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Eritrea - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Eritrea, with the exception of the capital, Asmara. Ongoing tension between Eritrea and neighbouring countries could degenerate into conflict at any time.
Asmara - Exercise a high degree of caution
You should exercise a high degree of caution in Asmara.
Border areas of Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti - Avoid all travel
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Border between Eritrea and Djibouti (see Advisory)
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 (see Advisory)
Political and military tensions remain high between Eritrea and Ethiopia due to a long-standing territorial conflict. Military operations may resume at any time in adjoining areas. The border is not clearly defined and border checkpoints remain closed. Avoid driving off main and paved roads as there remain unmarked landmines.
Border between Eritrea and Sudan (see Advisory)
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.
The situation is relatively stable in Asmara. Avoid walking alone at night. See Crime below for more information.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings at all times 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, including petty theft and robbery, is infrequent in Asmara and in other towns and villages. However, there has been an increase in pickpocketing and harassment against foreigners. Crime is more common in border areas. You should take the usual security precautions and avoid showing signs of affluence.
Banditry occurs along the coast north of Massawa.
Demonstrations occasionally occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report, published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Landline telephone, cell phone and Internet networks are unreliable and often limited to a few hours of service a day in major cities.
Avoid travelling in rural areas after nightfall. Paved roads connect the major cities of Asmara, Barentu, Dekemhare, Keren, Massawa and Mendefera, but roads to small villages are unpaved. Road signs and safety guard rails are often non-existent. There are risks involved in driving, due to the presence of animals, numerous pedestrians and cyclists on the road.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Eritrean authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the State of Eritrea 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 Eritrea, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Official visa: Required
In-transit visa: Required
All visas must be obtained prior to travel.
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. See Travelling as a dual citizen and Laws and culture for more information.
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 (DOT), 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
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
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 vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- 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 provider.
- 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 East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
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 for children, 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 provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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 in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this 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.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and 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 facilities are very limited. There is a shortage of medications.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.
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.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
The laws of Eritrea prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Eritrea.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
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. 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 nakfa (ERN).
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.
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.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & 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 and plan accordingly.
Earthquakes and volcanoes
Eritrea is situated in an earthquake and volcanic zone. Carry contact information for the Consulate of Canada in Asmara, in case of emergency.
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 - Consulate 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. 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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