COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Union of the Comoros is a developing nation located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. Comoros consists of three islands--Ngazidja (also known as Grand Comore), Moheli, and Anjouan--that cover about 900 square miles. A fourth island, Mayotte, officially changed status from a French “collectivity” to an actual French Department in March 2011. Mayotte is within the consular jurisdiction of the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Ngazidja is home to the capital city, Moroni, and is the most developed of the three islands. Facilities for tourism are limited and telecommunication links are unreliable. French, Arabic, Swahili, and Comoran are spoken. Read the Department of State's information on bilateral relations with the Union of Comoros for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM(STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit the Comoros or Mayotte, please take the time to tell our embassy about your trip. If you enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Your enrollment will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll in person at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo.
The U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo is located at Lot 207A, Point Liberty, Andranoro-Antehiroka, Antananarivo (105), Madagascar. The mailing address is B.P. 5253, Antananarivo (105) Madagascar. The telephone number is [ 261] (20) 23-480-00; the fax number is [ 261] (20) 23-480-35.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A passport and onward/return ticket are required. Visas are available from the Comoran Mission to the United Nations in New York; U.S. citizens visiting Comoros can obtain a visa upon entry for a fee of sixty Euros. Travelers should obtain the latest details from the Mission of the Union of Comoros, 420 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022; telephone number (212) 972-8010, fax (212) 983-4712.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Comoros.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Comoros has experienced occasional strikes and civil unrest, resulting in violent clashes between police and demonstrators, and has a history of coups since becoming independent. We recommend that U.S. citizens exercise extreme caution near demonstrations and avoid political rallies and street demonstrations as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.
Conditions change rapidly on the islands of the Comoros due to weak political institutions and a lack of economic development. Religious intolerance and religious-based violence are very unusual in Comoros.
Although foreign residents and visitors have not been targeted for violence, the potential for further outbreaks of civil disorder remains, and U.S. citizens should exercise caution and good judgment, keep a low profile, and remain vigilant.
Running water and electric power are unreliable, even at the most upscale hotels on the islands, and nonexistent for the most part outside the few urban areas. Care should be taken to ensure that water is potable and that food is cleaned and properly cooked.
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CRIME: You should be vigilant against pickpocketing and other forms of petty crime when visiting crowded market areas, parks, and at the beaches. Violent crime is uncommon; Moheli, for example, has not reported a homicide in decades. The most commonly reported crime is home break-ins. Most reported crimes are crimes of opportunity.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Comoros is: 17 for local police; 18 for the Gendarmerie.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in in your host country, 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 where you are going.
Persons violating the laws of Comoros, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession,
use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Comoros are strict, with convicted offenders receiving a mandatory minimum five-year
jail sentence and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country:
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate 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 nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas. Please note that there is no official permanent U.S presence in Comoros – such official notification to U.S authorities must be made to the US Embassy in Madagascar, and may therefore be extremely slow.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: While religions other than Islam are permitted in Comoros, evangelization is illegal. Violators of this law can be fined or imprisoned. Few establishments accept credit cards in the Comoros; cash transactions are preferred, in Comoran Francs or Euros. U.S. Dollars are not accepted.
MARITIME SAFETY: Boat travel between the Comoran islands is entirely unregulated and U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling by the ferry and small boat services that operate there. U.S. citizens considering boat travel should exercise extreme caution, even if traveling via the shortest routes. Small vessels routinely break down and capsize in rough seas, or are swept against reefs by strong currents that run between the islands. Boats are often overcrowded, in poor condition, and equipped with little or no safety equipment. Drowning deaths in these waters are common. The proximity of the Union of the Comoros to waters frequented by pirates also means that small craft on the open seas are particularly vulnerable to potential attack, and all but essential travel by boat should be avoided.
Accessibility: While in Comoros individuals with disabilities will find virtually no accommodation for accessibility.
LGBT Issues: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in the Union of the Comoros. 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. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care is substandard throughout the country including Grande Comore. Adequate evacuation insurance coverage for all travelers is a high priority. Travelers should carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Malaria is prevalent in Comoros. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers to Comoros should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam™), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone™). Other protective measures, such as the use of bed nets and insect repellants, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area, and up to one year after returning home, should seek prompt medical attention, and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anitmalarial drugs, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health web pages.The East African Indian Ocean islands have seen a rise in the cases of chikungunya, a viral dengue-like ailment, and dengue itself. As with malaria, chikungunya and dengue are transmitted by mosquitoes. Every effort should be made to use bed nets, repellants, proper clothing and other barriers that discourage/prevent mosquito bites. The CDC has further information on chikungunya and dengue on its website.Rabies vaccines should be considered for shorter stays for adventure travelers, hikers, backpackers, or rural travelers who are staying more than 24 hours away from a reliable source of human rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine for post-exposure treatment. Take seriously all bat, carnivore, and other mammal bites or scratches, and seek post-exposure prophylaxis even if already immunized.
There is a high risk of marine hazards (jellyfish, coral, and sea urchins) as well as traveler’s diarrhea throughout the country. Food and beverage precautions are essential in order to reduce chance of illness. Travelers should carry loperamide (Imodium) and/or a quinolone (Ciprofloxacin) antibiotic for presumptive self-treatment, if diarrhea occurs.More information on vaccinations and other health precautions is available from the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Comoros, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In Comoros, one drives on the right side of the street. Roads are ill-maintained, congested, very narrow, and poorly lit at night. Travelers should exercise extreme caution when driving after dark, or walking along trafficked roads. Some urban roads are paved, but many rural roads are not. Most roads are full of potholes and dangerous curves. Roads have no posted speed limits, but road conditions limit speeds to well below 30 miles an hour. Drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. There are no laws regarding child safety seats.There are no organizations in Comoros that provide emergency or roadside assistance. Individuals involved in accidents rely on passersby for assistance. Taxis or a rental car with driver are preferable to public transportation.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 Comoros, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Comoros’ Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.
Travelers are advised to exercise extreme caution when considering air travel between the islands of the Comoros. Local operators often either delay or cancel flights, and can sometimes suspend operations for extended periods with little warning. A November 2012 inter-island flight was forced to make an emergency water landing shortly after take-off from Moroni. Though all 27 passengers and crew survived, Comoran authorities are investigating the incident.You can find further information on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
The U.S. Embassy prohibits all but emergency travel by U.S. government employees on all airlines flying domestic routes between the Comoran Islands due to ongoing mechanical and flight safety concerns. International flights to and from the Comoran Islands on foreign-owned-and-operated carriers are not affected by this prohibition.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Comoros dated March 12, 2013 to update sections on Aviation Safety Oversight and Special Circumstances.