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Iraq - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Iraq, excluding the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The security situation throughout Iraq is very volatile, dangerous and unpredictable, and could deteriorate further with very little warning. If you are in Iraq, consider departing by commercial means if it is safe to do so.
The Kurdistan Regional Government-controlled provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, which are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The security situation in the Kurdistan region could deteriorate quickly.
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
If you are currently in Iraq, consider departing by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If you decide to travel to Iraq despite this advisory, be extremely confident in your security arrangements, assess the risks of travelling in Iraq, monitor local developments closely and register with and closely follow messages issued through our Registration of Canadians Abroad service. Due to the unpredictable security situation, the Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance in all parts of Iraq is severely limited. Monitor local news reports and instructions from local authorities closely, and remain alert to your surroundings at all times.
Since March 2013, the number and intensity of security incidents and sectarian-related violence have increased across Iraq. Popular targets include Iraqi security forces, government offices and large public gatherings. Some attacks have also targeted residential areas to maximize casualties.
Iraqi military efforts to retake Mosul from Daesh fighters may lead to increased levels of insecurity in other cities across Iraq, as fighters leave Mosul and seek to carry out attacks elsewhere. The security situation in Iraq remains extremely volatile and could deteriorate suddenly.
Extremist insurgents led by Daesh have threatened to push to Baghdad and regions further south. Attacks in KRG-controlled towns to the southwest of Erbil occurred in early August 2014. Following the targeted airstrikes against Daesh in northern Iraq by coalition forces, there are heightened threats of attacks against Western interests and of kidnapping of foreigners.
Potential Arab-Kurd violence is also of concern. Iraq’s internal stability is further undermined by the ongoing political situation, in which government officials compete for power along ethnic and sectarian lines.
Car bombings, vehicle ambushes and mortar and rocket attacks occur regularly across the country, including in Baghdad and the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad, resulting in numerous fatalities. These attacks are coordinated, and result in many casualties among bystanders. The risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time remains high.
Armed clashes between Iraqi security forces and militants have been taking place in the province of Anbar since the beginning of 2014, with the most severe fighting concentrated in Qaim and Rawa. Numerous casualties have been reported and thousands of residents have fled the province.
KRG-controlled provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah (see Advisory)
Areas under KRG control remain vulnerable to the impacts of both regional instability and internal tensions. Some areas in northern Iraq are still under Daesh control. Extremist insurgents led by Daesh are responsible for attacks on KRG-controlled areas, including towns southwest of Erbil. If you are in the Kurdistan region, you should take precautions to leave areas close to the conflict. Areas liberated from Daesh are still dangerous because of remaining mines or other explosives hazards. The region could encounter a rise in terrorist attacks as Daesh loses further territory. Exercise a heightened level of vigilance and plan your security measures accordingly.
Given the very volatile security situation, you may be denied entry into or exit from KRG-controlled areas at border points in Iraq. Your movements inside the KRG-controlled areas may also be restricted by security forces.
Threats to foreigners
The threat to foreigners is very high; foreigners present a prime kidnapping target for criminal and terrorist groups hoping to extort money.
Stay in secure, guarded accommodations, travel with close protection teams at all times and take all necessary security precautions if you decide to travel to Iraq. You are strongly advised to consider employing a professional security company and to adhere to their advice for the duration of your stay. You are also strongly advised to acquire comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.
Demonstrations and retaliatory attacks are common throughout the country, and typically result in deaths and injuries. There is greater unrest in the western and northern provinces due to ongoing Sunni protests and increased militant activity. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Crime and corruption are rampant. Carjackings and robberies are common. Security conditions deteriorate after nightfall in most areas. Violent conflicts involving organized criminal elements, street gangs, militant groups, rival militias and Iraqi security forces pose grave dangers.
Security checkpoints have proliferated in Baghdad and in other parts of Iraq. Be very respectful and cooperate fully at security checkpoints. An Iraqi police or army uniform is not a guarantee that the wearer is operating in an official capacity. Exercise particular caution at ad hoc checkpoints, where murders, kidnappings and robberies frequently occur.Border areas
Avoid travelling to border areas. Iraqi forces are attempting to contain the effects of the deteriorating security situation in Syria, and Kurdish rebel groups are frequent targets of military operations into Turkey and northwest Iran. You may encounter serious problems with local authorities when crossing porous borders.
Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.
Motorists frequently disobey traffic rules, including traffic lights, yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks and yielding the right of way. Speeding and tailgating are common practices.
Due to the country’s high liability risk, it is difficult to obtain car insurance.
Travel by road is not safe. Although travel at night is especially dangerous, attacks are also common during the day.
The road leading to the Baghdad International Airport has been targeted by several attacks.
Buses run irregularly and routes are subject to frequent changes. Rundown transit vehicles are frequently involved in accidents.
Avoid travelling by rail, as the railroad is old and poorly maintained.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Curfews may be imposed on short notice throughout the country. Monitor local media in order to stay informed of changes.
The Government of Iraq has begun to take measures to improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. A dam failure could cause significant flooding and disruptions to essential services from Mosul to Baghdad, particularly along the Tigris River, as well as in areas adjoining the dam. A failure of the Mosul dam cannot be predicted; therefore, you should monitor local media reports and prepare contingency plans. The government of Canada will not be able to provide consular services in the event of a dam failure.
Carry photo identification as well as a legally certified copy of your visa and registration at all times. Keep your passport and visa in safekeeping facilities.
Telecommunications services are very poor or non-existent in remote areas. Cellular network coverage is widespread in major cities.
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 Iraqi 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 Republic of Iraq 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.
Entry or re-entry into Iraq from other countries is problematic, and you may be refused permission to enter.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Iraq, 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 be in possession of a visa to visit Iraq. You will require a visit visa if you remain in Iraq for less than five days. After 10 days in the country, you must renew your visa at the Iraqi Residence Office (Ministry of Interior). After three months in Iraq, you must apply for a one-year residence permit to regularize your entry visa.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Polio : vaccine advice - February 24, 2017 00:00 EST
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - July 12, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Avian Influenza (H5N1): Global Update - April 21, 2015 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.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
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 no 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 not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- 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.
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 Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. 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.
- 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 Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- There is a limited risk of malaria in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an 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.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country.
Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds. In rare cases, it can infect people.
- avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets
- avoid areas where poultry may be slaughtered
- avoid contact with birds (alive or dead)
- avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them
- ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked
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 in Iraq are scarce and below Western standards.
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.
The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.
An international driving permit is required.
Illegal or restricted activities
Religious proselytizing is forbidden.
The use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect a long detention or even death penalties.
Do not drink alcohol outside licensed facilities. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.
You cannot leave Iraq with more than US$10,000 in cash, unless it was declared when you entered the country.
It is strictly prohibited to take antiquities, archaeological finds or antique carpets out of Iraq, in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its first protocol.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Iraq. If local authorities consider you an Iraqi 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 an Iraqi 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.
According to Iraqi law, the child of a male Iraqi national is considered an Iraqi national. Even if the name of the child is written in the mother’s foreign passport, Iraqi authorities may consider the child an Iraqi national and the child will require the father’s permission to travel.
Islamic practices and beliefs form the basis of the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
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 currency is the Iraqi dinar (IQD). The economy is primarily cash-based. U.S. dollars are accepted; credit cards and traveller’s cheques are not accepted. There are very few automated banking machines.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Iraq is subject to sandstorms and dust storms, as well as flooding caused by heavy rains.
The weather is very dry and hot from May to October.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 104
- medical assistance: 122
- firefighters: 115
You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada in Amman, Jordan.
Amman - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Amman, Jordan 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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