MadagascarOfficial Name: Republic of Madagascar
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One blank page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes – Available upon arrival
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Lot 207 A, Point Liberty
Telephone: +(261) (20) 23-480-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(261) (20) 23-480-00
Fax: +(261) (20) 23-480-35
Madagascar is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. The primary languages are French and Malagasy. French is less spoken outside of major cities. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality and are in general limited. Travelers seeking high-end accommodations should make reservations in advance. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Madagascar for additional information.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport and visa are required. Tourists staying in Madagascar for fewer than 30 days will be able to receive a free visa upon arrival. Travelers staying for longer or who require a transformable visa are not eligible for this service, since visas obtained at the airport cannot be extended. Visas are available at all airports servicing international flights, but travelers who opt to obtain a visa at an airport should expect delays upon arrival. Visitors can also obtain visas from the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington, D.C. 2374 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008-2852; telephone (202) 265-5525/6. Visas issued by the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington, D.C., are extendable within Madagascar. Please be advised that in order to extend a visa within Madagascar, the Malagasy government requires the submission of a current police certificate from the United States; such a certificate is available from the U.S. Department of Justice but cannot be provided by the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo. Visa overstays are a violation of local laws and U.S. citizens who overstay their visas will be subject to fines and potentially prosecution. The Embassy cannot intervene in such cases to arrange for your exit from the country. All U.S. citizens must have at least one blank page and six months validity in their passport to gain admittance to Madagascar. Visa fees can be paid in
U.S. Dollars, Euros, or Malagasy Ariary. Credit cards are not accepted. Most international flights arrive in Antananarivo, but there are some limited international flights to/from the nearby islands of Comoros, Mayotte, and Reunion from airports in Mahajanga, Toamasina (Tamatave), Nosy Be, Tolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin), and Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). There are also direct flights between Italy and Nosy Be. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required for all travelers who have been in an infected zone within six months of their arrival in Madagascar.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Madagascar.
Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of Madagascar, 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 265-5525/6; or the Malagasy Consulate in New York City, telephone (212) 986-9491. Honorary consuls of Madagascar are located in Philadelphia and San Diego. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate. Visit the Embassy of Madagascar’s website for the most current visa information.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
While demonstrations and political violence have abated with the installation of a democratically elected government, U.S. citizens are strongly advised to closely monitor developments and to follow information as provided by the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo. U.S. citizens should also be aware of the potential for mob violence and ‘popular justice’ that is sometimes directed towards foreign nationals. Street altercations and traffic accidents can quickly draw large and sometimes violent crowds. We urge U.S. citizens to exercise caution and calm if they should find themselves in a dispute, particularly if in a public place. U.S. citizens who feel threatened by large crowds should seek the direct intervention of local law enforcement and contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.
Travelers should maintain security awareness at all times and avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations. Certain large gatherings, such as concerts or scenes of accidents, also may pose a threat to foreigners. In September 2013, the U.S. Embassy prohibited U.S. government personnel from visiting or transiting l’Avenue de l’Independence in downtown Antananarivo, after multiple explosive devices were either found or detonated in central Antananarivo. This prohibition was lifted in late October 2013 after the threat passed.
Travel in the provincial areas is generally safe, but caution should be exercised at all times. In the past, Madagascar has experienced political crisis, during which a number of provincial capitals experienced political demonstrations that had, on occasion, become violent and resulted in clashes with security forces and looting. A number of national highways connecting provincial cities and the capital experienced temporary road blocks by political demonstrators resulting in travel delays.
There are random police vehicle checkpoints throughout Madagascar, so all visitors should carry photo identification (residency card, U.S. passport) in the event of police questioning. These checkpoints are routine in nature, and should not result in vehicle and/or person searches as long as valid identification is shown.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Madagascar has experienced a dramatic spike not only in the number of crimes, but also in their severity and type. However, Madagascar still remains safer than many other African countries and even certain U.S. cities.
Over the last several years, there has been a surge in armed attacks. The U.S. Embassy noted increased reports of more home invasions, robberies and assaults. The majority of reported crimes targeted Malagasy nationals and did not involve foreigners, but U.S. citizen visitors should remain vigilant, particularly in large urban centers and coastal cities frequented by tourists
Carjackings, though infrequent in cities, are known to occur. There have been many reports of thieves reaching into stopped vehicles, opening unlocked doors, or sometimes breaking the windows to steal cell phones, purses, and even jewelry from their victims. Keeping windows rolled up and doors locked will minimize these types of situations.
In addition, armed bandit attacks on vehicles carrying goods and people—specifically taxi-bes (which operate within urban centers) and taxi-brousses (which travel to outlying regions)—have increased drastically since 2009 and now occur regularly. Groups of armed bandits often position themselves on major routes after dark to ambush vehicles. Others have involved armed criminals who stage a “breakdown” that blocks the roadway, forcing the victimized driver to slow down, and hence become more vulnerable. Additionally, sometimes local villagers design a “trap” of sand, a tree log, or some other substance or condition that makes the only viable road impassible. Local villagers then “assist” the stranded vehicle and expect monetary compensation. Although the government has taken steps to increase checkpoints and require night convoys to deter banditry, the U.S. Embassy prohibits personnel from traveling at night outside of Antananarivo or other major cities due to these attacks and the lack of security force coverage outside of city limits. All U.S. citizens are advised to avoid unknown taxis, particularly bush taxis, especially if alone or at night.
Other major concerns for visitors, especially those in Antananarivo, are crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and residential and vehicular theft. Although some of these crimes are non-confrontational, incidents involving violence by assailants do occur and are rising, particularly when the victim resists and when several persons confront the victim. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of physical attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, particularly in coastal tourist areas and large cities. Toamasina, is particularly noteworthy in this regard, and gun violence there is increasingly common. A number of these attacks resulted in serious injuries to foreign nationals and, in rare cases, fatalities. Criminal elements in Antananarivo and throughout Madagascar are becoming bolder when selecting their victims, and are also committing more crimes in areas that are generally well-lit and well-traveled by pedestrians and vehicles.
Criminal gangs comprised of felons, ex-military, and police are known to commit home invasions and kidnappings, sometimes targeting foreigners. In April 2013, a Western businessman working in Antananarivo was kidnapped at gunpoint and held for four days before being released for ransom. Organized gangs of bandits are known to patrol areas where foreigners, who are perceived to be wealthy, tend to congregate. Crimes such as burglary and robbery also occur in areas outside the capital, and the threat of confrontational and violent crime in rural and isolated areas continues to rise. Coastal cities like Toamasina and Mahajunga have experienced a particularly significant rise in crime over the last year, and violent assaults on foreign travelers in high-traffic tourist areas—like Nosy Be, the Ankarana and Montagne d’Ambre National Parks adjacent to Diego, Isahlo, and the area surrounding Tolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin) —have also been reported. While the government has recently increased the presence of dedicated police units at the most frequented tourist sites, U.S. citizens are advised to visit remote sites in large groups guided by reputable tour operators.
To reduce the risk of being victimized, travel in groups and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying costly electronic items (iPods, digital cameras, or high-end cell phones) with you in public. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle or at a hotel (unless locked in the hotel safe). Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of Western-standard hotels, restaurants, and night clubs in Antananarivo. Visitors are strongly discouraged from traveling outside of cities after dark, due to banditry, lack of lighting, poor road conditions, and lack of security assets. While traveling in vehicles, remember to lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up at all times.
In major cities, the National Police are charged with maintaining peace and security. Outside of major cities, the Gendarmerie is primarily responsible for these duties. Due to a lack of resources and equipment, police and gendarmerie responses to victims of crime are often limited, slow, or nonexistent. Though not exclusively targeted at foreigners, popular discontent with the ability of authorities to maintain law and order has resulted in a number of incidents of violent vigilantism and summary mob justice. As recently as October 2013, two French nationals accused of being pedophiles or organ traffickers in Nosy Be were burned alive by an angry crowd. A third suspect, a Malagasy national held by police, was seized and also killed. Similar incidents of mob justice, sometimes targeting foreign nationals, have occurred throughout the country, including Diego, Toamasina, Antananarivo and Tolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin).
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Bootlegs are illegal in the United States, and their purchase may also violate local Malagasy laws.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, we can contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Madagascar is 117. The police can also be reached in Antananarivo at 22-227-35 and 22-281-70. We recommend you use these numbers only if you speak Malagasy or French well. Otherwise, please contact the U.S. Embassy in case of emergency.
Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Madagascar, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than those in the United States. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country.
Persons violating Malagasy laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Madagascar are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. If you break local laws in Madagascar, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the U.S. Embassy if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington, D.C., or one of Madagascar's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding visas and, especially for those intending extended visits, customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. Taking photographs of airports or military installations is prohibited.
Madagascar is renowned for its natural resources, including a wide variety of gemstones and other precious materials. The Government of Madagascar recently imposed restrictions on the export of precious gems; before purchasing or transporting any gemstones, it is advisable to seek clarification of the applicable laws. Any precious materials should be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and a certificate to allow for exportation from Madagascar.
Madagascar is primarily a cash-driven economy. Although some high-end establishments catering to tourists accept credit cards (normally only Visa-logo cards), most shops and restaurants are cash only. Although the government changed the local currency from the Malagasy Franc (FMG) to the Ariary several years ago, many Malagasy still think in terms of FMG. When talking about prices, it is important to quantify whether the price is in Ariary or FMG (1 Ariary = 5 FMG). ATMs that accept Visa (generally not MasterCard) are available in large cities. Dollars are not widely accepted, and US $100 bills are frequently refused at banks and local businesses.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on our website.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Madagascar with and between persons under the age of 21, and Malagasy law contains no anti-discrimination protections for LGBT persons. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal and penalties can include imprisonment and fines. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Madagascar, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Madagascar, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that which is commonly provided in the United States. While the Malagasy constitution prohibits all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of race, gender, disability, language, and social status, there are no specific government institutions designated to enforce these provisions.
There is ample public transportation, but entering and existing vehicles is precarious, and they are not equipped to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Vehicles are often still in motion as passengers enter and exit. There are no sidewalks in the vast majority of the country, and the roads are hazardous for foot travel with swerving vehicles and uneven surfaces. There are no pedestrian crossing signs or designated pathways, and crossing any street involves an element of risk. Pedestrian injuries are common. Public spaces are not wheelchair accessible.
Domestic and international air services operate regularly but are subject to delays and occasional breakdowns. Air Madagascar often changes in-country flight schedules based on demand; flights that are not full may be cancelled with little or no prior warning to passengers. Overbooking is also common. Reconfirmation of tickets prior to flight day is recommended, especially when flying from provincial airports.
Standards of healthcare throughout Madagascar are below U.S. standards. There are small hospitals and clinics in Antananarivo that provide basic but acceptable care for emergencies. Outside of Antananarivo, the quality of care is very questionable and should only be used when other options are not available. Caution and good judgment should be exercised when seeking hospital and medical services. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of hospitals and specialists, which is available on the website.
Most medications, generally of French or South African origin, are available in Antananarivo. If you need to refill a prescription from outside of Madagascar, it is important to carry a prescription from your health care provider listing the medicine's generic name, but it is best not to rely on re-filling medications in Madagascar as the availability varies. Travelers are advised to carry a supply of anti-malarial medication if traveling outside Antananarivo. U.S. citizens who will be carrying medications with them to Madagascar may wish to contact the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington, D.C., regarding any restrictions on imports.
Ambulance services are available in Antananarivo with Assistance Plus at 032 07 801 10 or 22 487 47; Polyclinique d’Ilafy at 22 425 73 or 033 11 458 48; Espace Medical at 22 625 66 or 22 481 73 or 034 05 625 66; and CDU (Centre de Diagnostic Medical d’Urgences) at 22 329 56. However, due to traffic jams, response times are often dangerously slow. Assistance Plus has air ambulance capacity for remote and less accessible regions of the country.
All routinely recommended immunizations for the US should be up to date. Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, pertussis and chickenpox are much more common than in the US, especially among children. Additionally, hepatitis A and typhoid immunization is recommended for all travelers. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all those who may have sexual contacts, tattoos or require medical treatment while in Madagascar. Yellow Fever vaccine within ten years is required only for those coming from a Yellow Fever endemic country.
Mosquito and other insects can carry malaria, dengue, chikungunya and other illnesses. Travelers should carry and use insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc, some of which may also carry infections.
Malaria is prevalent, particularly in the coastal regions and occurs year round. Using preventive measures and malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended.
Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline or mefloquine (Lariam) are appropriate antimalarials for this region. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see CDC’s “Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.” If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in Madagascar, or for up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention, tell the physician your travel history and what antimalarials you have been taking.
Dengue Fever causes fever, chills, severe headache and body aches. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for dengue and the illness occasionally causes severe or fatal disease.
Chikungunya causes fever, headaches, and severe joint pain. Again, prevention of mosquito bites is most important as there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water). Talk to your doctor about short course antibiotics and loperamide to take with you in case of diarrhea while traveling.
Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Even in urban areas dogs may have rabies and bites and scratches from dogs, bats or other mammals should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and medical evaluation sought to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted. Seek medical care immediately at the Institute Pasteur in Antananarivo.
Plague is also endemic to Madagascar with seasonal increases in incidence, but casual tourists are unlikely to be infected. While the reported HIV prevalence rate is low, particularly by African standards, Madagascar suffers from a very high reported incidence of sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is more than 20 times more common in Madagascar than in the United States. Those planning on living in Madagascar should consider tuberculin skin testing before travel and then again 6-12 weeks after returning from Madagascar.
Madagascar has recently instituted universal screening measures at international ports of entry and airports to help guard against the spread of Ebola, but no Ebola cases have yet been reported in the country.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Madagascar, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In Madagascar, you drive on the right side of the road, generally yielding the right of way to vehicles coming in from the left. Some major intersections and traffic circles have police directing traffic. If a policeman has his back to you at an intersection, you are required to stop. Laws make seatbelt use mandatory and prohibit cell phone use while driving, even with a hands-free attachment. Child safety seats are not mandatory, but motorcycle helmets are required in Madagascar. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, your car will be impounded for a few days, and you will have to pay a fine. If you are involved in an accident involving injuries and/or deaths, there is a mandatory court case. The losing party of the court case must then pay all costs.
Except for Antananarivo’s main streets and a few well-maintained routes to outlying cities, many roads are in various states of disrepair. Some may be impassable during the November-March rainy season. Night travel by private or public transportation outside Antananarivo is strongly discouraged, due to poor lighting and road conditions. Roads tend to be narrow and winding with many one-lane bridges and blind curves, and most roads outside of main routes and city centers are cobblestone, gravel, or packed dirt. Most vehicles tend to drive in the center of the road unless another vehicle is present. It is common to find livestock or human-drawn carts in the middle of the road, even at night. Local practice is to blow the horn before going around a curve, to let others know of one's presence. There are few pedestrian crosswalks and no working traffic signals.
Travel within Antananarivo can be difficult with poor road signage, streets congested with pedestrians, bicycles, animal carts, vehicular traffic, and an abundance of one-way streets. Taxis are plentiful and are generally reasonably priced. Bargain for the fare prior to getting into a vehicle. Most accidents are pedestrian-related, due to narrow roads and lack of sidewalks on many streets. When traveling between cities, travelers must have clear directions as there are rarely signs indicating where one must turn to reach a destination. Conditions of rural roads can degrade significantly and with little notice during the rainy season.
Rental cars generally come with a driver who is responsible for maintaining the vehicle and sometimes acts as a tour guide. Public transportation is unreliable and vehicles are poorly maintained. Rail services are extremely limited and unreliable.
The Ministry of Public Works, telephone (20) 22-318-02, is Madagascar's authority responsible for road safety. During an emergency, visitors to Antananarivo can contact local police by dialing 117, 22-227-35, or 22-357-09/10. U.S. citizens can also call the U.S. Embassy at (261) 20-23-480-00 if assistance is needed in communicating with law enforcement officials.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information..
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Madagascar, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Madagascar’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.