Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)
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Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the current political and security situation.
Eastern and northeastern areas of the DRC - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the eastern and northeastern areas of the DRC, in particular:
- the provinces of:
- North Kivu
- South Kivu
- Tanganyika (northeastern area of the former province of Katanga);
- Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Ituri (northeastern area of the former province of Orientale)
- points of entry to Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda
- areas bordering South Sudan (including the Garamba National Park) and Uganda
If you are currently in these areas, you should regularly review the situation to determine whether your continued presence in the area is warranted.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The security situation in the DRC is unpredictable. It could deteriorate suddenly because a political agreement reached on December 31, 2016, has yet to be implemented.
Large-scale demonstrations could occur at any time and lead to violence, in Kinshasa and other large cities. During large-scale demonstrations, the only road to N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa can be blocked and flight schedules can be disrupted.
Riots and demonstrations may occur sporadically along Matadi Road and cause road closures with little or no notice. Attacks on vehicles along this road are also becoming more frequent. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and monitor media.
Curfews can be imposed without notice. Always comply with the directives issued by local authorities.
In the eastern part of the country—including Maniema, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika and the provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Ituri—the situation remains challenging. This is because of the continued presence of armed groups and their regular clashes with the Congolese armed forces (FARCD), whether or not they are backed by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
The DRC government has difficulty imposing order throughout the territory, and crime is rampant.
Provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu
Virunga national park in North Kivu province is closed to visitors until the end of 2018 due to an increase in the number of violent incidents reported in recent months.
Situation in the Kivus
The situation in the Kivus remains unstable. Armed conflicts continue in some areas outside provincial capitals, despite the signing of peace accords and the presence of UN forces.
Members of various armed groups continue to plunder and commit violent crimes against civilians, including murder, kidnapping, armed assault and rape. The FARCD, sometimes with the assistance of MONUSCO, has been fighting armed groups in order to eradicate them. The resulting humanitarian crisis has led to significant population movements.
Caution is advised in Goma (the capital of North Kivu) and Bukavu (capital of South Kivu), although the situation in those cities is more stable. It is very important that you take into account the information provided by Congolese authorities and MONUSCO, to help avoid dangerous situations.
The use of public transportation here is not advised, as is the case throughout the country.
The North Kivu territories of Beni, Masisi, Rutshuru and Walikale and South Kivu’s Kabare and Shabunda are particularly dangerous. In the Kivus, military operations to eradicate elements of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) could lead to a deterioration of safety in different areas outside the two capitals.
Local businesses and services, including airports, are often disrupted in these provinces.
If you are in North Kivu or South Kivu, you must continually reassess the situation to determine whether your continued presence in the area is warranted.
The province of Tanganyika, and especially Manono Territory in the northeastern part of the former province of Katanga, is the theatre of an ethnic conflict between the Pygmies and the Luba. The Mai-Mai militia periodically re-engage.
Despite initial progress on the disarmament of militia groups in the province of Ituri, armed confrontation continues in the northeastern part of the former province of Orientale. Outside Ituri’s main city, Bunia, public safety measures are inadequate.
Garamba National Park and border areas with South Sudan and Uganda
Despite the intensified operations by the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese armed forces and the UN, the Lord’s Resistance Army continues to commit acts of violence against the civilian population. Many people have been killed and thousands have fled the region.
Points of entry from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda
Points of entry from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda should be avoided at all times because of continuing insecurity and lawlessness in those areas. The DRC borders with Burundi and Rwanda can be closed on short notice.
The border crossings between the DRC and Rwanda at Bukavu and Goma are closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Since 2017, clashes have resulted in hundreds of deaths in the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï‑Central and Kasaï‑Oriental. There is also a risk of kidnapping.
You should choose a hotel in the country’s capital that is located in the municipality of Gombe, which is both the seat of government and the business sector.
Be extremely cautious outside Gombe and use only reliable means of transportation (see Public transportation).
Avoid any travel after dark.
Crime is rampant in the DRC as a result of the extreme poverty and the prevailing climate of impunity.
Violent crime and pickpocketing occur in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall in crowded public areas and on public transportation.
Some police, or individuals posing as police personnel, stop motorists or pedestrians to extort money.
Avoid walking alone and displaying signs of wealth. Avoid getting into vehicles with strangers, even if they identify themselves as police officers. Always keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed. Do not leave the main highways and do not park in unsupervised areas. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or near a crowd.
Individuals offering discounted precious metals and diamonds have robbed foreign nationals.
ATM fees are very high, so people often withdraw significant amounts of cash in one transaction. Thieves target foreigners who withdraw cash from an ATM. Therefore, be very cautious when withdrawing cash, even in hotels.
Local authorities may increase the number of checkpoints at night, especially:
- in Gombe
- in Kintambo, Limete, Mont Ngafula, N’Djili, Ngaba and Ngaliema
- around Camp Kokolo
Carry government-issued identification (carte rose, carte grise and driver’s licence) at all times and comply with local authorities’ instructions.
If approached by an officer, ask to see his/her credentials. Criminals could try to impersonate law enforcement officers in an attempt to rob you.
There is an increase in cases of kidnappings-for-ransom in the provinces of Maniema, South Kivu and North Kivu, including in Goma. Foreigners are increasingly targeted.
Be vigilant at all times and have varied and unpredictable routes and schedules.
In general, roads in the DRC are not well maintained and are poorly lit.
Some roads may become impassable during the rainy season. You should use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, even in some parts of the capital, Kinshasa.
The road between Kinshasa and Matadi is paved, but the risk of being in an accident is very high because vehicles are poorly maintained, overcrowded and often abandoned on the poorly lit road.
Drivers are aggressive.
Local authorities may try to confiscate your identity documents in an attempt to extract a bribe. To reduce this risk, if you are stopped for an identity check, show your documents through the raised window of the vehicle.
You should also check with local authorities to see if you need to obtain prior authorization for in-country travel.
You should not use the public transportation system in the DRC. Routes are not clearly posted, bus stops are poorly located and vehicles are often overcrowded. A large number of old vans in very poor condition are still in circulation.
Not all taxis are marked and they generally do not meet safety or roadworthiness standards. Use only officially recognized taxis.
Private transportation services can be hired at some hotels.
It is possible to rent a car with or without a driver through rental companies or travel agencies.
Rail service is unsafe and you should not travel by train. There are frequent delays because of the poor state of the rail lines and mechanical breakdowns. Trains are overcrowded and are often frequented by thieves .
A ferry links Kinshasa and Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The service is mainly used by the local population and you should not use it. Smaller motor boats also provide service. These vessels are often overcrowded and you must line up early to secure a spot.
Presidential and other official motorcades pose hazards to motorists and pedestrians.
Motorists must pull over when sirens or security forces indicate a motorcade.
Do not take photographs of motorcades using communication devices that were not acquired or registered in the DRC, including cell phones and hand-held radios.
Proceed on your way only when security forces permit you to do so.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
In a crisis, N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa may close.
The parliament building is located on the road to the airport. When demonstrations are at the site, the airport is difficult to access.
General security information
Tourism facilities are very limited in Kinshasa and virtually non-existent outside the capital. Plan your trip in advance to reduce the risk to your safety.
If you are going to Kinshasa, ensure that there is someone to meet you when you arrive at the airport.
Telephone communication is poor, including with a cell phone.
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 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 at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave from the DRC.
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.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required (Students must obtain a tourist visa)
Transit visa: Required
To enter the DRC, Canadians must obtain a visa from the DRC embassy in Ottawa before leaving Canada.
Visas are not available at ports of entry, and it is not possible to obtain a visa at DRC embassies outside of one’s country of residence.
A multiple-entry visa is required for foreigners who want to enter the DRC more than once (this is often the case with travellers using the ferry service between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, Congo). The multiple-entry visa is available at the embassy of the DRC in Ottawa or in Gombe, Kinshasa, at the DRC’s immigration department (Direction générale de migration), 65 Boulevard du 30 juin (next to the Regideso building).
Difficulties at ports of entry
Travellers going to the 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.”
If you report to a border post without the required documents, you risk being turned back and expelled by immigration control officers.
Upon entry, all foreigners (resident and non-resident) must declare all amounts of currency exceeding the equivalent of US$10,000. Similarly, all foreign currency must be declared when leaving the country.
All air passengers leaving the 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 about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo - August 9, 2018
- Cholera in Africa and Western Asia (Yemen) - August 8, 2018
- Polio : vaccine advice - June 29, 2018
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 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.
Polio - Temporary Vaccine Recommendation
Polio is present 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.
Temporary vaccine recommendation:
- If you are staying more than 4 weeks in this country, you may need a booster dose of the polio vaccine.
- Proof of polio vaccination may be requested when you enter or leave the country.
- See your health care professional to find out if you need the polio vaccine before your trip.
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 professional.
- 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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care professional the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
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 visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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.
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.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
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.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common close to fast-flowing rivers and streams. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- 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 professional 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 some areas of Central Africa, like ebola, rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Ebola virus disease
There is currently an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in this country. Ebola virus disease is caused by a virus that is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids (from people or animals). It is a rare, but very serious and often fatal, disease. Avoid contact with body fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses. Avoid contact with wild animals. There is currently no licensed vaccine or treatment to prevent or treat EVD.
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
New medical facilities in Kinshasa provide adequate care but, with a few exceptions, medical equipment and health-care services are rudimentary. They are inadequate throughout the rest of the country.
If you travel beyond Kinshasa, you will need air evacuation for any serious illness, injury or surgery. Such an evacuation is very expensive and often requires payment upfront.
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.
Local authorities may ask you to present your passport and visa at any time. In such situations, you are advised to 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.
Persons convicted of the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs can expect prison terms and heavy fines.
Taking photographs in public places, including at N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa, is prohibited and could lead to arrest and detention.
You should carry an 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. Policemen and/or military personnel often detain and fine people who fail to do so.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
The currency is the Congolese franc (CDF).
Payments can be made in foreign currency, particularly U.S. dollars. Merchants and foreign exchange dealers require that foreign currency be in good condition (not torn) and recently issued (U.S. dollars printed after 2009), due to the amount of counterfeit currency in circulation.
Credit cards are not generally accepted, except by certain hotels, restaurants and major stores. Systematically check and keep all hotel bills.
Major hotels have ATMs from which you can obtain a cash advance with certain credit cards; however, they do not always work.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from April to October in the north and from November to March in the south. Some roads may be impassable during these periods. You should remain informed of weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
The DRC is located in an active seismic area.
Volcanic eruptions are common in some parts of the country. Mount Nyiragongo, situated on the edge of Goma, has erupted many times in the past and has been showing signs of eruption. While it remains at alert level “yellow,” which means that there is no immediate danger, exercise a high degree of caution and closely follow the advice of local authorities. You should monitor news reports and volcanic activity levels, and carry the address and telephone number of the Canadian embassy in Kinshasa with you, should there be an emergency.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
Kinshasa - Embassy of Canada
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.
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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