Burundi travel advice

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Risk level

Burundi - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

Avoid non-essential travel to Burundi, with the exception of Bujumbura Mairie, due to violent crime and the risk of political violence.

Regional Advisory - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the following areas, due to clashes between the military and armed groups :

  • Cibitoke province
  • Bubanza province
  • Area west of and including the RN5 highway in Bujumbura Rural (with the exception of Rusizi River Delta Nature Reserve)

 

Bujumbura - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Bujumbura Mairie due to violent crime.

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Safety and security

Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces

Border security is a concern in the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke due to the various violent clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and occasional cross-border movement by armed groups.

Banditry, small arms trafficking, kidnappings and attacks on civilians by former soldiers, rebels and youth gangs occur.

Political tensions

Burundi has a recent history of political violence. Politically motivated attacks involving small arms and grenades have occurred in recent years, including in Bujumbura.

Security searches

Security forces have the authority to conduct searches at any time of homes and vehicles, in order to allegedly recover weapons. Car searches seem to be conducted randomly, usually at roadblocks. Foreigners have been subjected to both car and home searches.

To search a house, officers must present their identification card but don’t require a search warrant. Cooperate with the officer. Should you encounter problems, request to contact the Consulate in Bujumbura or the High Commission to Kenya in Nairobi.

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.

Crime

Incidents of muggings at gun and knifepoint, purse snatching and pickpocketing occur. Crime is often committed by children. Criminal activity increases at night.

There is a risk of assault if you’re walking or jogging alone, particularly on roads around Lake Tanganyika. Avoid walking, driving or taking public transportation after dark anywhere in the country, including in Bujumbura. 

Keep valuables, travel documents, and cash in safe locations, such as in hotel safes. Keep separate and digital copies of important documents, including your passport.

Kidnapping

Kidnapping for ransom occurs and criminals have targeted foreigners in the past.

Check points

There are frequent checkpoints throughout the country. Travellers have reported incidents of harassment, intimidation and physical violence at checkpoints, particularly at night.

Identification

You should carry photo identification at all times. To limit the risk of your passport being lost or stolen, carry only a photocopy of it.

Tourism Infrastructure and telecommunications

Tourism infrastructure are limited throughout the country. The telecommunications network is not always reliable outside the capital.

  • Plan your trip accordingly
  • Choose accommodation that provides adequate security
  • Do not rely on your cell phone for emergency calls, especially outside the capital

Adventure tourism 

Outdoor activities, such as zip lining,  swimming, paragliding, hiking, cycling, etc. and other adventure activities can be dangerous if unprepared. Trails are not always marked, and weather conditions can change rapidly, even during summer. 

Tour operators may not always adhere to international safety standards.

If you intend to practice adventure tourism:

  • never do so alone, and do not part with your tour companions  
  • consider hiring an experienced guide from a reputable company 
  • obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be setting out 
  • consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas  

Power outages

Power outages occur regularly, especially outside the capital. They could impact essential services such as:

  • public transportation
  • telecommunications
  • banking transactions
  • the purchase of basic necessities

Not all buildings are equipped with generators.

  • Plan accordingly
  • Keep a supply of water, food and fuel on hand
  • Make sure you always have an emergency kit on hand

Demonstrations

Demonstrations and mass gathering occur occasionally, particularly in Bujumbura, and have the potential to turn violent. 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

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Women’s safety

Sexual assault, including rape, is common. Be aware that in some jurisdictions, the victim is required to provide food during the perpetrator’s incarceration.

Advice for women travellers

Road safety

Road conditions vary throughout the country but is generally dangerous due to:

  • unmarked and damaged roads
  • limited street lights and traffic signals
  • erratic and reckless driving habits

Avoid driving unless you are familiar with local conditions. If hiring a driver, make sure to do so through a reputable company.

You should travel by convoy and only during the day. Travelling outside Bujumbura puts you at higher risk.

If you must drive:

  • always respect security rules and procedures
  • check information on road security on a daily basis
  • carry multiple spare tires

During the rainy season, many roads are only accessible with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Service stations are rare, fuel shortages are frequent and roadside assistance is not available outside the capital.

In the event of an accident, leave the scene without stopping and go to the nearest police station or, if necessary, to the hospital.

You may encounter legitimate roadblocks. Be aware, however, that criminals are known to impersonate security forces and set up unofficial roadblocks to solicit bribes.

Public transportation

Avoid using taxis. Drivers often operate within a criminal network. If the use of a taxi is unavoidable, hire one from a reputable company.

You should also avoid using public buses. Vehicle and road conditions are the cause of frequent and serious accidents.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

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 Burundian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

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 the duration of your stay.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

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 foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist: required
Business: required

Border closures

Due to the volatile security situation in the area, authorities could close the Burundi–Rwanda border at any time.

Periodic closure of the Burundi–Democratic Republic of Congo border can occur without notice.

Other requirements

Visitors to Burundi must have an onward ticket.

You must complete the online incoming/outgoing passenger form before entering or leaving Burundi via the Bujumbura airport.

Incoming/outgoing passenger form - Government of Burundi

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

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.

Risk

  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.

Recommendation

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.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Measles

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.

Meningococcal disease

This destination is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area which has the highest rates of meningococcal disease in the world. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. 

Travellers who are at higher risk should discuss vaccination with a health care provider. 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.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.

Malaria is a risk to travellers to this destination.
 
Antimalarial medication is recommended for most travellers to this destination and should be taken as recommended. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving. 
 
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times: 

  • Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.
  • Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
  • Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing. 

 If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

Rabies

In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Polio

Polio (poliomyelitis) is an infectious disease that can be prevented by vaccination. It is caused by poliovirus type 1, 2 or 3. Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus 2 (cVDPV2) is present in this country.
Polio is spread from person to person and through contaminated food and water. Infection with the polio virus can cause paralysis and death in individuals of any age who are not immune.

Recommendations:

  • Be sure that your polio vaccinations are up to date before travelling. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
  • One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Cholera

Risk

Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.

To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.

Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:

  • visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
  • visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring

Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.

Travellers' diarrhea

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

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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Schistosomiasis

There is a risk of schistosomiasis in this destination. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by tiny worms (blood flukes) which can be found in freshwater (lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands). The worms can break the skin, and their eggs can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, or urinary problems. Schistosomiasis mostly affects underdeveloped and rural communities, particularly agricultural and fishing communities.

Most travellers are at low risk. Travellers should avoid contact with untreated freshwater such as lakes, rivers, and ponds (e.g., swimming, bathing, wading, ingesting). There is no vaccine or medication available to prevent infection.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a 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.

Dengue
  • In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • 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.
Onchoceriasis

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 close to fast-flowing rivers and streams. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.

Zika virus

Zika virus is a risk in this country. 

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis

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.

HIV

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.

Medical services and facilities

Health care is inadequate. You will likely need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury. For medical evacuations, planes need to fly in from other countries.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

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.

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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.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Burundian law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.

Those convicted can face imprisonment.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Burundi.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Drugs

Penalties for the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Photography

Obtain permission before taking photographs of military installations, airports, government buildings and local residents.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Burundi.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Burundi, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Burundi.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Burundi by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Burundi to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit and proof of insurance.

It is illegal to use your cell phone while driving.

International Driving Permit

Money

The currency is the Burundian franc (BIF).

The economy is cash-based. Credit cards are not widely accepted. ATMs are unreliable.

Most shops will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before 2006.

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Natural disasters and climate

Rainy season 

The dry season extends from mid-May to early October.

The rainy season begins in February and continues to mid-May. During the rainy season, heavy downpours are common and can result in flash floods. Infrastructure and transportation routes may be damaged and secondary roads may become impassable.

  • Keep informed of regional weather forecast
  • Avoid the affected areas 
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

There is no centralized number to reach emergency services.

Dial:

  • 112 for medical assistance
  • 113 for police

Consular assistance

Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
Street AddressLimuru Road, Gigiri, Nairobi, KenyaPostal AddressP.O. Box 1013, Nairobi, 00621, KenyaTelephone+254 (20) 366-3000Fax+254 (20) 366-3900Emailnrobi.consular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-KenyaTwitter@CanHCKenyaConsular district

Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda

Appointment Book your appointment online
Kigali - Office of the High Commission of Canada
Street Address# 59 KN16 Avenue, Kiyovu, Kigali, RwandaPostal AddressP.O. Box 1177, Kigali, RwandaTelephone+ 250 252 554 800Fax+250 252 554 810Emailkgali-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-RwandaTwitterCanada in Rwanda and Burundi

For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada to Kenya in Nairobi and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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