man in black shirt and blue denim jeans standing near black round structure
aerial view of city buildings during daytime
people walking on street during daytime

Is Iraq Safe?

Iraq faces significant safety risks for travelers due to terrorism, civil unrest, and violent crime. While some areas may be relatively stable, the threat of kidnapping, bombings, and militant attacks persists across the country. Comprehensive travel insurance and vigilant security precautions are essential. Travelers should closely monitor advisories, avoid high-risk areas, and exercise extreme caution if visiting Iraq.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Iraq faces significant safety risks for travelers due to ongoing conflict, terrorism, and crime. While some areas may be relatively stable, the security situation remains volatile and unpredictable.

  • Terrorism: Iraq has experienced frequent terrorist attacks, particularly in Baghdad, Mosul, and other major cities. Extremist groups like ISIS continue to operate and pose a serious threat.

  • Violent Crime: Levels of violent crime, including kidnappings, armed robberies, and carjackings, are high throughout the country. Disputes can escalate quickly and turn violent.

  • Civil Unrest: Protests, demonstrations, and civil disturbances occur regularly, sometimes leading to clashes with security forces and disruptions to travel.

  • Petty Crime: Opportunistic crimes like pickpocketing, bag snatching, and scams targeting foreigners are common, especially in crowded areas.

  • Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance: Many areas, particularly former conflict zones, remain contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, posing a significant risk.

Travelers should exercise extreme caution, avoid unnecessary travel, and follow the advice of local authorities and their home governments. Hiring professional security personnel may be necessary in some areas. Vigilance and situational awareness are crucial for personal safety in Iraq.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Iraq should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare facilities, challenges remain.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Some areas may require additional vaccines like rabies or meningitis.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, and dengue fever are present in certain regions. Use insect repellent and take antimalarial medication if recommended.

  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid undercooked or raw foods to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.

  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Baghdad experience high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions. Carry necessary medications and limit outdoor activities on heavily polluted days.

  • Medical Facilities: While improving, medical facilities may not meet international standards, especially outside major cities. Ensure adequate travel health insurance and access to funds for potential medical evacuation.

Natural Disasters

Iraq is located in a region prone to natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, and sandstorms. While the risk varies across the country, travelers should be prepared and stay informed about potential hazards.

  • Earthquakes: Iraq lies along major fault lines, making it susceptible to earthquakes. Tremors are relatively common, especially in the northern regions near the borders with Iran and Turkey. Travelers should familiarize themselves with safety procedures in case of an earthquake.

  • Floods: Heavy rainfall can lead to flash floods, particularly in urban areas with poor drainage systems. Floods can disrupt transportation and damage infrastructure, posing risks to travelers. Monitoring weather reports and avoiding low-lying areas during rainy seasons is advisable.

  • Sandstorms: Iraq's desert climate makes it prone to sandstorms, which can reduce visibility and cause respiratory issues. These storms are more common during the summer months and can disrupt travel plans. Travelers should carry protective gear, such as goggles and face masks, and seek shelter during severe sandstorms.

  • Extreme Temperatures: Iraq experiences extreme temperatures, with scorching summers and cold winters. Travelers should take precautions against heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heatstroke, by staying hydrated and limiting outdoor activities during the hottest hours. Proper clothing and shelter are also essential during winter months.

While natural disasters cannot be entirely avoided, staying informed about weather conditions, following local advisories, and taking necessary precautions can help mitigate risks and ensure a safer travel experience in Iraq.


Transportation in Iraq can be challenging and potentially unsafe for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and trains exist, they are often unreliable and may lack adequate security measures. Road travel poses significant risks, with poorly maintained roads, reckless driving practices, and the potential for roadside attacks or checkpoints in certain areas.

  • Road Safety: Driving conditions in Iraq are generally poor, with poorly maintained roads, lack of proper signage, and reckless driving behaviors. Roadside bombings and attacks, particularly in rural areas, remain a concern.

  • Public Transportation: While buses and trains operate in some cities, services are often unreliable and may lack proper security screening. Taxis should be avoided unless arranged through trusted sources.

  • Security Considerations: Certain areas of the country, particularly near the Syrian and Iranian borders, may have increased security risks, including the presence of armed groups and the potential for violence or kidnappings.

It is advisable for travelers to exercise extreme caution when using any form of transportation in Iraq and to carefully assess the security situation in their intended destinations. Hiring a professional driver or joining organized tours may be a safer option for those unfamiliar with the local environment.

Cultural Norms

Iraq is a predominantly Muslim country with a rich cultural heritage. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: Avoid revealing clothing, especially in religious sites and conservative areas. Women should cover their arms, legs, and hair when visiting mosques or shrines.

  • Ramadan Etiquette: During the holy month of Ramadan, refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours out of respect for those fasting. Restaurants and cafes may have limited operating hours.

  • Gender Norms: Iraqi society is generally conservative, and gender roles are traditionally defined. Respect local norms and avoid public displays of affection.

  • Religious Observances: Be mindful of prayer times and avoid disrupting worshippers during these periods. Mosques and shrines may have specific rules for visitors, such as removing shoes and covering heads.

  • Photography: Exercise caution when taking photographs, especially of people, religious sites, and military installations. Always ask for permission before photographing individuals.

  • Hospitality: Iraqis are known for their warm hospitality. Accepting offers of tea or coffee is considered polite, and declining may be seen as rude.

  • Greetings: Handshakes are common greetings between men, but it's advisable for men to wait for a woman to initiate a handshake. Avoid physical contact with the opposite gender in public.

Respecting local customs and traditions will not only enhance your travel experience but also foster mutual understanding and appreciation between cultures.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Iraq are limited and may not meet the standards expected in many Western countries. The availability, reliability, and quality of emergency services can vary significantly depending on the region and the specific situation.

  • Medical Emergencies: Medical facilities in major cities like Baghdad, Erbil, and Basra may provide adequate care, but resources are often strained. In rural areas, access to quality medical care can be extremely limited or non-existent.

  • Police and Security: The Iraqi police and security forces have limited resources and capabilities, particularly in areas affected by ongoing conflicts or instability. Response times can be slow, and their ability to handle emergencies may be hindered.

  • Fire and Rescue Services: Fire and rescue services are generally underdeveloped and may lack proper equipment and training, especially outside major urban centers.

  • Tourist-Specific Services: There are no dedicated emergency services specifically designed for foreign tourists. Travelers may face language barriers and cultural differences when seeking assistance.

It is advisable for travelers to have comprehensive travel insurance, carry contact information for their embassy or consulate, and familiarize themselves with local emergency procedures before visiting Iraq. Exercising caution and being prepared for potential emergencies is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Iraq safe for tourists?

Iraq is currently considered a high-risk destination for tourists due to ongoing conflicts, terrorism threats, and political instability. Travel is strongly discouraged, especially to areas near the Syrian border, and essential travel should involve comprehensive security measures.

Is Iraq safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travel in Iraq is extremely risky due to the conservative culture, high threat of violence, and lack of legal protections for women. Female travelers may face harassment, discrimination, and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Is Iraq safe for families?

Iraq is not recommended for family travel, especially with young children, due to the volatile security situation, lack of adequate medical facilities, and potential exposure to violence or kidnapping. The risks generally outweigh any potential benefits.

Is Iraq LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Iraq, and the LGBTQ+ community faces widespread discrimination, harassment, and violence. Travel for LGBTQ+ individuals is extremely dangerous and not advised under any circumstances.

Do you need a visa to go to Iraq?

A visa is required for most foreign nationals to enter Iraq, with a few exceptions for certain nationalities. Travelers should obtain a visa well in advance from an Iraqi embassy or consulate, as the process can be complex and requirements may vary.

Can you drink tap water in Iraq?

Tap water in Iraq is generally not safe to drink due to poor sanitation and water treatment infrastructure. Travelers should only consume bottled or purified water, even for brushing teeth or making ice.

What is the currency in Iraq?

The official currency of Iraq is the Iraqi Dinar (IQD). While credit cards are accepted in some larger establishments, cash in IQD is widely preferred, especially in rural areas.

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play