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Latest updates: Safety and Security - COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions (updates about the curfew and the general containment)
COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Rwanda - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Rwanda due to the ongoing insecurity in some neighbouring countries.
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
Preventative measures and restrictions are in place:
- a general containment is in effect in Kigali, you must stay inside your home or accommodations unless you need to perform essential activities.
- a curfew is in effect throughout the rest of the territory from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
You must wear a face covering in public.
If you violate the restrictions, you could be fined or detained.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, including those related to physical distancing
- Avoid crowded areas
The volatile situation in the eastern part of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could lead to possible incursions into western Rwanda by DRC armed rebel groups.
Due to political tensions between Rwanda and Uganda, the land border may be closed without notice.
Attacks in the area bordering Burundi occur regularly. Be extremely vigilant as the security situation can deteriorate suddenly.
The level of crime is relatively low. However, petty theft from cars and hotel rooms occurs. Pickpockets are active in crowded places. House break-ins have occurred in Kigali.
- Remain alert to your surroundings
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Don’t show signs of affluence
- Don’t venture out alone or travel outside major cities after dark
Demonstrations take place from time to time. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
In general, the main roads in Kigali and linking Kigali to other cities are relatively well maintained. However:
- dirt roads are in poor condition
- excessive speed, careless driving, the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles, the presence of pedestrians, cyclists and livestock on the roads, and the lack of streetlights pose hazards
- some roads may be difficult or impossible to access during the rainy season
- police checkpoints are frequent
Avoid travel after dark, particularly in rural areas.
In the event of a traffic accident:
- in Kigali, dial 113 for police
- elsewhere, go directly to the nearest police station
Shared buses and minibuses, the most common form of public transportation, can be dangerous due to reckless driving.
- Use licensed public bus and auto taxi companies
- Confirm the fare with the driver before departing
- Be cautious when using motorbike taxis, as they are unsafe
- Don’t use them at night
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Security incidents have been recently reported in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. No recent incidents have been reported at Volcanoes National Park.
When visiting a park:
- you must purchase a park permit from Rwanda’s Office of Tourism and National Parks.
- be accompanied by an official guide
- only use established trails
Rwanda’s Office of Tourism and National Parks
General safety information
Tourist facilities are adequate in Kigali and other major towns, but are limited in remote areas. In remote areas, access to electricity is limited. During the dry season, there may be water shortages in some areas of the country and in some parts of Kigali.
Police officers, especially those on the street, may not speak English or French.
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory. While some countries have started to ease some of these measures, most remain in place.
Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any specific restrictions or requirements related to this situation. Consider even your transit points, as many destinations have implemented strict transit rules which could disrupt your travel.
These could include:
- entry bans, particularly for non-residents
- exit bans
- quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, some in designated facilities, at your own cost
- health screenings and certificates as well as proof of adequate travel health insurance
- travel authorization documents to be obtained before you travel
- border closures
- airport closures
- flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
- suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
- Monitor the media for the latest information
- Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
Foreign diplomatic offices in Canada – Global Affairs Canada
Travellers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Rwandan Ministry of Health has established procedures for travellers wishing to enter the country from areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) affected by the Ebola virus disease. This includes health care and humanitarian workers and volunteers. Among other things, they are subject to a quick thermal scanner screening. You may be subject to a 21-day quarantine period before your travel to Rwanda. Follow instructions of local authorities if you are travelling to Rwanda from the DRC.
Rwanda’s Ministry of Health
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Rwandan authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Due to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease, authorities could close the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo border at any time without notice.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Rwanda.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Rwanda.
Citizens of all countries get 30 days visa upon arrival, without prior application. If you plan to stay longer than 30 days after entering Rwanda, you must seek an extension before the expiry of the entry visa. Applications must be made in person at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kacyiru, Kigali. Anyone who overstays their visa is subject to a fine.
You can also apply for a tourist visa at the nearest Rwandan diplomatic mission or at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali.
Tourist visa: Required
Work permit: required
Business visa: Required, valid for 90 days and may be extended once (work is not permitted but the holder of this class of visa can change their status)
East African Tourist Visa
The East African Tourist Visa allows for multiple entries to each Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. It is valid for 90 days and cannot be extended. You must obtain this visa from the country that is the first entry point. If you plan on beginning your trip in Rwanda, you must obtain it online.
You must obtain a work permit issued by the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration if you are planning to work in the country. Requirements for a work permit include that you must have obtained a valid police clearance from the country in which you have been residing for the last six months. Obtaining a police certificate from Canada while in Rwanda can take up to six months.
- Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration
- Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - January 16, 2021
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is low potential for yellow fever exposure in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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!
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
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, yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever may occur sporadically. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- 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, Ebola, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise 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.
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 professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
COVID-19 - Testing facilities
Consult the following links to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test:
- Local COVID-19 testing facilities - Government of Rwanda
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Illegal or restricted items and activities
Non-biodegradable bags are prohibited in Rwanda. If you arrive with such bags at the airport in Kigali, they might be confiscated.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Drunk drivers are subject to a short prison sentence and a fine.
Photography of government buildings is prohibited. You should also avoid taking photographs in border areas.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Rwanda, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You must carry an international driving permit.
More about the International Driving Permit
Use of a mobile telephone
The use of a mobile telephone while driving is illegal, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.
Third-party insurance is required to cover damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries even if you are not found to be at fault. If you are suspected of causing an accident, your driver’s licence can be confiscated during the investigation. If the accident results in death, you may be subject to a jail sentence.
The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan franc (RWF).
Most hotels accept credit cards; but it is recommended to confirm with your hotel before arrival. In Kigali, several businesses, including restaurants and boutiques, accept credit cards.
Expect to handle other expenses in cash. Most shops will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before 2006.
ATMs are abundant in Kigali, and usually accept Canadian ATM cards. Credit card cash withdrawals are available only through a few banks in Kigali.
Natural disasters and climate
Seismic activity is unpredictable and infrequent, but the possibility of earthquakes exists.
Volcanic eruptions have occurred in Goma (DRC) and may pose a hazard in Gisenyi in northern Rwanda. Nyiragongo volcano, located near Goma, is an active volcano. Exercise a high degree of caution if you travel near the volcano and closely follow the advice of local authorities.
During the two rainy seasons (February to May and September to December), intense thunderstorms are frequent.
Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 112
- medical assistance: 912
- gender- based violence: 3512
Kigali - Office of the High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Office of the High Commission of Canada in Kigali and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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