Canadian government advice to travelers to avoid non-essential travel to Ethiopia!

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Latest updates: Risk levels – changes to regional advisories for Afar, Oromia, Tigray and Somali region; Safety and security – updated information on Afar and Oromia regions

Last updated: April 22, 2024 09:09 ET

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

Amhara region

The state of emergency, declared by the Ethiopian authorities on August 14, 2023, remains in effect in the Amhara region due to continued clashes between armed groups and security forces.While a state of emergency is in effect, police and military have the power to:restrict freedom of movement and assemblyenter private properties to conduct searchesdetain persons of interestThere is increasing and spreading violence in the Amhara region. The majority of the instability is taking place in towns and villages along the A2 and B22 highways, as well as along the southern part of the A3 highway. The cities of Lalibela, Bahir Dar and Gondar have also been affected. The safety and security situation is changing rapidly and includes violent clashes between armed groups in and around cities, towns and airports. Road blocks and curfews are also being used to restrict movements.Due to the potential for violence to increase and spread in this region, you are at high risk of encountering movement restrictions and having no access to communications.If you are in the Amhara region affected by the armed conflict:monitor local media to stay informed on the evolving situationfollow the instructions of local authoritiesshelter-in-place until the situation stabilizes and until it is safe to leave the region (flights and land transportation may be disrupted)register with ROCA ( to receive important safety updates from the Government of Canadacontact the Embassy of Canada in Addis Ababa by email if you require consular assistance:

Violent clashes between armed groups occur. Inter-ethnic disputes in Amhara have resulted in casualties, including civilians. Although foreigners aregenerally not targeted, there is a risk that you could be caught up in violence.

Tigray region

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.

Danakil Depression (Afar region)

Foreign tourists were targeted by armed groups in the past.

If you decide to travel to the Danakil Depression:

  • always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company escorted by official security forces
  • be aware of excessive heat and difficult terrain
  • maintain a full tank of gas
  • keep a supply of water and non-perishable snacks

Cross border tensions with Eritrea are a concern. Although the demining operation is completed in the area, residual landmines still pose a threat to your safety. 

Border areas

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.

South Sudan

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.

Gambella region

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.

Somali region

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.

Oromia region

Demonstrations, civil unrest, violent crime, armed conflicts, and clashes between security forces and armed groups occur in Oromia, including in areas bordering Amhara. There is a threat of kidnapping. 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
  • Shewa

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

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, 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

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

Violent crime is rare in Addis Ababa, but happens. Westerners have been victims of armed assaults and muggings.

If threatened:

  • 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. They can occur without warning. 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

Overseas fraud

Outages and shortages


Power outages are frequent nationwide, particularly during the dry season from 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

Road safety

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

Public transportation

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

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

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to harassment and verbal abuse.Advice for women travellers

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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.

Official travel

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.

Useful links


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.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).


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