Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)
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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - information on possible gatherings on Nov. 25 removed.
Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the current political and security situation, particularly due to the approaching transfer of power, which should occur on December 20, 2016, according to the Congolese constitution. You should consider leaving by commercial means before the situation deteriorates further, taking into account that flights leaving Kinshasa are becoming rarer.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Demonstrations related to the electoral process are occurring with increased frequency in Kinshasa and in other large cities. They have been repressed violently by security forces. These demonstrations can be organised very suddenly and can result in acts of violence and attacks, including against international targets. On September 19 and 20, 2016, large-scale demonstrations resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Kinshasa and elsewhere in the country, which resulted in casualties. During large-scale demonstrations, the sole road to the N’Djili Airport in Kinshasa can be blocked and flight schedules can be disrupted.
In the current context, December 19, 2016, (date of the handover of power according to the Congolese Constitution) is a particularly sensitive date and will likely trigger large-scale demonstrations that could lead to violent clashes, and the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa's staff's consular service capacity could become extremely limited. If you choose to remain in DRC despite the advisory in effect, ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date and that you have several days’ worth of water and food supplies. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, and monitor local media. Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive important messages from the embassy of Canada. In the event of violent unrest, the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa could operate at reduced capacity or close without notice.
The situation in the eastern part of the country—including Maniema, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces and the new provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Ituri—remains challenging given 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The DRC government’s ability to impose order throughout the territory is very limited and crime is endemic.
Provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu (see Advisory)
The situation in the Kivus remains volatile. 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. There is a stark increase in cases of kidnappings-for-ransom in North Kivu, including in Goma. Foreigners are increasingly targeted. 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 (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 the information provided by the Congolese authorities and MONUSCO into account in order to help avoid dangerous situations. As is the case throughout the country, the use of public transportation is not advised.
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.
Tanganyika province (see Advisory)
The new 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 are periodically active.
Ituri province (see Advisory)
Despite initial progress on the disarmament of militia groups in the new province of Ituri, armed confrontation continues in the northeastern part of the former province of Orientale. Outside the main city, Bunia, public safety measures are inadequate.
Garamba National Park and border areas with South Sudan and Uganda (see Advisory)
Despite the fact that the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese armed forces and the UN have intensified their operations, 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 (see Advisory)
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 are closed at Bukavu and Goma from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Kinshasa (see Advisory)
It is best to choose a hotel in the country’s capital that is located in the municipality of Gombe, 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 endemic in the DRC as a result of the extreme poverty and the prevailing climate of impunity. A high rate of violent crime and pickpocketing is reported in high-density public areas and on public transportation in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall.
There have been more incidents of individuals posing as police personnel (or who are actual members) and stopping vehicles or pedestrians to extort money.
Avoid walking alone and displaying signs of wealth. Also avoid getting into vehicles with strangers, even if they identify themselves as police officers. While in vehicles, doors must be locked and windows raised. You are advised against leaving the main highways, parking in unsupervised areas and stopping at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people are gathered.
Individuals offering discounted precious metals and diamonds have robbed foreign nationals.
Roadblocks are often set up by people posing as police or military personnel in order to rob people travelling at night. You should beware of civilians wearing police or military uniforms, or posing as members of the police force or the military. On occasion, travellers are detained and questioned by ill-disciplined security forces at certain legitimate military roadblocks throughout the country.
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; these can be obtained at the embassy of Canada in Kinshasa. Your original passport should be stored in a secure place at all times.
You are advised to show your documents through the raised window of the vehicle, when possible, to reduce the risk of temporary confiscation in an attempt to extract a bribe.
You should also check with local authorities to see whether you need to obtain prior authorization for in-country travel.
Canadians who are detained can contact the embassy of Canada in Kinshasa.
Despite the addition of new vehicles in 2013, the public transportation system in Kinshasa and throughout the DRC is not recommended. Routes are not clearly posted, bus stop locations are inadequate and vehicles are often overcrowded. A large number of old and non-roadworthy vans are still in circulation. Taxis are not marked and generally do not meet safety or roadworthiness standards. Private transportation services can be hired at some hotels. It is possible to lease a car with or without a driver through rental companies or travel agencies.
Rail service is unsafe and not recommended. Rail lines are in very poor condition and there are frequent delays because of breakdowns and problems with the lines. Trains are overcrowded and the scene of rampant theft. The N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa may close in a crisis. The airport, located near the parliament building, is difficult to access during demonstrations.
A ferry links Kinshasa and Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo. The service is mainly used by the local population and is not recommended for Canadians. Smaller motor boats also provide service, for a small fee, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. These vessels are often overcrowded and you must line up early to secure a spot. An entry visa issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) is required to cross the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville.
Roads in the DRC are not well maintained and are poorly lit. Drivers are aggressive. Some roads may become impassable during the rainy season, and the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles is recommended, even in some parts of the capital, Kinshasa. The road between Kinshasa and Matadi is now 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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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 or use communication devices that were not acquired or registered in the DRC, including cell phones and hand-held radios. Proceed only when security forces permit you to do so.
General security information
Tourism facilities are very limited in Kinshasa and virtually non-existent outside the capital.
If you are going to Kinshasa, ensure that there is someone to meet you when you arrive at the airport.
Landline and cell phone communication is poor.
Curfews can be imposed without notice. Always comply with the directives issued by local authorities.
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 Congolese 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 Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo 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 DRC, which must be valid for at least 6 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.
To enter the DRC, Canadians must be in possession of a visa, which they must obtain 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.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required (a tourist visa is issued to students)
Transit visa: Required
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). The multiple-entry visa is available at the embassy of the DRC in Ottawa or in Kinshasa at the Direction générale de migration, 65 Boulevard du 30 juin (next to the Regideso building), Gombe.
Difficulties at ports of entry
Travellers going to the DRC commonly encounter difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry. Arrival at the 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.”
Travellers reporting to a border post without the required documents are liable to be 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). 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 airports.
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.
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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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
New medical facilities in Kinshasa provide adequate care but, with a few exceptions, health care services and medical equipment are rudimentary. They are inadequate throughout the rest of the country. Any serious illness, injury or surgery outside Kinshasa requires air evacuation, which 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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
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.
Taking photographs in public places, including at N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa, is prohibited and could lead to arrest and detention.
Persons convicted of the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs can expect prison terms and heavy fines.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If local authorities consider you a Congolese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. 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 Congolese passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the Congolese franc (CDF). Payments can be made in foreign currency, particularly U.S. dollars. Merchants and foreign exchange dealers require that foreign currency is in good condition (not torn) and recently issued (featuring large heads), due to the amount of counterfeit currency in circulation.
Credit cards are not generally accepted, except by certain hotels, restaurants and major stores. We recommend that you systematically check and keep all hotel bills. Major hotels now have automated banking machines (ABMs), from which you can obtain a cash advance with certain credit cards; however, they do not always work. Foreigners can be targeted after using an ABM. As expenses are very high, you must carry significant amounts of cash and should therefore be very cautious when withdrawing cash, even in hotels.
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 regional 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 call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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