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Syria - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Avoid all travel to Syria due to ongoing conflict. Commercial means to leave Syria are extremely limited. Most commercial airlines have suspended their flights to and from Syria. Airports in Damascus and Aleppo may close quickly, with little or no notice, and checkpoints may delay or impede access to the airport. If you are in Syria, leave as soon as it is safe to do so. We have urged Canadians to leave Syria since November 2011.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Syria is not safe for personal travel. Attempting any form of travel in this very hazardous security environment would place you at grave risk. Criminals, terrorists and armed groups target foreigners for terrorist attacks, assassination and kidnapping for ransom or political gain.
Syria is an active conflict zone. Fighting is generalized and involves the use of small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft. Since September 2014, the international coalition against Daesh has carried out aerial attacks on targets belonging to Daesh and other extremist groups.
Syria’s chemical and biological weapons program contributes to the volatile situation, as do allegations of attacks using chemicals, such as chlorine.
Common war tactics have involved blockading entire cities for months or years with little or no warning, and denying entry to humanitarian aid workers and supplies.
Security forces and the military use excessive force to suppress uprisings and demonstrations throughout Syria.
Extremist groups control parts of the country and pose an exceptional risk to foreigners. Areas under these groups’ control are highly dangerous.
There is a threat of terrorism in Syria. The security situation in Syria is very volatile, and violence associated with the conflict is ongoing. The threat of terrorism in Syria from extremist groups is generalized. Car bombings and other violent incidents occur regularly, killing and injuring many civilians.
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Kidnappings are common in various parts of the country, including in parts of Aleppo and Damascus.
Kidnapping for ransom is common. Politically motivated kidnappings by armed and terrorist groups often result in execution.
Be extremely vigilant when travelling.
The crime rate has increased significantly in Syria. Do not travel after dark. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Women in Daesh-controlled territory are at extreme risk of being physically harmed.
Aggressive drivers, poor driving standards and problematic road and infrastructure make road travel very dangerous. Do not drive after dark.
Roadblocks and checkpoints have been set up on roads, including major roads and highways in and around Damascus, Aleppo and other major cities. They have also been set up along the Damascus–Aleppo, Damascus–Jordan and Damascus–Beirut highways.
Authorities may impose road travel restrictions without notice, making travel slow and dangerous.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General safety information
Arbitrary detention can occur. Syrian authorities may not help you contact the Government of Canada if they detain you.
Telecommunications to and within some cities may be disrupted due to security operations.
Journalists attempting to work in Syria without official approval from the Syrian government place themselves at considerable risk. Foreign journalists are particularly scrutinized by Syrian authorities. Armed groups in opposition-held areas have injured, kidnapped and killed journalists and other foreigners operating there. The Syrian Arab Armed Forces and other armed groups have also detained journalists in Syria.
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 Syrian 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 Syria.
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 to visit Syria.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Non-Arab nationals cannot obtain a visa at border points of entry. They must obtain a visa from the nearest Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic or one of its consulates prior to departure.
If you remain in Syria for more than 14 days, you must register with the Syrian Immigration and Passports Office before the 15th day. If you are a tourist, this requirement is applied each time you enter Syria, whether you have a multiple or single-entry visa.
Local governments and those controlling borders may change exit requirements without notice. They may require exit permits and may restrict you from leaving Syria.
Health entry requirements
You must be tested for HIV if you intend to obtain a residence permit in Syria or marry a Syrian national. Authorities will not issue a residence permit unless you have a negative HIV test.
Canadians have been denied entry into Syria because their passports bore an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel (such a stamp would indicate that the traveller entered from Israel).
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
- 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 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.
Polio - Temporary Vaccine Recommendation
Polio is present 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.
Temporary vaccine recommendation:
- If you are staying more than 4 weeks in this country, you may need a booster dose of the polio vaccine.
- Proof of polio vaccination may be requested when you enter or leave the country.
- See your health care professional to find out if you need the polio vaccine before your trip.
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 not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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 Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- 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 Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. 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.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
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 in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Adequate medical care is available in major cities but not necessarily in remote areas.
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.
The laws of Syria prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage and promoting homosexuality. Convicted offenders can face the death penalty. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Syria.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Syria.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Syria, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Authorities will consider dual Canadian-Syrian citizens as Syrian.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect severe penalties, which may include the death penalty.
Photography of military or government installations is prohibited.
Mobile phone use at checkpoints is prohibited.
Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in Syria’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities, particularly when visiting religious sites.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2019, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 5.
Carry identification documents at all times. Carry a photocopy of your passport and leave another copy with a relative or friend at home.
The currency is the Syrian pound (SYP). The economy is primarily cash-based. Credit cards are not widely accepted. ATMs are available in major cities, such as Damascus and Aleppo, but are not always reliable. Due to international sanctions, several foreign credit institutions and banks have suspended their transactions with Syria. This includes MasterCard and Visa, and bank cards operating under the Cirrus, Maestro and Plus transaction networks. This list is not exhaustive. Check with your financial service provider before travelling to Syria.
It is illegal to exchange currency on the street. You must exchange foreign currency in banks or at official exchange counters. Keep all official exchange receipts, as you will need to present them to exchange Syrian pounds into foreign currency before departure. The Syrian pound cannot be exchanged outside the country.
Regulations regarding financial transactions, financial sanctions and currency exchange can change without notice.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Syria is located in an active seismic zone. It also experiences sand storms.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 112
- medical assistance: 110
- firefighters: 113
The Embassy of Canada to Syria in Damascus has suspended operations. The Embassy of Canada to Lebanon in Beirut’s ability to provide consular and other support throughout Syria is very limited. Canadians in Syria and their relatives seeking information should contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
Beirut - Embassy of Canada
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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