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SUDAN - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Sudan. The security situation in parts of the country is unstable due to high levels of violent crime and armed conflict.
Regional advisory - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the following areas:
- Abyei administrative region
- Southern Kordofan State Blue Nile State
- Area bordering Eritrea within the Red Sea State
- The portions of Northern Kordofan and White Nile states located south of the Kosti–El Obeid–En Nahud road
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
If you are currently in Sudan despite this advisory, you are strongly advised to exercise caution, restrict your movements, avoid large crowds and demonstrations, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media on a daily basis.
Darfur (see Advisory)
You should leave if you are in Darfur. The conflict in Darfur has created a dangerous situation in western Sudan, particularly outside the major towns. It also affects other areas of Sudan and eastern Chad. Despite the signing of a preliminary peace agreement, the security situation in Darfur remains extremely volatile, and lawlessness is prevalent. The region has seen sporadic fighting between the government and rebels groups, and carjacking, break-ins and kidnapping remain a genuine threat to foreigners. Violence regularly breaks out within camps for internally displaced people. Humanitarian workers and United Nations (U.N.) peacekeepers have been attacked and kidnapped. Curfews are sometimes put in effect by the government. Recent violence has resulted in deaths, displacement of people, and general instability and insecurity. Further clashes and regional violence cannot be ruled out.
Abyei region, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, Northern Kordofan and White Nile states (see Advisory)
You should leave if you are in Abyei administrative region, Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile states. Both Sudan and South Sudan claim Abyei, and there is continued fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile between government forces and rebels. Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and rebel groups has escalated significantly since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. There is a heightened risk of attacks in the region. Armed groups have carried out attacks on foreign workers, including oil field workers. Militias and disenfranchised groups have stated on several occasions that they regard oil installations as legitimate targets, and have conducted recent attacks on oil infrastructure. Be aware of security threats if you are in the oil development region despite this advisory. Sudan has declared a state of emergency in the states bordering South Sudan and has suspended all flights to and from South Sudan.
Tensions in the states bordering South Sudan could spread to parts of Northern Kordofan and White Nile states. We advise against all travel to the area south of the Kosti–El Obeid–En Nahud road.
Area bordering Eritrea in Red Sea State (see Advisory)
The security situation in the area comprised within 100 km of the border with Eritrea, in Red Sea State is volatile due to cross-border militant activity. Foreigners working for aid organizations in this area have been the target of attacks.
Demonstrations may occur throughout the country, as a result of the decision of the Government of Sudan to lift fuel and electricity subsidies. Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Westerners face the risk of being kidnapped even in Khartoum. Maintain a heightened level of vigilance in Khartoum and consider regularly modifying your patterns of travel.
While the incidence of crime in Khartoum is low, incidents of petty crime are increasing notably, opportunistic theft from vehicles. Keep valuables out of sight and drive with locked doors and closed windows.
Banditry is rampant throughout western Sudan, especially in the Darfur region (particularly the Chad–Sudan border region), where several incidents have resulted in deaths.
Road conditions are poor. Many roads outside the capital are sand tracks. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for overland travel except on the Khartoum–Kassala–Port Sudan, Khartoum–Atbara, and Khartoum–El Obeid highways. Only experienced and fully equipped travellers should undertake desert travel; basic equipment should include a shovel, metal ramps for heavy sand, a global positioning system (GPS), spare fuel and water supplies. Roadblocks are common. Have your identity and vehicle documents readily available. Unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and roaming animals pose serious risks.
Public transportation is limited outside of major urban areas. Taxis are available in urban centres but are generally old and uncomfortable. Khartoum has a metered taxi service but drivers rarely speak English or French. It is recommended to have your destination written down in Arabic.
A weekly train service operates between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. Trains are dilapidated, but service is punctual. Travel only in top-of-the-line buses; most other buses are irregularly scheduled, poorly maintained and very badly driven. Fatal accidents involving buses are routine.
The only regular surface access from Egypt is by ferry from Aswan, Egypt, to Wadi Halfa, Sudan. There are ferries to and from the Red Sea port of Suakin.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
The land borders with some neighbouring countries are closed. Border closures may occur without notice. Check with local authorities and with the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum for up-to-date information. Attempting to cross land borders is dangerous and not recommended.
Commercial overland expeditions occasionally cross Sudan’s land borders with Libya, the Central African Republic and Chad, but these routes are dangerous. There are landmines in many areas outside the main cities, including border areas.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters, and in some cases, further out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
General safety information
For national security reasons, individuals working for international organizations could be subject to random searches of personal effects by Sudanese authorities.
Tourist facilities are limited. The locations frequented by tourists are the Meroe and Jebel Barkal archaeological sites, and dive sites on the Red Sea.
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 Sudanese 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 Sudan for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Sudan, 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.
Travellers to Sudan with a stamp from Israel in their passport will automatically be denied entry.
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.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Allow at least two months between your visa application and the intended date of travel. Visas are not granted automatically to prospective travellers.
Within three days of arrival in Sudan, foreigners must register with the Ministry of the Interior’s Aliens’ Registration Office, (Al Amarat Street 61, Khartoum). Foreigners arriving by land or sea can register at their port of entry. Certain larger hotels offer to register their guests. Processing fees apply and vary depending on where you register. Two passport-style photos may be required.
You must obtain a permit before travelling outside of Khartoum:
- Darfur: a permit must be obtained from the Foreign Ministry
- East Sudan: a travel notification must be approved by the Foreign Ministry
- All touristic sites outside of Khartoum: a permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Tourism
Passport-style photos are required. Procedures should be started at least a week prior to the trip dates. Except in the case of persons working for registered humanitarian organizations and diplomatic missions, it is extremely difficult to obtain permits for destinations within west Sudan. Consult the appropriate Ministry for more information.
You should carry at least three copies of your travel permit and passport, including the Sudan visa page, since Sudanese authorities enforce permit regulations rigorously and they can retain these documents.
Children and travel
The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Under Sudanese law, women and their children may encounter difficulties relating to mobility. This may include being prohibited from departing Sudan if the father’s consent is not provided—regardless of custodial rights accorded to the mother by any Sudanese, Canadian or other courts.
See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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.
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.
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 a 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 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 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!
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 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.
- 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.
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 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, 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 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 operate well below Western standards. It is not advisable to have surgery in Sudan. Emergency medical evacuation can also be difficult; air ambulances are usually not available on short notice. There are no medical facilities to treat diving-related injuries in Port Sudan. Ensure that your health plan coverage includes Sudan; many policies do not. It is advisable to obtain separate travel insurance when travelling in Sudan.
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.
Laws and illegal activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Bags are routinely searched upon arrival and departure at the Khartoum airport.
It is prohibited to import or consume alcohol (even in private) and to import magazines or books of a sexually explicit nature.
Religious proselytization can lead to arrest for long periods of time and deportation.
Sudanese minors (under 18 years of age) require the permission of their father or guardian to leave the country.
A photography permit is required for all forms of photography. Even with a permit, it is strictly prohibited to photograph airports, military areas, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas or beggars. Any photography without a permit immediately draws suspicion of espionage, and individuals, including foreigners, have been detained. If you travel with your laptop, ensure that you remove any photo files that could be deemed by the authorities as suspicious or controversial.
The laws of Sudan prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Third time convicted offenders can face up to life imprisonment or the death penalty. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Sudan.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
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 work week is from Sunday to Thursday. Working hours are typically from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
By Western standards, Sudan is a traditional, conservative society. Sharia (Islamic law) is applied throughout Sudan. Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Women should dress conservatively; avoid wearing short skirts or shirts with low necklines and displaying bare arms. Neither men nor women should wear shorts in public, and all should be extremely discreet when swimming in public.
Public displays of affection (for example, holding hands) are frowned upon.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Sudan. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Sudanese 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 Sudanese 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 Sudanese pound (SDG). The SDG is non-convertible outside the country and its export is prohibited. You should carry sufficient funds in U.S. dollars, euros or pounds sterling to cover your expenses for the duration of your stay. You may have to pay for international flights booked in Sudan in cash: U.S. dollars, euros or pounds sterling. Transferring U.S. or Canadian dollars to Sudan is difficult because of international sanctions. U.S. currency dated prior to 2006 is not usually accepted.
Foreign banking and credit cards are not accepted in Sudan. There are automated banking machines (ABMs), but they only service local accounts. Traveller’s cheques are also not accepted. Hotel bills must be paid in cash.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Sandstorms occur, particularly from July to October. Expect difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected. Take preventive measures and exercise extreme caution.
The rainy season in Sudan lasts three months, from July to September. Some roads may become impassable during this period. The water levels of the Blue Nile, White Nile and Nile are unusually high. This is causing severe floods in Sudan, including Khartoum State. Avoid flooded areas, follow the instructions of local authorities, monitor regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 999
- medical assistance: 333
- firefighters: 777
Khartoum - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum 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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