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

2016-04-08T12:06:24.727+01:00: Latest update: Safety and security section - the arrival of the Presidency Council in the capital of Libya on 30 March is an important step in the establishment of an effective Government of National Accord (GNA); however, the situation remains fluid as the GNA begins its work to restore stability and security to Libya; intense fighting continues in a number of areas, and there remains a high threat of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists (formerly referred to as ISIL), and a dangerous security situation throughout the country

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. The situation remains changeable while the Government of National Accord begins its work to restore stability and security to Libya. Intense fighting continues in a number of areas, and there remains a high threat of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists (formerly referred to as ISIL), and a dangerous security situation throughout the country. See Safety and security.

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

There is a high threat from terrorism. See Terrorism. There are continued attacks across Libya including in major cities, leaving significant numbers of people dead or injured.

There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout Libya, There have been a number of kidnappings, including of British nationals. Foreign nationals, including from Ethiopia and Egypt, have been kidnapped and killed by Daesh.

Ports and airports, and oil and gas installations have also been targeted. On 10 May 2015, 1 crewman was killed and several injured after a cargo vessel was attacked off the Libyan coast by military jets. In January 2015, 2 crewmen were killed in an air attack on a Greek-operated oil tanker anchored off Libya’s coast.

Since December 2013, a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in Libya. Further attacks against foreigners are likely and could be opportunistic. Fighting can break out anywhere without warning, quickly putting those in the area at risk.

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.

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 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 national government in Libya. The arrival of the Presidency Council in the capital of Libya on 30 March is an important step in the establishment of an effective Government of National Accord (GNA), On the whole reaction has been positive and the GNA are supported by the majority of Libyans. But the political and security situation remains changeable as the GNA begins its work to restore stability and security to Libya. Full scale military operations involving small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft are ongoing in several areas. Heavy fighting continues in residential areas of Benghazi city.

The situation throughout the country remains dangerous and unpredictable. Fighting continues in many parts of Libya and can break out anywhere without warning. Many civilians have been killed in residential areas. There’s a high risk of being caught in indiscriminate gunfire or shelling, including air strikes, in all areas where the fighting has spread quickly putting those in the area at risk. This fighting includes extremist groups such aslike Ansar Al Sharia and affiliates of Daesh and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M).

Daesh remain in control of Sirte and the central coastal region and have launched attacks on oil facilities at Es Sider (Sidra) and Ras Lanuf, during January and February. In Dernah, conflict has grown between Daesh and local armed resistance and other armed forces.

There have been ongoing violent clashes in the southern cities of Awbari, Sebha and Kufrah. During March there were a number of clashes between militias in the Tripoli suburbs of Ghoat Shaal,and Bab Ben Gashir; and up to 20 were reported killed in fighting in Zawia west of Tripoli.

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.


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.

Foreign nationals including journalists are vulnerable to mistreatment by the 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.

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. Check your routes in advance of travelling. 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.

Road travel

There is a widespread and worsening shortage of petrol and diesel and lengthy queues at fuel stations are common.

The standard of driving in Libya is very poor, but the roads are generally in reasonable condition. Take care when driving anywhere in Libya, particularly at night. Always wear a seatbelt and drive defensively.

You should avoid all off-road driving due to the risk of unexploded ordinance. Violent incidents have occurred on some desert routes. Take great care in remote areas, travel in a group and make sure you are well prepared with enough fuel, water and food.

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.


There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. These could target foreign and diplomatic personnel and premises, international hotels, commercial and oil installations, and government and other official security institutions. Extremist groups including Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) are responsible for the majority of attacks. Attacks are more frequent in areas where Daesh has a strong presence and capability such as Sirte, Darnah, Benghazi, Adjabiya and Sabratha, but can and do occur throughout the country:

There have been a number of attacks against diplomatic premises, most recently against the UAE and Egyptian embassies on 13 November 2014, the Algerian embassy on 17 January 2015, the Sudanese embassy on 3 February 2015, the South Korean Embassy on 12 April 2015, the Moroccan Embassy on 13 April 2015 and the Spanish Embassy on 20 April 2015.

On 4 and 5 January 2016, Daesh attacked oil facilities at the ports of Es Sider (Sidra) and Ras Lanuf. A number of guards were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Es Sider and oil facilities were damaged at Ras Lanuf during the attacks. Attacks on ports and the extractive industry highlight the high risk to oil and gas infrastructure. Daesh claimed responsibility for a car bomb detonated outside the Tripoli headquarters of the Mellitah Oil and Gas company on 31 August 2015.

In Sirte, Daesh have carried out brutal reprisal killings against local residents and burned down a medical centre with injured patients locked inside. The conflict against Daesh in Sirte has escalated since 10 August, involving air strikes, artillery and mortar shelling. In Darnah, conflict has grown between Daesh and local armed resistance and other armed forces. 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.


There is a high threat of kidnapping in Libya from terrorists operating in the region, including Daesh-affiliated groups who have murdered a number of those they have abducted. The kidnap threat is not confined to terrorist strongholds. Criminal gangs have carried out kidnappings for financial reward and there’s a high risk that they would sell any hostages on to terrorist groups.

Since January 2014, a number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped, including in Tripoli and at oil installations. There is clear evidence that groups within Libya have both the intent and capability to carry out kidnappings and are specifically targeting foreign nationals.

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.

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


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

Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.

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.


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.

Although not common in Libya, there were confirmed cases of malaria in the south-eastern city of al-Kufra in 2010.


Libya is a cash society.

Credit cards are not widely used although Visa and Mastercard are accepted in some places. There are a few reliable ATMs in Tripoli. Money transfers can also be arranged through some banks.

Contact FCO Travel Advice Team

This email service only offers information and advice for British nationals planning to travel abroad.

If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the consular assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

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

If you have a question about this travel advice, you can email us at TravelAdvicePublicEnquiries@fco.gov.uk

Before you send an email, make sure you have read the travel advice for the country you’re travelling to, and the guidance on how the FCO puts travel advice together.

See also

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  • British Embassy Tripoli

    Title:British Embassy Tripoli has temporarily suspended operations from 4 August 2014

    British Embassy
    Rue du Lac Windermere
    Les Berges du Lac

    Contact: Telephone: +216 71 108 700
  • UK Trade & Investment Libya

    Title:UK Trade & Investment Libya

    British Embassy
    24th Floor
    Tripoli Towers (formerly Bourj al Fateh)

  • DFID Middle East and North Africa


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The latest news, travel advice, and information for Libya, updated regularly for all British travellers by the UK Foreign Office. Including British consulate and embassy addresses in Libya (Tripoli).

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