Safety and local laws

It’s often a question we’re asked before new expats come to Angola – and it’s something we’re aware of when we live here.  Like any big city – there are safety issues in Angola, and so we have written a little more about Personal safety and Travelling safely.  There are also Local laws and customs to be aware of.

The general advice is to be vigilant and just remember that what ‘goes’ in your own country probably won’t ‘go’ here.  It’s also important to remember to make your own judgements.  The big companies and embassies sometimes release safety information and it’s important to make sure that we take it in the context in which it is written.

Personal safety

When it comes to safety – Luanda is really an average African city.  Not the best and not the worst.  Most crime affecting expats is petty crime – theft of mobiles phones etc – so the best rule of thumb is to keep a modest profile.  It’s easy to do – avoid flashy expensive jewellery when out and about, keep electronic high value items (laptops or anything starting with ‘i-‘!) out of sight (or better still at home) and only carry essential items in your handbag.

There have been reports of theft at gunpoint – and the advice given to all of us is don’t resist, give up your things and it should end quickly and peacefully.  But as we mention above it’s also important to keep things in perspective and to remember that most large cities, particularly in developing countries, witness this level of crime.  It’s not just Luanda.

Traffic jams can be occasions when ex-pats are targeted so it’s important to keep car doors locked and windows closed.  In addition, home burglaries do happen – often with sliding doors – so most properties have blocks of wood (at floor level) in position to stop the door from being opened at night time.

If you’re not sure about anything we’ve written – just ask of course!  We can explain further.

Travelling safely

We’ve seen worse.  We’ve also seen a lot better…  Driving in Luanda is chaotic and road accidents are probably one of the biggest causes of death for local people.  Street lighting is poor and there are no controlled pedestrian crossings, so night time driving can be particularly difficult.  We also find that on weekends and public holidays, the roads to the beaches are busy – and can be filled with minibuses and local drivers who are too keen to get to church / the beach / the bar, taking risks overtaking on windy roads and flouting drink driving laws.

As with personal safety – it’s just a case of being sensible.  Plan your journey, know where you are going and think about travelling at safer hours of the day.

Local laws and customs

Local laws and customs can be best summed up by looking at the FCO pages –

Of most relevance to the majority of expats are the rules about photographing – it’s very important not to take photographs in such a way that the authorities believe you may be photographing government property – and identification.  We all carry a certified copy of our passport and visa with us at all times, just in case we are stopped for an identification check.  It doesn’t happen often – but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Note that notarisations of copies can either by done by your sponsor company, at SIAC in Talatona (opposite HCTA) or at the Ministry of Justice in the City (on Rua N’Gouabi, take last right towards Girassol).

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