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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 area north of the Tougan–Ouahigouya–Djibo–Dori line—up to the Mali and Niger borders—and within 80 km of the rest of the Burkina Faso–Mali border, due to the threat of banditry and kidnapping.
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Northern area (see Advisory)
The threat of kidnapping persists in Burkina Faso’s northern area, due to the proximity of Mali and Niger, where criminal and terrorist groups are active.. A foreign couple was kidnapped near Djibo in mid-January 2016. Exercise Caution at all times. Should you plan to go to these areas despite the risk, use varied and unpredictable routes and itineraries. 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 Burkina Faso’s border regions, especially along its northern border with Mali, and along the northern portion of its border with Niger.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, natural resource extraction sites, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners.
On January 15, 2016, gunmen stormed the Splendid Hotel and the Café Cappuccino in downtown Ouagadougou, killing 30 people. Additional security measures are in effect throughout the country. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
In 2014, a popular uprising ousted the sitting president, and, in September 2015, there was a failed coup on the transitional government. 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 coupeurs de route (armed bandits), who do not hesitate to shoot at vehicles to stop and rob their occupants. The eastern, central, east-central, north-central regions and the central plateau are most affected by these incidents. 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 travelling during early morning hours and after sundown. In the event that you are attacked, do not resist and 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 roundabout and Central Market are often targeted by thieves. Avoid showing signs of affluence and walking alone after dark. Petty crime occurs to a lesser degree elsewhere in the country. Ensure personal belongings, passport and travel documents are secure at all times. Always carry a legally certified photocopy of your passport’s identification page.
Driving in Burkina Faso can be challenging. Roads are generally narrow, unpaved and poorly lit. Pedestrians, bicycles, carts, vehicles without headlights and potholes pose hazards to drivers. Many trucks transit the country at night. Travel after dark is not recommended.
Public transportation is not recommended.
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 information on scams abroad.
General safety information
Local mobile networks can be unreliable. You might need to place your long-distance calls through the national telecommunications office PTT, which only accepts local currency. Collect calls cannot be made.
Dial 17 for police and 18 for firefighters
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 authorities of Burkina Faso 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, which must be valid for the duration of their stay. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
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.
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 - 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 a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- 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 provider.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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 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 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 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, yellow fever and Zika virus.
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.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 and 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 photography. These permits and the accompanying list of restrictions, such as military and government installations, are available from the Ministry of Culture 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 Burkinabè 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 Burkinabè 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 CFA franc (XOF).
Burkina Faso is a cash-based economy. Automated bank machines that work with foreign cards to withdraw local currency are available in the large cities. Euros and U.S. dollars can also be accepted at certain establishments. 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 and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The dry season extends from November to May and the wet season is 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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