Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) travel advice

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Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

Avoid non-essential travel to to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to high crime rates, civil unrest and the risk of kidnapping.

Eastern and northeastern areas of DRC - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the eastern and northeastern areas of DRC, in particular:

  • the provinces of:
    • Maniema
    • North Kivu
    • South Kivu
    • Tanganyika
    • Bas-Uélé, Haut-Uélé and Ituri
    • Haut-Lomami
    • points of entry to Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda
    • areas bordering South Sudan (including the Garamba National Park), the Central African Republic and Uganda (including Virunga National Park).

If you decide to travel to these areas despite this advisory, you should regularly review the situation to determine whether your continued presence in the area is warranted.

The security situation around Goma, in North Kivu, is unstable. If you are in the region, be ready to leave on short notice should the situation further deteriorate.

 

Kasaï provinces - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the following provinces due to frequent clashes between security forces and armed militias:

  • Kasaï
  • Kasaï-Central
  • Kasaï-Oriental

 

Mai-Ndombe province - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the province of Mai-Ndombe due to intercommunal violence.

 

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Safety and security

Security situation in eastern DRC

Since the beginning of February, 2024, the security situation in eastern DRC has become more unstable and unpredictable.

Fighting has intensified between security forces and the M23 rebel group in North Kivu. The conflict has caused hundreds of casualties and displaced thousands of people.

Avoid all travel to eastern DRC, including to North Kivu. If you decide to travel despite this advisory, continually reassess the situation to determine whether your presence in the area is warranted.

Demonstrations in Kinshasa

Starting February 10, 2024, violent demonstrations are taking place in Kinshasa, near Boulevard du 30 Juin.

Foreign embassies have also been targeted by demonstrators, including those of:

  • the United States
  • the United Kingdom
  • France

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

If you are in Kinshasa:

  • avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • follow the instructions of local authorities
  • be prepared to modify your plans in case of disturbances
  • expect enhanced security measures and an increased police presence

The security situation in DRC is unpredictable and could deteriorate suddenly.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur frequently, especially in Kinshasa. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent suddenly. They can also cause major disruption to traffic and public transport.

  • 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)

Eastern DRC

The situation remains volatile in the east of the country due to the persistent presence of and regular clashes between over 120 armed groups. 

The affected provinces are:

  • Maniema
  • North Kivu
  • South Kivu
  • Tanganyika
  • Bas-Uélé
  • Haut-Uélé
  • Ituri

Crime is endemic throughout these areas, and there are many reports of human rights violations.

State of siege

Since 2021, the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under a state of military siege. These provinces are under military administration until further notice.

Provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu

Clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 rebel group continue around Goma in North Kivu.

Despite the signing of peace agreements and the presence of UN forces, armed conflict persists in certain regions outside the provincial capitals. Members of various armed groups continue to perpetrate acts of pillage and violent crimes against the civilian population, including murder, kidnapping, armed assault and rape. The ensuing humanitarian crisis has led to major displacements.

Military operations are still underway in some areas, including near:

  • Virunga National Park
  • Rutshuru
  • Rumangabo
  • the tri-border area with Uganda and Rwanda 

Military operations could lead to a deterioration in the security situation in various locations outside the two capitals, Goma and Bukavu. Some places are particularly dangerous, including:

 North Kivu

  • Beni
  • Masisi
  • Rutshuru
  • Walikale

South Kivu

  • Kabare
  • Shabunda

Avoid all travel to the provinces of North and South Kivu. If you decide to travel despite this advisory:

  • continually reassess the situation to determine whether your presence in the area is warranted
  • take into account the information provided by Congolese authorities and MONUSCO, to help avoid dangerous situations
  • avoid public transportation
  • expect disruptions to local businesses and services, including airports

Tanganyika Province

The province of Tanganyika, and especially Manono Territory, is the theatre of an ethnic conflict between the Pygmies and the Luba. The Mai-Mai militia periodically re-engage.

Ituri Province

Armed clashes persist in the province of Ituri. There is a terrorist threat in the Beni and Irumu territories.

Haut-Lomami Province

Violent crime continues in Haut Lomami Province. Travellers have been ambushed, robbed and kidnapped.

Border regions of South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Uganda, including Garamba National Park

Despite intensified operations by the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese armed forces and the United Nations, the Lord's Resistance Army continues to commit acts of violence against the civilian population.  Numerous casualties have been reported, and thousands of people have fled the region.

Points of entry from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda

Entry points at the Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda borders should be avoided at all times due to the prevailing insecurity and disorder. The borders separating the DRC from Burundi and Rwanda may be closed at any time.

Kasaï provinces

Although the situation is currently calm in the Kasaï provinces, armed clashes have previously claimed thousands of victims in the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï-Central and Kasaï-Oriental.  Kidnappings have also taken place.

Intercommunal violence in Mai-Ndombe

Inter-community violence has been a regular occurrence in Mai-Ndombé Province since June 2022, particularly in the Kwamouth territory where thousands of residents have been displaced. The violence has claimed hundreds of victims. Attacks have also occurred in neighboring provinces, including the commune of Maluku in northern Kinshasa Province.

Kinshasa

In the capital, choose a hotel in the commune of Gombe, which is both the administrative headquarters and a commercial zone.

  • Exercise extreme caution outside the commune of Gombe
  • Avoid all travel after dark

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly:

  • in the region of Beni-Butembo and Goma in North Kivu
  • in the vicinity of Boga in Ituri
  • towards the border with Uganda

Terrorist groups clash over control of good-trafficking routes, mining sites, and agricultural areas.

Attacks on civilians and government targets occur frequently. Further attacks are likely.

Targets could include:

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

Large-scale events could be targeted.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places
  • Monitor local media
  • Follow the instructions of the local authorities

Crime

Crime rates are high in the DRC due to extreme poverty and the lack of enforcement.

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs regularly throughout the country, including in Kinshasa. Theft is frequent:

  • on public transportation
  • in cars
  • in crowded areas
  • at and around ATMs

During your trip to the DRC:

  • ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and your other travel documents are secure at all times
  • avoid showing signs of affluence or wearing expensive jewellery
  • always leave your car doors locked and windows up
  • avoid carrying large sums of cash or unnecessary valuables
  • avoid travelling alone
  • be especially cautious of your surroundings when withdrawing cash from ATMs, even in a hotel

Violent crime

Violent crime occurs in both urban and rural areas, especially after dark. Incidents include:

  • armed robbery
  • muggings
  • sexual assaults
  • armed home burglaries
  • car and motorcycle hijackings

During your stay:

  • be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • avoid walking alone
  • don't leave major highways, and don't park in unsupervised areas
  • if you are attacked, don't resist

Kidnappings

Kidnappings occur regularly in the eastern and northeastern provinces.  Foreigners are often targeted. Incidents occur mainly in the following areas:

  • Virunga Park in North Kivu
  • North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Maniema, Tanganika, Bas-Uélé and Haut-Uélé provinces

Express kidnappings

Express kidnappings targeting foreigners occur. Victims are usually abducted for a few hours in broad daylight and stripped of their possessions.

These attacks are often perpetrated by small groups of individuals dressed in police uniforms. The threat is particularly high in the Gombe district in Kinshasa.

If you plan to travel to the DRC despite the risks:

  • be vigilant at all times
  • avoid walking in areas accessible to the public
  • use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules
  • travel only in a convoy of at least two vehicles for long trips
  • if you are threatened, don’t resist

Curfews

Curfews can be imposed without notice.

Always comply with the directives issued by local authorities.

Road safety

Road safety is poor throughout the country. Fatal accidents are frequent.

Road conditions

Roads are generally poorly maintained and badly lit throughout the country. 

Some roads can become impassable during the rainy season and require a four-wheel drive vehicle, including in some parts of the capital, Kinshasa.

The road between Kinshasa and Matadi is paved, but the risk of accidents is very high due to:

  • vehicles that are poorly maintained, overloaded and often abandoned on the road
  • insufficient lighting
  • lack of road signs

Driving habits

Drivers don't always respect traffic laws, and police rarely enforce it. Drivers can be aggressive and reckless.

If you drive in the DRC:

  • always drive defensively
  • plan your trip in advance, especially if you are visiting a rural area
  • only travel in convoys of at least two vehicles on long journeys
  • avoid traveling after dark
  • check with local authorities to see if you need authorization to travel within the country

Official motorcades

Motorists should pull over to the shoulder of the road when sirens or police announce the approach of presidential or other official motorcades.

  • Avoid taking photos of processions
  • Only proceed when the police signal for you to do so

Roadblocks

Local authorities may increase the number of roadblocks during the night, especially at the following locations:

  • in Gombe
  • in Limete, Ngaba, Kintambo, Ngaliema, Ndjili and Mont Ngafula
  • around Camp Kokolo

Carry official identification at all times.

Don't cross any roadblock without stopping, even if it seems unguarded.

Representatives of local authorities may try to confiscate your identification in hopes of receiving a bribe to return them. To reduce this risk in the event of an identification check, try as much as possible to show your identification without lowering your car window.

Law enforcement impersonation

Criminals may impersonate law enforcement officers to extort money from you.

  • If you are stopped by an officer, ask to see proof identity
  • Don't get into a car with strangers, even if they claim to be police officers

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment or verbal abuse.

Advice for women travellers

Tourist infrastructure

Tourist facilities are very limited in Kinshasa and virtually non-existent outside the capital.

  • Plan your trip accordingly
  • Keep a supply of water, food and fuel on hand
  • Bring a cell phone, charger and local emergency numbers

Power outages

Power outages can occur on a nationwide scale.

Local authorities may impose electricity rationing measures.

Power outages sometimes disrupt essential services, such as:

  • public transport, including flights
  • medical services
  • public water supply
  • telecommunications
  • banking
  • purchase of essential goods

Not all buildings have generators.

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

Telecommunications

The telecommunications network is not always reliable. Fixed telephone lines are virtually non-existent, and cell phone coverage can be intermittent.

Internet access may be limited during periods of civil unrest.

  • Don't rely on your cell phone in an emergency, especially outside major cities
  • Avoid traveling alone
  • Inform someone close to you of your itinerary

Public transportation

Public transport in the DRC is neither reliable nor safe.

You can rent a car with or without a driver from rental companies or travel agencies.

If you're going to Kinshasa, make sure someone meets you at the airport.

Avoid using public transport, including cabs, especially after dark.

Buses

Bus routes are not well displayed, and bus stops are poorly located. Vehicles are often overloaded and in very poor condition. Accidents are frequent. 

Only use tour operators offering direct routes from your point of departure.

Taxis and ride-sharing apps

Not all taxis are officially marked, and they generally do not meet safety or mechanical reliability standards. Some ride-sharing apps are available in Kinshasa.

If you need to take a taxi:

  • use an officially marked, reliable cab company recommended by your hotel
  • never share a cab with strangers
  • use a recommended car apps in Kinshasa

Train

Rail service is limited and unsafe. Accidents occur regularly. Poor track conditions and mechanical breakdowns often cause delays. Trains are crowded and often frequented by thieves.

Ferry

Ferries are available in many parts of the country, but most are unsafe. Ferry accidents occur regularly.

If you decide to take a ferry:

  • only use the services of a reliable company
  • always confirm the departure time before arriving at the port
  • make sure the appropriate safety equipment is available
  • don't board a boat that looks overloaded or unseaworthy

Piracy

Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau

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 Congolese 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 at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave from DRC.

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 visa: required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required - students must obtain a tourist visa
Transit visa: required

To enter DRC, Canadians must obtain a visa from the DRC embassy in Ottawa before leaving Canada.

You cannot obtain a visa at a port of entry or at a DRC embassy other than that of your country of residence.

Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada

Difficulties at ports of entry

Travellers going to DRC commonly encounter difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry.

Arrival at N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa can be chaotic. Travellers can sometimes be temporarily detained and asked by security and immigration officers to pay unofficial “special fees.”

Departure tax

All air passengers leaving DRC must pay an airport infrastructure development tax (IDEF) in the amount of US$58 (subject to change without notice). You must obtain proof of payment of the IDEF (called a Go Pass) to be permitted to board your flight. This document is available at special counters in banks or designated institutions, and at airports.

Crossing to Brazzaville

To cross the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville, you must have an entry visa issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

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.

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.

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.

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 – WHO Temporary Recommendations

Polio (poliomyelitis) is an infectious disease that can be prevented by vaccination. It is caused by poliovirus type 1, 2 or 3. Wild poliovirus (WPV1) and/or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV1 or cVDPV3)) is/are present in this destination.

This destination is subject to Temporary Recommendations under the World Health Organization’s polio Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).  

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.
  • Make sure that the polio vaccinations are documented on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. This is the only document accepted as proof of vaccination. It is provided at Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres.
  • Carry the certificate as proof of vaccination.

Proof of vaccination:

  • Travellers who are visiting for longer than 4 weeks may be required to receive a dose of polio vaccine 1 to 12 months before they leave this destination. This may be required even if you have previously received all the recommended polio vaccine doses as part of the routine vaccine schedule in Canada.
  • Make sure that the polio vaccination is documented on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

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.

African trypanosomiasis

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.

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.

Lymphatic filariasis

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by filariae (tiny worms) spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause a range of illnesses. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for lymphatic filariasis although drug treatments exist.

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.

Plague

There is a risk of plague in this country. Plague is a bacterial disease that can cause serious illness, and if left untreated, death.

The occurrence of cases in areas where the plague bacteria are known to circulate can be influenced by weather and environmental conditions. In some countries, this results in seasonal outbreaks.
Travellers to areas where plague routinely occurs may be at risk if they are camping, hunting, or in contact with rodents.

Plague is spread by:

  • bites from fleas infected with the plague
  • direct contact with body fluids or tissues from an animal or person who is sick with or has died from plague

Overall risk to travellers is low. Protect yourself by reducing contact with fleas and potentially infected rodents and other wildlife.

Mpox

Mpox (monkeypox) is a risk in this country. It is a viral disease that can cause serious illness in some circumstances. Risk is generally low for most travellers.

Mpox spreads in 3 ways:

  • from animals to humans through direct contact or by eating or preparing undercooked meat of infected animals or coming into contact with an infected animal's body fluids

  • from person to person through close contact, including direct contact with the skin lesions, blood, body fluids, or mucosal surfaces (such as eyes, mouth, throat, genitalia, anus, or rectum) of an infected person

  • through direct contact with contaminated objects such as bedding and towels, or by sharing personal objects used by an infected person

Follow recommended public health measures and avoid contact with animals such as rodents and primates to help prevent getting or spreading the infection.

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.

Ebola disease

Sporadic outbreaks of Ebola disease occur in this country.

Ebola disease can be caused by 6 different viruses, including Sudan virus and Ebola virus, which spread through contact with infected bodily fluids (from people or animals). It is very serious and often fatal.

Practise good hygiene (frequent and proper hand washing) and avoid contact with the body fluids of people with Ebola disease or unknown illnesses. Avoid contact with wild animals.

Of the different viruses that cause Ebola disease, there is only a vaccine to prevent disease caused by Ebola virus. It is available under certain circumstances; however, it is not authorized for sale in Canada. There are currently no approved vaccines or effective treatments for Ebola disease caused by the other viruses, including Sudan virus.

Medical services and facilities

Health care is adequate in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Public facilities may lack medical supplies and equipment.

Doctors and hospitals generally require immediate payment.  

Medical evacuation is often very costly and may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.

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

Travel health and safety

Medication

Some prescription medications may not be available in the DRC.

If you take prescription medications, you’re responsible for determining their legality in the DRC.

  • Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack them in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a copy of your prescriptions

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.

Drugs

Persons convicted of the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs can expect prison terms and heavy fines.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Identification

Local authorities may ask you to present your passport and visa at any time. In such situations, you should remain calm and cooperative. Failure to comply could result in expulsion.

  • Always carry a certified copy of your passport and visa with you
  • Always keep your original passport in a secure place

Photographs

It is forbidden to take photographs, under penalty of arrest or detention, of the following places:

  • government buildings
  • airports
  • military installations

Dress and behavior

The DRC is a conservative society. Public displays of affection, including holding hands or kissing, are not socially acceptable.

To avoid offending local residents:

  • dress conservatively
  • behave with discretion
  • respect social and religious traditions
  • ask permission before taking their photos

Lèse-majesté

The law forbids disrespecting the head of state, as well as making remarks alleged to threaten national security and malicious comments in public. 

Local authorities have sometimes intimidated, harassed, and arrested journalists, activists, and politicians when they have publicly criticized the government, president or state security forces.

Penalties can be severe, including imprisonment.

Driving

You should carry an International Driving Permit.

International Driving Permit

Other traffic laws

Motorists and pedestrians are required to stop for the raising and the lowering of the national flag at approximately 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day. Failure to do so may result in a fine.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in the DRC.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of the DRC, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

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 the DRC.

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

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in the DRC 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

Money

The currency is the Congolese franc (CDF).

The DRC is a cash-based economy. The US dollar is widely accepted. Shopkeepers and foreign exchange dealers require banknotes to be in good condition (without tears and of recent issue, i.e. US dollars printed after 2009).

Credit cards are generally not accepted, except in certain hotels, restaurants and department stores.

Large hotels have ATMs where cash advances can be made using certain credit cards, but these are not always in operation.

Currency declaration

You must declare:

  • any sum equivalent to more than US$10,000 upon arrival in the country
  • any foreign currency upon exit from the country

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Natural disasters and climate

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from April to October in the north and from November to March in the south. Flash flooding and landslides may occur during these periods and could severely disrupt essential services.

If you are in the affected areas:

  • exercise caution
  • monitor local news and weather reports
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Seismic activity

The DRC is located in an active seismic area. Earthquakes may occur.

Earthquakes - What to Do?

Volcanoes

Volcanic eruptions are common in some parts of the country. Mount Nyiragongo, situated on the edge of Goma, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The latest eruption in May 2021 forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, caused significant damage to infrastructure and resulted in many casualties.   

If you are travelling near an active volcano:

  • exercise caution
  • take official warnings seriously and respect exclusion zones
  • monitor local media to stay up-to-date on latest developments and volcanic activity levels
  • follow the advice of local authorities

Forest fires and bush fires

Forest and bush fires are frequent from June to August. Fire risk ratings and high alert levels may be issued in affected areas. Air quality in an area affected by a forest fire may deteriorate due to thick smoke.

In the event of a major fire:

  • stay away from affected areas, especially if you suffer from respiratory problems
  • prepare to modify your itinerary or even evacuate the area quickly
  • follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel
  • check local media regularly for updates

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.

Consular assistance

Kinshasa - Embassy of Canada
Street Address17, Pumbu Avenue, Gombe Commune, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of CongoPostal AddressP.O. Box 8341, Kinshasa, 1, Congo (Kinshasa)Telephone243 996 021 500Fax243 996 021 510 or 243 996 021 511Emailknsha@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-Democratic-Republic-CongoFacebookEmbassy of Canada to the Democratic Republic of CongoTwitter@CanadaDRCConsular district

Republic of Congo

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa 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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