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Madagascar

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Madagascar. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources for possible new security risks and changes to local conditions.
  • Presidential elections will be held on 7 November 2018. Political instability may impact security in the capital and the regions. Follow the instructions of local authorities and avoid any demonstrations, rallies and public gatherings in the lead up to, and during the election period. See Safety and security
  • You could contract plague in Madagascar. Outbreaks of bubonic plague occur almost yearly. There are other significant health risks. Consult your doctor before travelling. See Health
  • Armed robberies and violence occur regularly throughout Madagascar, especially in and around Antananarivo. See Safety and security
  • Violent confrontations between bandits (Dahalo) and security forces are common in the southern region of Anosy. See Safety and security
  • Cyclone season is November to April. See Natural disasters
  • Australia has a Consulate in Madagascar, headed by an Honorary Consul, which can provide limited consular support to Australians in Madagascar. Full consular services are provided by the Australian High Commission in Mauritius. See Where to get help

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.You'll need a visa to enter Madagascar.

You can get a tourist visa on arrival if you have proof of onward travel.

In other circumstances, you'll need to apply for a visa before you travel. More information: Embassy or Consulate of Madagascar.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Madagascar for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

If you are arriving from or have transited a country where yellow fever is endemic, you'll need to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter Madagascar. More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements (by country, WHO)

Minors travelling unaccompanied or with only one parent are required to carry a signed legal document or a custody order giving approval for the child to travel, from the non-travelling parent(s). More information: Travelling with children

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Madagascar Ariary (MGA). Travellers cheques are accepted by some stores, hotels and banks in the capital and in major cities. Euros are accepted in some hotels and restaurants. Credit cards are accepted but their use is not widespread. Contact your bank to ensure that you card will work in Madagascar.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

The political situation in Madagascar has been unstable since an unconstitutional change of government in 2009. In 2014, a new president was sworn in and new government formed following democratic elections, but political tensions remain. The security situation could deteriorate rapidly without warning. In April 2018, two people were killed during an anti-government protest in the capital.

Presidential elections will be held on 7 November 2018. Political instability may impact security in the capital and the regions. Follow the instructions of local authorities and avoid any demonstrations, rallies and public gatherings in the lead up to, and during, the election period.

Demonstrations and protests can occur with little warning. They can become violent and attract a heavy response from security forces, especially in Antananarivo. The Avenue de l'Indépendance, Ambohijatovo, Lac Anosy, Ankatso and Analakely areas, as well as military barracks, are potential flashpoints that have been subject to outbreaks of violence in the past.

Small explosive devices and grenades have been found in the city. In June 2016, a grenade explosion killed two people and injured at least 50 others during celebrations to mark Independence Day in Antananarivo.

Violent confrontations between bandits (Dahalo) and security forces are common in the southern region of Anosy. In May 2014, more than 30 Dahalos and police officers were killed, and hundreds of houses were destroyed during clashes. In February 2016 six people were killed in the region of Fort Dauphin (Tolonano). The road between Ihosy and Fort Dauphin (RN13) is particularly dangerous.

Bandits have also been active in the Ankazoabo region. In February 2018, 3 villagers were killed in Amoron’I Mania region during an attack by Dahalos. In June 2016, Dahalos attacked a bus in the south of Ankazoabo killing at least 29 people.

You could be caught up in violence directed at others.

  • Be alert and maintain a low profile while moving around, particularly if travelling alone.
  • Avoid protests, demonstrations and other large public gatherings, especially in Antananarivo.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for news of planned and possible civil unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Be alert to possible bandit activity if you travel to the Ankazoabo region.

If you travel to the southern region of Anosy, also:

  • seek local security advice for travel in the region
  • avoid driving at night
  • be particularly alert to possible security threats
  • follow the instructions of local authorities
  • fly to Fort Dauphin rather than drive.

Crime

Violent crime, including armed robbery, carjacking, home invasions and kidnapping, occurs regularly throughout Madagascar but particularly in and around Antananarivo. Foreigners are sometimes targeted.

Armed bandits regularly attack vehicles carrying goods and people, including taxis (specifically 'taxi be' and 'taxi brousse') and public transport. Thieves target cars stuck in traffic for 'smash–and-grab' robberies.

Areas particularly prone to violent crime include:

  • in 2013 violent attacks resulted in a number of deaths in Batterie Beach, north of Tuléar
  • the steps leading to Rova, the Avenue de l'Indépendance and the Analakely market in Antananarivo
  • Pic Saint-Louis in Fort Dauphin
  • along main highways, including along some of the main roads in Toliara province and in the township of Toliara (Tuléar)
  • Diego Suarez (Antsiranana), particularly outside the city centre in poorly-lit areas
  • the island of Nosy Be
  • other areas frequented by tourists.

There have also been reports of armed robberies at beaches and in national parks, including Andohahela National Park, Montagne d'Ambre and Ankarana in northern Madagascar.

Petty crime occurs, including pickpocketing at airports and in crowded tourist areas. Thieves target foreigners.

  • Be alert to your surroundings and pay attention to your safety and security at all times.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Avoid walking at night, even if in a group.
  • Avoid travelling at night on the RN6 near Diego Suarez and elsewhere outside urban areas.
  • Avoid remote locations at all times.
  • Be cautious when visiting national parks and beaches. Check with your tour operator for up-to-date security information for sites you may visit.
  • Keep vehicle doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, including when moving.
  • Guard against carjacking – be alert to threats, including when stopped in traffic.
  • Consider hiring an authorised guide, which may reduce the risk of robbery.
  • Monitor local media for up-to-date information on crime.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Road travel

You're five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Madagascar than in Australia. Driving hazards include poorly maintained roads and vehicles, insufficient street lighting, pedestrians and roaming animals.

You face a high risk of crime, including carjacking and armed robbery, when travelling by road. See Safety and security.

Police conduct random vehicle and pedestrian checks throughout the country. You may be required to show original identity documentation, vehicle registration and ownership papers.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices.
  • Carry your passport, vehicle registration and ownership papers at all times.
  • Guard against carjacking and other vehicle-related crimes – see Safety and security.

Driver's licence

You can drive in Madagascar with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must get your IDP before departing Australia. If you're staying in Madagascar for a long period, you can apply for a local driver's licence at the Ministry of Interior on presentation of your IDP.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Only use hire cars and limousines from reputable providers. Armed bandits regularly attack taxis, especially 'taxi be' and 'taxi brousse'.

  • Avoid taxis, especially 'taxi be' and 'taxi brousse'.

Public transport

Avoid the use of public transport due to traffic safety issues and the risk of crime. Many public buses are in poor repair and serious accidents occur. Take care to protect your property, especially when travelling overnight.

Boat travel

To the north of Madagascar, there is a threat of attack by pirates against all forms of shipping around Somalia's waters and the Gulf of Aden. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable. The International Maritime Bureau publishes piracy reports. More information: Piracy

Air travel

Domestic flights in Madagascar may be cancelled with little or no notice to passengers. Contact your airline to confirm flight details, especially when flying from provincial airports.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Madagascar.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including 'soft drugs', include prison sentences. More information: Drugs

Other laws

Carry photo identification with you at all times. Police stop pedestrians to check papers, especially late at night.

Activities that are illegal in Madagascar include:

  • photographing military installations or airports
  • wearing military-style clothing
  • exporting protected plants or animals without approval
  • exporting gemstones or vanilla for commercial purposes without a permit - contact the Ministry of Mining for an export permit for gemstones; for vanilla, contact the Ministry of Agriculture.

Homosexuality isn't illegal but it isn't widely accepted in Madagascan society. The age of consent under Malagasy law for same-sex couples is 21 years of age. Same-sex marriage isn't recognised. Malagasy law contains no anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI travellers. More information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Madagascar recognises dual nationality. More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

 

Health risks

Plague

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists bubonic plague as endemic in Madagascar. Bubonic plague is caused by the bite of an infected flea. Contraction of the disease is most common during wet season (October to February).

An outbreak of pneumonic plague struck Madagascar in August 2017 resulting in at least 124 deaths. Pneumonic plague has spread to several regions, including Antananarivo and Tamatave (Toamasina). Pneumonic plague is spread from person to person by respiratory droplets in the air. Affected persons experience flu-like symptoms. Early medical treatment is essential. Untreated pneumonic plague is always fatal.

  • Consult your doctor before travelling.
  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.

More information: Plague factsheet (WHO)

Mosquito-borne diseases

Malaria is endemic in Madagascar and outbreaks of other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue, chikungunya, Rift Valley fever and filariasis) also occur. Cases of dengue fever have been reported in north-eastern Madagascar, particularly in Antalaha and Sambava regions.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases:

  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

Polio

The Australian Department of Health advises Australians travelling to Madagascar to ensure they're up-to-date with vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose if required. Speak to your doctor if you're unsure whether you're fully vaccinated for polio.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. More information: HIV infections (WHO)

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis and rabies) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

More information: Infectious diseases

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in Antananarivo is limited but routine medical operations are possible. Elsewhere facilities are extremely limited. Most visitors seek treatment at private clinics where up-front payment is required.

There are no decompression chambers in Madagascar. Dive well within safety limits and ensure you have travel and health insurance that includes coverage for diving and evacuation costs.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities (usually South Africa or Reunion). Medical evacuation is very expensive.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Police: 117 or visit the nearest police station
  • Fire services: 117
  • National Gendarmerie: 199
  • Medical emergencies: 117 or go direct to a hospital

English speaking operators may not be available. Response times may be longer than in Australia.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Madagascar, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular services and doesn't issue passports. The Australian High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius, can provide full consular services to Australians in Madagascar.

Australian Consulate, Antananarivo

Building D1, Explorer Business Park,
Ankorondrano, Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Telephone: (261) 33 55 004 74 or (261) 32 05 596 01
E-mail: hon.consul@aust-consulate-madagascar.com

Australian High Commission, Port Louis

2nd Floor, Rogers House
5 President John Kennedy Street
Port Louis, Mauritius
Telephone: (230) 202 0160
Facsimile: (230) 208 8878
E-mail: ahc.portlouis@dfat.gov.au
Website: mauritius.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros
Twitter: @AusHC_MU

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the High Commission or Consulate in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Madagascar experiences cyclones, severe storms and tsunamis.

If a natural disaster occurs:

If you're due to arrive in Madagascar after a natural disaster or during cyclone season, contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination are affected.

Cyclones and storms

The rainy and cyclone season is from November to April.  Storms and cyclones can cause flooding and disruptions to essential services. Roads and bridges can become impassable, and ferry services can be disrupted. 

The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.

If there is a cyclone or severe tropical storm, you may not be able to leave the area: flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended and available flights may fill quickly. Access to sea ports could also be affected. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available for all those who stay.

Consider weather conditions carefully when planning your travel, particularly in coastal areas. Stay up-to-date on weather conditions and forecasts, cyclone watches and warnings throughout your stay in Madagascar. Monitor the:

If a cyclone or severe storm is approaching, follow the advice for all natural disasters above and:

  • make sure you know your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
  • identify your local shelter.

More information: Severe weather

Tsunamis

Madagascar is susceptible to tsunamis.

To receive tsunami alerts, register with the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination System.

Move immediately to high ground if advised by local or regional authorities or if you experience any of the following:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea.

Do not wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media.

Additional information