The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report's publication assesses SAPound o Tome & Principe at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Libreville does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided. SAPound o Tome & Principe is a Lusophone country, and very few people speak English.
Review OSAC's SAPound o Tome & Principe-specific webpage for analytic reports, travel alerts, and contact information.
There is minimal risk from crime in SAPound o Tome. Violent crime directed toward expatriates or foreign tourists is infrequent. The most common crime reported by expatriates is theft of unaccompanied items. Crimes such as burglary, pick-pocketing, and armed home invasion have occurred on the islands, particularly around the winter holidays. Pick pocketing is prevalent in markets, on the streets, or near hotels.
Most hotels in SAPound o Tome city and resorts on the outlying islands have safeguards in place that match security standards (providing 24-hour guards, locking doors and safes in each room) found in Western countries. In January 2019, a U.S. citizen reported a sexual assault outside of a hotel in the city of SAPound o Tome. Visitors should double-check with their lodging accommodations about after-hours access and personal safety practices.
There are some local gangs that are involved in robberies, hold-ups, and thefts, but no organized crime. Violent crime is rare, though there are isolated incidents of violence in the commission of robberies.
The U.S. Embassy has not received any reports of card skimming. E-Commerce does not exist in SAPound o Tome & Principe. Businesses do not widely accept credit cards. ATMs only accept cards from local banks. Travelers must exchange their currency for the SAPound o Tomean Dobra. Banks only accept a limited range of foreign currency for exchange. Banks widely accept U.S. dollars and Euros for exchange.
Other Areas of Concern
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea presents an ongoing challenge for regional maritime security. While the majority of piracy events in 2018 occurred off the shores of Nigeria, incidents reported further south increased in 2018 and include multiple boardings and hijackings off the coasts of Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo. Such trends underscore a growing risk of piracy in the waters around SAPound o Tome and Principe. Piracy incidents predominately affect the commercial shipping, fishing, and extractive sectors. Groups originating from Nigeria commit most acts in the Gulf of Guinea. Increasingly, pirates have kidnapped crewmembers for ransom; in such cases, pirates transferred victims to other vessels or even took them ashore, often to hideouts in southern Nigeria.
The U.S. Embassy does not restrict travel for its employees. Use caution when visiting popular SAPound o Tome nightspots.
Taking photographs of the Presidential Palace, military, or other government buildings is illegal. For more information, review OSAC's report, Picture This: Dos and Don'ts for Photography.
Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)