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SOUTH SUDAN - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Avoid all travel to to South Sudan, due to armed conflicts, inter-ethnic violence and high levels of violent crime.
If you choose to remain in the country despite this advisory, restrict your movements and keep abreast of the latest developments. Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and carefully follow messages issued through this service.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Current security situation
Many security checkpoints have been set up throughout the country, making road travel, including to the airport, difficult. Vehicles are regularly stopped and searched; violence has occurred during such encounters. Restrict your movements. You should consider leaving the country when it is safe for you to do so.
Military activity traditionally increases during the dry season (December to April).
With the deteriorating economic conditions, urban crime rates are rising significantly. Tensions are high and the potential for spontaneous unrest is significant.
Regions bordering Sudan are particularly insecure due to periodic tension between Sudan and South Sudan. Occasional bombing raids have occurred.
Inter-tribal clashes occur without warning throughout the country, and there is frequent fighting between the army and armed militia groups.
The situation in Juba is tense and has the potential to deteriorate significantly.
Fighting, including gunfire, rockets and mortar attacks, occurred daily between July 7 and 11, 2016, when a ceasefire was declared.
A curfew is in effect between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The situation is extremely volatile in Jonglei State (more specifically in its northern half, especially close to Nasir in Latjoor State). There, sustained fighting and inter-ethnic violence has occurred since mid-December 2013.
Anti-government forces are in control of much of the countryside, while the government retains control within Jonglei State’s Bor and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
You should leave both Unity and Upper Nile states immediately.
Conflict between government and armed opposition forces continues in Unity and Upper Nile states. The government currently controls Malakal, but anti-government forces are in control of much of Upper Nile State west of the River Nile. The government holds most of Unity, including Bentiu.
Since late June 2016, widespread violence in the city of Wau and its surroundings has resulted in many deaths and the displacement of several thousands of people. You should leave Wau immediately.
Over the past 2 years, occasional tensions between South Sudan and Sudan have led to increased military activity in regions bordering Sudan, and both states have threatened to escalate their activities.
Fighting in the border areas of Blue Nile State and South Kordofan, Sudan, has displaced tens of thousands of people over the border since South Sudan’s secession in 2011.
Be aware of security threats in the oil development region, especially in and around Paloich, Upper Nile State. Oil installations and the surrounding areas are potential targets for military and rebel attacks.
The Abyei region, which borders South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Unity states and Sudan, is a disputed territory between the two countries. Since 2011, the Abyei region has been the site of frequent fighting and mass displacement.
Inter-tribal conflict and cattle rustling are becoming prevalent in Lakes state. Tensions are particularly high in Rumbek East County. If you remain in the area, restrict your movement and avoid the road connecting Rumbek and Yirol.
There is increased militia activity in Western and Central Equatoria states, particularly in Mundri and Yambio.
Travel on the three main roads (Juba–Nimule, Juba–Kajo Keji and Juba–Yei) has become extremely dangerous as armed attacks on these roads are frequent.
The border crossing with Uganda at Nimule, Eastern Equatoria, has recently been subject to short periods of closure by the South Sudanese authorities.
There is widespread violent crime throughout South Sudan, including:
- armed robbery
- compound invasion
The current economic crisis has led to a significant increase in the number of crimes involving guns.
There are frequent armed invasions of the compounds housing international non-governmental organizations.
The security risk is especially high in Juba, which has seen regular outbreaks of violence and lawlessness and increasing numbers of carjackings and home and compound invasions.
Crime usually rises in the run-up to Christmas and New Year. Foreigners have been victims of many crimes, including rape. The economic crisis will likely deepen in the short to medium term.
Law enforcement personnel have limited capacity to deter crime.
Several kidnappings have occurred since the beginning of 2017.
Kidnappers are mainly targeting workers in the oil and aid sectors, working in remote and contested areas.
Exercise caution at all times. If you plan to go to these areas despite the risk, use varied and unpredictable routes and itineraries.
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
Restrictions on movement
Road blocks are common and are frequently erected after dark. You should have your identity and vehicle documents readily available.
Increasingly frequent fuel shortages may impede your ability to move freely at short notice, and could lead to unexpected shortages of basic foodstuffs. Take adequate precautions.
Landmines pose a threat, especially outside of Juba.
Road conditions are extremely poor. Many roads are sand tracks. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required, except in some urban areas such as Juba and Malakal, especially during the rainy season (March to November).
You should only undertake desert travel if you are experienced and fully equipped. Basic equipment should include:
- a shovel
- metal ramps for heavy sand
- a GPS device
- spare fuel
- water supplies
Unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and roaming animals pose risks.
A few taxis are available in urban centres but are generally old and uncomfortable.
Public transportation is limited outside of major urban areas.
Only top-of-the-line buses should be used. Most other buses are irregularly scheduled, poorly maintained and very badly driven. Fatal accidents involving buses are routine and increasing.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General security information
Telecommunications are unreliable. Blackberry devices do not have full functionality in South Sudan.
There is no international postal service.
There are no fixed telephone lines.
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 South Sudanese authorities. 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 beyond the date you expect to leave South Sudan.
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 be in possession of a visa, which should be obtained prior to departure. Visas are not granted automatically to prospective travellers.
You should contact the Embassy of South Sudan in Washington, D.C., to obtain a visa in advance of travelling. Alternatively, you may apply for a visa in person en route to South Sudan at the Embassy of South Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo - August 9, 2018
- Polio : vaccine advice - June 29, 2018
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.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
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 risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- 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 professional.
- 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 Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. 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 professional 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.
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 Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse flies usually bite during the day and the bites are usually painful. If untreated, the disease is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
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.
Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. 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.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common close to fast-flowing rivers and streams. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
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 professional 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, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas of Central Africa, like ebola, 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 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 are inadequate. You should avoid having surgery there.
Emergency medical evacuation can be difficult to obtain. Air ambulances are usually not available on short notice and the airport is closed after dark.
You should ensure your health plan coverage includes South Sudan because many policies do not.
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.
A permit for photography is required. Permits can be obtained at the Ministry of Information.
Even with a photography permit, taking pictures of or near military installations is strictly prohibited, and it is highly unadvisable to take pictures in urban settings.
South Sudanese law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are frowned upon.
LGBTQ2 travellers have experienced harassment and verbal abuse.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in South Sudan.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of South Sudan, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
An International Driving Permit is recommended/required.
South Sudan is a traditional, conservative society. Women should dress conservatively (no short skirts, bare arms or low necklines). Men and women should not wear shorts in public and should be extremely discreet when swimming.
The currency is the South Sudan pound (SSP). The Sudan pound is not recognized as legal tender.
You should carry sufficient funds in U.S. dollars to cover your expenses for the duration of your stay. You will likely have to pay for all international flights booked in South Sudan in U.S. dollars.
Transferring U.S. or Canadian dollars to the country is impossible. Currency exchange houses and merchants do not accept U.S. currency dated before 2006, and will reject notes with any marks.
Credit cards are not accepted in South Sudan. There are ATMs, but they are not reliable, and only dispense SSPs. You must pay for larger expenses, such as hotel bills, in cash.
There is currently a wide and growing disparity between the official exchange and black market rates for South Sudanese pounds. It is illegal to exchange currency except in authorized locations (banks and exchange bureau).
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season in South Sudan is from March to October. Many roads may become impassable during this period due to flooding.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations.
In case of emergency, dial 777.
Juba - Embassy of Canada
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Juba 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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