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MADAGASCAR - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Madagascar due to the high crime rate and the potential for political instability..
Safety and security
Safety and security
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. Tensions remain high.
Exercise extreme caution and maintain a high level of personal security awareness when travelling here.
The political environment in Madagascar is fragile. Elections are scheduled to be held between November 24 and December 24, 2018, to elect a president and the National Assembly.
A recent change in laws pertaining to the forthcoming election has caused political instability and led to demonstrations and civil unrest, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries in April 2018. Further unrest, demonstrations and violence may occur in advance of the elections in late 2018.
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Crime is widespread in Madagascar. Armed gangs are known to commit home invasions and kidnappings, and to stalk areas where foreigners congregate.
Robberies and break-ins, often violent, occur, especially in and around 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, specifically:
- 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
Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times, especially in airports and crowded places.
Keep valuables (such as electronic devices, jewels and expensive sunglasses) out of sight. Do not use your cell 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 Tôlanaro (formerly Fort Dauphin) and on Batterie Beach. Avoid visiting these areas alone.
On the road
Armed attacks occur on main highways, especially at night and particularly between Fianarantsoa and Toliara in the south. Avoid driving on Route nationale 13 (RN13), where there have been attacks on vehicles; the portion of RN13 between Ihosy and Fort Dauphin is particularly dangerous. Flying is recommended over driving. Theft from vehicles occurs frequently. Thieves target cars stuck in traffic for smash-and-grab robberies. When driving, windows should be closed, 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.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Exercise caution when driving in Madagascar. Most rental agencies only rent cars with drivers. If you must drive, do so only during the day and in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Road conditions vary throughout the country.
Rural roads are poorly marked. Bridges are frequently washed away. Pedestrians and roaming animals, as well as slow-moving and poorly maintained vehicles, pose hazards.
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.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General safety information
Do not walk around after dark. Tourist facilities are available but vary in quality.
Travel outside of Antananarivo at night is not recommended.
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 authorities of Madagascar. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
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 after the date you enter Madagascar.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
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 diplomatic mission for your destination.
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
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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 professional 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 professional.
- 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 among pediatric travellers, 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 professional 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.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- 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 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
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.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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 must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
You must carry your passport on you at all times. If you are stopped by police, they will not accept certified copies.
An export permit is required for the following items:
- precious or semi-precious stones
- wooden sculptures
- hewed stones
The export 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 the following items:
- rare fossils
- funerary statues in ancient wood
- protected plants and animals, including crocodile products
If you need more information on customs requirements, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar.
Illegal or restricted activities
There are harsh penalties for sexual exploitation of minors. Travelling for the express purpose of having sex with children or prostitutes in Madagascar is punishable by prison sentences of 5 to 10 years and/or a fine.
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.
Madagascar’s law doesn’t prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Madagascar.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Madagascar.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Madagascar, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
You can drive in Madagascar with your Canadian driver’s licence or with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to 3 months. For stays longer than 3 months, you can apply for a local driving licence at the Ministry of the Interior. To do so, you must present an IDP or Canadian driver’s licence.
Traffic drives on the right.
Yield the right of way to vehicles coming from the left.
Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are severe.
An accident causing injury or death leads to a mandatory court case. 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.
The currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA).
You may not export MGAs. Euros are widely accepted.
Credit cards are accepted in some locations. VISA is widely accepted; MasterCard and American Express are only accepted in certain locations.
There is a shortage of foreign currency in Madagascar due to an 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.
You can make cash withdrawals from a limited number of ATMs in Antananarivo.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from November to March. Some roads may become impassable during this period.
The cyclone season occurs from November to April.
Severe storms can put you at risk and can hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to Madagascar during this time:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions 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. 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, express 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.
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