Syria travel advice
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- Safety and security
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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.
Safety and security
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 Türkiye near the northern border due to longstanding tension between Syrian Kurdish groups and neighbouring Türkiye.
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
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.
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 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 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
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.
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 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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations 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 may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
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.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
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 is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
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.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
The flu occurs worldwide.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to April.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and October.
- In the tropics, there is flu activity year round.
The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.
The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.
In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.
If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals).
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
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 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 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.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
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.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
Medical services and facilities
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.
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
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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect severe penalties, which may include the death penalty.
It’s prohibited to photograph official buildings such as military or government installations.
Seek permission prior to photographing individuals.
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
In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, refrain from:
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
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.
Syrian law criminalizes sexual acts and relationships between persons of the same sex.
2SLGBTQI+ 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.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Syria.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Syria.
The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular services in Syria is extremely limited.
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.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
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.
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.
Natural disasters and climate
Earthquake in Türkiye and Syria
On February 20, 2023, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake and an aftershock of 5.8 magnitude struck the area near the border with Türkiye. This follows a series of earthquake in southeastern Türkiye on February 6, 2023 which had already severely impacted northern Syria, including Idlib and Aleppo. There are reports of further damage to buildings and more casualties.
If you are in the affected area:
- monitor local media
- follow instructions from local authorities
Syria is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes may occur.
Familiarize yourself with local evacuation plans in the event of an earthquake.
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
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 112
- medical assistance: 110
- firefighters: 113
The Embassy of Canada to Syria, in Damascus, has suspended its 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
SyriaAppointment 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.
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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