Sao Tome and Principe - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

São Tomé and Príncipe inherited the Portuguese legal system after independence in 1975. Business law is primarily based on Portuguese law, and business customs are similar to those in Europe and the United States.

Travel Advisory

São Tomé and Príncipe is generally a safe country to travel. However, occasionally petty thievery cases occur. More information on traveling to STP may be obtained through the Consular Information Sheet at

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for entry into STP. The visa application process is straightforward and transparent and visas or work permits are usually easy to obtain if companies meet all the requirements.   Nevertheless, there are few São Toméan embassies worldwide to process visa applications.  Under the Legal Regime of Foreign Citizens in STP (Law no. 5/2015), STP lifted visa requirements for citizens of the United States, EU, Canada, South Africa, Ghana, Gabon, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Also, any foreign citizen holding a valid passport with a valid Schengen or U.S. visa can enter and stay in the country up to 15 days. The online visa application system is available through . A visa or its extension can also be requested through a formal letter addressed to the director of Serviço de Migração e Fronteiras (Border Authority). The letter must contain the traveler’s personal information and passport details. Copy of the passport must be attached.

Proof of yellow fever vaccination and now coronavirus testing may be required for entry.  Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Permanent Mission of São Tomé and Príncipe in New York City. Telephone 646-623-6606. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest São Tomean embassy or consulate.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspeople to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website:


Telecommunications are generally adequate. Local and long-distance telephone service is available 24 hours a day. Cellular service is available widely in STP. Telephone rates are much higher than those in the U.S.  Broadband internet (e.g., ADSL) is available to companies. STP is now connected to a fiber optic cable that runs from Europe to South Africa. As the result of this connection, internet service became faster and it opened an opportunity for an additional local operator. As the result of an international tender conducted in 2013, UNITEL, an Angolan telecommunication company started its operation in STP in 2014.  Local connection to the Internet is available through both existing telecommunication company CST and UNITEL.


International airlines serving the archipelago are Air Portugal (TAP), Angola Airlines (TAAG), STP Airways and Equatoguinean CEIBA. Normally direct flights to Lisbon are available four times a week, TAP Air Portugal five and STP Airways one.  There are also direct flights to Libreville, Luanda, and Accra. Domestic flights between the two islands are operated by STP Airways on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays twice a day. There is one flight on Saturday. Verify schedules with carrier before traveling.

STP International Airport is near downtown. The country has a functional road network and two airports, one in São Tomé and one in Santo Antonio, Príncipe Island. Domestic flights are provided by STP Airways.

Taxis and car rental are available in São Tomé and Príncipe. The principal hotels offer bus service to and from the international airport to the city of São Tomé.


Portuguese is STP’s official language. English is not widely spoken. Hotels may arrange for translation and interpretation services.


Medical facilities are limited. A list of doctors may be obtained through the Embassy’s consular section. Note that malaria is endemic in STP. However, thanks to a Global Fund financed program, the number of cases have recently decreased considerably and registered mortality is close to zero. Still, malaria suppressants are strongly recommended and should be started prior to arrival. Travelers should drink only bottled water and drinks. Hygiene at restaurants is generally good. In April 2022, STP reported cases of dengue fever for the first time ever.

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Business hours public sectors:    7:00 AM – 12:00PM   14:00 PM – 16:30 PM

Private sector:                             8:00 AM – 12:00 PM   14:00 PM – 17:00 PM

STP Holidays in 2022 are:

January 1                            New Year’s Day

January 4                            Amador’s Day

February 3                          Martyr’s Day

May 1                                  Labor Day

July 12                                Independence Day

September 6                       Armed Forces’ Day

September 30                     Reforms Day

December 21                      Saint Thomas (São Tomé) Day

December 25                      Christmas

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Some goods enter STP duty-free on a temporary basis. For certain sectors (oil, construction and tourism), the law suspends custom duties in the form of temporary admission or exemptions on all entry taxes/duties for the importation of material required in its operations.


State Department Visa Website

United States