The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Iraq is a developing nation but is in the upper half of the world's economies. Located north of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, its climate is mostly desert. Summers are hot and winters are mild, except in mountainous areas.
See also: Library article for Yellow Fever
Although yellow fever does not occur in Iraq, an official yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required depending on your itinerary.
- Requirement: A vaccination certificate (recognition of lifetime validity is uncertain) is required for travelers aged ≥ 9 months coming from countries with risk of YF transmission. Note: This applies to airport layovers longer than 12 hours in these countries.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, typhoid fever, or a one time polio booster if you haven't previously received one for travel. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2017) Limited malaria risk — due exclusively to P. vivax — may exist from May through November in areas in the north below 1500 m(Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces). No indigenous cases reported since 2009.
Recommended prevention in risk areas: None
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: None.
Drug resistance: Not applicable.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
Moderate risk exists throughout the country, including in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Other Food-Borne Illnesses
Precautions to prevent brucellosis may be needed.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Leishmaniasis may pose a risk. Personal protective measures are important.
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
Consular Travel Advice
Due to terrorism, kidnapping, and other ongoing security concerns, U.S. (DOS), Canada (GAC), and Australia (DFAT) advise avoiding all travel to this country. U.K. (FCO) has a more limited warning.
High risk of attack by domestic and/or transnational terrorist groups exists throughout the country, especially in Baghdad. Targets may include domestic and international organizations and businesses; public places and events, including those frequented by tourists; and transportation systems.
High risk of kidnapping by terrorist groups exists throughout the country. Targets may include foreigners (especially Westerners), journalists, nongovernmental organization workers, missionaries, and aid workers.
High risk of violent crime (armed robbery, sexual assault, carjacking, and murder) and petty crime exists throughout the country.
Kidnappings by criminal groups occur throughout the country. Targets may include foreigners (especially Westerners), journalists, missionaries, and aid workers.
Protests and demonstrations frequently occur throughout the country, including Baghdad, and have the potential to turn violent without warning. Bystanders are at risk of harm from violence or from the response by authorities. Disruption to transportation, free movement, or the ability to carry out daily activities may occur.
With the exception of the Kurdistan Region, the threat to foreigners throughout Iraq is very high.
Avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian borders in northern Iraq, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined. The governments of Turkey and Iran continue to carry out military operations against insurgent groups in the mountain regions bordering Iraq. These operations have included troop movements and both aerial and artillery bombardments. Extensive unmarked minefields also remain along these borders. Border skirmishes with smugglers have become commonplace. The unrest in Syria has resulted in large numbers of people seeking refuge in the area.
Other Safety Threats
Armed militants control parts of Iraq and are battling Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.
Security incidents and sectarian-related violence have been occurring at a high rate across Iraq.
Security checkpoints are common in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Due to heightened tensions at checkpoints, extra respect and cooperation should be exercised. The wearing of an Iraqi police or army uniform is not a guarantee that the wearer is operating in an official capacity. This warning is particularly important at ad hoc checkpoints, where murders, kidnappings, and robberies frequently occur.
Travelers should carry a photo ID and legally certified copies of their visa and registration at all times.
There is a wide range of places where attacks can take place. These include residential compounds, military establishments, oil facilities, public transport, commercial venues, maritime facilities, airports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, large crowds, police stations, party political offices, and religious sites/ceremonies. Methods of attack include shootings, bombings, suicide bombs, vehicle bombs, rockets, and mortars. Terrorists have also kidnapped foreigners. Terrorists have mounted attacks during significant religious events, including Ramadan, Ashura, and Arba'een. There have been a number of recent mass casualty attacks on sites and ceremonies associated with religious pilgrimages.
Maritime facilities are under a high risk of attack. Maritime and sailing craft should take great care in the northern Persian Gulf. Vessels transiting the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Bab-el-Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of attack. Consider any regional tensions that may affect your route.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is < 10 in most high-income countries. Speed laws are poorly enforced. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
Sandstorms and dust storms frequently occur.
Seasonal flooding occurs.
Extreme heat (which can lead to heat-related illness) occurs from July through September.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Iraq
- United States: [+964] 0760-030-3000; iq.usembassy.gov
- Canada: [+964] 782-783-5084; international.gc.ca/world-monde/iraq-irak/baghdad-bagdad
- United Kingdom: [+964] 7901-926-280; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-baghdad
- Australia: [+964] 780-923-7565; iraq.embassy.gov.au
Iraq's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.iraqiembassy.us
- In Canada: www.mofamission.gov.iq/en/CanadaOt
- In the U.K.: www.mofamission.gov.iq/en/UKLondon
- In Australia: www.mofamission.gov.iq/en/AustCan
HIV and hepatitis testing are required to obtain a work or residence visa. Travelers, including short-term travelers, may be detained or deported after arrival if found to be positive for HIV or hepatitis.