Central African Republic
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Latest updates: This travel advice was thoroughly reviewed and updated.
Central African Republic - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to to the Central African Republic. Security conditions are unstable throughout the country, especially outside Bangui.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Security conditions remain unstable throughout the country, despite the presence of the United Nations stabilization mission, which has been mandated to protect civilians in the Central African Republic since 2014. Sectarian violence is common and has resulted in thousands of deaths. That violence has been on the rise since October 2016. Security forces cannot guarantee the safety of civilians.
If you are in the Central African Republic despite this advisory, take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Security conditions can deteriorate suddenly, and the Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance in the Central African Republic is extremely limited.
Prefecture of Haut-Mbomou
Elements of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to carry out attacks and abductions in the prefecture of Haut-Mbomou, in southeastern Central African Republic. The security situation is volatile, and the local population continues to flee LRA attacks.
The country is affected by rebel activity, armed attacks and banditry. Sectarian violence is common. Some attacks are random. Shootings and looting occur frequently. Westerners and employees of international organizations have been the target of attacks and abductions. The risk of abduction for both nationals and foreigners has increased since 2015.
Theft is common. Exercise caution at all times, keep your valuables in a safe place and do not show signs of affluence. You should carry only certified copies of your travel documents.
Violence frequently breaks out at the KM-5 market in Bangui.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to turn violent suddenly. 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. Avoid moving about Bangui during times of civil unrest.
Any road travel outside Bangui should be avoided. Road conditions are poor throughout the country. The only paved roads are those from Bangui to Bossembélé, from Bangui to Sibut and from Bangui to Mbaïki. During the rainy season, dirt roads may be closed for hours or even days. Buses, trucks and minibuses are the main means of transportation.
Although remote regions can be normally accessed using four-wheel-drive vehicles, some roads are impassible during the rainy season (May to October). In the event of an accident involving injuries, you should go to the nearest police station and contact the Consulate of Canada in Bangui. The police and army sometimes set up road blocks.
If you decide to undertake road travel outside Bangui despite this warning, keep in mind that all overland travel outside the capital should be done in a convoy of at least two vehicles, during daylight hours. Regional wars have increased access to weapons, leading to armed attacks, particularly highway robbery. Points of entry at land borders are closed to tourists, since there are no security provisions for foreigners travelling outside the capital.
Fuel shortages are common. You should carry extra fuel when travelling.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Outbound flights from Bangui are infrequent.
General safety information
There are very few tourist centres.
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 Central African 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 the Central African Republic and its consulate for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the Central African Republic, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, 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.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must also have 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.
There is a risk of polio 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.
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 yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.
- 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.
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 Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central 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 Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse flies usually bite during the day and the bites are usually painful. If untreated, the disease is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
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 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 Central Africa, like 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
There are some hospitals in Bangui, but very few elsewhere in the country. Medicines are scarce and sanitary conditions are poor. Medical expenses must generally be paid for on-the-spot, prior to any treatment.
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.
Penalties for drug use and possession are severe and can include a jail sentence.
A licence is required to buy or sell precious stones. There are stiff fines for smuggling.
Photographing government buildings, military and police facilities, the presidential palace, airports and power plants is prohibited. Power plants are not always clearly marked. Do not photograph people without their permission.
Always carry your identity documents (or notarized copies) with you, as failing to do so could result in imprisonment.
While the laws of the Central African Republic do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. Members of the LGBT community could face arrest on other charges, such as indecent exposure. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to the Central African Republic. See Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Central African Republic. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Central African 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 Central African 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 African Financial Community franc (XAF). The West African CFA franc is not legal tender in the Central African Republic and cannot be used or exchanged. Credit cards (such as VISA), the French Carte Bleue debit card and traveller’s cheques are accepted only in Bangui’s major hotels. Traveller’s cheques should be in euros.
The exchange rate for cash is much lower than for traveller’s cheques, and banks charge a commission on traveller’s cheques. Bangui and Berbérati are the only cities where currency can be exchanged.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from May to October and the dry season, from December to April. Some roads may become impassible during the rainy season. As you head north in the country, the length of the rainy season gradually diminishes to four months (June to September). Flash floods are common during the rainy season. Between February and May, the temperature can reach 40o C in the north and the humidity can be oppressive.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 236 21 61 30 72
- medical assistance: 114
- firefighters: 118
Bangui - Consulate of Canada
Yaoundé - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé, Cameroon 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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