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Comoros travel guide

About Comoros

Not your typical tropical island getaway, Comoros may lay claim to sandy shores, limpid oceans and colourful coral reefs, but the archipelago’s greatest asset is its fascinating culture, which fuses together the most colourful elements of Africa and Arabia.

Floating between Mozambique and Madagascar, the archipelago has long been a crossroads between civilisations and most Comorians are of mixed Afro-Arab descent. A blend of Swahili and traditional Islamic influences pervade the islands giving them a calm and phlegmatic atmosphere that guarantees a hospitable welcome.

The four main islands that comprise sleepy Comoros do not share the tourist infrastructure of the Seychelles or Mauritius (with the exception of Mayotte), but they do share the warm seas, deserted beaches and stunning hiking that these destinations are renowned for.

Most travellers enter the country via the capital, Moroni, which nestles on the island of Grande Comore and hums with the atmosphere and traditional customs of a long-forgotten outpost. Men drink tea beneath whitewashed buildings in the Arab Quarter, as they have done for decades, while women in brightly coloured East African fabrics smile shyly from ornate doorways.

Also known as the Perfume Islands, the smell of vanilla, cloves and other spices is ever-present in Comoros, and locals are proud to produce more Ylang-Ylang essence for the perfume industry than anywhere else.

Leave fragrant Moroni behind and trek to the summit of Mount Karthala, also on Grande Comore. The archipelago’s highest peak, at just under 2,400m (7,800ft), this lofty vantage point happens to be one of the region’s most active volcanoes. The views are exquisite.

For a taste of France pay a visit to Mayotte, which, due to a quirk in colonial history is now governed from Paris. Arguably the most developed of the islands, it has a distinctly Gallic air, adding more depth to these already characterful islands.

Key facts

Area:

2,235 sq km (863 sq miles).

Population:

807,118 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

349.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Moroni.

Government:

Federal Islamic Republic.

Head of state:

President Azali Assoumani since 2019.

Head of government:

President Azali Assoumani since 2019.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Comoros on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

International flights to and from Comoros restarted on 7 September.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Comoros.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (only available in French).

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Comoros

The authorities in Comoros have introduced measures, including enhanced screening procedures, to prevent the spread of coronavirus within Comoros, including between the islands of Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan.

The number of passengers on public transport is limited (10 in buses, 4 in taxis). You must wear a face-mask in all public places, including markets, banks and shops and on public transport.

Accommodation

Some hotel and guesthouse accommodation are open, although many remain closed. We advise that you contact your accommodation provider before travelling.

Public places and services

Wedding celebrations, commemorations and political gatherings have been banned until further notice. Schools and universities remain closed.

You must wear a face mask in all public places, including markets, banks and shops and on public transport.

Healthcare in Comoros

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider and your medical insurance company for advice. The three main hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in Comoros are Samba Nkuni, Bambao Mtsanga and Fomboni.

See Health for further details on healthcare in Comoros.

COVID-19 Vaccines if you live in Comoros

We will update this page when the government of Comoros announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The national vaccine programme in Comoros started in April 2021 using the Sinopharm vaccine. The Government of Comoros has stated that British nationals resident in Comoros are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Comoros Ministry of Health facebook site (in French only).

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad page.

If you’re a British national living overseas, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Crime

Crime levels are low, but you should take sensible precautions against pick-pocketing and mugging. Avoid walking alone at night on beaches or in town centres. Safeguard valuables and cash. Use hotel safes, where possible. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport, in a separate place. Although uncommon, sexual assaults have occurred.

Local travel

Facilities on Anjouan are basic. Visitors to the island usually stay in Mutsamudu. Mohéli has few facilities for tourists. On Grande Comore (also known as Ngadijza) there are a few hotels of an acceptable standard in or near the capital Moroni.

Road travel

On Grande Comore, the main round-island road is of a reasonable standard, but some other roads are in a poor condition.

You may use either a UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit for up to three months. Consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (telephone: + 269 744 100 or email: mirexcab@yahoo.fr) if an extension is needed.

Air travel

The European Commission has banned all Air Service Comores flights, except one aircraft (type LET 410 UVP, with the registration D6-CAM), from operating within the EU due to safety concerns. FCDO staff and their dependants have been advised to avoid flying on all Air Service Comores aircraft subject to the EU ban.

Air Madagascar operates flights from Madagascar to Comoros. Air Madagascar has been removed from the list of airlines banned from operating within the European Union.

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the Aviation Safety network website.

Sea travel

You can travel between the three islands by boat. Take care at all times when travelling by boat and avoid travelling on vessels that are clearly overloaded, in poor condition or without life jackets. Overloaded ferries have capsized in Comorian waters, sometimes with significant loss of life.

Recent piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden highlight that the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.

Political situation

President Azali was reinaugurated on 26 May 2019.

Some violent incidents occurred during the election period in March 2019. Political demonstrations and other protests may still occur. You should avoid crowds and demonstrations throughout Comoros and obey local security instructions.

As a result of its colonial history and the ongoing political debate regarding the separate status of Mayotte, there are regular reports of demonstrations and there is anti-French sentiment throughout Comoros. Remain vigilant, maintain a low profile while moving around and avoid any crowds or political gatherings. Monitor local media to keep up to date with local developments. Avoid taking pictures of official buildings.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Comoros, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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. You should be vigilant at this time.

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.

Comoros is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions 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.

In January 2013, President Ikililou Dhoinine promulgated a law declaring that Sunni Islam and the Chafeite rite as the country’s official religion. Shia Islam is not allowed in the Comoros.

Homosexuality is illegal in Comoros and the Penal Code provides a punishment of up to five years imprisonment and heavy fines for acts that are found to be “indecent or against nature with an individual of the same sex”. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Drug smuggling and the possession of drugs are serious offences. Those caught face long prison sentences, fines and deportation.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Comoros set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

You will need a visa to enter Comoros. You can get a visa on arrival at Hahaya airport or at other points of entry for €30. Details are available on the Hahaya airport website (in French).

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Comoros.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Comoros.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Comoros on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Comoros.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

Medical facilities are basic and limited on all three islands, and most are private. Electricity and water supplies are subject to frequent interruptions, which can affect hospitals and other public services. Medicines and food may not have been safely stored. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation

Health risks

Health authorities are aware of an ongoing outbreak of measles. You should monitor the NaTHNaC website for the latest updates and advice.

Malaria and cholera are common to Comoros, with malaria affecting all three islands.

Comoros can be affected by tropical cyclones between January and May. Monitor regional and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation. See our Tropical cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a tropical cyclone.

The Karthala volcano near Moroni on Grande Comore erupts periodically, most recently in January 2007. Although there are no predictions of an imminent eruption, you should check the situation locally before making plans to visit the island.

Cash is the main means of paying for goods and services in Comoros. The Banque International du Comore (BIC - affiliated to BNP) is the only established bank on Grande Comore, and banking facilities are minimal to non-existent on the other islands. The two cash machines found at the BIC and the Itsandra Hotel work occasionally.

You can withdraw cash (local currency only) against a credit card from a small Bureau de Change office attached to the main BIC branch (on left hand side of main entrance).

Only one or two hotels accept credit cards for payment of bills (this can sometimes be problematic due to technical / connection problems with the equipment), but will not provide local currency against credit cards. Some hotels and restaurants will accept some foreign currencies (Euros and US Dollars preferred). Change may be given in local currency.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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.

Travel safety

The FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

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.

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