Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, language, health, local time, business hours and holidays, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, temporary entry of materials and personal belongings,etc.
Last Published: 3/29/2019

Business Customs

Acceptable business etiquette includes wearing formal dress, a business suit and tie, or traditional attire.  Appearance is important and seen as an indicator of character and a show of respect.  Casual wear is appropriate for outdoor activities such as picnics, field trips, or site visits.  It is preferable to refer to people by their professional titles, and present business cards with one hand, usually the right hand.  Standard English is the medium for formal meetings but local pidgins or “Liberian English” is the popular language spoken all over the country.  Liberians tend to shake hands ending with a finger snap (usually in casual situations), but a traditional handshake is common for formal and business situations.  It is polite to greet everyone (or shake everyone’s hand) individually before taking a seat for a meeting.  Visitors should arrive for appointments on time but it is not unusual for meetings to be delayed or cancelled at short notice.  It is prudent to confirm appointments prior to setting out for meetings.  Liberians tend to speak their minds in business meetings, but it is normal for speakers to feel like they have to talk for a while to get their points across; emphasis is put on being a good orator.  Direct eye contact is common; however, the level of eye contact may vary depending on the hierarchy and the nature of relationship between the speaker and listener. Bargaining in business transactions is acceptable until an agreeable price can be reached.  

Travel Advisory

A valid visa and proof of vaccination against  yellow fever are required for entry into Liberia.  Since August 2014, Liberia’s Ministry of Health has implemented Ebola screening procedures at Roberts International Airport (RIA) for arriving and departing travelers. The screening includes taking the arriving and departing passengers’ temperature (with a thermostat laser gun), washing hands with chlorinated soap water, and filling in a health-related information form  However, the screening has been relaxed with the passage of time, and currently only the temperature is taken, especially for arriving passengers.  The Department of State advises American citizens to carefully plan travel to Liberia, given the shortage of high standard hotels coupled with transportation challenges.  Some taxis and buses run between the airport and Monrovia, but visitors should exercise caution in choosing one.  It is always advisable to pre-arrange airport transfers with a hotel.  The RIA is approximately 40 miles (64 km) from downtown Monrovia.  As for land travel, travelers should expect strict enforcement of border control, and occasional border crossing closings by Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Guinean, or Ivoirian authorities.  Corruption at border crossings is regularly reported, and travelers may be asked for money prior to crossing the border.  Further information is available on the State Department consular information sheet for Liberia

Visa Requirements

All travelers entering Liberia must have a valid passport (with at least one blank page) and a valid visa, plus evidence of yellow fever vaccination (Yellow Book).  Liberian visas are not issued at the airport except in emergency situations or cases where there is no Liberian Embassy in the country of residence.  This requires approval in advance by an Immigration Commissioner (i.e., before the traveler arrives).  U.S. citizens traveling to Liberia must obtain a Liberian visa before arriving. Visit the Embassy of Liberia website for the most current visa information.  Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Liberian embassy or consulate.  U.S. companies requiring travel of foreign business persons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled through an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following links: State Department Visa Website and Consular Section, U.S. Embassy in Liberia.

Currency

The local currency is Liberian dollars (LD) which come in paper denominations of five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred and five hundred.  There are no coins in circulation.  The U.S. dollar (USD) is commonly accepted as legal tender alongside the LD, and cash is usually required for most purchases or payments at large-scale establishments such as hotels and customs posts.  Liberia has a floating exchange rate system, and the LD-USD exchange rate fluctuates, sometime on a daily basis, based on foreign-exchange market demand.  For instance, between January 2018 and July 2018 the LRD depreciated against the USD by 25 percent. There are numerous licensed and non-licensed foreign exchange bureaus in the country, and travelers are advised to avoid non-licensed bureaus, usually the “money changers” on sidewalks or outside markets.   A number of commercial banks offer modern electronic financial/banking products and services including ATM cards, point of sale (POS) terminals, and electronic fund transfers (EFTs).  Credit cards and traveler’s checks are not commonly accepted even by major hotels, but major supermarkets in Monrovia do accept Visa cards at their POS terminals.  Travelers should exercise caution in using credit cards wherever they are accepted.  Travelers are also advised to carry some amount of USD for tips and incidental purchases.  Very few commercial banks or hotels will cash traveler’s checks, and those that do often have unfavorable rates. Large sums of money must be transmitted via bank draft or other financial instruments.  Sums in excess of USD$10,000 must be reported at the port of entry, and no more than USD$7,500 in foreign currency banknotes can be moved out of the country at one time.  Larger sums must be transferred via bank drafters, EFT, or other financial instruments.    

Telecommunications/Electronics

Liberia’s mobile and internet use continues to grow at a robust pace.  Presently, mobile penetration stands at approximately 75 percent while internet penetration is at 20 percent.  Anecdotal evidence suggests the penetration rates are inflated by the fact that many users have multiple SIM cards to take advantage of lower on-net prices and promotions.  Currently, Liberia has two main mobile network operators (MNOs) operating global system for mobile (GSM) communication technology.  They use GSM, 3G/4G, and WiMAX technology to provide a wide array of services including voice/SMS, fixed-wireless, and mobile data/internet service in the mass market segment, and value added services for government and private sectors organizations.  Their combined wireless access networks cover approximately 75 percent of the population.  Mobile phones and accessories, including SIM and calling cards, are commonly sold at stores, supermarkets, hotels, major restaurants, airport, and even by street vendors.  It is advisable to purchase a cell phone and a SIM card with a registered local number while on business trips.  There are a number of internet service providers (ISPs) providing fixed wireless voice, data, and internet services to a small number of customers, mainly businesses and NGOs.  Although most of their customers are in the Monrovia area, they sometime service customers in remote sites using VSATs.  A few major hotels provide WiFi access but it is usually slow and oversubscribed.  Generally, bandwidth is low and internet subscription fees can be expensive because of high overhead costs due to lack of constant power supply.  In Liberia the standard voltage is 120V/220V, the standard frequency is 60Hz/50 Hz and power sockets (outlet types) that are used are type A and B.  

The Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (Libtelco) is a national operator providing only fixed-line telephone and internet services, mainly to government ministries and agencies.  The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications provides some postal services, including an expedited mail service (EMS) to the United States.  It is not advisable to send valuables through the Liberian postal system because of the system’s limited security features.  Currently, Liberia does not have a national postal address system, or a unique address system where individuals can be easily traced or contacted in terms of postal service delivery, security, healthcare delivery, and other socioeconomic activities.    Postal services are largely manually handled.  DHL, FedEx, and UPS provide commercial air courier services.  

Transportation

The majority of roads in Liberia are unpaved and do not provide all-year access to all county capitals or large towns.  Roads are often impassable during the rainy season.  Consequently, vehicle tariffs, operating costs, and transportation fares tend to be high.  When traveling outside Monrovia, four-wheel drive vehicles are advised.  Liberia has a tropical climate with rainy season from May through October and dry season from November through April. 

The Roberts International Airport (RIA) is a single runway airport located near a town called Harbel, about 40 miles (64 km) outside Monrovia.  The upgrade of the runway and a terminal is nearing completion.  There are a few car rental agencies or taxi services in Monrovia offering onsite airport services upon request, and these have to be pre-arranged. Visitors should avoid yellow taxis by pre-arranging transportation through a hotel or business contact. James Spriggs Payne Airport is a smaller single runway airport located in Monrovia, and it is used for domestic or regional flights.  Currently, the RIA is undergoing major renovation including extensive work on the runway and the construction of a modern terminal.  The country has four ports under its National Port Authority (NPA): the Freeport of Monrovia, Buchanan Port, Greenville Port, and Harper Port.  The Freeport of Monrovia is the largest and accounts for nearly all of Liberia’s maritime trade.  

The marginal wharf (main pier) of the Freeport of Monrovia is 600 meters long and capable of berthing 3 to 4 ships, depending on the vessel size.  The Port of Buchanan is located 272 kilometers southeast of Monrovia and is the second largest port for the country.  It is mainly used by concession companies principally as an outlet for the mining and timber industries.  Greenville and Harper Ports are currently closed.  NPA is International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliant as the Freeport of Monrovia and Port of Buchanan are Security Level One ports, and Greenville Port is a Security Level Two port.     

Language

English is the official and most common language in Liberia, and is spoken throughout the country.  There are 16 tribes, each of whom has its own tribal language or dialect that is spoken mainly among family members, kinsmen, or tribal groups.

Health 

There are few hospitals, clinics, or health facilities and their quality generally falls below the U.S. standards.  The hospitals and health facilities in Liberia are poorly equipped and incapable of providing many high-standard medical services. Travelers should purchase medical evacuation insurance.  As there is neither an effective garbage removal service nor a functioning sewer system, sanitation throughout urban areas is poor, thus increasing the potential for disease.  Upper respiratory infections and diarrhea are common, as well as more serious diseases such as typhoid and malaria.  For more information, check health related issues in Liberia,

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Liberia is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  Employment in Liberia is mainly governed by the Liberian Labor Law (Decent Work Act), which dictates that working hours cannot exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours a week.  Business hours are normally from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but most government offices are closed before 5:00 p.m.  Some international organizations and UN agencies work a half-day on Friday, closing by 12:00 or 1:00 p.m.  Below is the list of Liberian holidays that are observed nationwide during 2018.
 
Local Holidays
January 1             MondayNew Year’s Day  
February 12*Monday Armed Forces Day  
March 14    Wednesday    Decoration Day
March 15    Thursday    J.J. Roberts Birthday 
April 13     Friday Fast and Prayer Day    
May 14    Monday      National Unification Day 
 July 26    Thursday   Liberian Independence Day  
August 24  Friday   Flag Day   
November 1*    Thursday     Thanksgiving Day  
November 29    Thursday    W.V.S. Tubman Birthday    
December 25  Tuesday    Christmas Day    

December 25    Tuesday    Christmas Day    

* To be observed on Monday in lieu of Sunday 

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

The Liberia Revenue Code 2000 provides for exemption of duty payment on goods imported by or on account of the President of Liberia, the Government of Liberia, as well as representatives of foreign governments or international organizations.  It also provides exemption for reasonably used households and personal effects in reasonable quantities, under special circumstances relating to senior government officials, and as personal effects for personal use of people arriving from abroad. 

Travel Related Web Resources

·    U.S. State Department travel information
·    U.S. visa information
·    DHL Express Liberia
·    FedEx (Express)
·    UPS Local Office
·    Ministry of Posts & Telecommunication
·    Bureau Veritas Liberia

    Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of more than 100 offices across the United States and in more than 75 markets, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



    Liberia Business Travel and Etiquette