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Ethiopia – AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Ethiopia due to civil unrest, violence, armed conflict and crime. The security situation can deteriorate without warning.
Additional regional advice and advisories are in effect. Our ability to provide consular assistance is limited in some regions.
Addis Ababa – Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Addis Ababa due to an increase in robberies and the risk of spontaneous demonstrations becoming violent. Ongoing armed conflict and civil unrest in other parts of the country could spread to major cities without warning.
Northern regions – Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following areas in the northern regions, due to armed conflict, civil unrest and the volatile security situation:
- zones 1, 2 and 4 and the Danakil Depression in the Afar region
- Wag Hemra and Agew Awi zones in the Amhara region
- areas within 30 km from the borders with the regions and zones listed above
Central regions – Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to to the following areas in the central regions due to civil unrest, violent crime, kidnapping, armed conflict and airstrikes:
- Wollega zones
- West Shewa zone
- West Arsi zone
- Haraghe zone
- Guji zone
- A7 highway between Mojo and Hawassa and A1 highway North-East of (but not including) Welenchiti, in the East Shewa zone
- North Shewa zone
- Southwest Shewa zone
- 30 km from the areas bordering the zones and regions listed above
Somali – Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the Somali Region, due to incidences of armed attacks and the risk of terrorism and kidnapping. This includes areas within 30 km from the border with Dire Dawa, Oromia Region, and Afar Region.
Border areas – Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to areas within 50 km of the border with the following countries due to ongoing instability, the high risk of terrorist attacks, kidnapping, violence and landmines:
- South Sudan
Safety and security
The situation is volatile and unpredictable in several areas throughout the country due to ethnic conflicts. Violent clashes occur, especially near regional borders.
Frequent incidents of civil unrest can lead to violence. Sporadic roadblocks, curfews and disruptions to telecommunications services are possible throughout the country.
If you travel to Ethiopia:
- expect a heightened security presence
- ensure that your travel documents are up to date
- carry identification documents at all times
- make sure to stop at all checkpoints and roadblocks, even if they appear unattended
- if you are stopped by security forces, stay calm and follow instructions
Armed conflict in Tigray
A cessation of hostilities agreement was signed on November 2, 2022 between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), after two years of armed conflict. The agreement has yet to be fully implemented and there remains uncertainty regarding its implications for security in the region.
Travel in and out of the Tigray region can be restricted without notice and food insecurity remains a major concern. Heightened security measures are in place.
Violent clashes between armed groups occur. Inter-ethnic disputes in Amhara have resulted in a large number of casualties, including civilians. Although foreigners are not targeted, there is a risk that you could be caught up in violence.
Danakil Depression (Afar region)
Foreigners have been the target of violent crimes, including armed assaults and kidnappings by bandit groups in this area. Cross border tensions and landmines are also a concern.
Border areas, including regional borders, often see higher criminal activity and violence, including in rural areas. Confrontations between organized criminal groups, ethnic groups, and Ethiopian authorities pose a risk.
The border with Eritrea is still a heavily militarized security corridor despite the peace agreement signed in 2018. Armed conflict could erupt without notice. Due to the conflict in Tigray, border roads and border crossings with Eritrea are closed. Conditions at the border may change without notice. Landmines pose a risk.
Inter-ethnic conflicts and banditry are frequent near the border with Kenya. Security forces regularly carry out military operations, which periodically raises tensions.
Cross-border violence also occurs. Armed groups hostile to the Government of Ethiopia operate in several areas near the border.
Terrorists maintain a presence in this area, and ethnic conflict has been reported. This includes but is not limited to the Konso Zone and surrounding areas. Kidnapping also poses a risk in this area.
Sporadic armed clashes over disputed land occur. The risk of terrorism and kidnapping is high in this area. Landmines pose a threat to safety.
Ethnic tensions and sporadic violence are common. Ethnic militias from South Sudan have crossed into Ethiopia to attack rival communities. The security situation is extremely unstable. The threat of violent crime, civil unrest and tribal clashes is high. Kidnapping and landmines pose a threat to safety.
Ethnic conflict, violent crime and sporadic violence are of concern in the city of Gambella and its surrounding areas. Armed clashes have caused casualties and damage to foreign companies’ installations in the area.
Terrorist groups maintain a presence in Somali towns near the Ethiopian border, presenting a risk for cross-border attacks and kidnappings. Violent crime, including armed robbery, occurs. Violent clashes between armed groups and security forces, as well as ethnic violent, are common. Landmines pose a threat to safety.
Demonstrations, civil unrest, violent crime, armed conflicts, and clashes between security forces and armed groups occur in Oromia, including in areas bordering Amhara. Roadside attacks have also taken place. These incidents are particularly prevalent in the following zones:
- West Wellega and the main Addis Ababa to Gambella road (A4 highway)
- East Wellega
- Kellem Wellega
- Horro-Guduru Wellega
Airstrikes targeting rebel groups in the West Shewa, East Shewa and West Wollega zones have killed hundreds of civilians.
The security situation could deteriorate without warning. A heightened security presence remains throughout these areas. Local authorities may impose curfews without notice. Internet and cellular data outages could occur.
- avoid military, police and security installations
- exercise extreme caution
- follow the advice of local authorities
There is a threat of kidnapping, particularly in Western Oromia region.
Benishangul Gumuz region
Civil unrest, including armed conflicts, has resulted in deaths. Violent clashes can occur without warning due to local ethnic tensions.
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples region
Armed conflicts and civil unrest have occurred sporadically across the region. These have led to casualties and mass arrests. Residents have also randomly attacked cars and disrupted road travel. Militia attacks have also occurred.
The security situation could deteriorate without warning. A heightened security presence remains throughout these areas. Local authorities may impose curfews without notice. Internet and cellular data outages could occur.
Kidnapping occurs, especially in the Somali, Gambella and Oromia regions (Kellem, East and West Wellega zones), as well as in the border areas with Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Eritrea (Danakil Depression).
If you are travelling in a region prone to kidnapping:
- get professional security advice
- arrange for personal security
- change your travel patterns regularly
- be aware of your surroundings
- avoid displaying signs of affluence
- don’t travel alone
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging, occurs, especially in Addis Ababa. Incidents are mostly opportunistic. However, they have been increasingly reported in the following areas:
- the Bole Medhanealem
- the Bole Atlas
- the Meskel Square
- the Merkato
- the Entoto
- Yeka Hills
Theft from parked cars and burglaries in vacant residences also occur, especially in rural areas, where the police response is limited.
Crime significantly increases after dark.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in crowded areas
- Avoid displaying any signs of affluence in public
- Avoid walking alone after sundown
- Choose living accommodations that have good security measures
- Keep car doors locked while you’re in your vehicle
- Park your car in a well-lit and guarded area
- Be vigilant if approached by strangers seeking assistance
- If threatened, hand over valuables without resistance
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
Violent crime is rare in Addis Ababa, but happens. Westerners have been victims of armed assaults and muggings.
- stay calm and don’t resist
- comply with the robbers’ requests
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations take place regularly, especially across the Oromia region and Addis Ababa. Ethnic tensions and territorial disputes in this area have led to demonstrations and civil unrest near the regional state borders.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Mass gatherings (large-scale events)
There is a threat of terrorism. Regional terror groups continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Ethiopia, including in Addis Ababa. Domestic terror groups also pose an increased threat in some regions, like the Somali region.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Ethiopia is primarily a cash-based economy but credit card and ATM fraud may sometimes occur, especially in large cities. There have been reports of unauthorized charges. Connectivity issues may also be a problem.
Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Women travelling alone may be subject to harassment and verbal abuse.
Advice for women travellers
Hiking in the Danakil Depression
Weather conditions in the Danakil depression area can be fairly arid. Facilities are basic. There is no running water and medical options are very limited.
You should prepare for excessive heat and difficult terrain, namely around the Erta Ale Volcano.
If you intend on hiking in this area despite the advisory in place:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- 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
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails
Outages and shortages
Power outages are frequent nationwide, particularly during the dry season de November to June. Local authorities may impose power rationing.
Not all buildings have generators. Outages can result in lack of street lighting, restaurants and supermarkets without adequate refrigeration, and gas stations unable to supply fuel.
Although there are some plans to improve the network, cellular coverage is unreliable and connectivity remains an issue in several parts of the country.
Local authorities also control telecommunications and may shut down both cell phone and internet systems during periods of civil unrest or ahead of a large planned protest.
You should not rely on your cell phone in case of emergency, especially outside major cities.
- Avoid travelling alone
- Inform relatives of your itinerary
Fuel and food
Periodic fuel and food shortages occur. This may create social tensions and increase food prices.
- Carry flashlights
- Plan to have adequate water, food and fuel supplies
Driving standards, vehicle maintenance and road conditions are often poor throughout the country. Traffic accidents are a regular occurrence, especially in Addis Ababa and on the Addis Ababa–Djibouti road.
Apart from major arteries, roads are generally unpaved. They often lack markings and signage, reflectors and shoulders, even in urban areas. They are poorly lit and maintained.
Drivers often drive at excessive speed and don’t respect traffic laws. They may be reckless. Poorly maintained vehicles, roaming animals and pedestrians pose further hazards. Armed robbery, carjacking and landmines also pose a threat, especially in border areas
There is no road assistance and emergency services are limited to nonexistent in several areas. Although improving, the cellular coverage remains unstable outside main cities.
- Avoid driving after dark
- Always keep your gas tank full when in remote areas
- Always carry a first-aid kit, as medical facilities are often undersupplied
- Advise a relative of your anticipated itinerary and route
- If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it
- Don’t rely on your phone for navigation or emergency contacts
Traffic accidents occur regularly throughout Ethiopia. Traffic often moves unpredictably.
Under Ethiopian law, it is illegal to move your vehicle before a police officer arrives if an accident occurs. Large crowd may gather and could become hostile and aggressive.
If involved in an accident:
- avoid confrontation
- call the local police and remain at the scene of the accident until they arrive
- should you feel unsafe, leave immediately and report the incident to the nearest police station
Most public transport is unregulated and unsafe. Hire private transport from a reliable source or use transportation provided by your hotel.
Minibuses and large buses are often old, poorly maintained and overcrowded.
Some buses have been attacked on their way from one region to another.
Only use buses from the airport that have been organised by your hotel or your tour operator.
Rail services are limited and trains are poorly maintained. Avoid travelling by train.
Taxis are generally unsafe.
If travelling by taxi:
- only use metered taxis
- choose yellow taxis rather than white or blue ones
- make sure you are the only passenger in the vehicle
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Information about foreign domestic airlines
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 requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from Ethiopian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
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 Ethiopia.
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
Transit visa: required
Canadians must have a valid visa to enter the country. You may obtain a visa online. If you overstay your visa, you may face daily fines and imprisonment.
You need the proper visa if you want to conduct a business or volunteering activity. If you fail to do so, you may be fined or detained.
- Obtain a visa online before arrival
- Verify carefully that your visa is valid
- Ensure that your activities in the country adhere to the type of visa you have obtained
Ethiopian e-Visa – Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Other entry requirements
Authorities may request additional documents if you attempt to enter Ethiopia by vehicle at certain border crossings.
Contact the Embassy of Canada to Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, to determine specific entry requirements at land borders.
Due to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in other African countries, you may, upon arrival or departure:
- be subject to a temperature check
- need to fill out a health questionnaire
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Relevant Travel Health Notices
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 a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are arriving from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, or Venezuela or have transited through an airport in one of these countries.
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.
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.
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).
Polio – Proof of vaccination required
Polio is present in this country. Polio can be prevented by vaccination, which is part of the routine vaccines for children in Canada.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended for adults.
Proof of vaccination:
If you are staying more than 4 weeks in this country, you may need to show proof of polio vaccination when you leave the country.
Make sure that the polio vaccination is documented on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. This is the only document accepted as proof of vaccination. In Canada, they are provided at Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres.
Carry the certificate as proof of vaccination.
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 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.
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.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a 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.
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.
Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. 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.
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.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- 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.
Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can be fatal. It is spread to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, from the bite of an infected mosquito, or eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from insect bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock, and unpasteurized dairy. There is no vaccine available for Rift Valley fever.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may put you at higher risk 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’re 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
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 professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
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.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is inadequate, except in private hospitals of Addis Ababa where you can expect reasonable standard of basic care for minor health problems. Otherwise, health facilities are not up to Canadian standards. They lack of personnel, equipment, supplies and medications.
Ambulance services are extremely limited and unreliable.
Ensure that you always carry a comprehensive medical pack when travelling.
You will likely need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Addis Ababa is located about 2500 metres above sea level. Acute mountain sickness may occur at high altitudes.
Be well informed about the potential health hazards at high altitudes.
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.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Ethiopian authorities may apply the death penalty for serious offences.
All illicit drugs are illegal except khat, a local stimulant. Khat is illegal in several countries. Don’t attempt to export it.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.
Ethiopia is used as a drug trafficking hub between Western markets and southern Asia for heroin.
- Carry only your personal belongings, and don’t leave them unattended
- Don’t agree to carry packages that are not your own
Ethiopian law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted can face up to 15 years in prison.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Ethiopia.
Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Ethiopia.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Ethiopia, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
Travellers with dual citizenship
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 Ethiopia.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Ethiopia by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Ethiopia 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.
You must carry photo ID with you at all times, as local authorities can ask you to prove your identity.
Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it is lost or confiscated.
It’s illegal to carry a firearm in Ethiopia.
It’s illegal to own any quantity of ivory, including in jewellery.
Antiques or religious paraphernalia
You may not export real antiques or religious items.
Tourist souvenirs are often copies of Ethiopian antiques or religious paraphernalia.
If buying such items, ensure that you have a receipt, clearly indicating that it’s a souvenir and not authentic. However, be aware that authorities may confiscate items purchased for export or for personal use, especially ceremonial knives, even if you present a receipt.
It’s strictly prohibited to photograph:
- military installations
- police and military personnel
- industrial facilities
- government buildings and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, dams and airfields
Never stop near a restricted area, no matter the reason, on foot or in a vehicle.
It is illegal to give money to, or purchase something from, people who approach vehicles stopped in traffic, including children.
If caught, both the beggar/vendor and the vehicle operator face fines.
Writing on blogs or social media about political subjects could lead to detention and arrest.
You can use one cell phone or tablet on the network of the sole, state-owned telecommunications provider, Ethio Telecom.
Additional devices are subject to a customs fee of 10% of the total cost of the device, as well as the activation fee.
Other electronic devices
You must declare all laptop computers and video equipment other than those for personal use upon arrival and departure. Some recording devices may require special customs permits.
If you will be using these items for work, obtain permission to bring them into the country from the Embassy of Ethiopia in Ottawa or the Consulate of Ethiopia in Toronto.
In 2023, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 22.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when :
The Ethiopian highlands population is predominantly Orthodox Christian. There is fasting in this region every Wednesday and Friday, and during Lent.
- Always obtain permission from religious authorities before visiting churches
- Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities
Time of day
Many people in Ethiopia use the Ethiopian clock.
According to the Ethiopian clock, unlike the convention in most countries, the start of the day is dawn rather than midnight. As a result, daytime hours are counted beginning from what would be 6 a.m. For instance, the time at one hour after dawn – 7 a.m. – would be 1 a.m. on the Ethiopian clock.
Most hotels and larger organisations, including all airlines, use the global clock. However, many individuals or smaller organisations continue to use the Ethiopian clock.
Check with your host if you are unsure which clock is being used for a meeting or an event.
You must have a local driver’s licence to drive in Ethiopia. You must present your valid Canadian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit to obtain one.
If you’re involved in an accident, don’t move your vehicle before a police officer arrives. It’s illegal to do so.
International Driving Permit
The currency of Ethiopia is the birr (ETB).
Credit cards are not widely accepted except by large hotels, travel agencies and a few shops and restaurants in Addis Ababa. ATMs are very limited outside urban areas and may run out of cash without notice.
Make sure you have access to hard-currency cash in case of emergency.
It is illegal to enter or exit Ethiopia with more than 1,000 birr.
You may enter or exit Ethiopia with up to US$3,000 or its equivalent in any convertible foreign currency. This doesn’t include birr. However:
- if you enter with more, you must declare the funds upon arrival
- if you exit with more, you must have at least one of the following:
- a bank document certifying the purchase of the foreign currency and approving travel with the funds or
- a customs declaration form made upon entry
Be aware that even the provision of such documents may not safeguard you against confiscation of the extra funds, imprisonment or fines. Policies may change at any time without notice.
Exchanging money on the black market is illegal. Exchange foreign currency at banks or official foreign exchange offices only as you may face heavy fines or detention.
Natural disasters and climate
Due to below-average rainfall for several years in a row, Ethiopia is experiencing severe drought.
Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected.
You may encounter difficulties travelling overland.
The rainy season normally extends from June to September.
Some roads may become impassable during this period due to flooding.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Ethiopia is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes may occur.