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MADAGASCAR - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Madagascar. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution the high crime rate and the potential for political instability.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Batterie beach (see Advisory)
Violent attacks have occurred on Batterie Beach, north of Toliara. Some of these attacks have resulted in fatalities.
Violent incidents involving cattle rustlers have occurred in the Anosy Region of southeast Madagascar. Several people have been killed. Exercise extreme caution and maintain a high level of personal security awareness when travelling within the Anosy Region, where tensions remain high.
The political environment in Madagascar remains fragile. On June 26, 2016, grenade explosions killed two people and injured dozens in Antananarivo during Independence Day celebrations. Be extremely vigilant in the vicinity of historical monuments in Antananarivo, where violent incidents have occurred. Civil unrest and violence may occur and the security situation could deteriorate rapidly. Should unrest occur, airports may be closed with little notice and other departure options may be limited. Ensure that you have adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, money and medications, and that your documentation remains up-to-date. Monitor the situation on a regular basis and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Demonstrations 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 instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Crime is widespread in Madagascar. Armed gangs are known to commit home invasions and kidnappings, and to patrol areas where foreigners tend to congregate.
Robberies and break-ins, often violent, have increased, especially in and around the capital, Antananarivo, but also in rural and isolated areas. Muggings, purse snatchings and pickpocketing also occur. Be particularly vigilant in areas frequented by tourists in Antananarivo, including the steps leading to the Rova, the Avenue de l’Indépendance, the Analakely market, the road leading to the Soarano train station, the Café de La Gare, 67 Hectares, Itaosy, Antaninarenina and Tsaralalana. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure, especially in airports and crowded places.
Avoid showing signs of affluence (e.g. electronic devices, jewels and expensive sunglasses). Do not use your mobile phone while walking or while driving. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Be wary of persons representing themselves as “guides,” particularly on beaches and in coastal tourist areas, as there have been reports of attacks and robberies by such persons. Violent assaults have been reported on the island of Sainte Marie (also known as Nosy Boraha), at Pic Saint Louis in Fort Dauphin and on Batterie Beach, north of Toliara. Avoid visiting these areas alone.
Armed attacks occur on main highways, especially at night and particularly in the southern region of the country, between Fianarantsoa and Toliara. Avoid driving on Route Nationale 13 (RN13), where there have been several attacks on vehicles; the portion of RN13 between Ihosy and Fort Dauphin is particularly dangerous. You should fly into Fort Dauphin rather than drive.
Theft from vehicles occurs frequently. Thieves target cars stuck in traffic for smash-and-grab robberies. When driving, you should keep the windows up, doors locked and valuables out of sight.
National parks and beaches
Be extremely vigilant when visiting national parks. Armed gangs are known to assault tourists in isolated areas such as beaches and national parks. Do not visit parks alone. Seek advice from your tour operator or the park administration to enlist the services of a national guide accredited by the Ministry of Tourism. They must show you their badge.
Sharks are present, particularly in the Tamatave and Manakara areas. There are no decompression chambers in Madagascar.
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Exercise caution when driving in Madagascar. Most rental agencies only rent cars with drivers. If you must drive, do so only during the day, in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Roads are in poor condition, except for a few main streets in the capital and some well-maintained roads to towns on the outskirts of the capital and to a few large towns, including Tamatave, Mahajanga, Fianarantsoa and Toliara.
Rural roads are poorly marked. Road conditions may get worse during the rainy season, especially in the northern provinces. Before setting out, confirm with local authorities that the chosen route is passable. Bridges are frequently washed away. Pedestrians and roaming animals, as well as slow-moving and poorly maintained vehicles, pose hazards.
Traffic accidents can quickly draw large and sometimes violent crowds. Remain calm if there is a dispute, particularly in a public place. If threatened by a large crowd, seek direct intervention of local police.
Local authorities occasionally set up roadblocks throughout the country. These checkpoints are routine and could result in vehicle and/or person searches. Follow the instructions of local authorities and carry your passport with you at all times.
Public transportation (including small buses known as bush taxis or “taxis brousse”) is unreliable and should only be used during daytime hours. Vehicles are poorly maintained. Urban transportation in regional towns generally ceases operations in the early evening. Taxis can be used for short distances in Antananarivo but are scarce outside of the capital, where local alternatives such as “taxi be” and “taxi brousse” are the primary means of public transportation.
Rail services are extremely limited and unreliable.
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
Avoid walking after dark. Tourist facilities are available but vary in quality.
Travel outside of Antananarivo at night is not recommended.
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 authorities of Madagascar 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 Madagascar 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.
To visit Madagascar, Canadians must present a passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival in Madagascar.
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 and a round-trip ticket.
Tourist visa: Required for stays up to 90 days
Business visa: Required for stays up to 90 days
Student visa: Required
You should apply for a visa before travelling to Madagascar, even though a tourist visa can be obtained at the airport for stays of up to 90 days, with no extensions. If you choose to obtain a visa at the airport, ensure your passport has two blank pages and expect long delays.
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.
Updated: October 03, 2017
Plague in Madagascar
This country has confirmed an outbreak of both pneumonic and bubonic plague. Districts mainly affected are Antananarivo (the capital), Toamasina (the port city) and Faratsiho (rural district).
If you plan to travel to Madasgascar, it is recommended that you:
- Protect yourself from flea bites while travelling.
- Avoid rodent's nests and burrows.
- Do not pick up or touch dead animals.
- Avoid exposure to persons suspected of infection with pneumonic plague.
Seek medical attention if you develop a fever while in Madagascar or within a week of your departure from Madagascar. For more information see the updates on the plague.
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 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), plague, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
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 throughout the year in the whole 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.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
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, ebola, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
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 and supplies are limited in Antananarivo and extremely limited outside the capital. The availability of both prescription and over-the-counter medications is also limited. Bring sufficient supplies of medication for the duration of your stay and carry a copy of any original prescription.
There are no decompression chambers in Madagascar.
Immediate cash payment is expected in private clinics. Medical evacuation is necessary for cases of serious illness or accident. Ensure that your travel health insurance covers medical evacuations.
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.
You are legally required to carry your passport on yourself at all times in Madagascar.
An export permit is required for items such as precious or semi-precious stones, jewels, wooden sculptures, butterflies, hewed stones and vanilla. The permit must be provided by the seller, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce of Craft and Tourism or the Ministry of Mines. There are strict restrictions on the export of gemstones and vanilla. It is strictly forbidden to export rare fossils, funerary statues in ancient wood, food, protected plants and animals, including crocodile products. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar for further information regarding customs requirements.
Travelling for the express purpose of having sex with children or prostitutes in Madagascar is punishable with prison sentences of 5 to 10 years and/or a fine. Consult our booklet entitled Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime for more information.
Photography of military and government installations is prohibited.
It is an offence for civilians to dress in camouflage or other military-style clothing. Wearing military-style clothing can lead to detention and fines.
Drug smuggling is a serious offence. Penalties for drug offences, including those involving “soft” drugs, are severe and include prison sentences.
Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are severe.
An accident causing injury or death leads to a mandatory court case, and the losing party is required to pay all costs. If you are involved in such an incident, you must stay in Madagascar at your own expense until the case is resolved.
Although the laws of Madagascar don’t prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Madagascar.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
You can drive in Madagascar with your Canadian driver’s licence or with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to three months. For stays longer than three months, you can apply for a local driving licence at the Ministry of Interior; you must present an IDP or Canadian driver’s licence.
Traffic drives on the right, yielding the right of way to vehicles coming from the left.
A motor vehicle accident causing injury or death leads to a mandatory court case. If you are involved in such an incident, you must stay in the country at your own expense until the case is resolved.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Madagascar. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Madagascar citizen. 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 a Madagascar 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.
The currency, the Malagasy ariary (MGA), may not be exported. There is a shortage of foreign currency in Madagascar due to the ongoing economic crisis. Some banks will not reconvert local currency to hard currency. Upon arrival, you must declare your foreign currency in excess of 10,000 euros.
Credit cards are accepted in some locations. VISA is widely accepted whereas MasterCard and American Express are only accepted in certain locations. Cash withdrawals can be made from a limited number of automated banking machines in Antananarivo. Euros are widely accepted.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from November to March. Some roads may become impassable during this period. Cyclones can occur from late December to late March. They affect mainly the eastern part of the island, but the western part has been affected as well. Monitor local weather forecast and follow the advice of local authorities.
Dial 117 for emergency assistance.
Antananarivo - Consulate of Canada
Pretoria - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the the High Commission of Canada to South Africa, in Pretoria, 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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