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Eritrea - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Eritrea. The political situation is highly unstable, due to ongoing tension between Eritrea and neighbouring countries, and could become violent at any time..
If you are residing in Eritrea, maintain close contact with the Consulate of Canada in Asmara. Remain vigilant at all times and monitor local news.
Border between Eritrea and Ethiopia (see Advisory)
You should avoid all travel to the border area between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which extends 25 kilometres north into Eritrea. Political tension remains high between these two countries due to a long-standing territorial conflict. The border is not clearly defined, and border checkpoints remain closed. Military operations may resume in adjoining areas, which constitute a special security zone under a cessation of hostilities agreement. Violent incidents could still occur. Also note the existence of unmarked landmines in these areas. We strongly advise against driving off main and paved roads.
Border between Eritrea and Sudan (see Advisory)
You should avoid all travel to the border area between Eritrea and Sudan, due to continuing instability in eastern Sudan and the risks posed by active Islamic extremist groups. Crime and bomb attacks are often reported. The Sudanese border remains closed, and we strongly advise against attempting to cross it.
Border between Eritrea and Djibouti (see Advisory)
You should avoid all travel to the border areas of Eritrea and Djibouti, where political tension and territorial conflicts continue to cause instability. Border raids could still be carried out, resulting in armed confrontations and other violent incidents. Crime is also reported in this area.
Regional terror groups, including those associated with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Eritrea. The September 21, 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi mall illustrates the threat of attacks on civilians in East Africa. Further attacks cannot be ruled out. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media.
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. You should take the usual security precautions and avoid showing signs of affluence.
Banditry occurs along the coast north of Massawa.
Demonstrations and rallies occur in Eritrea 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. Caution must be exercised when travelling in remote areas or off main roads. Avoid walking and hiking in the countryside.
Contact the Consulate of Canada in Asmara or local authorities to obtain the latest safety and travel information.
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 and cell phone 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, Massawa, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Barentou and Keren, but roads to small villages are unpaved. Road signs and safety guard rails are often non‑existent. There are risks involved in driving, owing to the presence on the road of animals and numerous pedestrians and cyclists.
Public conveyances, especially buses, are 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.
General safety information
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
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.
Tourists must have a regular visa allowing them to travel anywhere in Eritrea. However, employees of non-governmental organizations and of the United Nations, and representatives of foreign governments, must have a special permit to travel to certain areas. It is recommended that you consult the Embassy of Eritrea in Ottawa before you leave.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Official visa: Required
In-transit visa: Required
Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you Eritrean citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. 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.
Dual citizens who enter Eritrea with a Canadian passport may be regarded as citizens of Eritrea. They 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. Eritrean Canadians who enter Eritrea must obtain an exit visa before leaving. 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 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 Protocol of Eritrea, 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.
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.
- Measles: Global Update - April 15, 2016 00:00 EDT
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.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
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 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 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 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 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.
- 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 services and facilities
Medical facilities are very limited. There is a shortage of medications.
It takes some time to get used to high altitudes and low levels of oxygen.
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 & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
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.
Penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.
It is forbidden to photograph government buildings and military facilities.
Dress and behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local residents.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
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 (IDP).
If they return to Eritrea, Eritrean Canadians may have to do compulsory military service. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the nakfa (ERN).
All transactions in Eritrea must be made in the national currency. Foreign currency must be exchanged at a branch of the national bank (Himbol) at the official exchange rate. All travellers arriving in Eritrea must declare, in writing, how much foreign currency they are importing.
Most hotels, restaurants, shops and other establishments do not accept credit cards. The Government of Eritrea expects foreign tourists to pay for accommodations in U.S. dollars or euros.
Natural disasters & 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 assistance after hours call the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum, Sudan and follow the instructions. You may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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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