Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Reviewed: 14 January 2020, 12:43 NZDT
  • Still current at: 29 February 2020

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Do not travel

Do not travel to eastern and north-eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the provinces of Haut-Uele, Haut Lomami, Ituri, Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Maniema, Tanganyika, North and South Kivu and within 50 kilometres of the border with the Central African Republic. This is due to the unstable security situation, ongoing armed conflict and violent crime.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to your security elsewhere in the DRC due to the potential for civil unrest and violent crime.

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Political Situation/Civil Unrest
The political and security situation in the DRC remains unpredictable. Large-scale demonstrations can be expected in the lead up to elections.

Demonstrations have the potential to turn violent with little warning and have resulted in a large number of fatalities in the past, including in Kinshasa and other large cities. Unrest can result in the deployment of security forces, restrictions on movement, border closures and the suspension of commercial flights.

New Zealanders who choose to remain in the DRC are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety. You should avoid all public gatherings, protests and demonstrations. If you find yourself in an area affected by violence, we recommend you immediately leave the area if it is safe to do so, or stay indoors and adhere to local advice. You should have a personal contingency plan in place for departure and monitor developments closely through the media and other local information sources. As a precautionary measure, we recommend ensuring adequate supplies of food, water, fuel, cash and essential medications are always on hand and travel documents are kept up to date.

Eastern, North-eastern and Kasai provinces
The security situation in these areas is volatile and unstable, with ongoing violent clashes. Armed rebel groups operate in these regions and are known to engage in activities like kidnapping, looting, politically-motivated killings and sexual violence, including on civilian populations. Ongoing military operations target these groups and there is a large peacekeeping presence in eastern DRC. Foreigners have been kidnapped and killed in these provinces.

Since early 2017 there have been armed clashes between armed rebel groups and security forces in the Kasai provinces resulting in hundreds of deaths, including foreigners.

Violent crime including armed robbery and carjacking is a significant issue in the DRC. The risk increases greatly after dark. Street crime, including pickpocketing and petty theft, is common, especially in the capital Kinshasa. Foreigners are often targeted due to their perceived wealth.

We recommend New Zealanders exercise a high degree of security awareness at all times and avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as jewellery and mobile devices. 

Avoid all public transport and do not hail taxis in the DRC, as these have been the target of robberies. It is suggested that you use privately booked transportation from a reliable source.

Roadblocks are frequently set up by security forces. At checkpoints, remain in your vehicle and produce requested documents through a raised window. We recommend carrying colour photocopies of your passport and identity documents and producing these when requested.

Foreigners have at times been arbitrarily detained by security forces demanding payment for release. Criminals may also pose as police or security forces to rob travellers. You should avoid entering into vehicles with strangers, including those purporting to be police officers.

When travelling by car, it is advisable to keep doors locked and windows up at all times and to stay on the main routes. It is not safe to walk alone at any time in the DRC.

Border areas
We advise against travel by land through the borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The borders with Angola, Rwanda and Burundi may be subject to closure with little notice.

General travel advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in the DRC, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited.

We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to the DRC should consider.

New Zealanders travelling or living in the DRC should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should check your travel insurance covers travel to the DRC – exclusions may well apply.

New Zealanders in the DRC are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

See our regional advice for Africa

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