Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Madagascar International Travel Information
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Telephone: +(261) (20) 23-480-00 (Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(261) (20) 23-480-00
Fax: +(261) (20) 23-480-35
See our Fact Sheet on Madagascar for information on U.S. – Madagascar relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Visit the Embassy of Madagascar website or the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate for visa information and documents required for visa extensions.
Contact the Embassy of Madagascar to obtain your visa before traveling if you intend to either stay longer than three months or adjust your visa status. Per official sources, Malagasy visas, including the Residency Card, are now biometric.
The website for the Ministry of Interior has information regarding how to request an extension of your visa. The U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo cannot help you extend your visa. Screening for Ebola infection may be conducted at the airports.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Madagascar.
According to Malagasy law, residents of Madagascar with minor children traveling without both parents are required to have a notarized letter of consent to travel from the absent parent, preferably in French. This requirement does not apply to tourists visiting Madagascar. Please check neighboring countries’ country information for requirements for traveling with minor children.
Special Note: Overseas departments and territories of France (e.g., Mayotte) are not included in the Schengen Agreement. See the Embassy of France website for further information.
National elections, scheduled for late 2018, have increased civil unrest and elevated the potential for violence. The security situation may deteriorate rapidly. As an example, in June 2016, an unprovoked, but politically-motivated, series of grenade explosions killed three people and injured dozens in Antananarivo during National Day celebrations. In April 2018, opposition groups protested against new electoral laws, resulting in two deaths and sparked additional protests in Antananarivo as well as other major cities in Madagascar. Be especially vigilant in the vicinity of downtown Antananarivo especially near government buildings, the national stadium, and historical monuments, where violent incidents have occurred.
Violent confrontations between the dahalo (criminal gangs that steal cattle) and security forces have increased in several regions of Madagascar, particularly in areas south and west of the capital.
Often precipitated by rumors or allegations of injuries to local citizens especially in areas where there are minimal security forces, mob violence and “popular justice” continues but is rarely directed toward foreign nationals. Street altercations and traffic accidents often quickly draw large and sometimes unruly crowds. Exercise caution and remain calm if you find yourself in a dispute, particularly in a public place. If you feel threatened by large crowds, immediately leave the scene, seek the direct intervention of local law enforcement, and contact the U.S. Embassy.
The cyclone season in Madagascar occurs between December and April. Please monitor media reports, the RSMC Tropical Cyclone Center, and follow all official instructions.
CRIME: Petty crime in Madagascar is common in urban areas. Skilled pickpockets are very active in downtown Antananarivo, and they primarily target jewelry, purses, and mobile phones. Additionally, criminals have stolen luggage from baggage claim areas at Antananarivo’s Ivato International Airport by simply grabbing items off the conveyor belt and exiting the airport.
More serious crimes, including home invasions, are not uncommon in Madagascar. Driven by poverty and the continuing downward employment trends, the entire country has experienced a dramatic spike not only in the number of crimes, but also in their severity and type, including armed attacks, robberies, and assaults. U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed not to use taxi-bes (minibuses which operate within urban centers) and taxi-brousses (which travel to outlying regions) due to increased risk of carjacking and highway robbery. The majority of reported crimes were directed at Malagasy nationals but Westerners have likewise been targeted.
Coastal cities like Toamasina and Mahajanga have experienced a particularly significant rise in crime over the last year. Violent assaults on foreign travelers in high-traffic tourist areas have been reported in:
Visiting remote sites: While the government has increased the number of dedicated police units at popular tourist sites, only visit remote sites in large groups guided by reputable tour operators.
Exercise caution when traveling through these designated areas due to violent highway robberies:
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at 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.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Madagascar are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Visa overstays are a violation of local laws and U.S. citizens who overstay their visas will be subject to fines and potential prosecution.
Exporting Gemstones/Precious Materials: The Government of Madagascar restricts the export of precious gems. Before purchasing or transporting gemstones, 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.
Currency: Madagascar is primarily a cash-driven economy. Although some high-end establishments accept credit cards (normally only Visa-network cards), most shops and restaurants are cash only.
Although the government changed the local currency from the Malagasy franc (FMG) to the ariary in 2005, many Malagasy still think in terms of FMG. When discussing prices, you should quantify whether the price is in ariary or FMG (1 Ariary = 5 FMG). ATMs, which generally accept Visa-network cards only, are available in large cities. Dollars are not widely accepted, and $100 bills are frequently refused at banks and local businesses.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: 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 LGBTI persons. Penalties can include imprisonment and fines.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There is ample public transportation, but entering and exiting 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.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Consult the CDC website for Madagascar prior to travel.
Plague is endemic on the island, where outbreaks have resurfaced nearly every year since 1980. Most recently, there was a plague outbreak from Oct- Nov 2017, with confirmed cases and deaths of both bubonic and pulmonary (also known as pneumonic) plague in urban areas, including Antananarivo and Toamasina. U.S. citizens visiting Madagascar are urged to monitor public health announcements from the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization, and to follow public health guidelines and recommendations. Plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but it is crucial to seek medical treatment immediately, if you experience any plague signs or symptoms. You should not take antibiotics if you are not experiencing any plague symptoms
See the List of Health Care Providers on the Embassy Antananarivo web page.
You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions range from minimally acceptable to very poor. There are few pedestrian crosswalks and no working traffic signals.
U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of major cities after dark. Certain roads in Antananarivo have restrictions on tractor trailers during the day, so trucks use the roads at night and do not always follow the traffic rules. Street lighting is limited, and it is difficult to see pedestrians, carts, and livestock. Additional risks include excessive speeding and drivers that do not use headlights.
There are random police vehicle checkpoints throughout Madagascar, so 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 and visas are shown. However, travelers have reported harassment and bribe solicitation.
If you are stopped at a checkpoint:
Public Transportation: Public transportation is unreliable and vehicles are poorly maintained. Rail services are extremely limited and unreliable.
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.
See our Road Safety page for more information. The Ministry of Public Works, telephone (20) 22-318-02, is responsible for road safety.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Madagascar should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Security Communications with Industry WebPortal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s website.