SAFETY AND SECURITY
On January 3, 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. This attack has led to increased tensions in the region.
The security situation could worsen with little warning. There is an increased threat of attacks against Western interests and of terrorist attacks in general. Consider leaving by commercial means if it is safe to do so. Expect flight disruptions and cancellations. The number of flights out of the country could become limited.
If you decide to travel to Iraq or remain in Iraq despite this advisory:
- limit your movements
- take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- monitor local media
- always be aware of your surroundings
There is a threat of terrorism in Iraq. Car bombings, vehicle ambushes and mortar and rocket attacks continue to occur across the country. Further attacks are likely, particularly during religious or public holidays.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- Iraqi security forces
- large public gatherings
- public areas such as shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Attacks have also targeted residential areas to maximize casualties. Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. The risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time remains high.
Avoid travelling to border areas. You may encounter serious problems with local authorities when crossing borders or risk of injury or death as a result of ongoing clashes, air strikes or other violent incidents that are common to border areas in Iraq. People suspected of illegally crossing the Iraq-Syria border risk being detained by the Iraqi authorities and charged with terrorism, which can result in capital punishment.
THREATS TO FOREIGNERS
The threat of attacks against Western interests continues to be real. Foreigners could be prime kidnapping-for-money targets for criminal and terrorist groups.
- Stay in secure, guarded accommodations
- Travel with close protection teams at all times, and take all necessary security precautions
- You should employ a professional security company and follow their advice for the duration of your stay
Crime, including carjackings, robberies, kidnapping and corruption, is common. Security conditions get much worse after dark in most areas. Violent conflicts involving organized criminals, street gangs, militants, rival militias and Iraqi security forces pose grave dangers.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Safe-travel guide for women
Since October 1, 2019, protests have been taking place in Baghdad and in other cities in Iraq. Clashes between protestors and security forces have caused multiple casualties. Security forces have used tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition to disperse crowds.
Security restrictions, such as curfews, can be imposed in some regions across the country and can change on short notice. Some constraints on movement, such as checkpoints, are still in place around Baghdad. Internet and/or social media access may be suspended in some areas.
Demonstrations and retaliatory attacks are common throughout Iraq and may result in deaths and injuries.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Security checkpoints are common across the country. An Iraqi police or army uniform is not a guarantee that the wearer is operating in an official capacity.
- Be very respectful and cooperate fully at security checkpoints
- Exercise particular caution at ad hoc checkpoints, where murders, kidnappings and robberies frequently occur
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters, particularly in the northern Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report – International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Drivers do not respect traffic laws and speeding and tailgating are common practices.
Travel by road remains highly dangerous. Fatal roadside bombings and attacks on military and civilian vehicles continue to happen. There is also a risk of carjacking and robbery.
Due to the country’s high liability risk, it is difficult to obtain car insurance.
Busses run irregularly and routes are subject to frequent changes. Rundown transit vehicles are frequently involved in accidents.
Avoid travelling by rail, as the railroad is old and poorly maintained.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Authorities impose curfews on short notice throughout the country. Monitor local media in order to stay informed.
The Government of Iraq has begun to take measures to improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. A dam failure could cause significant flooding and disruptions to essential services from Mosul to Baghdad, along the Tigris River as well as areas adjoining the dam. A failure of the Mosul Dam cannot be predicted. Monitor local media reports and prepare contingency plans. The Government of Canada cannot provide consular services if there is a dam failure.
You must carry photo identification as well as a legally certified copy of your visa and registration at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport, visa and registration in a safe place, in case they are lost or confiscated.
Telecommunications services are very poor or non-existent in remote areas. Cellular network coverage is widespread in major cities.