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Lebanon - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Lebanon, due to the unpredictable security situation. If you must travel to Lebanon, ensure that your travel documents are up to date and register with the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon in Beirut in case of developments..
Regional Advisory for the southern suburbs of Beirut
DFATD advises against all travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut, due to the increased threat of terrorist attacks. This includes the areas from south of the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium to the airport perimeter, and east of the main airport highway (i.e. the neighbourhoods of Dahieh, Ghobeiry, Chiyah, Haret Hraik, Borj al Brajne, Mraije, Rouais and Laylaki), but excludes the main highway to the airport and the airport. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for North Lebanon
DFATD advises against all travel to the following parts of North Lebanon, due to sporadic violence and an unpredictable security situation:
- North Governorate (from the southern city limits of Tripoli, northward to the Syrian border, including Akkar District);
- Miniyeh-Danniyeh District.
See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the border region with Syria and the northern Bekaa Valley
DFATD advises against all travel within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the northern Bekaa Valley, from Rayak northward to the Syrian border (including Britel, Baalbek, Arsal, Labweh, Ras Baalbek, Qaa and Hermel), due to incidents linked to the conflict in Syria. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for Abra
DFATD advises against all travel to the area of Abra, near Saïda, due to armed clashes between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and local militias. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for areas south of the Litani River
DFATD advises against all travel south of the Litani River, near the border with Israel, due to military activity. Historical and tourist sites in the city of Tyre, and the main coastal highway from the Litani River to Tyre are excluded from this advisory. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the Palestinian refugee camps
DFATD advises against all travel to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, due to an unpredictable security situation. See Security 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.
The security situation in Lebanon is unpredictable. There is currently a high threat of terrorist attacks, and these could occur at any time in the country. The conflict in Syria, and its effect on pre-existing tensions, is playing an increasingly destabilizing role in Lebanon.
While most security incidents in Beirut take place in the city’s southern suburbs, on December 27, 2013, a car bomb exploded in downtown Beirut, targeting Mohamad Chatah, Lebanon’s former finance minister. The blast killed five people, including Dr. Chatah, and injured more than 70 others.
Bombings, grenade attacks, political assassinations, gun battles, targeted vehicle explosions and shelling in commercial and residential districts in and around Beirut have caused numerous deaths and injuries in recent years. Groups supporting either side in the Syrian conflict, senior political figures, key security officials, and security checkpoints throughout Lebanon continue to be the main targets of attacks. Security forces are on high alert.
Forces other than the Lebanese authorities exert a large amount of control in some areas, which may delay or prevent Canadian officials from providing assistance to Canadians in these areas. Most notably, Hezbollah maintains a presence in the southern suburbs of Beirut, southern Lebanon and several other areas, including the northern Bekaa Valley.
Southern suburbs of Beirut (see Advisory)
Large parts of Beirut’s southern suburbs are controlled by armed groups, such as Hezbollah, in addition to the Lebanese government’s security forces. Since mid-2013, these neighbourhoods have been frequently targeted by terrorist attacks that cause deaths and injuries. Tactics used by terrorists include car bombing, suicide bombing and rocket fire.
Road blocks and demonstrations are also likely, and the latter may turn violent without notice. Avoid all affected areas, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Although Bir Hassan is excluded from our advisory, Iranian interests in the neighbourhood have been subject to sporadic attacks since November 2013. When in Bir Hassan, be aware of your surroundings at all times.
North Lebanon (see Advisory)
The security situation in northern Lebanon is unstable. Tripoli has been particularly polarized by the conflict in Syria, and the neighbourhoods of Bab al Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen regularly experience inter-communal violence, which may spread to outlying areas. Heavy weapons fire (machine guns, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades) and sniper activity are common, inevitably causing deaths and injuries. Lebanese security forces are conducting operations in northern Lebanon to restore order. They are authorized to use lethal force, and have clashed with militants in the area. Avoid affected areas, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Border region with Syria and the northern Bekaa Valley (see Advisory)
The security situation in regions bordering Syria has deteriorated as a result of the ongoing conflict in that country. Armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the Lebanese and Syrian military, often carry out operations in the Arsal region, including shelling and incursions, and these have resulted in deaths and injuries. Similar attacks may occur in other areas near the eastern border of Lebanon with Syria. Tensions between armed groups have also increased in border areas, resulting in kidnappings and frequent violent clashes.
Exercise extreme caution and remain aware of your whereabouts, as the border is not always clearly demarcated.
Abra (see Advisory)
There have been violent clashes between the LAF and local militias in the Abra area, near Saïda. Heavy weapons fire (machine guns, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades) and sniper activity in Abra have caused numerous deaths and injuries, and violence occasionally spills over into parts of Saïda. Exercise caution, avoid affected areas, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local news reports.
Areas south of the Litani River (see Advisory)
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) maintains additional peacekeepers south of the Litani River near the border with Israel as a result of the border conflict. This region remains highly militarized and volatile. Rocket launches and border incidents occasionally occur, provoking retaliatory attacks in this region and elsewhere in Lebanon, and causing injury and death.
Forces other than the Lebanese authorities exert significant control over parts of this region. Access restrictions may delay or prevent Canadian officials from providing assistance to citizens in these areas.
Lebanon and Israel have not agreed on an international border. The UN enforces the “Blue Line,” which separates the two countries but has not been fully demarcated. Areas adjacent to the Blue Line are often heavily mined. The areas of Ghajar, Kfar Shouba Hills and Shebaa Farms are still inaccessible from Lebanon. The border with Israel is closed.
If you are travelling to the city of Tyre, use only the main coastal highway.
Palestinian refugee camps (see Advisory)
The security situation in Palestinian refugee camps remains tense and unpredictable. Violence is common in some camps -particularly Ein el Helwe near Saïda, and Beddawi near Tripoli- and often triggered as a result of regional events.
As the refugee camps are often located close to urban centres and are not always visibly demarcated, exercise caution and remain aware of your whereabouts at all times in order to avoid unknowingly entering a camp.
Sectarian- and politically-motivated kidnappings are increasingly frequent in the border areas with Syria and the Bekaa Valley. In the southern suburbs of Beirut, foreigners and residents have been held against their will. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times. Although most incidents of kidnapping typically involve Lebanese residents, foreign residents have been held for ransom.
Planned and spontaneous demonstrations related to the domestic and regional situation regularly occur in Lebanon. Some demonstrations have led to roadblocks, the burning of tires and the firing of weapons. In some instances, security forces have erected checkpoints and barricades to manage protests. Protestors and police officers were injured during recent anti-government protests in Beirut that turned violent. Further similar demonstrations could occur.
The road to the airport is subject to sporadic closure, due to various factors including local sectarian clashes, civil unrest in Syria and protests against government policies. Access to the airport may be unavailable for extended periods if the security situation deteriorates.
Monitor current developments closely when travelling within Lebanon, as local conditions may change rapidly and without warning, compromising your mobility and safety. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media. You should also observe all warnings issued by Lebanese authorities and take appropriate precautions.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the international body investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister, has indicted suspects and begun trying them. Releases of information related to the trial has led to unrest. Monitor media reports pertaining to the STL and keep informed of any political and security development.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance continue to pose a significant threat, particularly in the south, despite progress in demining activities. Be aware of posted landmine warnings, stay on paved roads and avoid walking or driving cross-country. Recently, various reports have indicated that Syrian troops planted landmines along its border with northern Lebanon.
The crime rate is increasing; petty crime, car thefts and residential break-ins occur more frequently. Exercise additional safety precautions.
Foreigners using shared transportation have been victims of armed robberies, either by the driver or other passengers.
Congestion and aggressive driving are serious problems throughout the country, and drivers have little regard for traffic laws. Road accidents causing injury or death are common in Lebanon. At night, road lighting is sporadic and unreliable in urban areas and virtually non-existent in rural areas. Many drivers use their high beams exclusively, often creating a serious hazard due to blinding glare. Mountain roads may be subject to fog, heavy snow, ice and other hazardous conditions during winter months.
Lebanese drivers are unaccustomed to sharing the road with bicycles. Exercise great caution when cycling.
Pedestrians should be extremely careful at all times.
Do not use shared or “service” taxis. On February 3, 2014, there was an explosion on a minibus in the Choueifat area of Beirut. Pre-arrange transportation with a reputable company: don’t hail taxis in the street.
Do not expect safety standards to be the same as in Canada.
General safety information
Ensure that your personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure. Keep photocopies of all your documents in safekeeping facilities.
There is a highly visible security presence throughout the country. Carry personal documentation with you and obey the instructions of Lebanese security authorities.
Dial (01) 343-286 to reach the Tourist Police.
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 Lebanese authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Lebanon 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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Lebanon, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Lebanon. Visas are available at Lebanese diplomatic missions abroad or at any port of entry into Lebanon. Nonetheless, you should obtain your Lebanese visa prior to your arrival.
Make sure your visa remains valid throughout your stay. An expired entry visa must be extended by Lebanese authorities or you will not be allowed to leave the country.
In order to exit the country, your passport must show a Lebanese entry stamp. Persons who acquire a new passport while in Lebanon must present their old passport containing their proof of entry to authorities upon departure.
Individuals who have claimed refugee status in Lebanon and leave the country may be denied subsequent re-entry into Lebanon.
Canadians have been detained, questioned and denied entry into Lebanon because their passports bore (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 the traveller has been to Israel).
South of the Litani River
Travel permits from Lebanese authorities and/or UNIFIL may be required in order to enter areas south of the Litani River bordering Israel.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
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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.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
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 Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- 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 Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
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 Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Modern medical care facilities and supplies are widely available in Beirut and its surrounding areas. Such facilities are not always available in outlying areas. Medical services can be very expensive, and payment in advance is almost always required. Contact the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon in Beirut for a list of local medical and dental practitioners.
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.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The Lebanese political and legal systems are confessional-based.
Illegal or restricted activities
It is prohibited to photograph or videotape government buildings or military personnel, equipment and installations. Taking photographs in areas with a Hezbollah presence has led to the detention and questioning of Canadians in the past. In such situations, Canadian officials may face delays and obstacles in providing assistance.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Individuals charged with drug offences can expect to remain in jail and to be denied bail while judicial authorities prepare their case for prosecution. This process may take months or years.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Lebanon. If local authorities consider you a Lebanese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Canadians of Lebanese descent carrying Lebanese identification documents will be treated as Lebanese nationals by security officials.
In cases where one or more family members hold Lebanese citizenship, parents should consider the risks before their children travel to Lebanon. At the request of family members, Lebanese authorities can prevent children from leaving Lebanon (a procedure known as a “stop order,” which husbands can also apply to wives). Canadian children who are registered as Lebanese citizens will be treated as Lebanese nationals. Lebanon is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and Canadian custody documents are not recognized in Lebanon.
Dress and behaviour
The dress code in Lebanon is more relaxed than in most countries in the Middle East. However, you should dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. Ramadan is expected to begin on or around June 6, 2016.
Sleeveless garments and shorts may be acceptable at most locations but should be avoided when visiting sites of religious significance, such as churches and mosques, and when travelling in conservative areas of the country.
The currency is the Lebanese pound (LBP). Most establishments will accept payment in U.S. dollars but may return change in LBP. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted and will not be changed by local financial institutions.
Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available in Lebanon. Use ABMs located inside, or adjacent to, bank branches for greater security and to be able to retrieve a lost card faster.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Lebanon is located in a seismic zone. There have been several minor earthquakes in recent years.
In the winter months, mountain roads, including the main Beirut-Damascus highway, may be temporarily blocked or become impassable due to heavy snowfall. Flash floods can occur, rendering roads temporarily dangerous or impracticable.
Beirut - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Beirut and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885.
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