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Travel & living abroad

Sub Saharan Africa

Comoros

Flag of Comoros
Still current at: 25 April 2011
Updated: 21 April 2011

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary and the Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel section (ban on Air Comores flights). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Comoros..

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)



Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary

  • You should avoid any crowds or political gatherings and remain vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around, particularly if travelling alone. See the Safety and Security - Political Situation.

  • 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.  See General - Representation.

  • Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, and has occurred as far as 1000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable. We therefore advise against all but essential travel by yacht and pleasure craft on the high seas (more than 12 nautical miles from shore) in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean, which includes the waters around the Union of the Comoros. See our Piracy in the Indian Ocean page.

  • The European Commission has banned all Air Service Comores flights, with the exception of one aircraft with the registration D6-CAM, from operating within the EU due to ongoing safety concerns. See Safety and Security – Local Travel – Air Travel.
  • 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
  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling, check any exclusions and ensure that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  See General - Insurance.

Safety and security

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.

See our Terrorism abroad page.

Safety and Security - 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. Do 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.

See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel

Facilities on Anjouan are basic; visitors to the island usually stay at a hotel in Mutsamudu.  Mohéli 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.

Always remain vigilant and keep a low profile when moving around.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - 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 Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit for up to three months. You should consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (tel: + 269 744 100 or e-mail: mirexcab@yahoo.fr) if an extension is required.

See our Driving Abroad page.
 

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel

You can travel between the three islands by air. 

The European Commission has banned all Air Service Comores flights, with the exception of one aircraft with the registration D6-CAM, from operating within the EU due to ongoing safety concerns. More information can be obtained on the European Commission’s website: http://air-ban.europa.eu. You should avoid using this carrier unless you are confident that the plane in question is a D6-CAM.

For more general information see Airline Security.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sea Travel

Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, and has occurred as far as 1000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable. We therefore advise against all but essential travel by yacht and pleasure craft on the high seas (more than 12 nautical miles from shore) in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean, which includes the waters around the Union of the Comoros. See our Piracy in the Indian Ocean page.

You can travel between the three islands by boat. 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.

Safety and Security - Political Situation

Comoros Country Profile


As a result of its colonial history and the ongoing political debate regarding the separate status of Mayotte, there are regular reports of demonstrations and anti-French sentiment throughout Comoros.


In 2010 there were a number of public demonstrations and other disruptions on the island of Mohéli as a result of a proposed extension of the current President’s mandate for a further eighteen months beyond the original deadline of 26 May 2010. This had caused considerable anger as the island of Mohéli had been due to elect the next President under the Union’s constitutional presidential rotation system agreed by the three Comorian Islands in 2000.

An agreement signed in June 2010 settled the dispute, and the first round of Presidential elections, where only the island of Moheli voted, were held on 7 November 2010. The three leading Mohélian candidates then faced a national vote in a second round on December 26 2010. Mr Ikililou Dhoinine, outgoing Vice-President, was declared the winner by the Constitutional Court on 13 January 2011 and will be inaugurated on 26 May 2011.

This tension has now been resolved and the situation appears to be back to normal. The first round of Presidential and gubnatorial elections took place on 7 November 2010. Under the country's rotating presidential system the next Union president must come from Mohéli. The three leading Mohélian candidates will face a national vote for the Presidential run-off on December 26 2010, when the second round of the gubernatorial elections will be held.

The situation has been relatively calm since the elections. You should however avoid any crowds or political gatherings.  Remain vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around, in particular if travelling alone.  Monitor local media to keep abreast of local developments during your stay. You should also avoid taking pictures of official buildings, particularly military or police buildings.

Local laws and customs

Comoros is an Islamic 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. See our Travelling During Ramadan page.

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 advice for different types of travellers please see our Your Trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas

Visas are required. They can be obtained on arrival at Hahaya airport, or at other points of entry for €60 (as of 14/7/2010).

Entry Requirements - Passport validity

Passports need to have three months’ remaining validity.

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children

For 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. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Comoros seek immediate medical attention.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that less than 500 adults aged 15 or over in Comoros were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.1% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

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.

See our Travel Health page.

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 January 2007. Although there are no predictions of an imminent eruption, you should check the situation locally before making plans to visit the island.

General

General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling, which includes cover for medical repatriation. Check for any exclusions and ensure that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - 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.

General - Representation
There is no British Embassy or Honorary Consul in Comoros.  Comoros is covered from the British High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius.

The nearest Comoran Embassy to the UK is in Paris at Rue Marbeau 20, 75116 Paris; tel: +33 1 40679054.  The Comoran Honorary Consul in the UK, Mr Khaled Chehabi, can be contacted at Flat 6, 24-26 Avenue Road, London NW8 6BU; tel: 020 7491 2098.     

General - 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 office 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 (this can sometimes be problematic due to technical / connection problems with the equipment), but will not provide local currency against credit cards.  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 two ATMs in Moroni.

General - Consular Assistance
There were no incidents involving British nationals requiring consular assistance in Comoros in 2010. However, you should take precautions against pickpockets and muggers. Although uncommon, there have been some instances of sexual assault/rape. Avoid walking alone at night on deserted or public beaches and in town centres.

Contacts

Mauritius

Address:

7th Floor
Les Cascades Building
Edith Cavell Street
Port Louis

Tel: (230) 202 9400
Fax: (230) 202 9408


Telephone:

(230) 202 9400

Fax:

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

Email: bhc@intnet.mu

Office hours:

Monday to Thursday
0745 - 1545

Friday 0745 - 1330

Visa and passport applications are received only between

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
0815 – 0930

Wednesday
0900 - 1030

Friday
Applications cannot be submitted on Fridays

Visa telephone enquiries
+(230 ) 202 9400

Monday – Thursday
1330 1530

Friday
1200 - 1300

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

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