Burundi Register Travel insurance Destinations
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Latest updates: Risk level(s) – editorial change – Zika virus information is still located under the Health tab
Burundi - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Avoid all travel to Burundi, due to ongoing political tensions, civil unrest and armed violence. The situation could deteriorate rapidly.
Safety and security
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.
There are tensions throughout the country since the contentious presidential elections of July 2015. The situation is particularly worrisome in Bujumbura, where violence including grenade attacks and exchange of gunfire has resulted in several deaths and injuries since July 2015.
Day or night, be extremely vigilant throughout the country and in crowded places such as churches, markets, cafés and bus stations. Monitor the news for outbreaks of violence.
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.
There are frequent checkpoints throughout the country. Travellers have reported incidents of harassment, intimidation and physical violence at checkpoints, particularly at night.
Presidential elections are due to take place on May 20, 2020. Demonstrations could occur before, during and after the elections.
- Monitor local and international media for the latest information
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
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.
Incidents of muggings, 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.
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 for ransom occurs and criminals have targeted foreigners in the past.
Sexual assault, including rape, is common. Be aware that in some jurisdictions, the victim is required to provide food during the perpetrator’s incarceration.
Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases. Check with local authorities for the latest information.
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.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General security information
Tourist facilities are very limited. You should select local accommodation and transportation wisely, with security in mind.
Local tour operators, including those offering adventure activities, may not offer safety standards and equipment that correspond to those found in Canada.
Telecommunications are poor. Power outages are common and can affect essential services.
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.
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 foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
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.
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.
Due to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in neighboring countries you may be subject to a quick thermal scanner screening and/or a health questionnaire at the airports upon boarding or disembarking a plane.
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.
Visitors to Burundi must have an onward ticket.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers - January 17, 2019
- Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo - February 21, 2019
- - December 31, 1969
Malaria in Burundi
Burundi is experiencing a malaria epidemic in most of the country. Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes.
There is no vaccine against malaria for Canadian travellers, but antimalarial medications are available to prevent infection. Talk to a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic, preferably 6 weeks before you travel, to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
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 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 professional.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
* 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.
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.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
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!
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.
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 and yellow fever.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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.
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 must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Burundian law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
Those convicted can face imprisonment.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Burundi.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
Obtain permission before taking photographs of military installations, airports, government buildings and local residents.
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.
You must carry an international driving permit and proof of insurance.
It is illegal to use your cell phone while driving.
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.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
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. Exercise caution, monitor local news and regional weather forecasts, and plan accordingly.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services.
- 112 for medical assistance
- 113 for police
Consular assistance is provided by appointment only at the Consulate of Canada in Bujumbura.
Bujumbura - Consulate of Canada
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
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.
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, express 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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