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Djibouti
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2016-12-22T15:17:04.218+00:00: Latest update: Safety and security section (Rail travel) – a new railway line from Djibouti to Addis Ababa opened on 5 October 2016, but passenger trains aren’t yet operating

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the border with Eritrea. See Local travel

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks can’t be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See Terrorism

On 6 February 2016, there was an attack on a gendarmerie station at Lac ‘Assal, central Djibouti. Three people are reported to have been killed. You should monitor local media reports before travelling.

A suicide bombing at La Chaumiere restaurant in Djibouti city on 24 May 2014 resulted in a number of fatalities and serious casualties, including western nationals. Exercise extreme vigilance in public places frequented by foreigners.

Djibouti remains one of the main routes for those fleeing the conflict in Yemen. Limited arrangements are in place to facilitate onward travel for British nationals arriving in Djibouti. However, the UK government’s ability to help is limited and you’ll be expected to cover the cost of visas, accommodation, insurance and onward travel yourself. Any travel options you pursue are taken at your own risk.

There is no British Embassy in Djibouti. The British Honorary Consul in Djibouti can offer limited help. If you need consular assistance outside office hours you should contact the British Embassy in Addis Ababa by calling +251 912 503132 or +251 911 25 54 81. You can also contact the FCO in London at any time by calling +44 (0) 20 7008 1500.

Be aware of the risk of banditry if you travel outside the capital city. See Local travel

Piracy remains a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. See Sea travel

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime is not uncommon in Djibouti. Don’t walk around town alone late at night. Keep valuables, particularly cameras and passports, out of sight.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all travel to the border with Eritrea. In 2008 there were military clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea after an incursion of Eritrean forces into the disputed Djibouti border region. The situation remains fragile and further conflict is possible.

Take great care if you travel to remote areas of the country, including the border with Somaliland, in the north-west of Somalia, where the presence of security forces is low.

Road travel

Avoid travelling outside city centres after dark; vehicles often have no lights and livestock may be on the roads. Roads are narrow, poorly lit and maintained. Police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, which are not clearly visible at night. Land mines are common in the northern districts of Obock and Tadjoura and the southern district of Ali Sabeih.

Rail travel

A new railway line from Djibouti to Addis Ababa opened on 5 October 2016, but passenger trains aren’t yet operating.

Sea travel

While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks can’t be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events. Previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed.

Djibouti and western interests within Djibouti may be seen as a legitimate target by Al Shabaab because of its support to the Somali government and its participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission AMISOM. Al Shabaab has previously issued public threats against Djibouti. On 24 May 2014, there was a suicide bombing in a Djibouti restaurant, in which three people died and many were injured.

Follow the advice of local authorities, take care while travelling around the country and avoid large gatherings.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Djibouti has a predominantly Muslim population. You should dress in a conservative manner in the city. Homosexual behaviour is illegal. Drinking alcohol is permitted, but drunken behaviour could result in a two-year prison term.

During Ramadan you should show respect to those who are fasting and take care not to offend Islamic values.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Photographing infrastructure (such as ports, public buildings, airports, military facilities and bridges) is prohibited. Your equipment will be confiscated and you could be arrested. When taking photos near prohibited places you should take care and seek local advice if you are unsure.

French, Arabic and Somali are widely spoken.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals need a visa to enter Djibouti. Visas on arrival are issued at the discretion of the Djibouti Immigration authorities and can’t be guaranteed. You should get a visa before travelling, for further details, contact the French Embassy in London.

British nationals applying for a Djibouti visa in Ethiopia generally require a letter from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa for presentation at the Djibouti Embassy. There is a fee for this service payable in local currency.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Djibouti.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 13,000 adults aged 15 or over in Djibouti were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 2.5% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 35 09 62 or 35 27 12 (switchboard) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

From May to October the climate is very hot and dry. Below average rainfall in the past four years means many regions in East Africa area experiencing a severe drought including Djibouti. You may experience difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of food and water could be affected. 

Natural disasters

Djibouti is in an active volcanic and earthquake zone. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Money

Credit cards are accepted at only a very few places in Djibouti. It is not possible to get currency advances against a credit card. Make sure you have enough hard currency or travellers’ cheques.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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  • British Embassy Addis Ababa

    Title:British Embassy Addis Ababa
    Email:Britishembassy.addisababa@fco.gov.uk;
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    Contact: Telephone: +251 11 6170100
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The latest news, travel advice, and information for Djibouti, updated regularly for all British travellers by the UK Foreign Office. Including British consulate and embassy addresses in Djibouti (Djibouti).

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