January 8, 2004
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Union of Comoros is a developing nation located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. Comoros consists of three islands, Grand Comore, Moheli, and Anjouan that cover about 900 square miles. Grand Comore 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 extremely unreliable. Arabic, French, and Swahili are spoken.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and onward/return ticket are required. All travelers to Comoros are given a free, 24-hour transit visa upon entry. The following day, visitors are required to go to the immigration office in Moroni to change their visa status. A fee is charged, depending on length of stay. 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.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Comoros has experienced frequent strikes and civil unrest, resulting in violent clashes between police and demonstrators. As the government continues to try and consolidate its rule, periodic strikes and protests both for and against the current government will likely continue to occur. In addition, small and isolated outbreaks of violence also occur between youths in neighboring villages, usually contained within specific areas. This has been mainly attributed to rivalries between villages during sporting events.
Although foreign residents and visitors have not been targeted, the potential for further outbreaks of civil disorder remains high. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
Conditions are subject to change rapidly in each of the three islands of the Comoros due to a lack of political structure and economic development. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius when visiting Comoros if staying for an extended period of time. Embassy contact information is provided below.
CRIME: U.S. travelers are advised to be vigilant against pick-pocketing and other forms of petty crime when visiting crowded market areas, parks, and at the beaches. Violent crime is uncommon. The most commonly reported crime is breaking into homes and vehicles in order to steal electronic equipment.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov , or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov .
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Comoros are poorly equipped. Travelers should bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via its home page at http://travel.state.gov .
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Malaria is prevalent in Comoros and travelers are strongly advised to take prophylactic treatment prior to departure and until a few weeks after leaving Comoros. Travelers are advised to take all necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's web site at http://www.who.int/en . Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/iht.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Comoros is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
In Comoros, one drives on the right side of the street. Roads are generally adequate but are very narrow and poorly lit at night. Travelers should exercise extreme caution when driving after dark. Most urban roads are paved, but many rural roads are not. Speed limits range from 30 to 40 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.
Safety of public transportation: Poor
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Fair
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: Poor
For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs website at road_safety.html .
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Comoros, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Civil Aviation Authority of Comoros for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Comorian air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that countrys laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. 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 and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDRENS ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at children's_issues.html or telephone in the U.S. at (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: The United States has no embassy in Comoros. U.S. citizens in Comoros are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius. Registration information and forms may be downloaded from the U.S. Embassy website at http://mauritius.usembassy.gov and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy, Consular Section, Rogers house, Fourth Floor, John F. Kennedy Street, Port Louis, Mauritius; telephone numbers (230) 202-4400 and 208-2347; fax (230) 208-9534 with a photocopy of the passport data page. The Embassy email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.