What makes Chad a unique country to travel to?
Chad is a developing country in north-central Africa with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world and has historically faced challenges in the areas of political stability and economic development. Years of war, drought, and regional instability have severely damaged the country's infrastructure and hampered the development of its institutions. Facilities for tourism are limited. The capital is N'Djamena. French and Arabic are the official languages.
U.S. citizens and many foreigners are perceived to be wealthy and should take precautions to avoid becoming crime victims. You should not leave cash or valuables unsecured in your hotel room, nor should you wear expensive jewelry or show large amounts of cash. You should dress modestly, walk outside only during daylight hours, and lock your car doors. Petty crimes such as purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and theft from vehicles do occur, particularly in areas frequented by expatriates. The potential for violent crime against expatriates remains a concern. Carjacking, burglary, and vehicle thefts increase during times of political instability. Historically, expatriate residences have been targeted for armed robbery, and some foreigners have been assaulted in the process, although there have been no recent incidents reported.
While you are traveling in Chad, 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, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. 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. 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 Chad, 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.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Chad, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical facilities in Chad are extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply or unavailable, including many over-the-counter preparations sold in the United States. Travelers should carry any needed, properly labeled, medicines with them. In the event of major injury or illness, visitors generally will require medical evacuation.
There are two medical clinics in the capital of N’Djamena which offer "international standard" medical care: International SOS and Europ-Assistance. These are not walk-in clinics and advance membership is required to access services. This information is provided for informational purposes only and in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, by the United States Department of State
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the type that predominates in Chad, is resistant to the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to Chad are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that travelers should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam - TM), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone -TM). 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, including protective measures, visit the CDC Travelers’ Health website.
Other widespread illnesses in Chad include diarrhea and upper respiratory infections. HIV/AIDS is becoming an increasingly serious problem as infection rates are at alarming levels (up to 25 percent in high-risk groups). Meningitis outbreaks usually occur annually and several other diseases (cholera, diphtheria, chicken pox, typhoid) periodically appear.
Safety and Security
U.S. citizens planning to travel to Chad should read the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert and the Travel Warning for Chad, which warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Chad. Due to the insecurity caused by high levels of violent crime, the potential risk of clashes between Chadian security forces and criminal or other armed groups, and the risk of a sudden, unanticipated outbreak of conflict among the populations living in these areas, we caution against all travel to eastern Chad, the Chad/Sudan border area, and the Chad/Central African Republic border area. The U.S. Embassy in Chad reviews each request for official government travel outside the capital and prohibits travel to eastern Chad and most border regions without express authorization. If you are affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts, you should review security precautions and consider measures to mitigate your exposure to violent crime. The Government of Chad requires travel authorization (autorisation de circuler) for anyone traveling to a humanitarian zone or refugee camp. If you are residing in Chad, you should exercise caution throughout the country.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Chad is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Roads are in poor condition and dangerous. In the capital city of N'Djamena, only the main roads are paved; although the government continues with its construction program, hard surface highways are still limited in number and distance in Chad; the rest of the roads are either hard-packed dirt or looser dirt and sand. During the rainy season (mid-June to mid-September) many roads become impassable or are restricted by rain barriers, while during the dryer season, clouds of dust rising from the roads reduce visibility.
Visitors should take great care while driving. Both paved and unpaved roads are poorly maintained, and often have large ruts and potholes. All drivers should adjust their speed accordingly. At night, streets are not lit and drivers frequently operate cars or motorcycles without lighting headlights; it is imperative to watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and livestock, as they may not be visible until they are in very close proximity.
Driving in Chad tends to be erratic both in cities and in rural areas. In cities, particularly N'Djamena, motorists share the roads with bicycles, motor scooters, pedestrians, and non-motorized wheelchairs. Lanes are not marked, and it is not uncommon for a normally two-lane thoroughfare to become a four-lane road during rush hours (generally 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday; 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on Friday). Drivers are urged to be particularly observant at these times because motorists often attempt to overtake slower traffic by moving into oncoming lanes, usually at high speeds. There are only a few traffic lights in N'Djamena, they are often out of service, and drivers frequently do not obey those traffic lights that are in service. Drivers yield to traffic on their right, particularly when entering the many traffic circles.
In rural areas, drivers should watch for livestock crossing the roads, and for large hawks that rest on the roads. These birds can be fearless, and cause damage by smashing into drivers' windshields; drivers may avoid this by slowing down when approaching the hawks and allowing them sufficient time to fly away. Finally, drivers should be alert to older transport trucks traveling between cities, which do not always have functioning headlights.
No emergency services exist, so drivers should exercise extreme caution. Travelers should always wear seat belts. When traveling by car, be sure to carry a spare tire. Roadside service is limited to good Samaritans and children who will help push cars to the side or out of holes. When traveling outside the capital, it is imperative to carry sufficient quantities of drinking water. Drivers should ensure that their gas tanks are at least half-full at all times, as gas stations are not widely available. Gas may be purchased in an emergency in bottles from roadside stands, but it is generally of poor quality.
Travelers on roads in all areas of the country are subject to attack by armed bandits.