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Afghanistan - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs 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 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.
Safety and security
Safety and security
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 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.
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.
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.
Violent attacks against foreigners occur, including armed robbery and rape. Carjacking and robbery also occur. Weapons are easily available.
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.
Millions of landmines throughout the countryside pose a threat. No area can be considered safe.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Confirm your flight with your airline before going to the airport as the airport can close on short notice.
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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Afghan authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Afghanistan.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
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.
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.
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.
Polio *Proof of vaccination*
Polio is present in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
Proof of vaccination:
- If you are staying more than 4 weeks in the country, you may need a polio vaccine. Proof of polio vaccination may be requested when you enter or leave the country.
- See your health care provider to find out if you need the polio vaccine before your trip.
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).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Travellers to countries in South Asia should speak to a health care provider about getting vaccinated.
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 no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- 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.
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 South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. 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.
- 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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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 South Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis 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 or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
- 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 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.
- 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 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.
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.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention 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.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
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 and 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. On October 26, 2015, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck 250 km northeast of Kabul and was felt from northern Pakistan to India. If you are in or around the affected area, monitor local media for the latest developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
Avalanches, floods and landslides occur, which could result in a high number of casualties and serious property damage.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 119 / 100
- medical assistance: 102
- firefighters: 93 (0) 202 101 333
Kabul - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Kabul 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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