- We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Lebanon at this time because of the unpredictable security and political situation. The situation could deteriorate without warning. If you do decide to travel to Lebanon, you should exercise extreme caution. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media and other local information sources about possible new safety or security risks and political developments.
- The ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria is having a destabilising effect on Lebanon, and violence may spillover without warning.
- If violence spills over into Lebanon, departure options may become severely limited without notice.
- In the event of a crisis, you are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Lebanon and that your travel documentation remains up-to-date. You should not expect that the Australian government will facilitate your immediate departure.
- Terrorist attacks are likely and could occur throughout Lebanon. Recent attacks have been related to the involvement of Lebanese nationals in the conflict in Syria, however Western interests have been attacked in the past and could be targeted again. Embassies, international hotels, fast-food outlets and restaurants, including those frequented by foreign military personnel, and other commercial and public places remain possible targets.
- On 19 November 2013, an explosion occurred outside the Iranian Embassy killing at least 23 people and injuring over 140. We advise Australians to avoid the area and monitor the media for any updates.
- Violence is possible in any part of Lebanon due to ongoing political and sectarian tensions. Violent incidents resulting in deaths and injuries continue to occur throughout the country. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others.
- We strongly advise Australians not to travel to the southern suburbs (Dahiyeh) of Beirut at the present time due to the possibility of rocket attacks and car bombs. The southern suburbs are defined as the area south of the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium to the airport and east of the main airport road including the suburbs of Chiyah, Ghobeire, Haret Hreik, Bir el Abed, Borj el Barajne, Mraije, Roueiss, Lailake, Hay el Sellom and Tahouitit el Ghadir. On 15 August 2013 a car bomb exploded on the main road between Roueiss and Bir el Abed killing more than 20 people and wounding 250 others. On 9 July 2013, a car bomb exploded in Bir El Abed resulting in numerous injuries. Attacks are likely to continue in the future.
- We strongly advise Australians not to travel to Tripoli due to fighting between rival factions. Further violence and armed clashes are likely. For more information see Safety and security: Civil unrest/political tension.
- We strongly advise Australians not to travel to all regions in the northern Beka’a Valley extending east and north to the Syrian border from Rayek and including Britel, Baalbek, Aarsal, Ras Baalbek, Qaa and Hermel.
- We strongly advise you not to travel south of the Litani River due to the danger posed by landmines, unexploded ordnance, cross-border artillery strikes and the uncertain security environment.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to regions within five kilometres of the border with Syria. Tensions in this area are ongoing and further cross-border clashes are likely. See under Safety and security: Civil unrest/ political tension for more information.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to Palestinian refugee camps. The situation is unpredictable and could deteriorate without warning. The Lebanese state has no formal security presence in the camps.
- Since July 2012 there have been regular reports of kidnapping for ransom, including some foreign nationals, mainly in the Beka’a Valley.
- The primary road between downtown Beirut and the international airport can be blocked without warning. Access to the airport may be cut off, potentially for extended periods, if the security situation deteriorates.
- There are significant numbers of unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, and landmines in Lebanon, particularly in southern Lebanon. Australians are strongly advised to keep to well-travelled paths and travel with local guides.
- You should avoid any large gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they could turn violent. In the event of protests or civil unrest you should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information affecting your safety and security.
- You should ensure that you carry personal identity documentation at all times.
- Under Lebanese law, Lebanese nationals and non-nationals may prevent family members from leaving Lebanon, even if they are Australian citizens. Australians, including mothers with children, have been prevented from leaving Lebanon when relatives have legally placed border alerts (known as 'stop orders') on them. The Australian Government cannot prevent or overturn the issue of a 'stop order' on an Australian citizen.
- The Australian Embassy in Downtown Beirut may be temporarily closed to the public at short notice due to demonstrations and concerns about security in the vicinity of the Embassy. You should call ahead for advice before going to the Embassy. Australians requiring emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra. See under Where to Get Help for contact details.
- Given the volatile security situation, if you choose to travel to Lebanon, we strongly recommend that you: :
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Lebanon for the most up-to-date visa information.
It is against Lebanese law to travel to Israel. If you have any evidence that you have travelled to Israel, or that you intend to travel to Israel, you will be refused entry to Lebanon, or deported. This includes Israeli exit or entry stamps in your passport, and Egyptian or Jordanian stamps from border crossings with Israel, and travel itineraries or tickets that include Israel as a destination. Citizens of Lebanon and other Arab nations, including dual nationals, may be arrested and imprisoned. Other citizens may be held for questioning for lengthy periods (up to several days) before being deported.
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
Civil unrest/political tension
We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Lebanon at this time due to the unpredictable security and political situation. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others. You should pay close attention to your personal security, monitor the media for updates and follow the directions of local authorities. If you are in Lebanon, and have concerns for your safety, you should consider departing.
Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations: You should avoid any large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should stay indoors during celebratory gunfire, which often occurs after political speeches. Australians are advised to stay away from areas where violence is known to have occurred or is likely to occur. If you are in an area affected by clashes, you should stay indoors and monitor local information sources for updates on the security situation. If you become aware of nearby clashes, you should leave the area immediately if it is safe to do so.
Be prepared to depart Lebanon quickly: You should be aware that in the event of a crisis you are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Lebanon. You should ensure that your travel documentation remains up-to-date to allow a rapid departure. This includes obtaining passports for children born in Lebanon and ensuring that any family members that wish to travel with you have a current passport. If violence escalates, roads and highways could quickly become blocked, including access routes to airports and borders. Heavy demand for available flights could lead to a lack of availability of seats. As a result, your departure options may be severely limited. You should not expect the Australian Government will facilitate your immediate departure.
Political developments elsewhere in the region and international events may prompt large demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. Both planned and spontaneous demonstrations related to the domestic and regional situation do occur.
The ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria is having a destabilising effect on Lebanon. Violent incidents related to the situation in Syria – including car bombs, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and rocket attacks – have occurred in various parts of Lebanon and are likely to occur in the future. Violence may spillover without warning.
Beirut: On 19 October 2012, a car bombing in Achrafieh, Beirut, led to violence and disruptions to road access, including to the international airport in Beirut. In August 2012, the reported kidnappings of Syrians and other foreign nationals resulted in escalating tensions in Beirut and elsewhere. Armed groups were mobilised in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Main highways, including between central Beirut and the international airport, have been subject to sporadic closure by groups seeking to protest against Government policies, the situation in Syria, or to destabilise the security environment. In May 2012, armed clashes occurred in part of Beirut, and a number of roads and highways were closed temporarily.
Southern suburbs (Dahiyeh region) of Beirut: We strongly advise Australians against travelling to the southern suburbs of Beirut, as defined by the area south of the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium to the airport and east of the main airport road including the suburbs of Chiyah, Ghobeire, Haret Hreik, Bir el Abed, Borj el Barajne, Mraije, Roueiss, Lailake, Hay el Sellom and Tahouitit el Ghadir. This is due to a series of recent rocket attacks and car bombs targeting the area that are likely to continue to occur in the future. See Terrorism for information on recent incidents.
Sidon: Violent clashes occurred on 23 June 2013 in Sidon, particularly around the eastern suburb of Abra, between the Lebanese Armed Forces and local militias. The use of heavy weapons, as well as sniper activity, resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.
Tripoli: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to Tripoli at the present time due to ongoing violence and armed clashes. Fighting between rival factions in June 2013 resulted in numerous deaths and injuries and spread to a large number of suburbs throughout Tripoli. Further violence and armed clashes are likely to occur within Tripoli. See Terrorism for information on bombings of 23 August 2013.
Northern Beka’a Valley extending east and north to the Syrian border from Rayek and including Britel, Baalbek, Aarsal, Ras Baalbek, Qaa and Hermel: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to all regions in the northern and north-eastern Beka’a Valley at present. As a result of the conflict in Syria, rockets landed in parts of the northern Beka’a valley in May and June 2013. There has been an increasing number of violent incidents in the region, including attacks with improvised explosive devices (IED) and kidnappings. More violence is likely to occur.
Regions within five kilometres of the border with Syria: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to regions within five kilometres of the border with Syria (especially the regions of Wadi Khaled, Hermel and Arsal). Tensions between communities in this area as a result of the conflict in Syria have led to repeated violent incidents. Repeated cross-border clashes occurred throughout 2012 and 2013, resulting in deaths and injuries of civilians due to shells having been fired from the Syrian side of the border. On 12 June 2013, a Syrian helicopter fired rockets into the Lebanese village of Arsal. Further cross-border clashes and exchanges of fire between opposing forces are likely to occur.
Southern Lebanon: We strongly advise you not to travel south of the Litani River. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) maintains peacekeepings south of the Litani as a result of the 2006 conflict as well as earlier and ongoing tensions within the region.
Israeli forces remain in the southern border town of Ghajar and there are ongoing tensions in the surrounding region. This has led to occasional cross-border artillery strikes. While the presence of the LAF and UN forces in southern Lebanon has led to a general improvement in the security environment, further clashes could occur. As highlighted by the conflict between Israel and Hizballah in 2006, the security situation could change without notice and Australians could be caught up in any violence directed at others. You should avoid any areas where military activity is ongoing.
Palestinian refugee camps: We strongly advise you not to travel to Palestinian refugee camps in any part of Lebanon. Extremist groups are known to operate inside the camps. The security situation in the camps is unpredictable and could deteriorate without warning. The Lebanese state has no formal security presence in the camps and they experience high levels of crime. There are frequent armed clashes between rival factions within some of the camps.
Terrorist attacks are likely and could occur throughout Lebanon. The greatest threat comes from extremist groups, whose presence is greatest in and around Palestinian refugee camps, in the Tripoli region, parts of the Beka’a Valley and south of the Litani River.
Recent attacks have targeted the southern suburbs of Beirut and are related to the involvement of Lebanese nationals in the conflict in Syria.
On 19 November 2013, an explosion occurred outside the Iranian Embassy killing at least 23 people and injuring over 140.
On 23 August 2013, two bombs targeting separate mosques in Tripoli killed at least 35 people and injured hundreds of others.
On 15 August 2013, a car bomb exploded on the main road between Roueiss and Bir el Abed, killing more than 20 people and wounding approximately 250 others.
On 9 July 2013, a car bomb exploded in Bir el Abed resulting in numerous injuries.
On 26 May 2013, two rockets were fired into the Dahiyeh area, with no injuries reported.
On 19 October 2012, a car bomb targeting a senior security official detonated in the inner city suburb of Achrafieh, a residential and popular shopping district in eastern Beirut leaving eight dead and many injured.
In the past, extremists have attacked Western interests and embassy officials and may do so again. Other potential targets include embassies, international hotels, businesses, fast food outlets and restaurants frequented by foreigners, including licensed premises.
Australians could inadvertently be caught up in attacks directed at others.
Targets associated with the Lebanese Government, such as government institutions, senior politicians and officials, and infrastructure, including airports and public buildings, could also be attacked.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Lebanese Government interests, particularly the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), have been high priority terrorist targets. LAF and UNIFIL facilities and vehicles and places frequented by their personnel may also be targeted. In the past, there have been a number of attacks, some fatal, against both UNIFIL and the LAF.
In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. In addition to the possible targets listed above, other targets could include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as buildings associated with foreign governments and companies and international organisations, embassies, Lebanese Government and military interests, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centres, markets, promenades, bars, schools, places of worship, cinemas, outdoor recreation events, public transport and tourist areas.
Militants have mounted attacks in the lead-up to and on days of national and religious significance, but attacks could occur at any time.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
Since July 2012, there have been regular reports of kidnapping for ransom, including some foreign nationals, mainly in the Beka’a Valley. There have been several politically motivated kidnappings of foreign nationals in Beirut and the Beka’a Valley as recently as August 2013.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.
The Australian Government’s longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers paying ransoms increases the risk of further kidnappings.
Although crime in Lebanon is moderate by international standards, crime rates have increased significantly recently, particularly the incidence of vehicle crime, petty theft such as bag snatching (including by youths riding motorbikes), home break-ins and armed robberies.
We recommend against travelling in service (shared) taxis. There have been an increasing number of reports of armed robberies of foreign passengers travelling in service (shared) taxis in which victims were diverted to isolated locations where they were robbed at gunpoint. It is advisable to only use taxis from recognised companies and not to use service (shared) taxis or taxis hailed on the street, particularly late at night.
Money and valuables
Before you travel, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which currency is most appropriate to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. Both US Dollars and Lebanese Lira (also known as Lebanese Pounds) are accepted throughout Lebanon.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
You should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for updates.
Roads, including access routes to the airport and border crossings, may be blocked during demonstrations and civil unrest. The airport may also close at short notice. If this occurs, you should check with your airline for up-to-date information and departure options.
There is an armed security presence throughout Lebanon, including at road check points. You should ensure that you carry personal identity documentation at all times and obey the instructions of security personnel.
Driving in Lebanon can be dangerous due to inadequately maintained roads. Snow and ice compound the danger in winter. Traffic conditions and poor local driving habits pose a danger to drivers and pedestrians alike. For further advice, see our road travel page.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.
Unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions, and landmines are numerous throughout Lebanon with the highest concentration in the south of the country, especially south of the Litani River. Minefields are not always clearly marked and those that are can shift away from signage. You should inform children of the risk, seek advice from local residents, stay on paved roads and avoid walking or driving cross-country.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
Under Lebanese law, Lebanese nationals and non-nationals may prevent family members from leaving Lebanon, even if they are Australian citizens. Australians, including mothers with children, have been prevented from leaving Lebanon when relatives have legally placed border alerts (known as ‘stop orders’) on them. The Australian Government cannot prevent or overturn the issue of a ‘stop order’ on an Australian citizen.
All family law matters, including child custody and divorce decisions are based on local religious laws. If you are involved in custody or other family disputes you should ensure you consult a lawyer before you leave Australia for advice on how religious law may impact upon your family circumstances. Lebanon is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
When you are in Lebanon, 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.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.
Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, can carry the death penalty.
Under Lebanese law, homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Access to some areas of Lebanon is restricted. Photographing or filming military personnel or installations, government buildings and major civilian infrastructure (such as power stations) may result in detention and/or the confiscation of photographic equipment.
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.
There are modest standards of dress and behaviour in parts of Lebanon, particularly at religious sites. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Public displays of affection may cause offence in conservative and religious areas.
Some hotels may refuse accommodation to couples who are unable to provide proof of marriage.
Information for dual nationals
Lebanon recognises dual nationality, but Lebanese citizenship takes precedence over the second nationality. If you are an Australian/Lebanese dual national you will be treated as a Lebanese national by Lebanese authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Lebanese dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
Dual citizens re-entering Lebanon on their Lebanese passport/identity document should ensure their Lebanese documentation is in order and that all entry requirements are met. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Lebanon for the most up-to-date information.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
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.
The standard of medical facilities and care in many of Lebanon's large hospitals is of comparable standard to those in Australia. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services. Treatment can be very expensive.
A decompression chamber is located at the American University Hospital in Beirut.
It is recommended that all drinking water be boiled or that you drink bottled water.
Where to get help
The Australian Embassy in Downtown Beirut may be temporarily closed to the public at short notice due to demonstrations and concerns about security in the vicinity of the Embassy. If this occurs, you should call ahead for advice before going to the Embassy. Australians requiring emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.
Contact details for the Australian Embassy are:
Australian Embassy, Beirut
Telephone: (961 1) 960 600
Fax: (961 1) 960 601
If you are travelling to Lebanon, 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 Embassy, 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.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Lebanon is in an active earthquake zone.
Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months in Lebanon (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested areas. You should avoid fire affected areas and monitor the media for the latest information.
Sand and dust storms are common and may pose health risks, especially to people with respiratory problems.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.