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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - potentially increased tensions and localized violence during Kurdish independence referendum.
Iraq - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Iraq, excluding the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), due to a very volatile, dangerous and unpredictable security situation. If you are in Iraq, consider departing by commercial means if it is safe to do so.
KRG-controlled provinces of Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the provinces of Dohuk, Erbil (except the Qandil Mountains) and Sulaymaniyah, which are under KRG control. 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 leaving by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If you decide to travel to Iraq despite this advisory, be certain of your security arrangements, 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, follow instructions from local authorities closely and remain alert to your surroundings at all times.
Insurgency and terrorism
Security incidents, acts of terrorism, violent crime, kidnappings and sectarian violence are prevalent across Iraq. Targets include Iraqi security forces, government offices and large public gatherings. Attacks have also targeted residential areas to maximize casualties.
There is a threat of terrorism in Iraq. Car bombings, vehicle ambushes and mortar and rocket attacks occur regularly across the country, including Baghdad and the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad, resulting in numerous fatalities. These attacks are coordinated and result in many casualties among bystanders. Terrorists may target any area. The risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time remains high.
Iraqi military retook Mosul from Daesh fighters in July 2017. Fighters leaving Mosul may seek to carry out attacks elsewhere. The security situation in Iraq remains extremely volatile and could deteriorate suddenly as Iraqi forces carry out further military actions against Daesh strongholds.
Iraq’s internal stability is further undermined by the ongoing political situation, in which a wide range of groups compete for power. Control of certain territories tends to shift suddenly, particularly in disputed areas, including Khanaqin, Kirkuk, Makhmour and Sinjar.
The Kurdistan Regional Government is planning to hold an independence referendum on September 25, 2017. The Government of Iraq has indicated that it will not recognize the results of this referendum. This may lead to increased tensions and localized violence, particularly in disputed areas. Avoid all polling stations and public gatherings.
Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah (see Advisory)
Areas in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region remain vulnerable to regional instability and internal conflicts. If you are in Kurdistan Region, leave areas close to the conflict. Areas liberated from Daesh are still dangerous because of unprecedented amounts of improvised explosive devices and other explosives hazards deployed by this group. The region could see a rise in terrorist attacks as Daesh loses further territory. Be extremely vigilant 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. Security forces may restrict your movements inside the KRG-controlled areas, and you may be detained by Kurdish security services.
Qandil and Sinjar mountains (see Advisory)
Terrorist organizations and guerilla groups have established operational bases in these areas. There are frequent border clashes between these and other armed groups. Air strikes also occur.
Threats to foreigners
The threat of attacks against Western interests is severe. Foreigners are a prime kidnapping-for-money target 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. Purchase complete travel and medical insurance before travelling.
Demonstrations and retaliatory attacks are common throughout Iraq and typically result in deaths and injuries. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Crime, including carjackings, robberies 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.
Security checkpoints are common across the country. 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.
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.
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. Drivers do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks or yield 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.
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.
Authorities impose curfews on short notice throughout the country. Monitor local media in order to stay informed.
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.
General safety information
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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Iraq, which must be valid for at least 6 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.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
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.
Although Canadians do not require a separate visa to visit areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, you should still obtain an Iraqi visa before travelling to these areas.
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.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
- 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 no risk of malaria in this country.
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 preaching 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 the death penalty.
Do not drink alcohol outside licensed facilities. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.
Although the laws of Iraq do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iraq. See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
It is strictly prohibited to take antiquities, archaeological finds or antique carpets out of Iraq.
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 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 15.
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.
You cannot leave Iraq with more than US$10,000 in cash, unless you declared the amount when you entered the country.
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.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research the contact information for local police and medical facilities, and carry it with you.
The Canadian embassy in Baghdad does not provide in-person consular services. For consular service and assistance, contact the Embassy by phone or email.
Baghdad - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Baghdad 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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