Central African Republic
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Central African Republic - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to the precarious security situation throughout the country. You should leave now if it is safe to do so. Contact the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé, Cameroon if you require assistance. See the Security tab for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Political and security situation
In March 2013, a coalition of rebel forces known as Seleka entered the capital, Bangui, and overthrew the government. In January 2014, a transitional government was established. The security situation remains precarious throughout the country despite the stabilization mission of the United Nations (UN). Sectarian violence is frequent and has resulted in thousands of deaths, most recently in September 2015.
A curfew is in effect in Bangui from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Official and unofficial roadblocks are set up throughout the country.
Law enforcement personnel throughout the country are unable to ensure the security of civilians. If you are in CAR despite this advisory, take the necessary precautions to stay safe. There is no resident Canadian government office in CAR. The ability of the Government of Canada to provide consular assistance or assist your departure is extremely limited.
Prefecture of Haut Mbomou
Incursions into the prefecture of Haut-Mbomou, in southeastern CAR, by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have escalated, especially between the town of Zemio and the border with South Sudan. The security situation is highly volatile and the local population continues to flee the attacks.
In December 2008, troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan launched a joint military offensive against bases of the LRA in northern DRC. Since the launch of the joint campaign, the LRA has dispersed and retaliated with great violence against the civilian population in villages located in border areas with South Sudan and Uganda. Many people have been killed and thousands more have fled the region. Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese forces, and the United Nations Mission to the DRC, have been increasing their presence and operations in the area. United States Special Forces have been deployed to the area to provide training and support to the Central African Army in the south-eastern region of the country.
The country is affected by rebel activity, armed attacks and banditry. Sectarian violence is frequent. Some attacks have been indiscriminate. Shootings and looting have increased since 2013. Westerners and employees of international organizations have been targeted for attacks and kidnapped. The risk of abduction has increased in 2015 for both nationals and foreigners.
Theft is prevalent. Ensure your personal belongings are secure, and do not show signs of affluence. You should carry only certified copies of your travel documents.
Acts of violence frequently occur at the KM5 market in Bangui.
Public gatherings and areas where demonstrations may occur should be avoided, as some have turned violent in the past. Avoid moving about the city during times of civil unrest.
For the time being, it is recommended that any road travel outside Bangui be avoided. Roads are poor throughout the country, and the only paved roads lead out from Bangui 157 km northwest to Bossembélé, 188 km northeast to Sibut and 107 km southwest to M'Baiiki. Dirt roads can be closed for hours or for days during the wet season. Buses, trucks and minibuses are the normal means of transportation.
Although remote areas can normally be accessed with four-wheel-drive vehicles, some roads may be impassable 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. Police and military may set up roadblocks.
If you decide to undertake road travel despite this warning, keep in mind that all overland travel outside the capital should be done in a convoy of at least two vehicles and during daylight hours. Regional wars have increased access to weapons, and armed attacks occur, often consisting of highway robbery. Overland points of entry are closed to tourists since no security arrangements are provided for foreigners travelling outside the capital.
Fuel shortages are common. Fuel reserves are recommended 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.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are not widely available.
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.
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 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.
Canadians must also 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.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
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 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 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 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 and yellow fever.
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
Medical facilities are poor to non-existent outside Bangui and have been affected by strikes. Medicines are scarce and sanitary conditions are poor. Medical care is generally paid for on the spot and before 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 or possession are severe and may include a jail sentence.
A licence is required to buy or sell precious gems. Penalties are heavy for those involved in smuggling.
Photography of government buildings or police and military installations is prohibited. These sites may not be clearly marked. Ask permission before taking photographs.
You should carry identity documents or notarized copies at all times, as failure to do so can lead to detention.
Homosexual activity is illegal and penalties include the death sentence.
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 African Financial Community CFA franc (or XAF bank code), which is also used in Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. The West African CFA franc is not legal tender in the CAR and can neither be used nor exchanged. Credit cards (VISA, the French Carte bleue) and traveller's cheques are accepted only in major hotels in Bangui (Sofitel, Central Hotel and Somba Hotel). It is recommended that traveller's cheques be issued in euros.
The exchange rate for cash is much lower than for traveller’s cheques, but the banks that change cheques charge commissions. Bangui and Berbérati are the only cities where you can change money.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from May to October and the dry season extends from December to April. Some roads may become impassable during the rainy season. The rainy season diminishes progressively to four months (June to September) as you head north. Flash floods are common during the rainy season. The temperature can reach 40°C in the north between February and May, and the humidity can be oppressive.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 236 21 61 30 72
- medical assistance: 114
- firefighters: 118
If you are having problems reaching the consulate in Bangui at the numbers indicated below, contact the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé (Cameroon) or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
Bangui - Consulate of Canada
Yaoundé - High Commission of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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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