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GUINEA-BISSAU - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Guinea-Bissau. The current political situation remains uncertain throughout the country, and the possibility of civil or military unrest in Guinea-Bissau remains high.
Regional Advisory for the northwest part of the country
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the northwest part of the country bordering the Casamance region of Senegal, including the Sao Domingos/Mpack road. Consult the Security tab for more information.
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.
On April 12, 2012, the military staged a coup d’état in Guinea-Bissau. During the incident, gun shots and grenade explosions were reported in the capital city of Bissau. The curfew in Bissau has been lifted. If you are currently in Bissau, keep a low profile, avoid travelling near military installations and to keep a supply of basic foods and water. You should keep well informed of the unfolding situation by monitoring local news and avoiding all public gatherings and demonstrations, as they could turn violent without warning.
You should be aware that the political climate has been unstable in Guinea-Bissau for several years, particularly since the President's assassination on March 2, 2009, a day after the military Chief was killed in an explosion.
The second round of Presidential elections was held on May 18, 2014. Demonstrations and civil unrest could occur. Avoid political events and other situations where demonstrations may occur, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Guinea-Bissau. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information by contacting the Embassy of Canada in Dakar, Senegal or by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at (613) 996-8885.
We strongly recommend that you register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
Northwest part of the country (see Advisory)
Avoid traveling to the northwest portion of the country, bordering on Senegal. The region has long been the scene of clashes between Guinea-Bissau's army and Casamance rebels, who have been driven off Guinean soil since 2002. It would be dangerous to cross this border by land. Attacks in this region have resumed since March 2006, displacing thousands of residents. The road between Sao Domingos and Varela is closed because of the presence of landmines. Small arms proliferation is rampant in this conflict zone, and consequently there are many hold-ups. Further serious tensions are expected, and the government has increased security measures and the deployment of soldiers along the border.
The air, land and maritime borders with Guinea are closed, due to the Ebola outbreak.
Incidents of road banditry and carjacking also pose a risk for travellers. Avoid travelling at night and be particularly vigilant outside major cities.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing, is common at the airport, in markets and at public gatherings. Burglaries have increased and security is inadequate. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times and avoid walking alone after dark. Assaults often take place in the streets of Bissau. Avoid going out on foot after dark.
Roads are poorly lit and not well maintained. You should not leave the roads and pathways designated by local authorities because of possible minefields. There is no rail service. Air travel is not available from the mainland to the Bijagos Islands. You should avoid canoes, which are not safe. You can contact tour operators that organize boat trips to the islands. You should contact the Embassy of Canada in Dakar, Senegal, in the event of an emergency on the islands.
Guinea-Bissau does not participate in the International Driving Permit (IDP) program. You should hire a driver. However, Canadians with a valid Canadian driver's licence may drive for a maximum of three months. After three months, Canadian cooperants should contact the International Cooperation Directorate to obtain a cooperant's licence; those in the private sector should contact the Transportation Directorate for a Guinean licence.
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Although NGOs are working on the clearance of minefields, it is possible that unexploded military ammunition and antipersonnel mines are still present outside Bissau, especially in the regions of Bafata, Oio, Biombo, Quinara and Tombali.
Tourist facilities are limited.
Telecommunications are expensive and unreliable. There are few public telephones. Utilities and infrastructure have been severely damaged. Electricity and water supplies are available for only a few hours a day.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements.The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Guinea-Bissau authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Guinea Bissau to the United Nations, based in New York, New York (USA) 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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Guinea-Bissau, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - August 15, 2014 13:19 EDT
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 is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
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, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
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 by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected 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).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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 West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- 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 standards of hygiene and 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.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
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. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Homosexuality is illegal in Guinea-Bissau.
Sentences for drug-related incidents can be very severe.
Taking photographs of the airport, docks, or military or police installations is strictly forbidden.
Hunting is restricted in Guinea-Bissau. Authorizations for hunting areas may be issued by the Forests and Animal Resources Directorate. Hunting in the Cantanhes reserve in southern Guinea-Bissau, however, is strictly forbidden.
The currency is the African Financial Community CFA franc (or XOF bank code). The economy is cash-based. Import and export of local currency is prohibited. Import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided it is declared on arrival; export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. Traveller's cheques in euros or US dollars can be exchanged.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from May to November, with high humidity from July to September. The dry season lasts from December to April, with hot winds blowing from the interior. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Guinea Bissau. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada in Dakar, Senegal.
Dakar - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Dakar, Senegal, and follow the instructions. You may also make a call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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