Chad travel guide
From the natural wonders of the Sahara Desert and Lake Chad to the tribal culture and hospitality that flourishes across the country, Chad quietly gets on with creating unforgettable experiences, while the rest of the world looks on unaware.
With a predominantly rural population, urban life is restricted to N’Djamena, the capital. As Chad’s commercial hub it attracts people from over 200 different ethnic groups. The result is a diverse set of social structures rubbing alongside one another and stark contrasts between the capital’s modernist heart and the ancient ways of nomadic tribespeople such as the Tuareg and Toubou.
Ethnicity remains far more important than Chadian identity and tribes hold dear a rich cultural heritage that remains largely unchanged by time or the outside world.
Chad’s prehistoric cave paintings, found amid gnarled rock formations in the Sahara Desert, document the existence of large animals in the region for millennia, so it is therefore unsurprising that even today the country is home to some of Africa’s most iconic species, including elephant, rhino, giraffe, leopard and lion.
Birdsong, made all the sweeter by the desert landscape, is near constant in the hidden palm-fringed oases of the Sahara, while the clear blue waters of Lake Chad form the second largest wetland in Africa and an important source of water for not only birds but reptiles and larger mammals too.
Whether it is to experience the solitude of the Sahara, seek out the hospitality of the Tuareg or witness animals surviving in the one of the most extreme landscapes on Earth, Chad offers hardy travellers an extraordinary experience. It may be nicknamed the “dead heart of Africa,” but as anyone who knows this country will tell you, that moniker couldn’t be further from the truth.
1,284,000 sq km (495,800 sq miles).
14,496,739 (UN estimate 2016).
9.1 per sq km.
President Idriss Déby since 1990.
Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké since 2016.
Last updated: 22 April 2018
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
areas within 30km of all borders, except for the capital N’Djamena (where the FCO advise against all but essential travel)
within 30km of Lake Chad and the parts of Kanem and Lac regions to the west of the towns of Mao and Bol
the regions of Ennedi, and Tibesti
the region of Borkou, except within 30km of the town of Faya Largeau (where the FCO advise against all but essential travel)
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to all remaining parts of the country including the capital, N’Djamena and the town of Faya Largeau.
A state of emergency remains in place for the Lake Chad region.
Before considering any travel, take professional security advice. You should follow your employer’s security advice and make sure the correct Chadian authorities are aware of your journey, you have in place the right permits if required, and you hold comprehensive travel insurance.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Chad. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. There’s a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali and due to Chad’s involvement in the regional fight to counter Boko Haram. There is a heightened threat of kidnap in Chad.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Safety and security
Armed robberies, particularly from cars, in residential areas of N’Djamena are common. Foreigners are sometimes targeted.
Be vigilant and take particular care in the capital. Travel by car and not by foot or motorbike. Keep doors locked and windows closed. Don’t carry large sums of money, jewellery, or other valuables. Avoid isolated or less developed areas of towns and don’t travel alone at night.
There are around 389,000 refugees in Chad from Sudan, Central African Republic and Nigeria, in the east, south, and Lake (western) regions of Chad respectively. There are also around 105,000 internally displaced people in the Lake region, where military operations continue and a state of emergency remains in place.
The Joint Border Force between Sudan and Chad has partially stabilised the situation in the east, but banditry and violent crime in eastern Chad still exist.
The border between Chad and Central African Republic remains closed and instability in neighbouring Central African Republic remains concerning. The border with Sudan is subject to closure at little notice.
The area bordering Libya is heavily land-mined. The northern regions of Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti remain unsafe.
Road travel can be dangerous due to the state of the roads and quality of driving. Accidents involving motorbikes are particularly common. Crowds can quickly gather around the scene of an accident and, while rarely violent, can be intimidating. Try to make contact with the police or other local authority immediately if you are involved in an accident.
For travel outside the capital, you will need authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior, which is normally granted without difficulty after a few days. Roads are poor and often impassable during the rainy season (July-October), especially in the south. Heavy rains can result in major flooding in many areas, particularly in the south and east.
You should travel in convoy, keep doors locked and carry spare fuel and supplies. Police checkpoints are common: you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration documents. Don’t travel by road after dark.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby protests leave the area immediately. You should keep yourself informed of developments through local media.
There is no British Embassy in Chad. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Chad. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship.
Following the terrorist attacks on hotels in Bamako (Mali) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in November 2015 and January 2016, in which a number of people were killed, it’s possible that terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Ansaru will try to carry out similar attacks in Chad.
There have been numerous attacks by armed elements in the Lake Chad region throughout 2016 and 2017, where the terrorist group Boko Haram remains active. Military operations are ongoing and a state of emergency remains in place.
In 2015, there were a number of terrorist attacks in the capital, N’Djamena:
- on 11 July 2015, a suicide bomb attack at N’Djamena’s main market (Grand Marché) killed 15 people
- on 29 June 2015, a suicide bomb in the North-Eastern Diguel district of N’Djamena caused 11 fatalities
- on 15 June 2015, at least 27 people were killed and over 100 injured following a number of explosions in central N’Djamena
Security in the capital has been reinforced and police check points and vehicle checks are routine. There have been no subsequent terrorist attacks in N’Djamena.
There is a heightened threat of kidnap in Chad, particularly in the Lake Chad Basin and the border areas with Sudan and the Central African Republic. Boko Haram and ISWA maintain an intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Chad, and have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon, northern Nigeria and the Diffa region of Niger. If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram or ISWA presence, especially around the Lake Chad Basin, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times, including when travelling, when in crowded public places, including camps for displaced people, religious gatherings and insecure spaces like places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants and transport hubs. You should ensure you have carefully considered the threat and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place.
Terrorist groups operating in Chad
Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA)
Boko Haram or Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JASDJ) is an Islamist terrorist group operating in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The group aspire to establish a Sharia State in Nigeria and West Africa, destabilise the Nigerian government and remove western influence from the country.
The group was formerly linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On 12 March 2015, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) accepted a pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram. In August 2016, the group split into 2 factions: Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and JASDJ or Boko Haram. ISWA is affiliated with ISIS core in Iraq and Syria and has expressed an intention to target Nigerian government, Christian and western interests.
The terrorist threat in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin
There is a very high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region. A number of western nationals including tourists, NGO workers and diplomats have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last ten years, and several are still being held. Some, including several British nationals, have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
There are a number of terrorist groups active in the region. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoun, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. These groups are capable of carrying out attacks and kidnaps over long distances. Kidnapping for ransom is the primary source of finance for Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). Criminal gangs also carry out kidnapping for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards.
Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Local laws reflect the fact that Chad is a predominantly Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times 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 or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start of 27 May and finish on 25 June.
Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence. Conditions in local prisons are harsh.
Homosexuality is not widely accepted in central African society. In August 2017 a new law came into force criminalising same-sex sexual activity in Chad, with penalties of imprisonment ranging from 3 months to 2 years and a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 CFA francs. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Photographing of military sites, government buildings and airports is prohibited. Other photography requires a government permit.
You should carry identification at all times (either a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport). Failure to produce ID can lead to detention by the police, or delays should you have to leave the country.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
British nationals need a visa to visit Chad. To apply for a visa contact the Chadian Embassy in Belgium at 52 Boulevard Lambermont, 1030, Brussels, Telephone: +32 2 215 1975, Fax: +32 2 216 3526, or the Chadian Embassy in France at 65 rue des Belles Feuilles, 75116, Paris, Telephone: +33 (0)1 45 53 36 75, Fax: +33 (0)1 45 53 16 09.
Your passport must be valid for six months from the date of entry into Chad.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Medical facilities in Chad are poor. Hospitals in N’Djamena are stretched at the best of times and sometimes affected by strikes. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Malaria and water-borne diseases are common. There has been a resurgence of cases of diseases such as poliomyelitis and measles. You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.
According to UNAIDS, in August 2015 the number of adults aged 15 or over in Chad living with HIV is estimated to be around 210,000; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 2.5% 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.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.