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Comoros Flag of Comoros

Still current at: 18 January 2009
Updated: 16 January 2009

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Political Situation (update), Local Travel (hotels) and Money (obtaining cash) sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.


(see travel advice legal disclaimer)



Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is no British Embassy or Honorary Consul in Comoros.  Comoros is covered from the British High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius. You should register with the British High Commission in Port Louis before travelling to Comoros and closely monitor the situation through local media. See the General (Representation) section of this advice for more details.

  • We are not aware of any British nationals who required consular assistance in Comoros in 2008.  However, you should take sensible precautions against pickpockets and muggers and not walk unaccompanied in town centres at night.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance  for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
 
For more general information see Terrorism abroad.

Crime

The three islands which make up the Union of the Comoros, are generally crime-free, but you should take sensible precautions against pickpocketing and mugging.  You should not walk around town centres unaccompanied at night.  Safeguard valuables and cash.  Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable.  Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Comoros Country Profile

The Comores Archipelago consists of 4 main islands.  The islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli which form the Union of Comores and the island of Mayotte (a French overseas territory).

Following disputed Presidential Elections in June 2007 on Anjouan, the Union of Comoros and the African Union sent a military intervention force in March 2008 to remove the self proclaimed President Col Mohamed Bacar and restore the status quo.  Bacar escaped the island along with a number of his close associates and after a period of detention on Mayotte and Reunion, remains in exile in Benin.  New elections were held in June 2008.  Moussa Toybou was elected President.

As a result of its colonial history and the ongoing political debate regarding the seperation status of Mayotte, there have been a number of reports of demonstrations and anti-French sentiment throughout Comoros.  All foreigners should remain cautious and monitor events through the local media, and avoid all demonstrations, rallies and other large public gatherings.

Local Travel

Facilities on Anjouan are basic; visitors to the island usually stay at a hotel in Mutsamudu.  Moheli has few facilities for tourists.   On Grande Comore (also known as Ngadijza) there are a few hotels of an acceptable standard in or near the capital Moroni.

Road Travel

On Grande Comore, the main round-island road is of a reasonable standard, but some other roads are in a poor condition.

You may use either a UK or International driving licence for up to 3 months.  You should consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Tel: 00 269 744 100 or E-mail: mirexcab@yahoo.fr) if an extension is required.
 
For more general information see Driving Abroad.

Air Travel

You can travel between the three islands by air.  The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm.

For more general information see Airline Security.

Sea Travel

You can travel between the three islands by boat.  You should exercise care at all times when travelling by boat and avoid travel on vessels that are clearly overloaded, in poor condition or do not have life jackets available, as overloaded ferries have capsized in Comoran waters, sometimes with significant loss of life.  The most recent incident happened on 10 September 2006. 
 
For more general information see River and Sea Safety.

Local laws and customs

Comoros is a Muslim country.  You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.  For more general information see Travelling During Ramadan.
 
Homosexuality is not illegal in Comoros. 
 
Drug smuggling and the possession of drugs are serious offences, which may result in long prison sentences, fines and deportation.
 
For more general information see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas
 
Visas are required but can be obtained on arrival at Hahaya airport, or at other points of entry.
 
Passport validity
 
Passports need to have three months’ remaining validity.
 
Travelling with children
 
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration, please contact the Comoran Embassy in Paris, Rue Marbeau 20, 75116 Paris, telephone: (33) (1) 40679054.

Health

Medical facilities are basic and limited on all three islands, and most are private.  You should be aware that electricity and water supplies are subject to frequent interruptions, which can affect hospitals and other public services. Medicines and food may not have been safely stored.

Malaria and cholera are common to Comoros, with malaria affecting all three islands.
 
You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.  If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Comoros you should seek immediate medical attention.
 
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that less than 200 adults aged 15 or over in Comoros were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at less than 0.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Comoros and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general information see Travel Health.

Natural disasters


Comoros is in the cyclone belt and can be affected by cyclones between January and May.

The Karthala volcano near Moroni on Grande Comore erupts periodically, most recently in November 2005.  Earthquakes associated with increased volcanic activity occurred in mid-January 2007.  Although initial fears of an eruption have subsided, you should check the situation locally before making plans to visit the island.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling and include cover for medical repatriation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance for more details.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is How We Can Help.
 
Registration
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Representation
 
There is no British Embassy in Comoros, nor an Honorary Consul.  Comoros is covered from the British High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius.
 
The nearest Comoran Embassy to the UK is in Paris, Rue Marbeau 20, 75116 Paris, telephone:  (33) (1) 40679054.  The Comoran Honorary Consul in the UK, Mr Khaled Chehabi, can be contacted at Flat 6, 24-26 Avenue Road, NW8 6BU; Tel: 0207 491 2098 
 
Money
 
Cash is the main means of paying for goods and services in Comoros.  The Banque International du Comore (affiliated to BNP) is the only established bank on Grande Comore, and banking facilities are minimal to non-existent on the other islands.  You can withdraw cash (local currency only) against a credit card from a small Bureau de Change offcie attached to the main BIC branch (on left hand side of main entrance).  BFI, one of the local banks, does not exchange sterling cash.  Only one or two hotels accept credit cards for payment of bills, but will not provide local currency against credit cards (This can sometimes be problematic due to technical / connection problems with the equipment).  Some hotels and restaurants will accept some foreign currencies (Euros and US Dollars preferred).  Change may be given in local currency.  Credit cards will not work in the only 2 ATMs in Moroni.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Mauritius

Address:

British High Commission
Les Cascades Building
Edith Cavell Street
Port Louis
PO Box 1063

Telephone:

(230) 202 9400
(230) 252 8006 Duty Officer (in case of genuine emergency out of office hours)

Fax:

(230) 202 9408
(230) 202 9407 Consular/Visa

Email: bhc@intnet.mu

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0345-1145
Fri: 0345-0930

Local Time : GMT + 4 (Mauritius is normally 1 hour ahead of Comoros, but since the introduction of daylight saving time in Mauritius, there is 2 hours of a difference from November to March).

Out of hours, the Mauritius High Commission will give contact number.

Website: http://www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/mauritius



 

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