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madagascar

Madagascar Flag of Madagascar

Still current at: 17 March 2009
Updated: 17 March 2009

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary.  The overall level of advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)


Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Madagascar.  There have been a number of demonstrations in Madagascar since 24 January 2009 as a result of tensions between the government of President Ravalomanana and opposition leader and former mayor of Antananarivo, Rajoelina.  There have been violent incidents and lootings in Antananarivo and regional centres across the country, and more than 125 deaths have been reported.  We strongly advise British nationals in Madagascar to avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large gatherings and to monitor the situation in the local media.  We urge all British nationals in Madagascar to avoid Iavoloha (the area around the presidential palace).  Due to the speed at which events can develop we advise all British nationals in Madagascar to remain in close contact with our Honorary Consuls and the local authorities.

  • Disruption in Antananarivo continues.  Road blocks and barricades have been installed around the capital.  President Ravalomanana resigned on 17 March 2009 and handed power to a military appointee.  The situation remains fluid and there is a continued possibility of violence.

  • There is no British Embassy in Madagascar, but there are Honorary British Consuls in Toamasima and Antananarivo.  Madagascar is covered from the British High Commission in Port Louis.  See the General (Representation) section of this advice for more details.

  • You should avoid driving outside urban areas after dark, as there have been armed robberies at night on some of the major roads.

  • The cyclone season in Madagascar normally runs from January to March; coastal areas are particularly affected.   See the Natural Disasters section of this travel advice and Tropical cyclones for more details.

  • Most visits to Madagascar are trouble-free.  The main type of problem for which British nationals required consular assistance in Madagascar in 2007 was replacing lost and stolen passports.  There is a risk of crime in Madagascar.  See the Crime section of this advice for more details.

  • 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 all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice for and Travel Insurance 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 information see Terrorism Abroad.
 
Crime
 
Muggings and armed robberies do occur, particularly in urban areas.  You should keep clear of any street disturbances and not leave your bags unattended.  You should keep large amounts of money, jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight when walking in town centres.  Avoid walking in city centres after dark.
 
You should also take sensible precautions in crowded areas such as street markets and airports, where pick-pocketing is common.
 
Safeguard valuables, important documents and cash.  Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable.  Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.
 
Beware of pickpockets, particularly at airports and street markets, you should keep clear of any street disturbances.  Do not leave your bags unattended.
 
For more information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Madagascar Country Profile
 
Local Travel
 
Avoid travelling outside urban areas at night as there are occasional armed robberies on the main highways.
 
There have been incidences of armed robbery in some National Parks.  If you intend to visit a National Park, seek advice from a tour operator or from the park administration in advance.
 
If you plan to travel outside Antananarivo, you should re-confirm bookings before leaving the capital.
 
Road Travel
 
Road conditions vary greatly.  In the rainy season (December to April), most secondary roads are impassable (except for four wheel drive vehicles) and bridges are frequently washed away.  Operation of river ferries may be irregular.  Check with the local authorities before setting off to find out whether your chosen route is passable.
 
Most of the major roads out of Antananarivo carry heavy freight traffic and have a number of steep gradients and sharp bends.  Drive with extreme caution.
 
Malagasy regulations specify that foreigners driving in Madagascar require an international driving licence.
 
For more general information see Driving Abroad.

Air Travel
 
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 - European Commission Transport - Air.

For more general information see Airline Security.

Local laws and customs

In some parts of Madagascar aspects of daily life are regulated by taboos, known as fady.  These vary from one region to another.  Fady can range from forbidden foods to restrictions in clothing.  Some areas subject to fady may be forbidden to foreigners, but these are mainly in remote parts of the country.  If you intend to visit remote areas, you should seek prior advice either locally or from your tour operator and respect local fady wherever possible to avoid causing offence.
 
Drug smuggling is a serious offence. Punishments can be severe.
 
Homosexuality is not illegal.
 
You should carry some form of identification with you at all time.  The police can and do stop vehicles and pedestrians to check papers, particularly late at night.
 
The import and export of foodstuffs (including fruit), protected plants and animals is illegal.
 
Non-residents may take up to 1 kilogram of precious and semi-precious stones out of the country provided proper receipts are produced; residents are restricted to taking 250 grams out of Madagascar.
 
You may only take out 100 grams of vanilla.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas

Visas are required for entry to Madagascar.  They may be obtained at the airport on arrival.  The fee is £45 for single entry and can be paid in hard currency (preferably Euros or Dollars). The Embassy of Madagascar also offers a visa service.

Please ensure that your visa is valid for the period and purpose of your journey.  Overstaying can lead to detention and eventual deportation.

Passport validity
 
Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months.

Return Air Ticket

Malagasy law requires that visitors have a return air ticket.  You will be asked for evidence of this at check-in in the UK and on arrival in Madagascar.

Travelling with children

Minors already in possession of a visa do not need further parental approval for travel.

Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate

If you have previously visited a country where yellow fever is prevalent, you will need to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever on entry.  If you cannot produce a certificate, you will be required to visit the Institut Pasteur in Antananarivo to be vaccinated.

Health

Although there are a number of public and private hospitals in Antananarivo, only routine operations can be handled.  If complex surgery is required you will be evacuated either to South Africa or La Reunion.
 
Bilharzia, tuberculosis, rabies, bubonic plague and malaria are common to Madagascar. There have also been reported cases of dengue fever and Chikungunya virus.  Outbreaks of cholera do occur, particularly during the rainy season (December-April). You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.  If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Madagascar you should seek immediate medical attention.

The last reported case of pulmonary plague was in January 2007 in the rural area of Andilamena.  

In April 2008, an outbreak of Rift Valley fever was reported in five regions across Madagascar (Alaotra Mangoro, Analamanga, Itasy, Vakinakaratra and Anosy).  You should avoid mosquito bites and contact with domestic animals such as cows, goats and sheep and the blood, organs or body fluids of such animals.

In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 13,000 adults aged 15 or over in Madagascar were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 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 Madagascar 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 the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

For more general health information see Travel Health.

Natural disasters


The cyclone season in Madagascar normally runs from January to March.  Coastal areas are particularly affected.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the National Hurricane Center.  See Tropical cyclones for more details.

On 17 February 2008 Tropical Cyclone Ivan hit the north east coast of Madagascar; Travel and communication in these areas may still be restricted.

The capital Antananarivo is not seriously affected by cyclones.

General

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  This should include cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then see How We Can Help.
 
Representation
 
There is no British Embassy in Madagascar, but there are Honorary British Consuls in Toamasima (Tel: 00 261 20 5332548 or e-mail: sealtmm@moov.mg) and Antananarivo (Tel: 00 261 20 2452180 or e-mail: ricana@moov.mg, website: http://ukinmadagascar.fco.gov.uk/en/ who can be contacted by people in either region in emergencies only.  All other enquiries should be directed to the British High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius, which covers Madagascar.
 
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.
 
Money
 
Limits on the amount of money which can be changed at one time are still in place, although these are gradually being relaxed.  You should check with individual banks.  Western Union operates for inward currency transfers only.  You should also check opening hours of Western Union agencies as these may vary.  Some banks will only change Euros or US Dollars. Travellers' cheques are accepted by most banks.  However, there have been cases of fraudulent American Express travellers’ cheques in circulation and some banks now refuse to accept them.  The local bank, BMOI, will not accept travellers’ cheques issued by Thomas Cook.
 
Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of outlets in Antananarivo and in the provinces, but their use is still not widespread.  A charge of up to 7% of the transaction value is levied.  ATM's are increasingly available around the capital and in some of the larger towns.  A charge of about 1.5% is made.
 
The maximum amount of Malagasy currency you can take out is 400,000 Ariary (approximately £120).  Some banks will not exchange local currency back into foreign currency. Youshould ensure you are not left with large amounts of Malagasy Ariary at the end of your stay.  Keep transaction slips showing amounts of foreign currency transferred in local currency.  Foreign currency of more than 7,500 Euros in value must be declared on arrival.

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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://ukinmauritius.fco.gov.uk/en/



 

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