Polio: Advice for travellers

Updated: February 04, 2020


Original publication date: March 07, 2018

Current situation

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the international spread of poliovirus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in May 2014, and issued temporary recommendations to reduce the risk of further spread of the disease. Since then, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee meets every three months to review the situation.

On December 20, 2019, the WHO released an updated report on the international spread of poliovirus. The Committee agreed that poliovirus remains a PHEIC, and recommended the extension of the temporary recommendations for another three months.

Polio remains consistently present (endemic) in three countries:

Outbreaks of polio are also currently occurring in:

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative provides an interactive map of countries with confirmed cases of polio.

About polio

Polio (poliomyeltis) is a highly contagious disease. It can cause paralysis and death. It is spread through the feces of a person who is infected with the virus. It enters the body through your mouth, mainly from food or water that is contaminated with feces.

There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented by vaccination. Some countries may require that you show proof of polio vaccination to enter or leave their country. The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is the official document used to show proof of vaccination against polio. This is the only document accepted as proof of vaccination. It is currently available at Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada.


Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel.  Tell them where you will be travelling and for how long.


If you are travelling to a country where there is a risk of polio, get vaccinated against polio if you:  

Infants and children under 18 years of age:

Adults (18 years and older):

Proof of vaccination

During your trip, eat and drink safely

Always take precautions with food and water to avoid getting sick.

Practise good hand hygiene

Information for health care professionals

The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) has developed a statement on poliovirus and the international traveller in accordance with the World Health Organization's (WHO) temporary recommendations to provide guidance for health care professionals who are preparing travellers to visit areas with a risk of polio.

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

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