How to Enter Sierra Leone

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

A passport and visa are required. Visitors are strongly encouraged to obtain visas in advance of travel to Sierra Leone. Visitors to Sierra Leone are required to show their International Certificates of Vaccination (yellow card) upon arrival at the airport with a record of vaccination against yellow fever. The Embassy of Sierra Leone is located at 1701 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone (202) 939-9261. Information may also be obtained from the Sierra Leonean Mission to the United Nations, 245 East 49th St., New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 688-1656; and from the website of the Sierra Leonean High Commission in London. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Sierra Leonean embassy or consulate. Visit the Embassy of Sierra Leone’s website for the most current visa information.

Special Travel Circumstances in Sierra Leone

Airport Transportation: Lungi International Airport is located across a large body of water from Freetown. There are usually four travel options to and from Lungi airport: ferry, water taxi, hovercraft, and by car. None of the options are without risk, and Embassy personnel do not travel from the airport to Freetown by car. The cost for the ferry service is minimal, but the service experiences frequent delays. The ferry terminal is located in East Freetown, which has a higher crime rate than other parts of the capital. Passengers departing Freetown by air should expect to pay an airport tax of $65.00 (payable in U.S. dollars).

It is not uncommon for regional airlines to alter scheduled stops, cancel or postpone flights on short notice, and overbook flights. Travelers may experience unexpected delays even after checking in and must be prepared to handle alternate ticketing and/or increased food and lodging expenses. European carriers are typically more reliable. U.S. citizens departing Lungi International Airport have reported incidents of attempted extortion by officials claiming that travel documents were not in order. Luggage is often pilfered at Lungi International Airport. Travelers should avoid putting high value items, such as jewelry, laptops, and other electronic equipment in their checked luggage.

Currency: Sierra Leone is generally a cash economy. There are some ATMs that accept international Visa cards only. There are no functioning MasterCard cash points in Sierra Leone. Point of sale credit card terminals exist in some major shops, hotels, and restaurants, but very few facilities accept cards. Travelers are advised to use credit cards cautiously in Sierra Leone because there is a serious risk that using a card will lead to the number being stolen for use in fraudulent transactions. An anti-money laundering law passed in 2005 prohibits importing more than $10,000 in cash except through a financial institution.

Travelers' checks are not usually accepted as payment and most travelers have a difficult time locating a bank that will accept them. U.S. dollars printed before 2007 are generally not accepted in Sierra Leone. Currency exchanges should be handled through a bank or established foreign exchange bureau. Exchanging money with street vendors is dangerous because criminals may "mark" such people for future attack and there is the risk of receiving counterfeit currency.

Exports: Sierra Leone's customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the export of gems and precious minerals, such as diamonds and gold. All mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, belong to the State, and only the government of Sierra Leone can issue mining and export licenses. The legal authority for the issuance of licenses is vested in the National Minerals Agency. Failure to comply with relevant legislation can lead to serious criminal penalties. For further information on mining activities in Sierra Leone, contact the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources: The Director of Mines, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, 5th, Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown, Sierra Leone; tel. 232-22-240-420 or 240-176; fax 232-22- 240-574, or see the Department of State’s annual Investment Climate Statement.

Corruption: Corruption is a problem in Sierra Leone. Travelers requesting service from government officials could be asked for bribes. Corrupt government officials should be reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission via one of the following methods: The Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission, 3 Gloucester Street, Freetown; tel. (232) 022-223-645, (232) 076-394-111; (232) 077-985-985; email the Anti-Corruption Commission at Info@anticorruptionsl.gov.sl or Reports@anticorruptionsl.gov.sl.

Photography: Travelers must obtain official permission to photograph government buildings, airports, bridges, or official facilities including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the U.S. Embassy. Areas where photography is prohibited may not be clearly marked or defined. People sometimes do not want to be photographed for religious or other reasons, or they may want to be paid for posing. Photographers should ask permission before taking anyone’s picture.

Dual Nationals: U.S. citizens who are also Sierra Leonean nationals must provide proof of payment of taxes on revenue earned in Sierra Leone before being granted clearance to depart the country. The Government of Sierra Leone recognizes dual U.S.-Sierra Leonean citizenship. However, if a U.S. citizen enters the country on a Sierra Leonean passport, the Embassy may have difficulty assisting in legal or criminal proceedings against them because law enforcement officials may not recognize their U.S. citizenship.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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