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Rwanda - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Rwanda. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to grenade attacks.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Be vigilant and avoid large crowds. In recent years, a number of grenade attacks have taken place throughout the country, particularly in Kigali and the Southern Province. The attacks usually occur at nightfall and take place at busy locations such as bus stations and markets. On September 13 and 14, 2013, grenades exploded in the Kicukiro market in Kigali, resulting in at least two deaths and many injuries. Similar incidents took place in July 2013 at Nyabugogo market in Kigali and in March 2013 in Kimironko.
Regions bordering the DRC
Be extremely vigilant in the areas along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are several active armed rebel groups in eastern DRC, and the security situation can deteriorate very suddenly. Incursions into Rwanda by these groups have occurred, and artillery fire landed on Rwandan territory in 2013. The Rwanda-DRC border can be closed without notice.
The level of crime is relatively low in Rwanda. However, petty theft from cars and hotel rooms occurs, and pickpockets are active in crowded places. House break-ins have occurred in Kigali. Remain alert to your surroundings and ensure that your personal belongings and vehicles are secure. Do not show signs of affluence and do not venture out alone or travel outside major cities after dark.
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 advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
In general, the main roads in Kigali and linking Kigali to other cities are relatively well maintained; however, dirt roads, particularly the Gisenyi-Kibuye-Cyangugu road, are in poor condition. Excessive speed, careless driving, the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles, the presence of pedestrians, cyclists and livestock on the roads, and the lack of streetlights pose hazards. Some roads may be difficult or impossible to access during the rainy season. Avoid travel after dark, particularly in rural areas. Police checkpoints are frequent.
In the event of a traffic accident: in Kigali, dial 113 for police; elsewhere, go directly to the nearest police station.
Shared taxis (minivans), the most common form of public transportation, can be dangerous due to overloading and reckless driving. Use licensed auto taxis, which are orange-striped. Confirm the fare with the driver before departing.
Be cautious when using motorbike taxis, as they are unsafe. Do not use them at night.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
No recent incidents have been reported at the Parc National des Volcans and the Nyungwe Forest National Park. Park permits must be purchased from Rwanda’s Office of Tourism and National Parks. Within the parks, be accompanied by an official guide and only use established trails.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are adequate in Kigali and other major towns, but are limited in remote areas. In remote areas, access to electricity is limited. During the dry season, there may be water shortages in some areas of the country and in some parts of Kigali.
Ambulance services are insufficiently equipped. Police officers, especially those on the street, may not speak English or French.
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 Rwandan 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 High Commission for the Republic of Rwanda 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 present a passport to visit Rwanda, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Rwanda. Entry visas are available online at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration’s website and are valid for 30 days. To enter the country at any official point of entry, you must present confirmation that the entry visa has been granted and also pay the relevant visa fee.
If you plan to stay longer than 30 days after entering Rwanda, you must seek another class of visa before the expiry of the entry visa. Applications must be made in person at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kacyiru, Kigali. Anyone who overstays their visa is subject to a fine.
You can also apply for a tourist visa at the nearest Rwandan diplomatic mission or at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali.
Tourist visa: Required
Work permit: required
Business visa: Required, valid for 90 days and may be extended once (work is not permitted but the holder of this class of visa can change their status)
You must obtain a work permit issued by the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration if you are planning to work in the country. Requirements for a work permit include that you must have obtained a valid police clearance from the country in which you have been residing for the last six months. Obtaining a police certificate from Canada while in Rwanda can take up to six months.
Consult the website of the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration for more information.
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.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 low potential for yellow fever exposure in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- 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.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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 and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
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 are limited and scarce outside of Kigali. Hospitals in Kigali are adequate for routine procedures. Serious medical problems require air evacuation to a country with better medical facilities, such as Kenya, South Africa or even Canada.
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.
Penalties for drug-related offences are severe.
Drunk drivers are subject to a short prison sentence and a fine.
Photography of government buildings is prohibited. You should also avoid taking photographs in border areas.
Non-biodegradable bags are prohibited in Rwanda. If you arrive with such bags at the airport in Kigali, they might be confiscated.
An International Driving Permit is required.
The use of a mobile telephone while driving is illegal, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.
Third-party insurance is required to cover damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries even if you are not found to be at fault. If you are suspected of causing an accident, your driver’s licence can be confiscated during the investigation. If the accident results in death, you may be subject to a jail sentence.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Rwanda. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Rwanda 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 Rwanda 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 is the Rwandan franc (RWF). Only the larger hotels accept credit cards, mostly to settle hotel bills; confirm this with your hotel before arrival. Expect to handle other expenses in cash. Only commercial banks cash traveller’s cheques. Most shops will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before 2006.
Automated banking machines (ABMs) are limited to Kigali, and often do not accept Canadian ABM cards. Credit card cash withdrawals are available only through a few banks in Kigali.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Seismic activity is unpredictable and infrequent, but the possibility of earthquakes exists.
Volcanic eruptions have occurred in Goma (DRC) and may pose a hazard in Gisenyi in northern Rwanda. Nyiragongo volcano, located near Goma, has been showing signs of eruption. While it remains at alert level “yellow”, which means that there is no immediate danger, exercise a high degree of caution and closely follow the advice of local authorities.
During the two rainy seasons (February to May and September to December), intense thunderstorms are frequent. Roads may become impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles. Landslides and floods are common during these seasons. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 112
- medical assistance: 912
Kigali - Office of the High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Kigali 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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