COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Syria travel advice

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Syria - AVOID ALL TRAVEL

Avoid all travel to Syria due to ongoing armed conflict, terrorism, criminality, arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearance.

If you’re in Syria, you should consider leaving if it’s safe to do so.

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Safety and security

COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions

COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.

These could include:

  • curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
  • mandatory mask use
  • required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces

Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.

Foreign Representatives in Canada

Security situation

The Syrian conflict began in 2011, and Syria remains an active conflict zone in which the security situation could worsen with little warning.

The Syrian regime and its allies conduct regular strikes in northwest Syria despite a ceasefire agreed to in 2020. Since September 2014, the global coalition against Daesh has carried out aerial bombardment operations on terrorist targets across the northeast. There is also frequent shelling by Turkey near the northern border due to longstanding tension between Syrian Kurdish groups and neighbouring Turkey.

Central and southern Syria are unstable and dangerous due to sporadic airstrikes against Iranian-aligned targets. Occasional active fighting between opposition and regime forces, as well as drug-smuggling activities in the area, pose an additional security threat. Syria’s chemical and biological weapons program and their historic use on civilians contribute to the volatile situation.

The use of small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft is common. Common war tactics have also involved:

  • blockading entire cities for months or years with little or no warning
  • denying entry to humanitarian aid workers and supplies into cities

If you attempt to travel to Syria, you expose yourself to grave risk. In addition to threats from war, terrorism, criminality, arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearance by the Syrian regime are ongoing threats.

The Government of Canada has urged Canadians to leave Syria since November 2011. Commercial means to leave the country are limited. Most commercial airlines have suspended their flights. Airports in Damascus and Aleppo may close with little or no notice. Checkpoints may also delay or impede access to the airport.

The Embassy of Canada in Damascus has suspended its operations. Our ability to provide consular assistance and other support in Syria is extremely limited.

Do not travel to Syria. If you choose to travel to Syria, or remain in the country, despite this advisory:

  • exercise extreme caution at all times
  • always be aware of your surroundings
  • keep in mind that you are responsible for your own safety and that of your family
  • ensure that your travel documents are up to date

Terrorism

There is a significant threat of terrorism in Syria. Extremist groups control parts of the country and pose a dangerous risk to foreigners. Terrorist attacks including suicide bombings, car bombings and other violent incidents occur regularly, resulting in civilian casualties.

Further attacks are likely, and the security situation could worsen with little warning.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
  • residential areas

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant during:

  • religious holidays
  • public celebrations
  • major political events

Terrorists may use such occasions to mount attacks.

Crime

The crime rate has increased significantly in Syria. State and non-state actors engage in criminal markets. Smuggling and trafficking routes have greatly expanded throughout southwestern Syria. There is widespread corruption and bribery throughout the country. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

  • Avoid travelling at night
  • Avoid showing signs of wealth
  • Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

Kidnapping

Kidnapping for ransom is a frequent phenomenon in various parts of the country, especially in tribal areas and across southern Syria. Others are disappeared. Politically motivated kidnappings by armed and terrorist groups often result in execution or disappearances.

  • Be extremely vigilant at all times
  • Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when travelling

Demonstrations

Demonstrations rarely occur. Security forces and the military use excessive force to suppress uprisings and demonstrations throughout Syria.

Peaceful demonstrations frequently turn violent. They lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Civilians are frequently arrested without cause and for being near the site of a demonstration.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor international and social media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone are at risk of facing harassment and verbal abuse, and in some areas—notably in territories controlled by terrorist groups—are at risk of physical assault.

Her own way – a woman’s safe-travel guide

Service outages and supply shortages

Due to infrastructure damage and mismanagement, Syria experiences regular power outages. At best, some areas of the country receive roughly 2-3 hours of electricity per day. Those who are most fortunate rely on fuel-powered generators. Access to fuel is rare and inconsistent.

Drought has caused severe water and food shortages across the country. Safe running water may not always be available.

Telecommunications are sometimes disrupted without notice.

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Unenforced traffic law and problematic roads and infrastructure make road travel very dangerous. Authorities may also impose road travel restrictions without notice, making travel slow and dangerous.

Avoid driving after dark.

Roadblocks and checkpoints

Roadblocks and checkpoints are common, including on major roads and highways in and around major cities. They are also present along the highways connecting Damascus to Aleppo, Jordan and Beirut.

Never attempt to cross roadblocks, even if they appear unattended. 

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

 

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Entry and exit requirements

COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements

Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:

  • entry or exit bans
  • quarantine
  • mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
  • suspensions or reductions of international transportation options

Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.

Before travelling:

  • verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
  • consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
  • monitor the media for the latest information
  • reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator

The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.

Useful links

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

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

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.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

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 foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required

If you are a non-Arab national, you can’t obtain a visa at border points of entry. You must obtain it from the nearest Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic or one of its consulates prior to your departure.

Registration

If you intend to stay in Syria for longer than 14 days, you must register with the Syrian Immigration and Passports Office before the 15th day after your arrival.

If you travel on a tourist visa, this requirement is applied each time you enter Syria, whether you have a multiple or single-entry visa.

Exit permits

Some travellers may require an exit permit to leave the country. The permit can be obtained from the General Security Department.

Health entry requirements

You must be tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) if you intend to:

  • obtain a residence permit in Syria
  • marry a Syrian national

Syrian authorities won’t issue a residence permit unless you have a negative HIV test.

Regional travel

Travellers have been denied entry into Syria because their passports bore:

  • an Israeli visa
  • an Israeli border stamp
  • an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel. Such a stamp would indicate that the traveller visited Israel prior to coming to Syria.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

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.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.

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.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • 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.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Hepatitis A

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.

Rabies

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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Hepatitis B

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.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

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.

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 cholerahepatitis Aschistosomiasis 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

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

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Cholera

Risk

Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.

To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.

Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:

  • visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
  • visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring

Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunyaCrimean-Congo hemorrhagic feverdengue feverleishmaniasismalariaRift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Cutaneous and mucosal Leishmaniasis

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.

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.

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Medical services and facilities

COVID-19 - Testing

Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.

Basic medical care and medications are extremely limited throughout Syria. There are severe shortages of medical personnel, supplies and equipment throughout the country. Large parts of the country rely on international organizations to provide medical assistance.

You will likely need an emergency medical evacuation is case of serious illness or injury. However, it may be difficult to arrange evacuation due to the volatile security and political situation.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays, and that it covers travel to Syria.

Travel health and safety

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.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearance may occur. Syrian authorities may not help you contact the Government of Canada if they detain you.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect severe penalties, which may include the death penalty.

Useful links

Photography

It’s prohibited to photograph official buildings such as military or government installations.

Seek permission prior to photographing individuals.

Cell phone use

It’s prohibited to use your cell phone at checkpoints.

Communications are likely to be closely monitored by security services.

Dress and behaviour

The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to traditional and Islamic practices and beliefs.

To avoid offending local sensitivities, particularly when visiting religious sites:

  • dress conservatively
  • behave discreetly
  • respect religious and social traditions

Ramadan

In 2023, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 22.

In public, between sunrise and sunset, refrain from:

  • drinking
  • eating
  • smoking

Identification

Local authorities may ask you to verify your identity at any time.

  • Carry photo identification, such as a passport, at all times
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case the original is lost or confiscated

Journalism

Syrian authorities scrutinize foreign journalists and media. Reporters can face considerable restrictions in the context of their work.

Journalists attempting to work in Syria without official approval from the Syrian government place themselves at considerable risk. 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. 

LGBTQ2 travellers

Syrian law criminalizes sexual acts and relationships between persons of the same sex.

LGBTQ2 travellers could also be discriminated against or detained based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. They could be charged with promotion of homosexuality. If they are convicted, they could face the death penalty.

LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Syria.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Syria.

As a dual citizen, you may be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular services in Syria is extremely limited.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

Compulsory military service

Men aged 18 or over who are of Syrian descent, including dual citizens and those without Syrian citizenship, must complete compulsory military service or pay an exemption fee if they travel to Syria. If you choose to travel to Syria despite the advisory to avoid all travel to the country, contact the Syrian government before travelling for information on compulsory military service.

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Syria.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Syria by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Syria to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Driving

You must be at least 18 years old to drive in Syria and have a valid certificate confirming that you have third-party insurance.

There is zero tolerance for having alcohol in your system while driving.

You must carry an international driving permit.

More about the International Driving Permit

Money

The currency of Syrian is the Syrian pound (SYP).

The economy is primarily cash-based. Credit cards are not widely accepted. You should carry enough U.S. dollars or Euros to cover your expenses.

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. As a result, you may not be able to use your Canadian credit and debit cards. Contact your financial service provider before travelling to Syria to confirm whether you can use your cards there. Regulations regarding financial transactions, financial sanctions and currency exchange can change without notice.

It’s illegal to exchange currency on the street. You must exchange foreign currency in banks or at official exchange counters. The Syrian pound cannot be exchanged outside the country. You will need to present official exchange receipts to exchange Syrian pounds into foreign currency before your departure. Keep all your official exchange receipts. 

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Natural disasters and climate

Earthquakes

Syria is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes may occur.

Familiarize yourself with local evacuation plans in the event of an earthquake.

Useful links

Dust storms

The weather is very dry and hot from May to October. Sand storms and dust storms may occur during the summer months.

Sand-laden winds can blow at high speeds for days, creating difficult driving conditions. These storms can also cause respiratory problems, which can be fatal for some people.

If a dust storm is occurring:

  • stay indoors
  • keep windows closed
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

Drought and flooding

Syria has been facing drought in recent years, leading to crop failure and severe food shortages.

While infrequent, torrential rains and heavy flooding also occur, which can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

In the event of flooding:

  • avoid the affected area
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Large-scale emergencies abroad

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 112
  • medical assistance: 110
  • firefighters: 113

Consular assistance

The Embassy of Canada to Syria in Damascus has suspended operations.

The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon, in Beirut, to provide consular and other support throughout Syria is extremely limited.

Canadians in Syria and their relatives seeking information should contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Beirut - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressFirst Floor, Coolrite Building, 43 Jal El Dib Highway (seaside), Beirut, LebanonPostal AddressP.O. Box 60163, Jal El Dib, Beirut, LebanonTelephone+961 (4) 726-700Fax+961 (4) 726-702Emailberut-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-LebanonServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookEmbassy of Canada to LebanonTwitter@CanadaLebanonConsular district

Syria

Appointment Book your appointment online

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Lebanon, in Beirut, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

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, expressed 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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