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Uganda - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Uganda. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of civil unrest, crime and armed banditry.
Area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Karamoja region - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to areas within 50 km of Uganda's border with the DRC and to the Karamoja region.
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (see Advisory)
The situation remains volatile in the eastern part of neighbouring DRC and could lead to possible incursions into western Uganda by DRC rebels. Tensions between tribes remain in the Western region, and led to attacks against police stations and military barracks in July 2014, which resulted in dozens of casualties, including civilians.
Karamoja region (see Advisory)
Banditry, lawlessness and potential for inter-ethnic clashes pose a risk in the Karamoja region.
Area bordering South Sudan (see Advisory)
There are risks associated with banditry and with the influx of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and sites frequented by foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
Risk of politically motivated violence and demonstrations
Demonstrations occur regularly, in many parts of the country, and have led to violence in the past. Tensions remain since the February 2016 elections, and could lead to incidents of politically motivated violence and demonstrations. Avoid all gatherings and demonstrations, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Armed banditry, car thefts and muggings occur throughout the country. Cases of armed robbery against pedestrians have been reported, even during day time. Petty crime, including pickpocketing, purse and jewellery snatching, and theft from hotel rooms and vehicles, is common. Keep your vehicle doors locked at all times, windows closed and personal belongings, including handbags, safely stored. Items such as laptops and briefcases should not be left in unattended vehicles. Remain vigilant when using public transportation or walking along deserted streets. Avoid walking at night.
There has been an increase in reports of taxi/matatu (minibus) operators robbing their passengers and stranding them far from their destination. Avoid taxis/matatus that have only one or two passengers and ensure that all your personal belongings are secure at all times when using public transportation.
Demonstrations occur regularly, in many parts of the country, and have led to violence in the past. Avoid all gatherings and demonstrations, as they may turn violent without warning. Monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
A lack of traffic signs, local driving habits, wandering animals, pedestrians and poor road conditions pose risks. Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing roads. There are many fatal road accidents in Uganda. The Jinja–Kampala and Kampala–Masaka roads are of particular concern. Alcohol is often a contributing factor to accidents, particularly at night. Highway travel is dangerous, especially after dark, because of banditry and poor road conditions. Avoid driving outside major cities after dark.
If travelling to Uganda by road, you should get information at border police stations regarding the security situation at the destinations you intend to visit.
See Driving in Laws and culture for information on requirements in the event of a traffic accident.
Avoid intercity buses (especially overnight long-distance buses) and vans. Fatal accidents caused by reckless driving, excessive speed and poor vehicle maintenance have occurred in the past.
Exercise caution when using other forms of public transportation such as matatus and boda-bodas (scooter taxis) and ensure that the vehicle is in good condition before departure. If you opt to travel by boda-boda, wear a helmet at all times.
Ferry accidents are not uncommon, due to overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Game parks and reserves
You are advised to contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority before visiting any park or wildlife reserve. Visits to game parks and reserves should be undertaken only with a reputable tour company.
Fraud involving credit cards, traveller’s cheques and wire transfers is common in Uganda. Exercise caution when using automated banking machines (ABMs) and protect your personal banking information. Business fraud also occurs frequently. These scams range from attempts to engage business people in fictitious money transfer schemes, to fraudulent solicitations to supply goods in fulfillment of non-existent Ugandan government contracts. Any unsolicited business proposal, particularly land transactions, should be carefully scrutinized before funds are committed, goods or services are provided or travel is undertaken. See Overseas Fraud for more information.
General safety information
Don’t show signs of affluence. Don’t venture out alone after dark in dimly lit backstreets. Travelling in groups is recommended at any time.
Carry a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and the page containing your visa, and keep the original in a secure place.
Do not accept food or drinks from strangers, even children, as it may be drugged. If attacked, do not resist, as offering resistance may result in violence.
Women should be particularly cautious when travelling alone in Uganda. See Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for more information.
Tourist facilities and infrastructure are adequate in Kampala but limited elsewhere in the country.
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 Ugandan 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 High Commission for the Republic of Uganda and its consulates for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Uganda, 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.
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.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa. It is strongly recommended that visas be obtained prior to arrival in the country. Canadians intending to work in Uganda should insist that the employer ascertain from the Uganda Immigration Department what type of permit will be required.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
* 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 East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
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 East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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.
- 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, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and 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 are extremely limited outside Kampala. Serious illness or emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient’s expense. You should ensure you have sufficient prescription medicine and medical supplies.
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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
The laws of Uganda prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Uganda. See Homosexual, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
Photography of security forces, diplomatic sites, government installations, airports or the Owen Falls Dam (at the source of the Nile River, near Jinja) is prohibited. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.
Wearing military-style or camouflage clothing is prohibited and may result in a jail sentence.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is required.
In the event of an accident, Ugandan law requires drivers to stop and exchange information and assistance. There is a possibility of mob anger if the accident has caused serious injury. In such cases, you are advised to remain in your vehicle and drive to the nearest police station to report the accident.
Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol include immediate imprisonment.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Uganda. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Ugandan 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 Ugandan 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 Uganda shilling (UGX). There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currencies. Credit cards are accepted only by major hotels, airlines and some car rental agencies. You will find foreign exchange (forex) bureaus at most border posts and in all major cities. Since the elimination of the black market and the introduction of forex bureaus, Uganda is one of the most-expensive countries in East Africa. Most shops, banks and forex bureaus will not accept or exchange U.S. dollars printed before the year 2000, or will only exchange them at a less favourable rate; bills printed in 2000 are also becoming unpopular.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Uganda is located in a seismic zone. The rainy seasons extend from March to May and from October to November. Weather-related events such as floods and landslides occur throughout the country during these months. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and pay careful attention to all warnings issued. Avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
Dial 999 for emergency assistance.
Kampala - Consulate of Canada
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya, 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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