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The Basics

Time: GMT

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Plug types in use are round pin attachment plugs or round pin plugs and receptacles with a male grounding pin.

Money: The official currency is the West African CFA Franc (XOF), divided into 100 centimes. The CFA Franc is linked to the Euro at a fixed rate of exchange. New notes were issued in 2004 and only those issued by the Bank of West African States (Banque des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest) are valid currency. There are a few ATMs in Abidjan but most will accept only Visa cards. It is unwise to use an ATM that is not guarded. Credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and more established restaurants. Most shops require cash.

Currency Exchange Rates

XOF 100.00 = AUD 0.24 CAD 0.23 EUR 0.15 NZD 0.26 GBP 0.13 USD 0.17 ZAR 2.45
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: The official language of Ivory Coast is French but more than 60 native dialects are spoken.

Entry requirements:

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyound the period of intended stay. A visa is required.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreign passengers to the Ivory Coast must hold proof of arranged accommodation, return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter the Ivory Coast. Holders of 'pre-approved enrollement' or a 'registration receipt' can obtain a visa on arrival in Abidjan (ABJ). NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are a variety of health risks prevalent in Ivory Coast, and a yellow fever vaccination is required for entry; immigration officials will check this at the airport. Cholera is present in rural areas, and malaria is widespread even in urban areas. Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations are also recommended. Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for travel between November and June. HIV/AIDS is widespread and Dengue Fever can occur, so travellers should pack an effective mosquito repellant. All water should be sterilised before use, and milk, which is unpasteurised, should be boiled. Avoid dairy products and ensure meat is well cooked and eaten hot. Fruit and vegetables should be cooked and/or peeled before consumption. Medical treatment in Abidjan is of reasonable standard, but private care is expensive, and facilities outside the major towns are very limited. Medical insurance with provision for repatriation is essential.

Tipping: A service charge is usually added to hotel and restaurant bills in Ivory Coast. Where it is not, a tip of 10 to 15 percent is acceptable. Taxi drivers usually expect 10 percent.

Safety Information: The political situation in Ivory Coast is volatile and demonstrations can occur unexpectedly. Take care in public places and avoid crowds. If visitors decide to travel to the Ivory Coast, careful personal security arrangements should be made due to high levels of anti-western sentiment. Violent crime is on the increase, including armed break-ins, car jackings, muggings and hold-ups in restaurants. Evening rush hour on Abidjan's Charles de Gaulle Bridge is particularly dangerous. Visitors should be meticulous in respecting the numerous army and police roadblocks. Police and security forces can be excitable and undisciplined. Particular care should be taken in the north and west of the country, where there have been frequent clashes. All travel to the 18 Montagnes and Moyen Cavally regions should be avoided. In the area between Duékoué and Odienne, armed elements are often under the influence of drink or drugs, which makes them particularly unpredictable. Be aware of con-men and touts when arriving at Abidjan airport. The bridges crossing the lagoon in Abidjan should be avoided by those on foot. Taxis, except for metered orange taxis in Abidjan, are risky and often unroadworthy. Buses are overcrowded and best avoided. Sea bathing is dangerous as strong sea currents are present, and drownings are common.

Local Customs: Photographing military or government installations is forbidden in Ivory Coast. Homosexuality is illegal. Dress is conservative for men and women. Shorts, tight clothing and strapless tops are frowned upon anywhere except on the beach.

Business: Business in the Ivory Coast is fairly formal with punctuality a must, though more casual cotton suits are acceptable attire. Business is often conducted in French, but translators are readily available. Greeting and acknowledging each person present with a handshake is important. Business hours are usually from 7.30am to 12pm, and 2.30pm to 6pm on weekdays, and from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Communications: The country code for Ivory Coast is +225. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are not required and all phone numbers have eight digits.

Duty free: Travellers to the Ivory Coast do not need to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 25 cigars or 250g of tobacco; one bottle of wine and one of spirits; 500ml eau de toilette and 250ml of perfume. A video camera may be imported (for personal use only) and must be declared on arrival; a deposit must be paid which will be refunded on departure. Currency should be declared.