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Latest travel advice for Libya including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-01-21T23:58:48.896+00:00: Latest Update: Summary: On 21st January there was a car bomb in the Al Dahra district of Tripoli. No casualties have been reported.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against all travel to Libya, and for British nationals still in Libya to leave immediately by commercial means. Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) is working to restore stability and security to Libya, intense fighting continues in a number of areas, and there remains a high threat throughout the country of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists (formerly referred to as ISIL). See Safety and security.

On 21 January 2017 there was a car bomb in the Al Dahra district of Tripoli. No casualties have been reported.

There remains a high threat of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners. On 5 January 2017, a group of Daesh fighters was reported to be at large after breaking through Libyan National Army Forces following heavy clashes in Benghazi. On 2 October 2016, a Dutch journalist was killed in Sirte, while reporting on the fighting between pro-GNA forces and Daesh. While advances have been made against Daesh in Sirte, Benghazi and elsewhere, Daesh and other terrorist and armed groups remain a threat throughout Libya including in major cities. On 9 September 2016, a terrorist suicide car bomb attack in Benghazi killed more than a dozen Libyan Army troops and injured many more.

On 8 September 2016, there were two car bomb attacks in Tripoli. See Safety and security and Terrorism.

The British Embassy in Tripoli remains temporarily closed, and is unable to provide consular assistance.

Ports, airports and oil and gas installations have also been targeted. On 18 September 2016, there were clashes between Petroleum Facilities Guards and the Libyan National Army at the Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil facilities in the central oil crescent, after LNA forces had seized the facilities the previous week. On 3 January 2017, a Libyan National Army aircraft attacked Jufra airbase, resulting in one death and damage to a C130 transport aircraft.

Since 2015, Daesh have attacked a number of oil and gas installations and killed or kidnapped workers, including foreign nationals.

Fighting has caused the temporary suspension or closure of airports, closed roads and led to the closure of some border crossings. All airports are vulnerable to attack. Tripoli International Airport has been closed since 13 July 2014. Limited commercial departure options are sometimes available, but you should check with your airline. On 23 December 2016, an internal Afriqah Airways A320 flight from Sabha to Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli was hijacked and diverted to Malta. All passengers and crew were released and the motives of the hijackers were political.

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should consider your security arrangements carefully and take all necessary security precautions, including contingency plans. If you’re entering Libya as a media representative, you should get press accreditation from the relevant Libyan authorities.

You must get permission before taking any photographs or interviewing at or near military facilities. If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should get the right visa, or risk deportation. See Entry Requirements

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

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Political situation

The Libya Political Agreement was signed by a majority of the Libyan negotiating parties at a ceremony in Skhirat, Morocco on 17 December 2015, paving the way for a new unified Government of National Accord (GNA). On the whole reaction to the arrival of the GNA’s Presidency Council in the capital of Libya on 30 March has been positive and the GNA are supported by the majority of Libyans. But the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as the GNA works to restore stability and security to Libya.

Conflict involving small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft is ongoing in several areas, including Benghazi and parts of central Libya. This fighting includes pro-GNA forces, troops under the control of General Haftar who doesn’t recognise the GNA, as well as local militias and extremist groups such as Ansar Al Sharia and affiliates of Daesh and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M). Fighting can break out anywhere without warning, including between local militia groups, and many civilians have been killed in outbreaks of conflict in residential areas.

There is a high risk of civilians, including journalists, humanitarian and medical workers, being caught in indiscriminate gunfire or shelling, including air strikes, in all areas where there is fighting, putting those in the area at risk.

On 18 September 2016, there were clashes between Petroleum Facilities Guards and the Libyan National Army at the Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil facilities in the central oil crescent, after LNA forces had seized the facilities the previous week.

Heavy fighting continues in residential areas of Benghazi city, and civilians have been killed in air attacks on Dernah. There have been ongoing violent clashes in the southern cities of Ubari, Sebha and Kufrah. During 2016, there were a number of clashes between militias in the Tripoli suburbs of Abu Sleem, Ghoat Shaal, Bab Ben Gashir, and Zawia. GNA-aligned forces clashed with Libyan National Army forces in central Libya in January, including on 1 January 2017 at Barak al-Shati and Sabha, and on 3 January 2017 at Jufra.

Reports of violence, reprisal killings, looting and human rights abuses continue across the country. If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should monitor the local security situation carefully. Political events may impact on the security situation.

Crime

There are reports of increased crime levels in Libya, including robberies, muggings and carjackings at gun and knife point. There is limited police capacity to deal with street crime.

On 27 July 2014, a British diplomatic convoy was subject to an attempted car-jacking on the road between Tripoli and the Ras-al Jadir border crossing with Tunisia. Like many other parts of Libya, roads in this area are vulnerable to criminal gangs. You should plan your route carefully and avoid travelling at night.

Since December 2013, a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in Libya. Foreigners are also increasingly targeted for kidnappings by both criminal and extremist groups. See Terrorism

Local travel

If you travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should regularly reassess your security arrangements and carefully plan your movements. Take security advice from competent security experts before any travel within the country. Close security protection and/or a military escort are extremely important. In the event of a further deterioration of the security situation, routes in and out of major cities and towns may become blocked and airports closed or inaccessible at little or no notice. Don’t advertise your travel or other plans through social media. Avoid routine, vary your travel routes, and keep a low profile at all times.

Foreign nationals including journalists are vulnerable to mistreatment by armed groups in Libya. Intimidation, attacks, detentions and kidnapping of local journalists are a serious problem, and a number have been killed. There is a real risk of hostility from those who object to media reporting.

Road travel

Road travel within Libya remains highly dangerous. There continues to be a risk of being caught up in outbreaks of hostilities. There is also a high risk of carjacking and robbery. There is a risk of striking unexploded ordnance off-road.

Road traffic accidents are frequent and often result in fatalities.

Chad closed its border with Libya on 5 January 2017, in response to the activity of armed groups in the area.

Air travel

On 13 July 2014, Tripoli International Airport was closed following clashes that broke out between armed groups in the area surrounding the airport. Other airports may change their flight schedule without notice. Contact your airline or travel company for further information before travelling.

Benghazi airport has been closed since May 2014.

Due to a number of ongoing safety concerns, the European Union has agreed with the Libyan authorities to continue a voluntary restriction on Libyan airlines flying into the EU. However, some Libyan airlines operate flights to the EU using aircraft leased from other airlines. The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Contact your airline or travel company for further information before travelling.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Extremist groups including Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) are responsible for the majority of attacks, which have targeted foreign and diplomatic personnel and premises, international hotels, commercial and oil installations, and government and other official security institutions.

Although GNA- aligned forces, supported by U.S. airstrikes, declared the end of operations against Daesh in Sirte in January, Daesh remain a serious threat to security in Libya.

On 5 January 2017, a group of Daesh fighters was reported to have broken through Libyan National Army Forces after heavy clashes in Benghazi.

On 2 October 2016, a Dutch journalist was killed in Sirte, while reporting on the fighting between pro-GNA forces and Daesh. In Dernah, there’s an ongoing conflict between the Libyan National Army and local armed groups.

In June and July 2016, there were clashes in and around Ajdabiya after extremists calling themselves the Benghazi Defence Brigades sought to seize the town. On 2 August 2016, dozens of Libyan Army troops were killed in a terrorist car bomb in Benghazi.

On 8 September 2016, two car bombs exploded in Tripoli: the first was near the Foreign Ministry, and a second car bomb exploded near the Abu Sittah naval base (the initial location of the Government of National Accord). On 9 September, more than a dozen Libyan army troops were killed in a terrorist suicide car bomb attack in Benghazi.

Terrorist groups in southern and south-west Libya are also of concern and are using the area as a safe haven and transit route. Attacks have been launched in Libya and across the wider region, for example the In Amenas attack in Algeria in January 2013. Armed groups remain largely autonomous due the unstable political and security situation across large areas of Libya.

Travel in border regions is especially risky. Regional extremist groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, operate in the border areas of northern Mali, Niger and Algeria. They have a proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including in neighbouring countries and Libya.

Kidnapping

There is a high threat of kidnapping in Libya from terrorists operating in the region, including Daesh-affiliated groups who have murdered large numbers of those they have abducted. The kidnap threat is very high across the entire country, not just confined to terrorist strongholds.

Terrorist groups including Daesh and their affiliates, routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and are capable of conducting kidnappings across borders. The threat of kidnap is particularly high in border areas. There is clear evidence that groups within Libya have both the intent and capability to carry out further kidnappings, and are specifically targeting foreign nationals. A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in recent months.

Daesh and other terrorist groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence in Libya is unlikely to serve as protection.

Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings, and there’s a high risk that they would sell hostages on to terrorist groups.

The long standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.

See our Sahel page for information on the regional threat.

If you do choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should pay careful attention to your safety and security. Security precautions don’t remove the threat and FCO advice remains against all travel to the country.

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.

Sahel Region

There’s a very real threat of kidnap to westerners in the Sahel and surrounding region. The Sahel region includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The kidnap threat extends to other countries including Algeria, Cameroon, Libya and Nigeria. There is a continuing threat of kidnap following the military intervention in Mali which began in January 2013. Further attacks are highly likely.

There are several hostages still being held in the Sahel and surrounding region, some of whom have been held for 3 years. Victims in the region have included construction workers, NGO workers, tourists and diplomats of various nationalities, primarily European. Some hostages have been killed, including 9 British nationals since 2009.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking and finances terrorist activity. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Who are the terrorists?

The terrorist threat in the Sahel and surrounding region comes from a number of groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and Al Murabitun, a merger of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) and Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group. These terrorist groups aspire to establish Islamic law in the region and to attack Western interests. Some extremists in Libya are now aligning themselves with Daesh. In February 2015, one such group murdered Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been abducted in kidnappings in Sirte in December 2014 and January 2015.

The groups carry out kidnappings of Westerners for financial gain, prisoner exchange and to exert political pressure on governments. Kidnapping for ransom is AQ-M’s primary source of finance.

AQ-M and regional Islamist groups operate in the border areas of northern Mali, Niger and Algeria. They have proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings for terrorist groups in return for financial payment.

Since 2013 terrorist groups in the region have also kidnapped westerners in Cameroon and Nigeria. The main terrorist threat in the region comes from Boko Haram and Ansaru.

Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group in Nigeria that has been proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation.

Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno and Yobe states where Boko Haram has its operating base. There have, however, been a large number of attacks in other Nigerian states and further attacks could occur anywhere.

Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in northern Nigeria, and is proscribed by the UK.

Ansaru have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Boko Haram have taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon and are consistently kidnapping local nationals and Cameroonians.

Rally racing

If you’re taking part in a cross-country rally that travels through the Sahel and surrounding region, you should be aware of the high risk of kidnapping in parts of the region.

Some rallies in the 2012-13 season were cancelled or rerouted because of the risk. One of the most famous rallies in the region, the Paris-Dakar Rally, now takes place in South America due to the threat of kidnap. However, other rallies may go through areas where the FCO advise against travel. You should consult our country travel advice when planning your route.

If you do choose to take part in a rally that travels through areas where the FCO advise against travel, make sure you:

You should also be aware that the ability of the FCO to provide consular assistance in some countries in the region is limited.

Local laws and customs

Don’t use cameras close to military or official sites.

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

A Libyan visa issued overseas may not be recognised in some areas, due to the current political conflict.

Previous travel to Israel

Passports showing previous travel to Israel are not accepted for travel to Libya.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s [Travel Health Pro website)[http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/129/libya#Vaccine_recommendations]

Registering with the Libyan authorities

All short stay visitors must register with the police within a week of arrival. This is usually arranged by the company you’re visiting or the local travel agency you’re travelling with. If you don’t register, you may be fined when you leave the country.

Health

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, 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.

Healthcare in Libya is on the whole below the standard available in the UK. There are private clinics in Tripoli. If you need treatment you may be evacuated to Malta or mainland Europe. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Medical help in remote areas may not be available. Even if your travel or insurance company has arrangements with an international air ambulance provider, they may not be allowed to carry out a rescue operation within Libya. The current status of Libyan rescue services is uncertain.

Money

Libya is a cash society. Although the GNA have made efforts to maintain the supply in cash in banks, there continue to be severe shortages of cash and restrictions on bank withdrawals throughout the country. This has been complicated by the introduction of a parallel currency in the East,

Credit cards are not widely used although Visa and Mastercard are accepted in some places.

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.

See also

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