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Uganda - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Uganda. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of civil unrest, crime and armed banditry.
Regional Advisory for the districts near the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the districts near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Eastern Route to Karamoja, due to sporadic clashes and banditry. 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.
Districts Bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (see Advisory)
Ethnic tensions have led to clashes and attacks in the past, including in rural areas of the western district of Hoima. Heightened security measures may be put in place. You should follow any instructions from local authorities and monitor local media.
Avoid traveling at night along the areas bordering the DRC because of possible cross-border banditry by groups operating in the DRC.
Eastern Route to Karamoja (see Advisory)
You should avoid non-essential travel to the Eastern overland route to Karamoja (near the border with South Sudan) from Kampala due to banditry and occasional clashes between ethnic communities.
Regional terror groups, including those associated with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Uganda. The September 21, 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi mall illustrates the threat of attacks on civilians in East Africa. In recent years, attacks, some resulting in large numbers of casualties, have been carried out in areas popular among tourists and expatriates in Uganda. Although no major attack has occurred recently, further attacks of a similar nature cannot be ruled out.
On February 10, 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala issued a security message providing the following information to their nationals: “The U.S. Embassy has received information regarding a specific terrorist threat to Kampala. The threat information indicates that a group of attackers is possibly in place and ready to strike targets inside Kampala in February or March. There are indications that the Ugandan National Museum is one of the potential targets. As potential targets can change, the Embassy cautions U.S. citizens to avoid this site and other crowded public places and/or events that are potential targets to terrorists.”
Banditry and car thefts occur throughout the country. Petty crime, including pickpocketing, purse and jewellery snatching, and theft from hotel rooms and vehicles, is common. Keep vehicle doors locked at all times, windows closed, and personal belongings, including handbags, safely stored. Items such as laptops and briefcases should not be left in unattended vehicles. Remain vigilant when using public transportation or walking along deserted streets, as pickpocketing and the theft of purses and bags often occur.
There has been an increase in reports of taxi/matatu (minibus) operators robbing their passengers and deserting them far from their destination. Avoid taxis/matatus that have only one or two passengers and ensure that your personal belongings (wallet/bags) are secure at all times when using public transportation.
Demonstrations occur in many parts of the country. Avoid all gatherings and demonstrations, as they may turn violent without warning. Monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Traffic drives on the left. A lack of traffic signs, local driving habits, wandering animals, pedestrians and poor road conditions pose risks. Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing roads. There are many fatal road accidents in Uganda. Alcohol is often a contributing factor, particularly at night. Highway travel is dangerous, especially after dark, because of banditry and poor road conditions.
In the event of an accident, Ugandan law requires drivers to stop and exchange information and assistance. There is a possibility of mob anger if the accident has caused serious injury. In such cases, you are advised to remain in your vehicle and drive to the nearest police station to report the accident.
If travelling to Uganda by road, you should get information at border police stations regarding the security situation at the destinations you intend to visit.
Avoid intercity buses (especially overnight long-distance buses) and vans. Fatal accidents caused by reckless driving, excessive speed and poor vehicle maintenance have occurred in the past.
There has been no passenger rail service for many years.
Exercise caution when using other forms of public transportation such as matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (scooter taxis) and ensure that the vehicle is in good condition before departure. If you opt to travel by boda-boda, wear a helmet at all times.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Game parks and reserves
You are advised to contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority before visiting any parks or wildlife reserves. Visits to game parks and reserves should be undertaken only with a reputable tour company.
Fraud involving credit cards, traveller’s cheques and wire transfers is common in Uganda. Exercise caution when using automated banking machines (ABMs) and protect your personal banking information. Business fraud also occurs frequently. The scams range from attempts to engage business people in fictitious money transfer schemes to fraudulent solicitations to supply goods in fulfillment of non-existent Ugandan government contracts. Any unsolicited business proposal, particularly land transactions, should be carefully scrutinized before any funds are committed, before any goods or services are provided, or before any travel is undertaken. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
General safety information
You should not show signs of affluence or venture out alone after dark in dimly lit backstreets. Travelling in groups is recommended.
Carry a photocopy of your passport, specifically the identification page and of the page containing your visa, and keep the original in a secure place.
Do not accept food or drink from strangers, even children, as it may be drugged. If attacked, do not resist, as offering resistance may result in violence.
Women should be particularly cautious when travelling alone in Uganda. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Tourist facilities and infrastructure are adequate in Kampala but limited elsewhere in the country.
In the event of an emergency, call 999.
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 Ugandan authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for the Republic of Uganda and 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 Uganda, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from the country.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa. It is strongly recommended that visas be obtained prior to arrival in the country. Canadians intending to work in Uganda should insist that the employer ascertain from the Uganda Immigration Department what type of permit will be required.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Official visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page 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.
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 by contaminated food or water. 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 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 through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
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.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. 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), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
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 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.|
|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 East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
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.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. 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 contaminated water. 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 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 and Illness
In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
- 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 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 bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- 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, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East 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).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
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. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Photography of security forces, diplomatic sites, government installations, airports or Owen Falls Dam (at the source of the Nile near Jinja) is prohibited. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.
Wearing military-style or camouflage clothing is prohibited and may result in a jail sentence.
An International Driving Permit is required.
The currency is the Uganda shilling (UGX). There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currencies. Credit cards are accepted only by major hotels, airlines and some car rental agencies. You will find foreign exchange bureaus at most border posts and in all major cities. Since the elimination of the black market and the introduction of foreign exchange (forex) bureaus, Uganda is one of the most expensive countries in East Africa. Most shops, banks and forex bureaus will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before the year 2000 or will only exchange them at a less favourable rate. Bills printed in the year 2000 are also becoming unpopular.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural Disasters & Climate
The rainy seasons extend from March to May and from October to November. Weather related events such as floods and landslides do occur throughout the country during these months. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. Uganda is located in a seismic zone. At the moment, Mount Elgon is stable.
You should pay careful attention to regional weather forecasts and to all warnings issued.
Kampala - Consulate of Canada
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Consulate of Canada in Kampala and follow the instructions. To make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, dial 913 to obtain international assistance, and ask for number 613-996-8885.