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Venezuela - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Venezuela. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the significant level of serious crime, such as murder, kidnapping and armed robbery.
Regional Advisory for the area within 80 km of the Colombian border
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel within 80 km of the Colombian border due to the threat of kidnapping. See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also 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. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Border with Colombia (see Advisory)
Colombian guerrillas, who frequently operate on both sides of the border, are suspected in several kidnapping cases. Foreigners have been specifically targeted near the border with Colombia. Cross-border violence, kidnapping, smuggling and drug trafficking occur frequently in remote areas.
A state of emergency is in effect and there is an increased military presence in a number of municipalities located along the border with Colombia.
The following border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia are partially closed:
- Simon Bolivar bridge (from San Antonio del Táchira to Cucuta, Colombia); and
- Paraguachón (in the state of Zulia and the Colombian department of La Guajir).
Border openings have been sporadic, with long delays. Less travelled border crossings in the states of Táchira, Zulia, Apure and Amazonas may also be closed. Stay informed, review your travel plans, and seek an alternate way into Colombia. If you opt to travel by air, confirm the status and routing of your flight with the airline before heading to the airport. Be aware that the Juan Vicente Gómez international airport, in San Antonio del Táchira, is closed indefinitely.
Demonstrations and political activities
Demonstrations occur regularly throughout Venezuela and will likely intensify in the lead up to the legislative elections scheduled for December 6, 2015. Violent clashes have occurred in the past at such demonstrations. Avoid all demonstrations, large gatherings and public areas where disturbances or violent incidents could occur, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local developments. Do not participate in political discussions or activities in public, or appear to take sides on any local issue related to the current political situation, as doing so could lead to arrest or even deportation.
Demonstrations often cause traffic jams in Caracas, especially in the historic centre of Plaza Bolívar (where most government institutions are located), in Plaza Venezuela, in Plaza Francia (Altamira), as well as in major centres throughout the country and on main highways. Do not attempt to cross blockades, even if they appear unattended. During major events, such as large demonstrations, network overload could interrupt local cellular and landline phone services. Other services could also be interrupted. Curfews may be imposed by authorities at any time and should be respected.
Venezuela has one of the world’s highest homicide rates. Violent crime, including murder and armed robbery, is prevalent throughout the country, including in national parks and tourist areas. The airport and the surrounding areas have seen an increase in violent crime recently. Violence against foreigners can occur in all regions, both urban and rural.
Petty crime is common, particularly in the central and poorer areas of all major cities and on Margarita Island. You should exercise caution in the areas of Sabana Grande and Plaza Venezuela in central Caracas, due to an increase in violent robberies. Pickpockets are active in crowded bus and subway stations. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure, including on beaches, in parked vehicles and in hotel rooms. Do not show signs of affluence or display valuables. Thefts from hotel safes have been reported. Use automated banking machines (ABMs) during the day only, choose ABMs in shopping malls or busy residential areas, and stay alert to your surroundings.
Avoid carrying large sums of cash, especially upon arrival at international airports. Kidnappers and robbers are known to target foreigners, who are assumed to be holding large amounts of foreign currency given the difficulty in obtaining Bolivars outside of Venezuela. Criminals also approach tourists at the airport and in tourist areas and offer to exchange money. Do not use the black market to convert cash. Exchange money at official exchange houses, and obtain cash advances at ABMs in secure locations accepting international credit cards, and at the front desk of your hotel, if the service is provided. Exercise situational awareness and use extreme caution when exiting any of these locations after having exchanged money, as persons have been robbed and some even killed after having been observed with cash.
Incidents of carjacking and kidnapping have increased. Victims are usually forced out of their vehicles at gunpoint or knifepoint and robbed of their money, jewellery and identification. Others have been forced into cars at gunpoint and driven out of the city. They may also be forced to withdraw funds at ABMs and, in some cases, held captive until their families pay a ransom. Victims have been injured, or even killed, for failing to cooperate. While foreigners are not specifically targeted, you should avoid walking or driving in isolated areas, particularly after dark.
Exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, and be especially careful about accepting rides or invitations. Incidents of drugging followed by robbery and assault, including sexual assault, have been reported.
Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. In some cases, hotel workers and taxi drivers have been implicated. Anyone who is a victim of a sexual assault should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and is strongly advised to file a report with Venezuelan authorities. Note that no criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Venezuelan authorities.
Criminals posing as police officers have harassed and extorted money from tourists. There have also been reports of Venezuelan officials at airports, immigration offices and police stations imposing excessive charges. If you experience a problem, you should pay the requested fine, ask for the officer’s name, badge number or patrol car number, and report the incident to the Embassy of Canada in Caracas.
There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in coastal areas and marinas, some involving a high degree of violence, including murder. Owners of small vessels, including private yachts, should be aware of the risk of attack and take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
In some areas of Caracas and elsewhere in the country, police presence and response are relatively poor.
Smuggling and drug trafficking occur frequently along international borders, especially in remote areas.
Shortages of basic food items and necessities have led to long line-ups at grocery stores across the country. There have been reports of fighting and theft occurring in line-ups. Exercise caution at supermarkets and maintain a stock of non-perishable food items and water at your hotel/residence.
Airlines have reduced the number of flights arriving and departing from Venezuela; therefore, flights may be difficult to book and more expensive than normal. You should plan your travel well in advance of your expected departure and contact your travel provider for assistance.
The Government of Canada does not provide information on the safety of foreign domestic airlines. Research foreign domestic airlines, aircraft and government safety supervision if you have concerns about aviation safety standards abroad.
Traffic congestion is common in Caracas. Traffic laws are rarely observed due to the lack of police enforcement. You should keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times. Night driving is not recommended due to security concerns, unmarked road damage or construction, and wandering livestock. Stopping at Bolivarian National Guard and police checkpoints is mandatory. Follow all instructions and have vehicle and insurance papers and passports readily available. Vehicles may be searched. There have been incidents of illegal roadblocks set up by armed bandits who stop and rob vehicles.
There have been incidents of stone throwing from highway overpasses and bridges near poorer neighbourhoods. Motorists are then robbed after stopping to assess the damage to their vehicle.
If an accident occurs, vehicles must not be moved until a traffic police officer fills out a report.
The road between Caracas and the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía is dangerous, and crime increases after dark. Plans for travel to and from all airports should be arranged in advance. Criminals are known to pose as taxi operators. Licensed, radio-dispatched taxis can be organized in advance by hotels or called from the airport. Follow the advice of local authorities regarding transportation and allow sufficient time to reach the airport.
You should only use licensed taxis in all areas of Venezuela. These taxis are generally safer than unlicensed taxis, although incidents of robbery and assault, often at gunpoint, have been reported for both licensed and unlicensed taxis. Never accept unsolicited offers of transportation or offers of help with luggage or passenger check-in.
Local buses and the subway in Caracas are not recommended due to the possibility of robbery. Incidents have also occurred on intercity buses.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Venezuelan authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela or one of its consulates 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.
A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending to visit Venezuela. The passport must be valid for at least six months. A return or onward ticket is required to enter Venezuela.
Tourist Visa: Not required (for stays of up to 90 days)
Business Visa/Work Permit: Required
Student Visa: Required
You cannot extend your stay beyond the 90-day period except in exceptional circumstances. Remaining in the country beyond this period or without a valid visa could lead to detention or deportation. Ensure that your status is up-to-date at all times. Contact the Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería (SAIME) (in Spanish) for more details.
Canadians travelling by land or sea may require a visa from a Venezuelan embassy or consulate before their arrival.
Travellers departing from any international airport in the country are required to pay an exit tax and an airport tax. These taxes are included in the cost of plane tickets for flights departing from Simón Bolívar International Airport. Amounts payable and methods of payment vary depending on the airport. Travellers should check with their airline.
Dual citizens must travel with their Canadian and Venezuelan passports. Contact SAIME for information and advice well in advance. If you travel without your Venezuelan passport, immigration officials may ask to see a Venezuelan visa on your Canadian passport or valid Venezuelan identification.
Minors (18 years old or under) born in Venezuela, travelling alone must present a notarized letter of consent from both parents. If the child is travelling with only one parent, a notarized letter of consent from the other parent will be needed. The notarized letter of consent must be presented to the immigration authorities upon exiting Venezuela, and must include the child's full name and passport number, the parents' full names, and the child's detailed travel itinerary (including flight numbers and names and addresses of all lodgings). The letter of consent must be written in Spanish.
Children and travel
Minors who are not Venezuelan citizens, and who overstay the 90-day tourist period when travelling alone, with one parent or with a third party, must provide the same documents as minors born in Venezuela (see above).
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.
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 Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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 South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk 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 South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this 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.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
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 South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Consult Well on Your Way—A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad for more information.
Emergency and ambulance services are very limited and response times are slow, especially in rural areas. Private clinics are available but are considerably more expensive and may demand payment in advance. Most clinics, hospitals and treatment facilities lack equipment and supplies. Even in metropolitan areas, patients are often asked to bring their own medical supplies in order for procedures to be done at the hospitals. All hospitals have run out of x-ray film and all x-rays are provided on CD-ROM along with a written report. Most health care providers do not speak English or French.
Pack an extra supply of your prescription or over-the-counter medications in case you are away for longer than expected, as supplies of medicine are limited throughout the country.
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 & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, include immediate detention, incarceration and lengthy jail terms. All departing visitors are thoroughly screened for drugs by the Bolivarian National Guard.
Venezuela has strict regulations concerning the importation of foreign-registered motor vehicles. Offenders face heavy fines and/or confiscation of the vehicle. Before arrival, contact the Embassy of Venezuela for the most up-to-date regulations and procedures.
Photography of sensitive installations, including the presidential palace, military sites, government buildings and airports, is prohibited.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
In 2008, the denomination of the Venezuelan currency changed from the bolívar to the bolívar fuerte (VEF), abbreviated locally as Bs.F. You should be aware of the value change: 1,000 bolívares correspond to 1 Bs.F.
The law prohibits the sale and purchase of any foreign currency outside of authorized institutions, such as currency exchange houses or banks. Be wary of individuals trying to buy your dollars at the airport. Anyone caught exchanging foreign currency is subject to a fine. Banks often restrict transactions to their clients only. Exchange houses may be scarce outside of major cities.
Only U.S. dollars can be exchanged, and only at official exchange houses. They cannot be used for transactions. If you are entering or leaving Venezuela with more than US$10,000, you are required to declare it to the authorities. Anyone convicted of selling or purchasing foreign currency above US$20,000 is subject to detention and a fine.
The bolívar fuerte cannot be exchanged outside Venezuela. For more information on currency exchange and international transactions, consult the Comisión de Administración de Divisas (in Spanish).
Credit cards are generally accepted at major hotels, at resorts and at airports. Many stores do not accept international cards. Identification is required for any credit card transaction. Credit card fraud can occur.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The rainy season extends from May to December. Heavy rains and landslides can occur during this period. In the event of heavy rains, coastal roads and highways may not be fully operational and some utilities, especially water services, may be disrupted.
The littoral cordillera coast of Venezuela (including Caracas) is located in an active seismic zone.
Caracas - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Caracas and follow the instructions. You may also place a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885 by dialling 0 800 100 1100 first.
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