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Burkina Faso - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Burkina Faso. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorism.
Northern area and the border with Mali - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the north of the Tougan-Ouhigouya-Djibo-Dori line (up to the Niger border), and within 80 km of the rest of the border with Mali due to the threat of banditry and kidnapping.
See Security for more information.
W National Park - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the W National Park due to the threat of terrorism.
Northern area (see advisory)
There have been kidnappings of Westerners in neighbouring countries. The threat of kidnapping persists in this region, due to the proximity of the Mali and Niger borders. There are reports of a suspected case of kidnapping of a western couple near Djibo in mid-January 2016. A European citizen was abducted by an armed group on April 4, 2015, in the Tambao region (near Gorom-Gorom). Caution should be exercised at all times. Should you plan to go to these areas despite the risk, use varied and unpredictable routes and itineraries when moving from one place to the other. If possible, use an armed security escort for all travel within this region.
Border regions (see advisory)
The threat of banditry and kidnapping is high in border regions, particularly by the border with Mali.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, public areas such as bars, restaurants, hotels and tourist sites frequented by Westerners. Be aware of your surroundings in public places. Areas close to the porous borders with Mali and Niger, where jihadist groups are active, are particularly at risk.
On January 15, 2016, gunmen stormed the Splendid Hotel and the Café Cappuccino in downtown Ouagadougou and took hostages, killing at least 28 people. Additional security measures have been put in place throughout the country. While the airport in Ouagadougou remains open, flights may be affected. Contact your airline or travel agent to confirm your flight details. Limit your movements, exercise a high degree of caution, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities. Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
The President was ousted by a coup in October 2014. There was a foiled coup on the transitional government in September 2015. The political situation has been stable since the November 2015 presidential elections.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Incidents of carjacking have occurred. Illegal roadblocks can be set up by armed bandits “coupeurs de routes”, who do not hesitate to shoot to stop and rob vehicles. The main areas affected are the eastern, central, east-central and north-central regions, and the central plateau. However, such incidents can also happen in other areas, day or night, on both main and secondary roads. Exercise caution at all times, and, if possible, travel in a convoy and avoid travel in the early hours of the morning and after sundown. In the event that you are attacked, you should not offer any resistance and should contact the local authorities as soon as possible (Gendarmerie – numéro vert 10 10).
Purse snatching, muggings and theft from hotel rooms occur in major cities. In Ouagadougou, the areas around the United Nations circle and the Central Market are often targeted by thieves. Ensure personal belongings, passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Always carry a legally certified photocopy of your passport's identification page. Avoid showing signs of affluence and walking alone after dark. Petty crime occurs to a lesser degree elsewhere in the country.
Driving in Burkina Faso can be challenging. Roads are generally narrow, unpaved and full of potholes. There are few streetlights. Pedestrians, bicycles, carts and vehicles without headlights pose serious hazards. Many trucks transit the country at night. Travel after dark is not recommended.
Public transportation is not recommended.
A train operates between Ouagadougou and the Ivoirian border, via Bobo Dioulasso. Trains run daily and are very crowded.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
General safety information
Local telephone calls are expensive. You might need to place your long-distance calls through the Telecommunications Office (PTT), which only accepts local currency. Collect calls cannot be made.
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 Burkinan 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 for Burkina Faso 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 Burkina Faso.
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 Burkina Faso.
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.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination 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 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.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at 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 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.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities and supplies are very limited outside the capital. Clinics and doctors often request cash payment.
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.
A valid permit is required for all photography. These permits and the accompanying list of restrictions, such as military and government installations, are available from the Ministry of Transportation and Tourism in Ouagadougou.
Dress and behaviour
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. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Burkina Faso. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Burkinan citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Burkinan passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). 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.
The currency is the West African franc CFA (XOF).
Burkina Faso is a cash-based economy. Euros are more widely accepted than U.S. dollars. Credit cards are accepted at few establishments in the capital. Traveller’s cheques in euros are accepted and can be exchanged in banks.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The dry season extends from November to May, and the wet season from June to October. Heavy rain and wind can occur during the wet season, rendering some unpaved roads impassable. Harmattan winds bring sand and dust from the Sahara desert between December and February.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 17
Ouagadougou - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Ouagadougou 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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