Eritrea travel advice
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- Safety and security
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Eritrea - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Eritrea due to ongoing tensions and conflict with neighbouring countries.
Border areas of Ethiopia and Sudan - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the areas within 50 km of the borders with Ethiopia and Sudan.
Border area of Djibouti - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the area within 25 km of the border with Djibouti.
Safety and security
Military Operations in Tigray
The Eritrean military called for a mobilization of armed forces on September 15, 2022.
A cessation of hostilities agreement was signed on November 2, 2022 between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). The agreement has yet to be fully implemented and there remains uncertainty regarding its implications for security along the Eritrean borders with Ethiopia and the Sudan.
Additional security measures could be imposed in Eritrea on short notice.
If you are in Eritrea:
- limit your movements
- ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date
- monitor local media to stay informed on the evolving situation
Border between Eritrea and Djibouti
Political tension and territorial conflicts continue to cause instability in the area by the Eritrean–Djiboutian border. Border raids could be carried out and can result in armed confrontations and other violent incidents. Crime is also of concern in this area.
Border between Eritrea and Ethiopia
Armed conflicts involving Eritrean forces have been taking place in the Tigray region of Ethiopia since early November 2020. In late 2020, several explosions were reported in Asmara. Although the situation in Ethiopia has somewhat stabilized, the conflict continues in the Tigray region and the situation near the border remains volatile.
All border crossings between Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently closed. There are also unmarked landmines in the border area. You should avoid all travel within 50km of the border with Ethiopia.
If you must travel in this region despite this advisory:
- stay on the main paved roads
- do not walk in the countryside
Border between Eritrea and Sudan
The presence of rebel groups in the area next to Eritrea’s border with Sudan poses a risk. Crime and bomb attacks occur. The border remains closed: do not attempt to cross it.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Terrorist targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
Street crime is infrequent in Asmara and in other towns and villages. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs and is targeted towards foreigners. Crime is more common in border areas.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Avoid showing signs of affluence
Banditry occurs along the coast north of Massawa.
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Due to the closure of many of Eritrea’s water purification and bottling plants, there is a generalized drinking water supply problem.
- Plan to have adequate water supplies
- Ensure that your emergency kit is complete
Landmines continue to cause occasional injury and death. Many areas are mined. Exercise caution in remote areas or off main roads. Avoid walking and hiking in the countryside.
Landline telephone, cell phone and Internet networks are unreliable and often limited to a few hours of service a day in major cities.
Paved roads connect the major cities of Asmara, Barentu, Dekemhare, Keren, Massawa and Mendefera, but roads to small villages are unpaved.
Driving can be dangerous due to:
- lack of road signs;
- lack of safety guard rails;
- the presence of animals, numerous pedestrians and cyclists on the road.
Avoid travelling in rural areas after nightfall./p>
Public transportation, especially buses, is often overcrowded. Many taxis are available, but they often take several passengers and follow predetermined itineraries. If you pay a higher fare, you may ask a driver in advance not to take other passengers.
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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 the Eritrean authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives 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 Eritrea.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
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.
Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
Official visa: required
In-transit visa: required
All visas must be obtained prior to travel. Obtaining a visa can take a very long time. Apply well in advance of your planned departure.
You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Note, however, that dual citizens must have an Eritrean national ID card, or at least have applied for one, before they can obtain an Eritrean visa in their Canadian passport. Dual citizens who enter Eritrea must obtain an exit visa before leaving the country. Exit visa applications may be denied or cause delays in planning a trip, even for people who have entered Eritrea legally.
A departure tax must be paid at the airport in nakfas or in U.S. dollars.
Travel permit outside Asmara
All foreign nationals, including employees of non-governmental organizations and of the United Nations, must obtain a travel permit from the Government of Eritrea for all travel outside Asmara. Foreign nationals living or working outside Asmara must also obtain a travel permit to travel outside the area where they live or work. Travel regulations are strictly enforced throughout Eritrea, and there are numerous military checkpoints. The Department of Tourism, in Asmara, processes applications for travel permits. If you obtain permission to travel outside Asmara and you experience problems, Canadian officials could be limited in their capacity to provide consular assistance. The restrictions on travel outside of Asmara also apply to diplomats.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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.
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.
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.
- There is low potential for yellow fever exposure in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination.
Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. 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.
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).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified this country as no longer poliovirus-infected but at high risk of an outbreak. Polio can be prevented by vaccination.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. 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.
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.
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 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 (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.
Medical services and facilities
Good health care is limited in availability.
There is a shortage of medications.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
The laws of Eritrea prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Eritrea.
It is forbidden to photograph government buildings and military facilities.
To drive in Eritrea, you must have a local driver’s licence. To obtain one, you must present a valid Canadian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit.
Dress and behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local residents.
In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when:
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Eritrea.
If local authorities consider you an Eritrean citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services.
Dual citizens returning to Eritrea may have to do compulsory military service.
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 Eritrea.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Eritrea by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Eritrea 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.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
The currency is the nakfa (ERN).
On arrival, travellers must declare, in writing, all foreign currency they are importing in excess of US$10,000 or the equivalent in other foreign currencies.
Credit cards are not accepted as a method of payment for everyday transactions. They are made in cash, using the nakfa. However, the Government of Eritrea expects foreign tourists to pay for accommodations in foreign currency.
Foreign currency must be exchanged at a branch of the Himbol Exchange at the official exchange rate.
You can’t take more than 500 nakfa out of the country. Offenders can have their money confiscated or face prosecution.
Natural disasters and climate
The rainy season extends from June to September. During this period, most regions of Eritrea are accessible except for the western lowlands, where roads are unpaved.
- Keep informed of weather forecasts
- Plan accordingly
Earthquakes and volcanoes
Eritrea is situated in an earthquake and volcanic zone.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 291 (1) 127 799
- medical assistance: 291 (1) 202 914 / 291 (1) 202 917 / 291 (1) 202 606
- firefighters: 291 (1) 202 099
Asmara - Honorary consul of Canada
Khartoum - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum, Sudan, 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, 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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