Afghanistan

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Advisories

Advisories

AFGHANISTAN - AVOID ALL TRAVEL

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to Afghanistan, due to the unstable security situation, ongoing insurgency, terrorist attacks, the risk of kidnapping and a high crime rate. If you choose to travel to Afghanistan despite this warning, you are taking a serious risk. We strongly recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service and include personal and professional contact details. If you are already in Afghanistan, you should leave. The Embassy of Canada in Afghanistan's ability to provide consular and other support throughout the country is very limited.



Security

Security

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Afghanistan is not a safe environment for personal travel. Attempting any form of travel, including adventure or recreational, in this very hazardous security environment would place you and others at grave risk of injury, death or abduction. Insurgents continue to attempt to destabilize the current political system through acts of terrorism and kidnapping. Foreigners whose country of origin has contributed to the International Security Assistance Force, including Canadians, are preferred targets for terrorist attacks and kidnapping. Criminals, taking advantage of the unstable security situation, are also committing violent attacks and kidnapping travellers. The Embassy of Canada in Afghanistan's ability to provide consular and other support throughout the country is very limited.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a continuous threat throughout Afghanistan. The threat to foreigners, including Canadians, from terrorist and criminal violence is extremely high. Numerous attacks have occurred in reputable public areas, as well as against Afghan and international institutions. Attacks in Kabul occur often and are completely unpredictable. Terrorists’ targets include hotels, embassies, government buildings, and locations known to employ or be frequented by Westerners. No location in Afghanistan can be considered safe or exempt from the threat of attack. Be particularly vigilant in the lead-up to and on days of national significance. Violent incidents and protests may occur more frequently during the presidential election period. The first round of balloting took place April 5, 2014, and campaigns may take place until June.

Tactics used by terrorists include Suicide bombs, rockets, improvised explosive devices, armed assaults, and ambushes. Exercise extreme caution at all times, particularly in public areas frequented by foreigners -such as hotels, restaurants, shops and marketplaces- and in the vicinity of public buildings, embassies and foreign companies’ headquarters.

Kidnapping

There is an extreme risk of kidnapping for foreign nationals throughout Afghanistan. Numerous Westerners, including journalists and non-governmental organization workers, have been kidnapped and in some cases killed. Several organizations are behind these kidnappings, among them terrorists and criminal gangs. Kidnapping for ransom has become a very lucrative market in Afghanistan. Reports indicate that journalists may be lured to Afghanistan with offers of interviews, when the real purpose is to kidnap them.

Crime

Violent attacks against foreigners occur, including armed robbery and rape. Carjacking and robbery also occur. Weapons are easily available.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations, including anti-Western demonstrations, and civil unrest sometimes occur throughout Afghanistan. Some demonstrations have become violent, causing deaths and injuries. Political and socio-economic issues are usually causes for protests.

Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Landmines

Millions of landmines throughout the countryside pose a threat. No area can be considered safe.

Road travel

Overland travel outside of Kabul is extremely dangerous, and is restricted by the Afghan government to those who have armed security. Bogus checkpoints may be set up in order to commit attacks.

Road travel should be carefully planned and only undertaken with others. Military and police forces are limited in rural areas. Banditry by armed groups is common. Many areas are controlled by warlords.

Driving conditions are poor. Traffic is chaotic because traffic laws are non-existent or not enforced.

Air travel

Confirm your flight with your airline before going to the airport as the airport can close on short notice.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Tourism is strongly discouraged.

The security situation remains extremely volatile and unpredictable. If you must travel to Afghanistan, be extremely confident in your security arrangements; assess the risks of travelling before undertaking any trip, even in Kabul; monitor local developments closely; and register and keep in contact with the Embassy of Canada in Kabul. Carefully follow messages issued by the Embassy of Canada in Kabul through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. Due to the unpredictable security situation, Canadian authorities may not be in a position to provide consular assistance in remote areas.

Basic infrastructure services such as electricity and telephones are minimal, even in urban areas.

Food and water shortages are common.

Do not show signs of affluence or carry large sums of money.  Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Do not travel at night.

Emergency services

Dial 119 in Kabul for a 24-hour emergency service.

Entry/Exit Requirements

Entry/Exit Requirements

It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Afghan authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Afghanistan or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.

Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.

Passport

Canadians must present a passport to visit Afghanistan.

Visa

Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Afghanistan.

Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required

If your emergency contingency plan involves an evacuation to a third country by air or road, maintain a valid visa for that country.

You may be denied entry into Afghanistan if your passport holds: (a) an Israeli visa; (b) an Israeli border stamp; or (c) an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel. Such a stamp would indicate that you entered from Israel.

Violations of entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.

Children and travel

Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.

Health

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Southern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Health services are substandard and medical facilities are not appropriately sanitized. Patients requiring medical treatment for incisions or wounds run a significant risk of infection. Private clinics, which offer a higher standard of service, are available in Kabul. Immediate cash payment is required for any medical service.

Medical evacuation is rarely possible due to a lack of companies willing to service Afghanistan. Evacuation on military flights is impossible.

Prescription medicine is not available. Bring a sufficient supply of medicine for the duration of your stay.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

Laws & Culture

Laws & Culture

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

Illegal or restricted activities

Homosexual activity is illegal, as are extramarital affairs. Convicted offenders will be severely punished.

Displaying affection in public is considered an offence.

Photographing government buildings, military installations, and palaces is prohibited. Ask permission before taking photographs of local residents.

Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Money

The currency is the afghani (AFN). The economy operates on a cash-only basis. Credit cards are not widely accepted. U.S. dollars are accepted but should be recent and in good condition. Automated banking machines are beginning to appear in Kabul, but they are unreliable.

Natural Disasters & Climate

Natural Disasters & Climate

Afghanistan is located in an active seismic zone. An earthquake may cause landslides in affected areas. Strong aftershocks are possible up to one week after the initial quake.

Avalanches, floods and landslides occur, which could result in a high number of casualties and serious property damage.

Help Abroad

Help Abroad

Kabul - Embassy of Canada
Address Street No. 15, House No. 256, Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul Telephone 93 (0) 701 108 800 Fax 93 (0) 701 108 805 Emailkabul@international.gc.caInternetafghanistan.gc.caServicesPassport Services AvailableTwitterEmbassy of Canada to Afghanistan: @CanEmbAFG

For emergency assistance after hours, you may call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885 (collect calls accepted).

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