The U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Chad rates the country as a “Level 3: Reconsider travel” country due to crime, terrorism, and minefields.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy N’Djamena does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djamena as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. Government interests.
Please review OSAC’s Chad-specific webpage for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
Cases of petty and violent crime increased significantly over 2017, prompting the U.S. Embassy to raise its crime rating from high to critical in October 2017. However, year-to-year or geographic comparisons of trends remain difficult to assess, as there are no official crime statistics in Chad, and many cases go unreported.
Expatriates have been more frequently targeted in N’Djamena, with some cases involving assaults on or shootings of victims during daylight hours in heavily trafficked areas. While home invasions directed at expatriates are rare, incidents in local communities have increased, with at least 10 cases reported to the Regional Security Office in 2017. Robberies of expatriate residences by hired local nationals have also occurred. Workplace theft has become more common as Chad’s economy worsens and workers face salary cuts.
Upticks in crime tend to occur around holidays throughout Chad, particularly around the Eid-al-Fitr holiday and during the Christmas season. Notably, 2017 experienced an unusually long, six-month crime wave starting around Eid-al-Fitr in mid-June. While upticks in crime against expatriates appear to have abated in early 2018, locals continue to be affected.
Due to crime, travelers remain vigilant at public gatherings and any locations frequented by expatriates, including markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. The risk of being targeted by criminal actors greatly increases at night, especially alone or in isolated areas.
Criminals may target drivers and passengers in vehicles for opportunistic crimes in N’Djamena and throughout the country. Thieves may open unlocked doors or reach through open windows to steal items in plain sight.
In some cases, criminals may stage a traffic accident to divert attention or increase the vulnerability of potential victims. In addition, criminals may follow expatriates from major markets and grocery stores in order to rob them upon arrival at their office or residence. Drivers should drop off their passengers within the compound if possible; otherwise passengers should remain in the vehicle until the compound door has been opened.
Banditry remains a problem outside of major towns, especially in the east. Carjackings directed at expatriates, while unusual, did increase in 2017, with an average of one to three cases reported to the RSO each month. Reports of carjackings and roadside robberies/extortion are more common outside of N’Djamena, but these types of crime occur nationwide.
Other Areas of Concern
Chad’s border areas neighboring Libya and Sudan are generally considered off limits without specific permission from the government of Chad. The Chad-Libya border is considered an active conflict zone. Landmines may still be active or contain unexploded ordnance from the Chad-Libya conflict. While de-mining efforts are on-going, travelers should remain on paved or well-traveled roads.
Travelers are advised to avoid large concentrations of uniformed security elements and to utilize extreme caution when visiting areas in which the military operates, particularly near Chad’s border areas. The government has increased border patrols and border security remains elevated.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Vehicular accidents are the greatest risk to personal safety to travelers in Chad. Erratic traffic and poor local driving skills make travel in Chad hazardous. Furthermore, local vehicles frequently do not meet international safety standards, increasing the likelihood of severe injury or death during an accident. U.S. citizens should take extreme caution when driving in Chad, and seat belts and safety equipment should be used. Even minor injuries can turn into major ones, as emergency medical response is limited and slow. Traffic accidents, often resulting in death, are a daily occurrence.
Roads become more dangerous at night, even in major cities, as they are mostly not illuminated. Pedestrians may use the roads to push carts carrying goods to/from the markets; many wear dark clothing, rendering them difficult to see at night. Cars and large trucks often have only one operable headlight, which can make them appear as motorcycles at night; alternatively, local vehicles may have no lights, which can result in deadly head-on collisions. While some major cities, including N’Djamena, have a few traffic lights, they are often inoperable.
Chadian roads are in generally poor condition; however, the government has invested in several major road projects over the last few years. Most of the major roads in N’Djamena are paved, and projects continue to connect major cities in Chad. Lack of preventative maintenance has led to their degradation in some areas, and many unpaved roads exist throughout major Chadian cities. When traveling on unpaved roads, it is advisable to travel in appropriate, stocked vehicles and in convoys due to risk of vehicular damage, breakdowns, and becoming stuck in sand/mud.
Outside N’Djamena, fuel is usually obtained from roadside vendors and usually stored in glass or plastic bottles. “Fuel stands” can be up to several hundred kilometers apart, and sometimes sell fuel of poor quality. Travelers have found themselves stranded for hours waiting for assistance. Stranded motorists and nighttime travelers may be at greater risk of being targeted by criminals due to their perceived vulnerability.
Drivers should ensure that the vehicle has a copy of a valid insurance policy and registration papers. A local license and insurance is required to self-drive. The license is acquired from the Chadian National Police (CNP) for a fee without a driving test or written exam. There are several commercial insurance companies in Chad providing coverage for local and expatriate drivers.
If an individual is involved in a traffic accident, they should:
Contact emergency services at 2020 or +235-6627-7090.
Stop the vehicle exactly where the accident occurred, even if it is in the middle of an intersection, traffic circle, etc.
Remain in the vehicle until the CNP arrive on scene and complete an accident report and sketch.
Present copies of your passport photo page, driver’s license, and insurance to the CNP.
Drivers may be required to follow the police to the nearest police station to complete the police report. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section if they are detained for an extended period of time or arrested as a result of an accident. Those involved in an accident may be expected to transport injured persons to the hospital, particularly if the injured party’s vehicle is impounded.
Travelers are advised to restrict road travel to daylight hours outside of N’Djamena. The majority of cases of highway banditry occur under the cover of darkness. Avoiding isolated areas devoid of security forces, traveling in convoys, and forgoing nighttime travel will greatly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to a carjacking and armed robbery. If stopped, do not resist assailants unless there is an imminent danger of physical harm.
Shakedowns by security forces have occurred, although such incidents predominantly affect motorists driving local cars. While checkpoints have become less frequent than in the past, especially in N’Djamena, there have been some reports of extortion by security forces at checkpoints, especially late at night.
For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices” and “Road Safety in Africa.”
Public Transportation Conditions
U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using taxis, microbuses, motorcycles, and bicycles as a mode of transportation.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djamena as being a HIGH-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
U.S. citizens should remain aware of the potential for terrorist activity throughout Chad. Violent extremist organizations -- Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, ISIS-Libya, al-Qa’ida affiliated groups -- can easily cross borders and target Westerners, local security forces, and civilians in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel.
In February and March 2017, Boko Haram conducted suicide attacks against Chadian military forces based on Lake Chad islands in Chadian territory. In addition, more than 108,000 Chadians have been displaced by Boko Harem-related threats.
U.S. citizens should be aware that threats from violent extremist groups remain elevated throughout the Lake Chad Basin region and the Sahel. Some of these groups have expressed or signaled their intention to target Westerners.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djamena as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
U.S. citizens should remain aware of ongoing political tensions in Chad. Chad’s history has been punctuated by rebellions and coup attempts. The Chadian government, headed by President Idriss Déby Itno and dominated by his Zaghawa ethnic group, is characterized by a strong executive branch that controls the political landscape. The presidential election of April 2016 occurred without major violence.
Public demonstrations have been banned since the 2016 elections. When demonstrations do occur, they are well-controlled and under tight police supervision. The Chadian government did authorize a group of approximately 1,000 demonstrators to gather in November 2017 on a site affiliated with the ruling party located less than two miles from the U.S. Embassy. The group specifically protested the U.S. Presidential Proclamation banning the issuance of certain visa categories as well as the U. S. Department of Justice’s naming of President Déby as a target of bribery in a case against a Chinese businessman.
Workers’ strikes have become more common due to salary and benefits cuts, rising taxes, and Chad’s worsening economy. U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and large crowds, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent unexpectedly. Individuals within demonstrations/crowds may throw rocks at random passersby, vehicles, and security forces that may escalate the situation. Security forces typically react quickly to protest activities, and may use teargas and/or warning shots to disperse demonstrators. While checkpoints have become less common in N’Djamena since 2016, they may become more frequent during protest activities; police presence may also increase or become more visible around such activities. Demonstrations should also be avoided due to threat of crime, as large crowds attract petty criminals and pickpockets.
During the rainy season (May-October), roads are often impassable due to standing water and mud.
In the summer, the temperature can climb to 130 degrees Fahrenheit; precautions must be taken to stay hydrated.
During the dry season (November-April), dust storms diminish air quality, interfere with road safety and visibility, and often lead to the cancellation of flights.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
Due to Chad’s limited industrial base, there are few reported industrial accidents. Oil fields in the south have stringent safety and security regulations although Chinese oil companies’ standards have not prevented significant spillage.
Electricity accessibility is poor in N’Djamena and worse elsewhere. Most expatriate homes have generators to supplement city power.
The government of Chad has been known to restrict internet and mobile communications services during periods of heightened tension. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, and text messaging services, including SMS and WhatsApp, have been selectively restricted. In some cases, cellular networks have been shut down entirely. Cell phone networks also suffer from capacity issues during normal operating conditions. In general, the government does not permit satellite phones to be brought into or used in the country without specific written authorization.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, watches, sports clothing, footwear, jeans, cosmetics, perfumes, and other goods (music, videos) are also readily available. These products are not produced locally and are usually imported through informal channels. Travelers should avoid street vendors selling knock-off designer products.
Despite limited resources, Chadian customs officials make occasional efforts to enforce copyright laws, normally by seizing and burning counterfeit medicines, CDs, and mobile phones. Chad does not regularly track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods.
Kidnapping of Westerners remains a concern. A French national was kidnapped by unknown actors in March 2017 near the Sudanese boarder east of Goz Baida. The exact reasons behind his kidnapping and release two months later remain unclear, but the event appeared to be criminal.
Kidnapping for ransom is especially prevalent along Chad’s border with Cameroon and the Central African Republic; these kidnappings tend to occur within local communities and tribes that straddle the border and are usually motivated by financial gain.
For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Kidnapping: The Basics.”
Police response and emergency services vary depending on the service area, with more capabilities in major cities. Police response is generally good in N’Djamena but remains limited in peripheral areas. Police and emergency response times are slower than in Western countries.
Police officers may request that drivers pay fines directly to them for infractions, including after an accident. The RSO discourages travelers from paying fines directly to police officers. If you refuse to pay directly, the police officer will typically direct you to transport him/her to the nearest police station to pay (most police do not have vehicles and/or gas).
Local security force posture remains elevated around the Presidential Palace Compound on Avenue Felix Eboue in N’Djamena. Travelers should avoid acting suspiciously, taking pictures, walking, and/or loitering, etc. in this area, as the Presidential Guard has been known to respond to such activities in an extremely aggressive manner.
Individuals should not take photos without a permit from the Government of Chad. Photography restrictions are rigorously enforced, particularly near government, diplomatic and military sites. While it is possible for visiting journalists and others to receive permission to take photos, most working-level security authorities operate under the assumption that a foreigner who is taking photos is breaking the law. Visitors have been detained and had photography equipment seized for taking photographs without purchasing a permit. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.”
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Chad is not a signatory to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; however, the Government of Chad does fulfill generally accepted responsibilities of signatories by providing for the safety and security of foreign citizens, officials, diplomatic missions and foreign interests in the country. If detained by security forces, U.S. citizens should request that the U.S. Embassy be contacted; these requests may need to be repeated.
Crime Victim Assistance
Police, Fire Department, and Ambulance: 2020 (cell phone) or +235-6627-7090.
Lack of actual street addresses may pose challenges when reporting an emergency through the above emergency services phone number. Callers must describe the location of the emergency using city landmarks which may be difficult for expatriates or travelers who are unfamiliar with the area. Additionally, travelers may encounter language barriers when requesting assistance; while French and Chadian Arabic are widely spoken in N’Djamena, the vast majority of Chadian police officers do not speak English.
The Chadian National Police is responsible for day-to-day law enforcement within major cities in Chad. The Gendarmerie Nationale (military police) and Garde Nationale et Nomade du Tchad (National and Nomadic Guard of Chad) also exercise law enforcement powers in rural areas.
Medical care is limited within N’Djamena and difficult to find outside of major cities. Chad has limited public ambulance services, and they are extremely expensive.
Public health sector strikes are common.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
For medical assistance, please refer to the Embassy/Consulate’s Medical Assistance page.
Available Air Ambulance Services
Following the 2017 merger with Europ Assistance, International SOS Clinic is the only facility capable of stabilizing and transporting patients via air ambulance to a site capable of handling emergency and trauma care. Response time is between 12-24 hours. Evacuation is limited to two patients per aircraft.
SOS International Assistance Center – Philadelphia, PA - Open 24 hours a day
International SOS Assistance Inc.
Tel: +1.215.942 8226 or +1 215.942.8189
Fax: +1 215.354.2338
SOS Tchad - Route de la Résidence Ambassadeur d’Algérie; BP 1215
N'Djamena, Chad BP 1215 Chad
All hospitals require full payment in cash for services upon entry. Ensure you have enough cash when going to the hospital for care.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Tap water is generally not safe to drink. Bottled water should be the only water consumed unless a purifier or some other form of distillation is used. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “I’m Drinking What in My Water?.”
Standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread malaria throughout the central and southern regions of Chad. Malaria is endemic in Chad and malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Chad.
OSAC Country Council Information
Chad has an active OSAC Country Council, which meets quarterly. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
U.S. Embassy N’Djamena Chagoua Roundpoint
The American Citizen Services Section in N’Djamena is open to the public for walk-in service for emergency services Monday-Thursday from 07:30hrs to 17:00hrs and Friday from 07:30hrs to 12:30hrs, excluding American and Chadian national holidays.
Embassy Contact Numbers
Embassy Operator: (235) 2251-5017
Marine Post One: (235) 2251-5017 x24288
The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of N’Djamena is extremely limited. All U.S. citizens visiting or working in Chad should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance as a primary means of leaving the country.
U.S. citizens traveling in Chad are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency. Updated travel information can also be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
Chad Country Information Sheet