Mercado Municipal São Filipe, Cape Verde
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Mercado Municipal São Filipe, Cape Verde

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Cape Verde Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles).

Population

558,071 (UN estimate 2019).

Population density

135.4 per sq km.

Capital

Praia.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President José Maria Neves since 2021.

Head of government

Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva since 2021.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two rounded pins are commonly used.

The islands of Cape Verde are a bewitching blend of Portuguese and African influences. You'll see it in the many European-style buildings and the curious musical styles, but its particularly noticeable in the food. Portuguese fare – especially seafood dishes laden with garlic and olive oil – and more African-style fare – such as stews, beans, maize and tropical crops – comfortably combined on most menus.

Many associate Cape Verde with the mournful songs of Cesaria Evoria, the islands' best known singer. The ‘barefoot diva' is the best exponent of morna, a lovelorn type of folk music similar to Portuguese fado. Music is a key component of life on Cape Verde, and several of the islands stage exuberant carnivals, with the best known being the Baia das Gatas Festival. São Vicente is also renowned for its exuberant festivities.

Once a colony and slave trade outpost, Cape Verde varies wildly in character and scenery through its 10 islands and five tiny islets. From spectacular verdant mountain ranges, to deserted beaches, with a few volcanic landscapes thrown in for good measure, it's the variety that makes Cape Verde such an unusual and appealing destination.

There’s lush and lively Santiago, the biggest of the islands, which boasts verdant hillsides, jungle and plenty of remarkable wildlife. It’s also the cultural heart of Cape Verde, home to the UNESCO-listed old fort at Cidade da Ribeira Grande de Santiagog (previously called Cidade Velha).

Near Santiago, divers will discover 16th century shipwrecks littering the sea floor. Blue marlin, yellowfin tuna and the odd humpback whale can be seen in the clear blue waters off Boa Vista. The island of Sal is popular for watersports and white sandy beaches, while Fogo is a hiker’s paradise, where volcanic peaks tower 2,829m (9,821 ft) above sea-level.

Cape Verde may have struggled economically since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, but many argue that it's isolation is a blessing, leaving these islands comparatively unspoiled. The economy is currently stable and investing in modernized infrastructure, service, commerce, foreign investment and tourism. Get there before the crowds inevitably catch on.

Travel Advice

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Cape Verde on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Cape Verde.

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Cape Verde

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Cape Verde, you will have to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of your symptoms or from the day on which you received a positive test.

The people you have been in close contact with will only have to take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate if they have symptoms.

In these circumstances, make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

If you need medical advice while you are in isolation, you should contact the Health authorities on +238 (0) 800 1112 (service only available in Portuguese).

Onward or return travel from Cape Verde

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

Travel in Cape Verde

Inter-island travel

If you are travelling between islands, you must complete a health surveillance form before you obtain your boarding card. Complete one form per person. When you check-in for your flight/ferry, you will also need to show

  • proof that you are fully vaccinated (see ‘Proof of Vaccination Status’ ), or
  • proof that you have recovered from COVID-19, (see ‘If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year’ ) or
  • a negative PCR test (taken no more than 72 hours before you board) or an antigen test (taken no more than 48 hours before you board)

You can use your UK COVID pass (printed version only) to demonstrate your vaccination status. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not acceptable proof of vaccination.

Children aged 11 and under are exempt from these requirements.

Accommodation

Find accommodation that is suitable for your needs. Hotel and self-catering accommodation is available. Look for hotels that have been awarded the “Cabo Verde – Secure Tourism” certification.

Public places and services

Cape Verde is in a ‘state of alert’. The Cape Verde government has lifted the restrictive measures previously in place, while maintaining the need to observe the rules on social distancing and hygiene:

  • keep a social distance of at least 1m
  • wash your hands regularly
  • wear a face mask in the circumstances described below

Face coverings

You must wear a face mask:

  • on entry to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, retirement and nursing homes
  • when using public transport, including taxis and ferries
  • when travelling by air

You should wear your face covering when you enter the building or mode of transport and keep it on until you leave.

This requirement does not apply to children aged 9 and under.

You may be exempt from using a face mask on medical grounds if authorised by the health authorities.

Healthcare in Cape Verde

There are both state and private medical facilities in Cape Verde. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call the helpline on +238 (0) 800 11 12 (available only in Portuguese).

If you need to take a COVID-19 test, find a facility near you from this list of authorised providers .

You will only be able to buy medication from a pharmacy. Find a pharmacy near you on the Ministry of Health’s list of registered pharmacies.

If you have a UK prescription, take it to a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist whether they can dispense your medication for you. Remember the pharmacist will have to apply national rules so may not be able to give you the same strength or dosage. Some medicines may not be available or may not be authorised for sale in Cape Verde. In some cases, the medicine may be out of stock. If it needs to be ordered, it can take at least a week to arrive.

If you need a repeat prescription, go to the nearest health centre or hospital A&E.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Cape Verde.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Cape Verde

We will update this page when the Government of Cape Verde announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Cape Verde national vaccination programme (in Portuguese) started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The Government of Cape Verde has stated that British nationals resident in Cape Verde are eligible for vaccination, if they choose to join the programme. You can register online to be vaccinated or call the registration hotline on +283 (0)800 2008.

If you have already been vaccinated in Cape Verde, apply online for your vaccination certificate.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Cape Verde, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7. British nationals should contact the British Embassy Lisbon in Portugal.

Crime

Crime affects all islands of Cape Verde, but the number of incidents affecting British nationals is generally low. Burglaries and muggings have been reported on the main tourist islands of Sal and Boavista. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Keep sight of your belongings at all times. Leave valuables in a hotel safe if possible and do not carry large amounts of cash. Avoid unlit areas after dark. Petty crimes e.g. pick-pocketing or handbag snatching can occur, including on beaches.

Make sure your holiday accommodation is secure. Lock all doors and windows at night and when you go out. If you’re worried about security at your accommodation, speak to your tour operator, hotel manager or to the owner of the property.

Sexual assaults are rare but they do occur. Be alert and avoid secluded stretches of the beach with limited or restricted visibility. If you become a victim of crime, contact the local police. In an emergency call 132 (police) or 131 (fire). Response times vary and service standards may not be as high as in the UK.

Road travel

You can drive in Cape Verde with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 months, or on a valid International Driving Permit. If you’re staying longer or living in Cape Verde, you’ll need to get a Cape Verde driving licence.

Traffic is usually light and main road conditions are generally of a reasonable quality.

If you hire a car, scooter or quad bike, make sure it’s in good condition and that it’s fully insured. Quad biking is considered to be an extreme sport and may not be included in your travel insurance policy. Check whether you need additional insurance and make sure it covers you for the cost of medical care and repatriation.

Crash helmets are needed by law. Your insurance policy may be invalidated if you have an accident and you’re not wearing a helmet.

The rainy season in Cape Verde is from mid August to mid October. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.

Local travel

Intercity bus services can be dangerous due to poor driving. Taxis hailed from hotels are generally reliable. In Praia, city buses and taxis are reliable, clean and in good condition. Car rental is widely available on the islands of Santiago, Sal, Boa Vista and São Vicente.

Sea travel  

Sea conditions around Cape Verde are sometimes dangerous. Take local advice before travelling by sea. Travel by sea to the southern islands of Fogo and Brava in particular can often be disrupted.

Take care if you participate in water sports, swimming, boating and fishing. Tides and currents around the islands are very strong. Respect the warning flags and keep within sight of the lifeguard.

Political situation

The political situation is generally stable, but you should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Cape Verde, attacks cannot be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Local laws and customs

There is zero tolerance towards possessing, using or trafficking any type of illegal drugs. Penalties are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

This page has information on travelling to Cape Verde. Check what you must do to return to the UK.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Cape Verde set and enforce entry rules.

All travellers

You need to complete a Traveller Pre-registration Form and, if arriving by air, pay the airport security tax (TSA) before you travel to Cape Verde (see Visas ).

You’ll also need to complete an International Travel Form to enter or travel through Cape Verde. Complete one form per person.

If you’re fully vaccinated

If you’re fully vaccinated, you can enter Cape Verde without needing to test or quarantine but you will need to present proof of your vaccination status when you check-in for your flight to Cape Verde.

Proof of vaccination status

You must present proof that you have been fully vaccinated when you check-in for your flight to Cape Verde.

You qualify as fully vaccinated if

  • your final vaccine dose was administered at least 14 days and no more than 270 days before you travel, or
  • you have had a full course of the vaccine and a booster dose at least 14 days before you travel

Cape Verde will accept the UK’s printed version of proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. They will not accept digital proof. Your final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ll need to show proof of a negative PCR test (taken no more than 72 hours before you travel) or an antigen test (taken no more than 48 hours before you travel) when you check-in for your flight to Cape Verde. See information on getting a test before you travel.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

If you’re not fully vaccinated but have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last year, you can enter Cape Verde with a COVID-19 recovery certificate showing you recovered from COVID-19 no less than 11 days and no more than 180 days before you travel. You will not need to take a test.

You can use your UK COVID Pass (printed version only) to demonstrate proof of COVID-19 recovery when checking in for your flight.

Children and young people

Children aged 11 and under do not need to show proof of their vaccination status or take a COVID-19 test to enter Cape Verde.

If you’re transiting through Cape Verde

If you are transiting through Cape Verde on your way to another country and staying in the airport (airside), you do not need to show proof of your vaccination status or take a COVID-19 test.

You should still check the COVID-19 entry requirements for your final destination.

For further information on travelling to Cape Verde, see the Cape Verde government’s Travel Guide.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cape Verde.

Visas

If you have a British Citizen passport, you can enter Cape Verde as a visitor for up to 30 days without a visa.

Before you travel, you must complete a Traveller Pre-registration form and, if arriving by air, pay the airport security tax (TSA). This does not apply to children aged 1 and under or those who are resident in Cape Verde.

If you are travelling with a tour operator, check whether they have arrangements in place to complete the form on your behalf.

For further information on the pre-registration process, see this information leaflet.

If you’re travelling on a different type of British passport, are travelling for a purpose other than tourism, or intending to stay longer than 90 days, you should check the entry requirements with the nearest Cape Verde Embassy .

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Cape Verde.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to return to the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Cape Verde on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Cape Verde.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or brought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

UK health authorities have classified Cape Verde as having a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission. There is a low risk of malaria in the capital city, Praia (Santiago Island). For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Local medical care

Medical facilities in Cape Verde are limited, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. The largest hospitals are in Praia and Mindelo, with smaller medical facilities and clinics located throughout the country. Medical facilities are particularly limited on the island of Boavista. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão no longer have functioning airports, so air evacuation in the event of a medical emergency is extremely difficult from these two islands.

Some of the islands are mountainous, and travellers venturing into areas of altitude may suffer from altitude sickness, which can potentially be life threatening.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 130 (Santiago Island) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Hurricanes

The rainy season in Cape Verde runs from August to October.

Hurricanes can develop, although hurricanes often begin their formation in the waters around the Cape Verde Islands, they rarely reach hurricane strength close to the Islands. A typical Cape Verde-type hurricane develops in the area south of the islands, usually during the rainy season from August to October. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Center.. See Tropical cyclones

Sand storms

Some of the islands may experience sand storms (known locally as “bruma seca”) between December and February. The intensity of the storms varies but can disrupt air travel especially on the island of Boa Vista. If a sand storm occurs while you’re on one of the islands contact your tour operator or airline.

The Cape Verde Escudo is tied to the euro at CV Esc 110.265 = 1 Euro. Banks will exchange hard currencies. Large hotels and restaurants accept some credit cards and payment in euros.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or cannot offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you cannot find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.