago of volcanic islands. Although volcanoes on most of the islands are now inactive, seismologists still consider the entire island of Fogo to be an active volcano; its last eruption occurred in November of 2014. Future eruptions remain a threat, as do earth tremors throughout the islands, especially on Fogo, Brava, and Santo Antão, and beneath the ocean channels that separate them. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
National parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011 and municipal elections in 2012, including campaign rallies and demonstrations, were peaceful. However, the Embassy advises you to avoid crowds at local festivals, cultural events, and similar settings to reduce risk of pick-pockets (see “CRIME” below) or involvement in disturbances usually caused by the widespread consumption of alcohol.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- · Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Cabo Verde on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Petty crime and burglary are common in Cabo Verde, especially at marketplaces, festivals, street fairs, and public gatherings. Criminals do not necessarily target U.S. citizens, but rather anyone perceived to be affluent, regardless of nationality. Often, the perpetrators of petty theft and pickpocketing are gangs of street children, so visitors should avoid groups of children who appear to have no adult supervision. Muggings occur often, particularly at night and in more isolated areas, and increasingly involve violence. The perpetrators are predominantly males between the ages of 14 and 25 operating in groups of two or more to attack their victims. Due to inadequate lighting in many public areas, often caused by rolling power cuts in urban neighborhoods, you should be especially vigilant after dark, carry a small flashlight to illuminate your path, never go out alone, keep vehicle doors and windows locked, and avoid isolated places.
The Embassy emphasizes the particular dangers of using hillside stairways connecting neighborhoods in Praia and many other Cabo Verdean cities and towns. These stairways, although offering convenient shortcuts through hilly terrain, make users vulnerable to assault, even in broad daylight with many people present. The Embassy strongly advises against using them at any time of day.
Counterfeit and pirated goods, although widely available in street markets in Praia, Mindelo, and elsewhere, are nevertheless illegal in both Cabo Verde and the United States. U.S. citizens who buy these goods are punishable under Cabo Verdean law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Cabo Verde is: 132 (police) and 131 (fire).
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you engage in these activities. Buying pirated goods, engaging in sexual conduct with children and using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country are crimes prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Cabo Verde, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not wherever you go.
While you are traveling in Cabo Verde, you are subject to its laws. People that violate Cabo Verdean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cabo Verde are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Inter-island travel is generally via ferry or 45-seat propeller planes. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão, however, are only accessible by boat. Not all flights between islands are direct, even if originally scheduled as such, and airline services may be delayed, re-routed, or cancelled due to poor visibility from dust or rain and related safety concerns. During peak travel seasons (summer and winter holidays), air travelers arriving from abroad into Praia and other major airports for connecting flights to other islands may experience luggage delays at their final destination because of the limited carrying capacity of aircraft. You should carry a change of clothing and all vital materials (including medications) in your carry-on luggage to tide you over for the first 24-48 hours in country. There is regular daily inter-island ferry service between Santo Antão and São Vicente. Ferry services are also available between Santiago, Brava, and Fogo but do not operate daily and the service schedules frequently change. Those planning to travel by ferry should plan well in advance and confirm a couple of days before departure that the ferry service is still operating. Regardless of whether your inter-island travel is by air or sea, be aware that poor weather and sea conditions often cause last-minute delays or cancellations.
Only major cities and towns have Internet cafes, and international telecommunications services in Cabo Verde are dependent on trans-atlantic fiber-optic cables. Visitors who need reliable communication to other countries should consider carrying satellite-based voice and/or data equipment.
The international country code for Cabo Verde is 238. Fixed and mobile line numbers all have seven digits. Land lines all begin with the number “2,” and mobile numbers, which all began with the number “9” until the end of 2009, may now begin with either “5” or “9.” Telephone connections are good, but calls made to numbers outside the archipelago are very expensive.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: There are no antidiscrimination laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Cabo Verde and travelers may encounter prejudice while in-country. However, there were no reported cases of official or private discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care, and there were no reported incidents of violence against LGBT persons in 2014-2015. There are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. Arco-Iris Cabo Verde organized and celebrated the third annual week for the equality of LGBT people called “Mindelo Pride” in the city of Mindelo, Sao Vicente, in June 2015.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Cabo Verde you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Cabo Verde, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. The country’s rugged terrain, the widespread use of cobblestone streets and pathways, the very limited number of elevators in buildings, and the frequency of power outages all constitute significant hardships for persons with limited mobility. Although the Cabo Verdean constitution guarantees that persons with disabilities will receive priority in the provision of government services and stipulates that public buildings must be accessible to the disabled, in reality few such accommodations have been made.
Medical facilities in Cabo Verde are limited, and, despite an extensive network of local pharmacies, some medications are in short supply or otherwise unavailable. The country’s largest hospitals (all public) are in Praia and Mindelo, but smaller public health centers and private medical clinics, of variable quality in both personnel and equipment, are located throughout the country. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão do not have airports, so air evacuation from them in the event of a medical emergency is impossible. Travelers are strongly encouraged to obtain travel health and medical evacuation insurance as medical situations experienced in-country can easily challenge the resources available locally, and emergency evacuations are expensive.
Malaria exists in Cabo Verde but is mainly limited to the island of Santiago. Nationwide, malaria is far less prevalent than in mainland African countries with approximately 20-40 cases occurring annually, almost always among recent West African migrants who contracted the illness before arriving in the islands. Although many expatriates do not believe there is a need for malaria prophylaxis, it is important to be aware that there is an elevated risk of contracting the disease from July to December, especially during the rainy season (August-October).
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Among other effects, there have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website.
Since a 2009 epidemic of dengue fever, when 21,000 cases were reported, the number of dengue cases has dropped drastically. As of September 4, 2015, the Government of Cabo Verde has not recorded a case of dengue fever in the year 2015.
Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, and chiggers, some of which may also carry infectious diseases and are advised to minimize exposure to both dengue and malaria by taking precautions against mosquito bites, which are most common at dawn and dusk, particularly from July to December. Like malaria, no vaccine exists for dengue, so travelers in Cabo Verde who exhibit symptoms as described on the CDC’s dengue fact sheet should immediately seek medical attention. Depending on how long you are in Cabo Verde, symptoms may not present themselves until after you return to the United States. Since medical professionals in the United States often do not test patients for either illness, make sure you tell the doctor evaluating your symptoms that you have recently been in a country where both malaria and dengue fever exist.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through careful hand washing and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them.
Those traveling to Cabo Verde for scuba diving should be aware that there is no hyperbaric/decompression facility on the islands.
If you need a doctor in Cabo Verde, a list of medical providers and hospitals is available on U.S. Embassy Praia website.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Cabo Verde, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Cabo Verde has an extensive road system. On the islands of Santiago, Sal, and São Vicente, many urban and rural roads are asphalt. On the other islands (Fogo, Brava, Maio, São Nicolau, and Boa Vista), some roads are narrow, winding, and mostly cobblestone. During the rainy season, cobblestone roads are especially slippery, and mud and rockslides are common on roads that cut through mountains.
Houses are often located adjacent to roadways, and drivers must be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially children, as well as herds of livestock. Roads and streets often are unlit, so driving at night is hazardous. Most accidents result from aggressive driving, excessive speed, passing in blind curves, and/or on inclines or declines in the rain. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a problem in Cabo Verde. The peak times for drunk drivers are on Sundays and at night. Exercise extreme caution toward both pedestrians and other drivers after celebrations, festivals, and open-air concerts as well as during holiday periods, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Carnival.
Full-service gas stations (no self-service) are available. Taxis and buses generally offer clean, dependable service on all islands. Bus service in Praia is inexpensive, and most buses are fairly new. Intra-island service usually consists of minivans (typically a Toyota Hiace) or converted pickup trucks that have benches along the edges of the pickup bed. Intra-island service can be dangerous because some drivers overload their vehicles, exceed the speed limit, or drive after drinking alcohol. Before entering any vehicle, riders should pay close attention to the appearance and behavior of the driver.
In Cabo Verde, traffic moves on the right side of the road, as in the United States. At intersections, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way, but at roundabouts (traffic circles), cars inside the circle have the right-of-way. Under Cabo Verdean law, seat belts must be worn at all times by the driver as well as the person in the front passenger seat. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat. Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets and use headlights at all times. Bicycling is common in Praia and in some other areas. The use of helmets, gloves, and /or other protective gear while bicycling is more widespread than in mainland African countries but not governed by local laws/regulations and not at all universal. Pedestrian striped crosswalks are common in Praia, Mindelo, and other large cities/towns, and are widely used and heeded by motorists.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Cabo Verde’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Cabo Verde’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.