Iraq travel advice

Latest updates: The Need help? section was updated.

Last updated: ET

On this page

Risk level

Iraq - AVOID ALL TRAVEL

Avoid all travel to Iraq due to a continued volatile, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous security situation. If you are in Iraq, consider departing by commercial means if it is safe to do so.

Back to top

Safety and security

Threats to foreigners

The threat of attacks against Western interests and of terrorist attacks in general continues to be real. Foreigners could be prime kidnapping-for-money targets for criminal and terrorist groups.

  • Stay in secure, guarded accommodations
  • Travel with close protection teams at all times, and take all necessary security precautions
  • You should employ a professional security company and follow their advice for the duration of your stay

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism in Iraq. Car bombings, vehicle ambushes, drones, mortar and rocket attacks occur weekly across the country. Further attacks are likely, particularly during religious or public holidays. The security situation could worsen with little warning. Attacks have also targeted residential areas to maximize casualties.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • Iraqi security forces
  • large public gatherings
  • public areas and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. The risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time remains high.

Border areas

Avoid travelling to border areas. You may encounter serious problems with local authorities when crossing borders or risk of injury or death as a result of ongoing clashes, air strikes or other violent incidents that are common to border areas in Iraq. People suspected of illegally crossing the Iraq-Syria border risk being detained by the Iraqi authorities and charged with terrorism, which can result in capital punishment.

Crime

Crime, including carjackings, robberies, kidnapping and corruption, is common. Security conditions get much worse after dark in most areas. Violent conflicts involving organized criminals, street gangs, militants, rival militias and Iraqi security forces pose grave dangers.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.

Advice for women travellers

Demonstrations

Violent demonstrations and attacks are common throughout Iraq.

Clashes between protestors and security forces can occur. Security forces may use tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition to disperse crowds.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Checkpoints

Security checkpoints are common across the country. An Iraqi police or army uniform is not a guarantee that the wearer is operating in an official capacity.

  • Be very respectful and cooperate fully at security checkpoints
  • Exercise particular caution at ad hoc checkpoints, where murders, kidnappings and robberies frequently occur

Curfews

Authorities impose curfews on short notice throughout the country. Monitor local media in order to stay informed.

Cellular Network

Telecommunications services are very poor or non-existent in remote areas. Cellular network coverage is widespread in major cities.

The Arba’ een

The Arba’ een is an annual pilgrimage that has the potential to attract a large number of pilgrims each year.

The next event will take place around September 5, 2023.

Before and during the pilgrimage, you can expect:

  • an increased police surveillance
  • a higher volume of traffic
  • street closures
  • transportation delays
  • limited available accommodations

Be alert at all times if you travel to Iraq during the pilgrimage. Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Piracy

Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters, particularly in the northern Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Drivers do not respect traffic laws and speeding and tailgating are common practices.

Travel by road remains highly dangerous. Fatal roadside bombings and attacks on military and civilian vehicles continue to happen. There is also a risk of carjacking and robbery.

Due to the country’s high liability risk, it is difficult to obtain car insurance.

Public Transportation

Busses

Busses run irregularly and routes are subject to frequent changes. Rundown transit vehicles are frequently involved in accidents.

Trains

Avoid travelling by rail, as the railroad is old and poorly maintained.

Mosul Dam

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, along the Tigris River as well as areas adjoining the dam. A failure of the Mosul Dam cannot be predicted. Monitor local media reports and prepare contingency plans. The Government of Canada cannot provide consular services if there is a dam failure.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Back to top

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 Iraqi authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

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 from the date of entry into Iraq.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

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.

Useful links

Visas

Canadians must have a visa to visit Iraq.

After 10 days in the country, you must register your arrival with the Iraqi Residence Office (Ministry of Interior). After three months in Iraq, you must apply for a one-year residence permit.

You will be subject to additional screening measures prior to being issued an Iraqi visa if your passport contains an Israeli visa or border stamp. This does not apply to Canadians travelling to the region of Kurdistan.  

Kurdistan Region of Iraq

You can obtain a 30-day visa for Kurdistan upon arrival at both Erbil International Airport and Sulaymaniyah International Airport. If you plan to travel outside of Kurdistan to other regions of Iraq, you must obtain an Iraqi visa prior to travelling to Iraq. If you are leaving via the airport in Baghdad without a visa, you may be required to pay a penalty fee at departure. 

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Back to top

Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

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.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

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. 

Hepatitis A

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.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.

* 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.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Rabies

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). 

Measles

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

 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.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 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.

COVID-19

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.

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. 

Cholera

Risk

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.

Travellers' diarrhea

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

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.  

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.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin.  In some cases, it can be fatal.  It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick.  Risk is generally low for most travellers.  Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock.  There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

Cutaneous and mucosal Leishmaniasis

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.

Animal precautions

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.

Avian Influenza

Human cases of avian influenza have been reported in this destination. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases it can infect mammals, including people. The risk is low for most travellers.

Avoid contact with birds, including wild, farm, and backyard birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs and wild game, are properly cooked.

Travellers with a higher risk of exposure include those: 

  • visiting live bird/animal markets or poultry farms
  • working with poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks)
  • hunting, de-feathering, field dressing and butchering wild birds and wild mammals
  • working with wild birds for activities such as research, conservation, or rehabilitation
  • working with wild mammals, especially those that eat wild birds (e.g., foxes)

All eligible people are encouraged to get the seasonal influenza shot, which will protect them against human influenza viruses. While the seasonal influenza shot does not prevent infection with avian influenza, it can reduce the chance of getting sick with human and avian influenza viruses at the same time.

Person-to-person infections

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

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.

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is limited in availability. Medical facilities in Iraq are scarce. You will likely need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

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.

Back to top

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.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long detention or even the death penalty.

Alcohol

A new law is prohibiting importing, manufacturing, and selling alcoholic beverages. It is being challenged in court, and its application at ports of entry and inside Iraq remains unclear. You should nonetheless avoid travelling to Iraq with alcohol or risk heavy fines if convicted.

Do not drink alcohol outside licensed facilities. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Although the laws of Iraq do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iraq.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Iraq.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Iraq, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

Travellers with dual citizenship

Custody

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.

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 Iraq.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Iraq by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Iraq 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.

Useful links

Religion

Religious preaching is forbidden.

Islamic practices and beliefs form the basis of the country’s customs, laws and regulations.

To avoid offending local sensitivities:

  • dress conservatively
  • behave discreetly
  • respect religious and social traditions

Ramadan

In 2025, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around February 28.

In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when:

  • drinking
  • eating
  • smoking

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

Identification

You must carry photo identification as well as a legally certified copy of your visa and registration at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport, visa and registration in a safe place, in case they are lost or confiscated.

Customs

Customs authorities strictly enforce regulations concerning the import or export of pieces of art and antiquities. It is strictly forbidden to take antiquities, archeological finds or antique carpets out of Iraq.

There are strict laws regarding:

  • purchase and exportation of antiquities and objects of special significance to the country's cultural heritage
  • access, excavation, research, filming and photographing of archeological sites

To avoid any difficulties, make sure you:

  • obtain and carry the required legal paperwork to purchase or export antiquities
  • have the proper permit to conduct activities related to cultural heritage and archeological sites

Failure to comply can lead to severe punishment, including heavy fines, jail sentences and possibly the death penalty.

Money

The currency is the Iraqi dinar (IQD). The economy is primarily cash-based. U.S. dollars are accepted. There are very few ATM’s.

You cannot leave Iraq with more than US$10,000 in cash, unless you declared the amount when you entered the country.

Back to top

Natural disasters and climate

Dust storms

The weather is very dry and hot from May to October. Sand storms and dust storms may occur any time, particularly during the summer months.

Sand-laden winds can blow at high speeds for days, creating difficult driving conditions. Poor visibility can also affect flights. These storms can also cause respiratory problems, which can be fatal for some individuals.

During a storm:

  • stay indoors
  • keep windows closed
  • follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

Flooding

Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

  • Avoid the affected areas
  • Keep informed of regional weather forecasts
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Back to top

Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research the contact information for local police and medical facilities, and carry it with you.

Consular assistance

The ability of the Embassy of Canada in Baghdad to provide consular and other support throughout Iraq is severely limited. Until further notice, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for emergency consular assistance.

Erbil - Representative Office of Canada
Street AddressRotana HotelPostal AddressGulan StreetFacebookCanada in IraqTwitterCanada in IraqConsular district

Kurdistan, Iraq

Baghdad - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressEmbassy of CanadaPostal AddressBritish Embassy Compound, International Zone Baghdad, IraqTelephone+964 783 303 5357Emailbghdd.consular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/iraq-irak/baghdad-bagdad.aspx?lang=engFacebookCanada in IraqTwitterCanada in Iraq

For emergency consular assistance, you may contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

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.

Date modified: