Venezuela Register Travel insurance Destinations
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Venezuela - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Venezuela due to the significant level of violent crime, the unstable political and economic situations and the decline in basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, food staples and water.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Venezuela. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The security situation in Venezuela remains unstable and could deteriorate with very little warning. A nationwide state of exception (state of emergency) has been in effect since January 15, 2016.
If you decide to travel to Venezuela despite this advisory, seek help from a reputable tour company, family or friend who has a good understanding of the current situation. Stay in accommodations with good security.
Venezuela has one of the world’s highest homicide rates.
Murder and other violent crimes are pervasive throughout the country. Crimes include:
- Armed robbery, particularly in the capital city of Caracas
- Home invasion
- Kidnapping for ransom
Violence against locals and visitors alike can occur in both urban and rural areas, including in those popular with tourists.
Organized criminal groups and gangs are rampant. Many criminals carry firearms, and victims are often injured or killed for failing to cooperate.
- If you are threatened, stay calm and don’t resist
- Don’t walk on city streets at night, and avoid walking alone in less busy or isolated areas during the day
- Don’t visit “barrios” (heavily populated slums), especially in eastern and western areas of Caracas but also in any part of the country, as barrios are extremely unsafe
Street crime is common, particularly in major cities, and often results in violence. Pickpockets are active in crowded bus and subway stations.
Criminals have targeted pedestrians and motorists, sometimes from motorcycles.
Authorities (e.g. police, airport, immigration) have harassed and extorted money from travellers. If you experience such problems, report the incident to the Canadian embassy in Caracas.
Police response times are poor or non-existent in most parts of the country, and most reported crimes don’t result in prosecution.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Don’t show signs of affluence or display valuables, particularly jewelry and electronics, including cell phones
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash and keep foreign currency out of sight
- Maintain a low profile and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
International border regions
The land border with Colombia is currently only open to pedestrians.
Armed criminal groups frequently operate on both sides of this border, conducting illegal activities such as:
- Drug trafficking
- Black market sales
There is a high military presence in a number of municipalities located along the border. Nevertheless, general lawlessness, particularly in the area within 20 km of the border with Colombia, increases the risk of extortion and kidnapping in this region. The situation is less prevalent in La Fría (state of Táchira) and Puerto Ayacucho (state of Amazonas) and on main highways.
Smuggling and drug trafficking also occur along the borders with Brazil and Guyana.
Stay informed of the security situation, as well as which border crossings are open, and their hours of opening.
At the airport
Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía (Caracas) is dangerous. Incidents of violent crime occur frequently, both inside the facilities and in the surrounding areas.
Kidnappers and armed robbers have targeted foreigners, who are assumed to be holding large amounts of foreign currency. Criminals often approach tourists at the airport and offer to exchange money. They may also pose as taxi drivers.
- Arrange your travel so that you arrive and depart the airport during daylight hours
- Have a friend, family member or a trusted transportation service waiting to pick you up upon arrival
- Don’t take a taxi from this airport
On the road
Incidents of crime along intercity roads are common. Armed bandits set up illegal roadblocks and rob vehicles, including intercity buses.
There have been incidents of motorists being robbed after stopping to assess the damage to their vehicle from improvised spikes on the road or stone throwing from highway overpasses and bridges near poorer neighbourhoods.
- Keep your valuables out of plain sight
- Remain vigilant when driving, especially when stopped
- Always drive with the doors locked and windows closed
- Avoid driving after dark
Express kidnappings are frequent and can occur anywhere in the country. Victims are usually kidnapped from the street and forced to withdraw funds from an ATM.
- Be careful when dealing with recent acquaintances, especially when they offer rides
- Use ATMs located in secure locations during daylight hours only
- Don’t use ATMs at the airport
- Be extremely cautious after having exchanged or withdrawn money
- Be discrete when handling money in public
Demonstrations and social unrest
Large-scale and violent demonstrations frequently occur in Caracas and many other areas across the country. They have resulted in many arrests, injuries and deaths in the past. Demonstrations can take many forms, including:
- large-scale gatherings
- national strikes
- roadblocks, including on major highways
Demonstrations can lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Don’t attempt to cross road blockades, even if they appear unattended
- Don’t participate in political discussions or activities in public, or appear to take sides on any local issue related to the current political situation;
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
There are severe shortages of basic food items and necessities, including medicine and personal-care products. They have led to long line-ups at grocery stores and pharmacies across the country. Rioting, fighting and theft occur in line-ups.
Municipal water and power shortages occur in parts of the country, including in Caracas, even during the rainy season.
Fuel may also be scarce outside of cities.
Ensure that your emergency kit is complete.
Telecommunication infrastructure is in a state of disrepair. Interruptions are frequent. It is very difficult to make international calls.
Some areas don’t have cellular coverage. Check local providers’ coverage.
There have been incidents of piracy against ships in coastal areas and marinas, some involving a high degree of violence, including murder. Be aware of the risk of attack and take appropriate precautions if you own a small vessel.
Live Piracy Report - International Maritime Bureau
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
If you intend on undertaking excursions or recreational activities:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- ensure that businesses offering excursions follow proper safety measures
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
Rescue services and aquatic equipment may not be consistent with international standards.
- Ensure that equipment is safe and in good condition
- Ensure that helmets and life jackets are available
- Check that your travel insurance covers accidents related to recreational activities
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Unmarked road damage or construction also poses a hazard. After heavy rains, sewer grates may have been displaced and potholes may be hidden in puddles. Street lighting is often inadequate.
Drivers do not respect traffic laws. They are extremely aggressive and reckless. They often don’t stop at red lights or stop signs, and some don’t turn on their vehicle lights. Drinking and driving is prevalent.
Outside of cities, gas stations and restaurants can be few and far between, and gas pumps are often empty.
Crime increases at nightfall. Therefore, driving at night is risky.
There is a high risk of theft on both inner city and intercity buses, especially at night. There is a risk of theft in the subway, and some subway stations are unsafe.
- Only take the subway during daylight hours, and avoid peak hours
- Seek advice from locals before using this means of transportation
Licensed taxis are generally safer than unlicensed taxis. Mototaxis are not recommended as drivers can be reckless.
- Pre-book a licensed, radio-dispatched taxi
- Avoid hailing a taxi in the street
- Advise a friend of your movements, the taxi company’s name and the taxi number
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Travelling within or out of the country on short notice can be difficult. International and domestic commercial flights are limited. Some international airlines have reduced the number of flights arriving to and departing from Venezuela or have suspended services altogether.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Venezuelan authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Venezuela.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required (for stays of up to 90 days)
Business visa: required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
Canadians travelling by land or sea may require a visa from a Venezuelan embassy or consulate before their arrival.
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 and deportation.
- Ensure that you receive an entrance stamp in your passport from Venezuela’s immigration office at the port of entry
- Ensure that your status is up-to-date at all times
Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería (SAIME) - Venezuelan migration department ( in Spanish)
Other entry requirements
Customs officials will ask you to show them a return or onward ticket to enter Venezuela.
You must pay a departure tax if you leave Venezuela from one of its international airports. Amounts and methods of payment vary depending on the airport.
Canadian citizens who also hold Venezuelan citizenship must enter and exit Venezuela using the following documents:
- Venezuelan passport
- Venezuelan identification card
Although immigration authorities have allowed dual citizens to enter without Venezuelan documents, they have later prevented them from leaving the country.
It is very difficult to obtain a new Venezuelan passport or to extend an expired passport, due to the shortage of passport materials. If you enter Venezuela with an expired Venezuelan passport, authorities may not stamp your travel documents upon entry. This may lead to difficulties when exiting the country.
If you are a Venezuelan citizen and planning to travel there, make sure your Venezuelan passport is valid beyond the duration of your trip.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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).
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 arriving from Brazil, including travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through an airport in Brazil.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- 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 professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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 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 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 typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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 , yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. 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.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 3 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- 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
Good health care is limited in availability and the quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Some private hospitals and clinics in major cities provide adequate services, which are expensive. Outside of major cities, most of the hospitals are in very poor, unsanitary condition. Most medical establishments lack equipment, medicine and supplies. Their equipment is old, particularly for specialized care. Hospitals have run out of x-ray film. Patients are often asked to bring their own medical supplies in order for procedures to be done at the hospitals.
Payment is required in advance of treatment.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Emergency and ambulance services are very limited and response times are slow, especially in rural areas.
There is a severe shortage of pharmaceutical drugs throughout the country.
Some medicines are no longer available in hospitals. Most hospital pharmacies and drugstores no longer stock basic medicine or supplies.
- Bring all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you may need with you
- Pack an extra supply in case you are away for longer than expected
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect immediate detention and lengthy jail terms.
All departing visitors are thoroughly screened for drugs by the Bolivarian National Guard. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.
You must carry your passport at all times.
Photography of sensitive installations, including the presidential palace, military sites, government buildings and airports, is prohibited.
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 nearest Venezuelan embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date regulations and procedures.
You must declare the importation of any new item, even personal, worth more than US$1,000 to customs officials and pay appropriate taxes.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Venezuela.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Venezuela, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
If you are both a Canadian and a Venezuelan citizen, you should use your Canadian passport during your travel. Present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk.
Stopping at Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela and police checkpoints is mandatory. There are many control points throughout the country. Follow all instructions and have vehicle and insurance papers and passports readily available.
Vehicles may be searched. It is not uncommon for authorities to seek bribes.
In the case of an accident, don’t move your vehicle until a traffic police officer fills out a report. Police response times are often slow.
You should carry international driving permit
The currency in Venezuela is the Venezuelan bolivar (BsF or VEF).
Cash payments are often required in rural areas and for smaller purchases in urban areas.
It can be difficult to obtain local currency.
Banks often restrict transactions to their clients only. Official exchange houses are scarce outside of major cities and the law prohibits the sale and purchase of any foreign currency outside of authorized institutions. You are subject to a fine is you are caught exchanging foreign currency outside of authorized institutions. Very few exchange houses or banks will exchange bolívars outside Venezuela.
Obtaining cash advances at ATMs can also be challenging. Malfunctions and insufficient cash are recurring problems. Many ATMs don’t accept international credit cards or ask for additional codes to confirm identity. There are often line-ups during weekends.
- Change your money in the official exchange offices only
- Don’t use the black market
- Only U.S. dollars can be exchanged
Identification is required for a credit card transaction.
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 more than US$20,000 in foreign currency is subject to detention and a fine.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
The rainy season extends from May to December. Heavy rains, flooding 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.
Venezuela’s coastal range (littoral cordillera), which includes Caracas, is located in an active seismic zone.
Dial 171 for emergency assistance.
Caracas - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Venezuela, in Caracas, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa. To call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre from Venezuela, dial +58 212 600 3099.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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