Brunei Darussalam

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 22 October 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Brunei Darussalam.

Brunei Darussalam overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Brunei Darussalam.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • In May 2014, Brunei began phasing in a new Islamic Sharia penal code. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the offences and punishments set out in the code will apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims.
  • Penalties for drug and some other serious offences are severe in Brunei, and can include the death penalty.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Before travelling, you should confirm what the minimum validity requirement is for your passport. Contact the nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of Brunei for the most up-to-date information.

Transit visas (valid for 72 hours) and single and multiple entry visas can be issued to Australian passport holders on arrival. The visa fee must be paid in cash in either Brunei or Singapore dollars. There is a money changer in the arrival hall of the airport beyond the immigration control point, but no banking facilities.

Immigration regulations are strict. Australians working in Brunei are strongly advised to closely monitor their immigration status and visa expiration dates. You should check your entry stamp in your passport to confirm your permitted length of stay.

A departure tax is payable in local currency at Brunei International Airport in Bandar Seri Begawan and the Muara and Serasa ferry terminals. Depending upon the airline, the departure tax may be incorporated into the cost of the air ticket.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Brunei Darussalam. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Crime

Brunei has a low incidence of serious crime. Foreigners are occasionally the victims of petty crime, such as burglaries and theft. Exercise normal safety precautions and ensure personal belongings and passports are secure at all times.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Since October 2007, a limit has been imposed on the sale of diesel and petrol for vehicles and vessels not registered in Brunei. Information on these measures is available at the Government of Brunei Darussalam’s Energy Department website.

The standard of driving and adherence to road rules differs from Australia. It is common for drivers to drive through red lights, speed and not use seatbelts. Vehicles are also sometimes driven by unlicensed or uninsured drivers.

If you are involved in a road accident as a driver, you should not leave the scene or move your vehicle until the police have attended. For more advice, see our road travel page.

If you are planning to visit the neighbouring eastern states of Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), you should read our travel advice for Malaysia. If you are planning to visit nearby Indonesian provinces in Kalimantan, you should read our travel advice for Indonesia.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Brunei Darussalam.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Brunei, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

In May 2014, Brunei began phasing in a new criminal code based on Sharia Islamic law. Most offences under the new penal code apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Presently, Brunei has only implemented the first phase of its new penal code; first phase offences are punishable with a fine, imprisonment or both. Subsequent phases will introduce severe penalties, including both corporal and capital punishments.

The new penal code introduces a number of new laws and penalties, and can be accessed online at the Brunei Attorney-General’s Chambers website.

It is forbidden for non-Muslims to eat, drink or smoke in public places during Ramadan between sunrise and sunset. Failure to comply could result in a fine, imprisonment or both.

Some drug offences carry a mandatory death penalty. Other penalties include lengthy prison sentences and corporal punishment.

Serious crimes, such as murder or kidnapping, may also attract the death penalty. Other serious crimes, such as rape and robbery may attract corporal punishment.

Offences that do not exist in Australia such as adultery and close proximity between the sexes may attract a fine, imprisonment or both. In some circumstances, it may also attract corporal punishment.

Immigration related offences are taken very seriously and offenders may be subject to corporal punishment.

Homosexual activity is illegal, and penalties may include prison sentences. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is illegal to persuade or incite a Muslim to neglect their religious duties. It is illegal to preach religions other than Islam. Adult male Muslims are required to attend Friday prayers; failure to attend may attract fines. Muslims should not teach Islamic doctrine outside their own home or to anyone outside their household without permission.

The sale of alcohol is prohibited in Brunei and laws governing the limited importation of alcohol are strictly enforced. Travellers should familiarise themselves with local requirements and be aware that they may be required to produce documentation showing that any alcohol was legally purchased and imported.

Possession of pornographic material is prohibited.

Smoking is banned in specific public places, including government buildings, hospitals, recreational and educational centres, public transport and restaurants. Offenders could be fined.

It is an offence to photograph prohibited places, including government and military infrastructure and equipment, places used by security forces and communications and civil infrastructure, and areas in the vicinity of such places.

Persons detected carrying firearms and related items, such as ammunition, including empty cartridge shells, can be detained by local authorities and may face criminal prosecution.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs.

Under the new Brunei criminal code, it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during fasting hours. This applies equally to Muslims and non-Muslims. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Brunei. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

You should be cautious when making comments about local issues, particularly those relating to the royal family. Such comments could cause offence and in some cases, could attract legal consequences.

Information for dual nationals

Brunei does not recognise dual nationality. Australian citizens entering Brunei with a Bruneian passport will be treated as Bruneian by local authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Bruneian dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Brunei's public hospitals are of reasonable quality. Private hospital facilities are of a high standard. In the case of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to Australia or Singapore may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.

Dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases, including Japanese encephalitis, occur in Brunei. We recommend you take precautions against mosquito bites including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, hand, foot and mouth disease and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

When red algae reaches certain levels, Bruneian authorities may issue Red Tide warnings which may advise against swimming in certain areas and eating certain types of seafood. The warnings, which vary from time to time depending on climatic conditions, are printed in local newspapers, including in English language publications.

There is smoke haze across some parts of Brunei usually during the July to October period. This haze can cause health problems for some people. Keep up-to-date with the advice of local authorities and seek medical advice on appropriate precautions.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian High Commission, Bandar Seri Begawan

Level 6, Dar Takaful IBB Utama building
Jalan Pemancha
Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8711
Brunei Darussalam
Telephone: (673) 222 9435
Facsimile: (673) 222 1652
Email: austhicom.brunei@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.bruneidarussalam.highcommission.gov.au

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Brunei, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Flooding and mudslides are common during the wet season (September to January and May to July). Essential services, such as power supplies, can be affected at these times. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.