Libya

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 24 February 2015.   The security environment in Libya continues to deteriorate. There has been a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks directed against foreigners. Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so. Limited commercial departure options are still available. The level of advice has not changed. We continue to strongly advise Australians against all travel to Libya.

Libya overall

Summary

  • We strongly advise you not to travel to Libya due to the ongoing fighting and deteriorating security situation throughout the country.
  • Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so. Limited commercial departure options are still available. Tripoli International Airport is closed until further notice following its destruction in clashes between armed groups. For information on departure options see under Entry and exit.
  • Australians in Libya who require assistance to depart should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24-hour Consular Operations Centre on +61 2 62613305 or the Australian Embassy in Rome on +39 06 85 2721 (see under Where to get help).
  • Australians remaining in Libya should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.
  • Australians seeking to depart Libya by road through the Ras Jedir checkpoint on the border with Tunisia should be aware that the road between Tripoli and Zawiya is vulnerable to attack. A UK diplomatic convoy was subject to an attempted carjacking on this road in July 2014. Other convoys have been attacked. You should carefully plan any departure via this route and confirm that the border crossing point is open before you depart.
  • Acts of terrorism occur frequently throughout Libya and target Libyan government and western interests. There has been a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks directed against foreigners, including a car bombing in eastern Libya killing at least 30 people, the murder of 21 kidnapped Egyptians and the bombing of the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli.
  • Well-armed militias remain unchecked in many parts of Libya, and serious security incidents are frequent.
  • Almost all diplomatic missions and international organisations have withdrawn staff from Libya due to security concerns. You should be aware that the Australian government’s ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Libya remains extremely limited.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Tripoli International Airport is closed following its destruction in clashes between armed groups.

Departure options

Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so. Commercial departure options are still available.

Air: Commercial flights are not operating as per normal flights schedules. Commercial charter flights are still departing from Maitega and Misrata airports for Cairo, Malta, Tunis and Istanbul. Flight schedules may change at short notice. You should contact your airline or travel agent for details.

Road: Australians seeking to depart Libya by road through the Ras Jedir checkpoint on the border with Tunisia should be aware that the road between Tripoli and Zawiya is vulnerable to attack. A UK diplomatic convoy was subject to an attempted carjacking on this road in July 2014. Other convoys have been attacked. You should carefully plan any departure via this route and confirm that the border crossing point is open before you depart.

All border crossing points are subject to closure without warning. You should anticipate delays and temporary road closures if seeking to depart Libya by road. You should not attempt to depart Libya via southern Algeria, Chad, Sudan, or Niger due to the very high threat of kidnapping in those areas.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Libya for the most up to date information.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from Libya.

Travellers whose passport contains evidence of entry to Israel or to other-country border crossings with Israel will be refused entry.

You should enter Libya at official border crossing sites. Travellers who are unable to provide evidence they entered at an official border crossing may be detained. You should register your passports with the police station closest to your accommodation. Failure to do so may result in fines and problems during your stay or on departure.

Under Libyan law, children born to Libyan fathers are considered as Libyan citizens and therefore need their father's permission to depart Libya.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Libya if you are arriving from a country endemic for yellow fever. The World Health Organization provides a list of countries endemic for yellow fever.

Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of Libya. If in doubt, check with your airline.

Safety and security

We strongly advise you not to travel to Libya due to the ongoing fighting and deteriorating security situation throughout the country. There is a high threat of terrorist attack and a high threat of kidnapping. Australians remaining in Libya should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.

There has been a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks directed against foreigners. On 20 February at least 40 people were killed in a car bombing in eastern Libya. On 27 January 2015, nine people, included five foreigners, were killed in an attack on an international hotel in Tripoli. Ten oil workers were killed and three foreigners kidnapped in an attack on Mabruk oilfield on 3 February 2015.

In February 2015, extremists killed 21 Egyptians who had been kidnapped in Sirte in December. Egypt subsequently launched airstrikes against Darnah.

There is widespread fighting throughout Libya, including south west of Tripoli in Warshafarna and surrounding areas, and in Benghazi. Ports and airports, and oil and gas installations have been targeted. A number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in Libya. Since September 2014, there has been intense fighting and shelling between militias in the Warshafarna and surrounding areas, south west of Tripoli. Fighting has also continued in Benghazi. Violent clashes between armed groups are possible across the entire country, including in Tripoli, particularly at night. Fighting can break out anywhere without warning, quickly putting those in the area at risk.

Acts of terrorism in Libya are frequent and are primarily conducted by extremist militia groups, including former regime loyalists, nationalists and religious extremist groups. Attacks occur throughout Libya, most notably in the region around Benghazi, but also in the southern desert regions and Tripoli. Terrorists may use small arms, rocket-propelled grenades or improvised explosive devices in attacks. Attacks typically target Libyan Government or security interests and increasingly, western interests, in particular diplomatic and international non-government organisations.

Should you choose to remain in Libya, despite our long-standing strong advice to depart, you should ensure you have appropriate personal security measures in place. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Our advice to Australian business travellers has information on risk assessments in high threat environments such as Libya.

There is no Australian diplomatic mission in Libya. Almost all diplomatic missions and international organisations have withdrawn staff from Libya due to security concerns. The UK Embassy no longer provides consular assistance to its nationals in Libya and the US Government withdrew staff from its embassy in July 2014. The United Nations has also reduced its staff numbers at its support mission in Libya. You should be aware that the ongoing volatile security environment severely restricts the capacity of the Australian Government to deliver consular services in Libya.

There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping in Libya and foreigners have been targeted. In October 2013, an Australian working in Libya was detained by militia in Zintan. Such kidnappings are more likely in sparsely populated border areas. 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 that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. Australians remaining in Libya should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism.

Borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border areas with southern Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Sudan, or undertake cross-border travel between these countries, because of banditry, the presence of armed tribal groups and the very high risk of kidnapping by terrorists.

Civil unrest/Political tension

A General National Congress (GNC) was elected at elections in July 2012. The Congress elected a new Prime Minister in October 2012 (Ali Zeidan) who was replaced in March 2014 by Abdullah al Thanay. Elections for a new House of Representatives (HOR) were held in June 2014 but ongoing divisions between the members of the GNC and HOR and their respective supporters have resulted in the formation of two rival governments backed by warring militia groups.

Political violence increased throughout 2012 and 2013, particularly in Tripoli and Benghazi where a number of assassinations and car bombings have occurred. In June 2012, Libyan authorities declared warring mountain towns in the country’s west a ‘military zone’. On 10 October 2013, the Prime Minister was taken by force from the Corinthia Hotel and later released.

Violent demonstrations have occurred regularly in Tripoli and Bengazi. In November 2013, armed clashes between militias in Tripoli resulted in the deaths of 43 people.

Australians in Libya who require consular assistance should contact the Australian Embassy in Rome on +39 06 85 2721 or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia .

Crime

Crime levels in Libya are high as law and order has broken down in most of the country. Violent crime persists in Tripoli, Benghazi and other parts of Libya. There have been reports of car-jackings targeting foreign-owned vehicles. There have also been a number of reports of robbery by armed groups. Due to the presence of a large number of weapons there is a heightened threat of violent crime.

Money and valuables

Libya is a cash society and credit card use is extremely limited. Accessing money from banks may be difficult, as some banking services may be disrupted due to the security situation. Travellers' cheques are not accepted and the number of ATMs is extremely limited.

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.

Local travel

Tripoli International Airport is closed. Other airports may close at short notice. A no fly zone has been enforced in Western Libya following clashes between armed groups in the region. Contact your airline for information on flight disruptions.

There have been reports of violence and armed robberies targeting vehicles seeking to depart Libya by road, including to Tunisia. You should not attempt to depart Libya via southern Algeria, Chad, Sudan, or Niger due to the very high threat of kidnapping in those areas. Borders may also be closed at short notice.

Although road conditions are reasonable throughout Libya, driving standards are poor and the volume of traffic is heavy. Wind-blown sand can reduce visibility quickly. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Visitors are required to carry identification documents at all times.

Large numbers of unexploded ordnance and landmines remain in the country as a result of the 2011 revolution, much of which has not been secured.

Airline safety

Tripoli International Airport is closed. Other airports may close at short notice. Airlines have ceased flying over Western Libya following clashes between armed groups in the region. Contact your airline for information on flight disruptions.

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 Libya.

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

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Libya, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

The rule of law has not been re-established in Libya. You should not assume that police services are fully operational in all parts of the country.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Other serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Libya and punishments include imprisonment.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Libya and punishments include a minimum three years imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

There are severe penalties for importing and consuming alcohol in Libya.

Photography around military zones, assets and personnel and police assets and personnel is illegal and may result in arrest and detention.

Foreigners involved in business disputes may have their passports confiscated and/or may not be permitted to depart Libya until the dispute has been settled.

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law.

The penalty for illegally exporting antiquities is three years imprisonment plus compensation for any damage caused.

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. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Libya. You should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

Under Libyan law, children born to Libyan fathers are considered as Libyan citizens and therefore need their father's permission to depart Libya.

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 Libya are limited and some medicines are in short supply. Medical facilities in remote areas can be very limited or non-existent. Travellers may wish to consider carrying limited medical supplies for personal use. Foreigners will be required to pay an up-front deposit for medical services. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable (over $A50,000).

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, plague and measles) 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. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

There is no Australian diplomatic mission in Libya. Australians remaining in Libya should be aware that the ongoing volatile security environment severely restricts the capacity of the Australian Government to deliver consular services in Libya.

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Rome, Italy:

Australian Embassy, Rome

Via Antonio Bosio 5
00161 Rome, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 06 85 2721
Facsimile: (39) 06 85 272 300
Email: consular-rome@dfat.gov.au
Website: http://www.italy.embassy.gov.au/

We encourage all Australians in Libya 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 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

The rainy season extends from November to March. Temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius between June and September. You should follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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



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.